Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Archive

As you search for information about studying in the United States, you can enter in the search box below some key words or a question you would like an answer to, or you can look in one of the nine categories of most frequently asked questions listed below. If you speak Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, French, Spanish, Russian or Portuguese, please select your language from the pull down box below, and you will see these topic areas change to the selected language.

US Government-sponsored Exchange Programs
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The UGRAD Program is the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program of the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It provides scholarships for one semester or one academic year of U.S. study in a non-degree program. The goal of the program is to provide a diverse group of students, from non-elite and under-represented groups from across East Asia, with a substantive exchange experience at a U.S college or university. The program is funded and organized by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Global UGRAD Program participants must return to their home countries upon completion of the program and may not stay on for degree study in the U.S.

The Global UGRAD Program for East Asia builds upon the successful model of a one semester/one academic year undergraduate program that ECA recently launched for students from other parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. These exchanges exemplify ECA's ongoing commitment to provide a large and diverse group of promising students with in-depth exposure to U.S. society and culture through substantive academic experiences at college and universities across the U.S.

The Global UGRAD Program provides one semester and academic year scholarships to outstanding undergraduate students from non-elite, under-represented sectors of society for non-degree undergraduate study at accredited U.S. two and four year institutions. In consultation with U.S. diplomatic posts overseas, ECA in Washington D.C. will approve a final list of candidates from among the following countries: Burma, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, etc.

For the academic year 2008-09, the Program will place approximately 90 participants at U.S. colleges and universities. There will be approximately 40 academic one year scholarships (10 months) and 50 one semester scholarships (5 months). The length of the scholarship will depend upon the student applicant's interests and availability, as well as placement options in the U.S. All students will be provided ample opportunity to interact with their university environment, including taking part in community service activities. In addition, all participants will be eligible for two to four weeks of intensive English language instruction in the U.S. prior to the start of the academic portion of their program.

Scholarships will be granted to students who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate degree program in an eligible country, and who have completed their first, second, or third year of undergraduate study. Candidates should be highly motivated students from non-elite and non-privileged backgrounds, represent a mix of urban and rural backgrounds, have an interest in community service, have strong English language skills, and who have little or no experience in the U.S. and elsewhere outside their native countries.

We recommend you refer to the following websites:

Currently the US government does not sponsor these programs as they all go through different universities but the organizations with the websites above will help you.

Besides, we hope the following link on cultural exchanges will be helpful, too.

As you are interested in medical programs in the U.S., please check the Graduate Medical Education Directory or use the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) database and visit your EducationUSA advising center for assistance.

After being certified, foreign doctors can apply directly to program directors by using the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service). This service has been developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC, to transmit residency applications, letters of recommendation, dean's letters, transcripts, and other supporting documents to residency program directors via the Internet. Residency program coordinators can access the ERAS system and check how many requests they have received. Programs then begin categorizing the applicants according to their ECFMG test scores, previous clinical experience, recommendation letters, community service (volunteer work), etc. The applicants are then invited for interviews.

Regular residency programs (3-4 years) in areas such as Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Pediatrics take only 3 years; Surgery is 5 years; Psychiatry is 4 years; and Neurosurgery is 7 years. For subspecialties such as Cardiology, applicants must take a 3 year program of Internal Medicine and then Cardiology for an additional 3 years.

Applicants need to be qualified to meet the selection criteria. The ACGME has endorsed general competencies for residents in the areas of:

• Patient Care

• Medical Knowledge

• Practice-Based Learning and Improvement

• Interpersonal and Communication Skills

• Professionalism

• Systems-Based Practice

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is responsible for the accreditation of post-MD medical training programs within the United States. There are 8,300 residency programs in 126 specialties and subspecialties in the U.S. Therefore, program directors look for the above competencies when interviewing applicants.

The legal system in the United States, on the federal level and in almost all states, is based on the British system of common law. One state, Louisiana, has a system modeled on the French legal code.

The U.S. first professional degree, the juris doctor (J.D.), provides an education strongly focused on preparation for U.S. practice, with little opportunity for comparative or specialty study. For this reason, and because preparation in U.S. law will not easily transfer toward practice in other countries, the J.D. is usually inappropriate for foreign nationals. Although law schools offer individual courses that emphasize particular subject areas such as environmental law or taxation, there are no J.D. programs concentrating on any single specialty.

