Application Timelines

Under ideal conditions, the process of applying for undergraduate study in the U.S. will begin 1-1½ years before enrolment. For most students, this is during the winter of Grade 11.

Do not panic you if are entering Grade 12 and just getting