J.D. degree programs involve three years of study, and are entered following four years of undergraduate study in any major. Competition for admission is intense for both U.S. and international students. Requirements generally include fluency in English, an excellent undergraduate academic record, and a satisfactory score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). (See for LSAT registration information.)

To practice in the United States, graduates must also pass the bar examination and other requirements of the state where they wish to work.

The master of comparative law (M.C.L.), also known as the master of comparative jurisprudence (M.C.J.), is a particularly appropriate degree program for international lawyers. Recognizing that legal systems in many countries differ from common law as practiced in the United States; these programs acquaint lawyers from other countries with U.S. legal institutions and relevant specialties of U.S. law. Another graduate option is the master of laws (L.L.M.), a degree offered in a variety of specialties or as a self-designed program, with appropriateness for the international practitioner varying from program to program. Programs in international law or international business law may also be of interest. Almost all master's programs in law last one year and admit students only for the fall semester. Programs can be planned according to the interests of the student.

During study, international lawyers have the opportunity to observe courts and government agencies in the United States. Entrance requirements include a first degree in law, a strong academic background, letters of reference, a statement of purpose and/or writing samples, and a high level of English proficiency as demonstrated by the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for students whose law degree was not in the English language. Most graduate law programs do not require standardized admissions tests.

Your nearest EducationUSA advising center may be able to provide information on other options, such as tours to visit U.S. legal institutions.

International exchange to the United States is an option for everyone! EducationUSA welcomes people with disabilities to apply for study in the United States and strives to provide them equal access to EducationUSA’s services and resources. Find out where to search for funding available exclusively to people with disabilities by visiting the Finance Your Studies page under the section “Find Financial Aid” (

If you have a question related to having a disability and studying in the United States, you are encouraged to visit the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange webpage on “Coming to the U.S.A.” ( This page provides information on:

  • Finding an exchange program
  • Searching for financial assistance
  • Laws that protect people with disabilities in the United States
  • Stories written by people with disabilities who studied in the United States
  • And much more!

You or your EducationUSA Adviser can also contact the ECA-sponsored National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange for free advice, resources and referral:

National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange

Mobility International USA

132 East Broadway, Suite 343

Eugene, Oregon 97401

Tel: +1 541-343-1284 (Tel/TTY)

Fax: +1 541-343-6812



The worldwide Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program brings visiting scholars and professionals from abroad to lecture at U.S. colleges and universities. Fulbright Scholars-in-Residence can have a significant impact on U.S. colleges and universities. In addition to teaching courses, scholars give campus-wide and community lectures, help initiate international programs and contribute to curriculum development. Although preference is given to proposals in the humanities or social sciences, other fields focusing on international issues will be considered.

Under the Scholar-in-Residence (SIR) Program, interested institutions submit proposals to invite scholars to teach one or more courses and to be in residence for a semester or an academic year. Proposals are welcome from individual institutions, as well as from consortia of two or more institutions. Institutions may suggest suitable candidates or have CIES recruit scholars from a particular world area.

Small liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and minority-serving institutions are given priority in applications to host a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence. Proposal guidelines and application forms may be downloaded from: http:/// Or we recommend you contact the Fulbright Commission in your country.

Students transfer every year from other countries into U.S. degree programs, and within the US from one institution to another and successfully go on to complete their degrees. However, the structure of degrees in other countries rarely matches the structure of U.S. degrees, making the transfer process more complicated. For example, if in your country you study only one subject for your degree, the courses you have taken will not match up with the varied subjects a U.S. undergraduate student takes to meet his or her general education requirements. The types of institutions in other countries also vary from those in the United States, as do other details.

The transfer institution needs to consider a number of factors when granting credit for the courses you have taken at a non-U.S. institution. There are typically three factors that U.S. universities usually consider:

Is your university or college recognized by the ministry of education in your country? U.S. colleges are looking for institutions that are recognized by a ministry of education; however, if some other authority approves your college, it may still be acceptable. Decisions vary from college to college and often depend on what the situation would be for a similar college in the United States.

How similar is the nature or character of the courses you have taken to those offered at the transfer institution? U.S. schools usually assess similarity by looking at information from course descriptions, syllabi, or catalogs. If your institution is not well known in the United States, the college may have to do a more detailed evaluation with you when you arrive, and only then decide whether and how to grant transfer credit.

How applicable are your courses toward the degree, and in particular the major, that you wish to pursue? This will often involve evaluation of the courses by both the admissions office and the academic department to which you wish to be admitted. They will look at whether courses can be accepted for transfer credit first, and then at whether they can count toward the requirements for a specific major. Again this decision may not take place until after you have arrived, and the decision may vary from college to college. Applying courses toward a particular major is most difficult for professional programs such as engineering, architecture, or journalism, where course requirements are carefully structured and often dictated by accrediting bodies for the profession.

In addition, to make the transfer process run as smoothly as possible, you are advised to make sure all academic records provided are official and bear the original stamp or seal of the issuing institution. Submit course descriptions in English for all post-secondary courses taken. These descriptions should also include:

• •summaries or outlines of the major topics covered in each course (If an outline is not available, write a summary yourself and have it certified by the school as accurate.);

• the number of units or hours required in lecture and laboratory for each course on a weekly basis;

• the length of the term or academic year, and, if it is not given elsewhere, the year in which you took the course.

Prepare a list of textbooks used in each course as this will help in any decisions that are made after you arrive at the campus about whether to grant credit for particular courses. Provide information on the total number of courses, credits, or units required for the diploma or degree program from which you are transferring.

Students who transfer into a U.S. institution may also be able to receive credit for their secondary school work if it is considered to be comparable to introductory college-level work in the United States. Ask each college about their policies on transfer credit.

We will do our best to help you in your search for information on studying in the U.S. If you have not already done so, we would like to invite you to visit our EducationUSA website which contains much useful information.

Please take the time to look at the "Useful Information", "Links" and "News" sections of our VCO website as you may find the answers to many of your questions in the resource areas.

To find the EducationUSA advising center in your area please search the following website:
We would like to invite you to visit our Education USA website which contains much useful information.

Please take the time to look at the "Useful Information", "Links", "News" and especially the "Free Downloads" located on the main page of our VCO website. For specific answers to Visa questions please email the Visa department at: and you will get a reply within one business week.

We normally only answer questions for students who wish to study in the U.S. However the following information may be useful to you:

The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) is a non-profit organization designated by the US Department of State to administer international work and study exchange programs. Established in 1947, CIEE is a world-leader in student exchange services, helping nearly 45,000 students and young professionals each year to grow personally and to develop their potential through participation in a wide variety of work and study programs.

The Trainee Program - a category of the J-1 Visa - constitutes one of CIEE's core areas of competency. During its nearly 20 years as administrator of this program, CIEE has supported more than 50,000 participants in their endeavor to expand their knowledge and skills and to enhance their professional qualifications. The knowledge and experience accumulated over this time, along with an enduring commitment to quality, has allowed CIEE to remain the largest sponsor in this category and an overall leader in program administration.

CIEE's office in Portland, Maine manages the activity of the Trainee Program. A team of Host Company Account Managers, Program Admissions Officers, and Customer Support staff stand ready to assist each Trainee and his or her Host Company throughout the program.

Website for CIEE -

To learn more about the J-1 Visa or the Exchange Visitor Program, please visit the following website of the US Department of State.
Please take the time to look at the "Useful Information", "Links", "News" and especially the "Free Downloads" located on the main page of the VCO website. You will find answers to many of your questions in these resource areas. To find an educational advising center in your area please search the EducationUSA website.

The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) is a non-profit organization designated by the US Department of State to administer international work and study exchange programs. Established in 1947, CIEE is a world-leader in student exchange services, helping nearly 45,000 students and young professionals each year to grow personally and to develop their potential through participation in a wide variety of work and study programs. Website for CIEE -

To learn more about the J-1 Visa or the Exchange Visitor Program, please visit the following website of the US Department of State.

Can’t find your questions answered in these FAQs? Click on the Ask an Adviser button below to contact your local EducationUSA Advising Center.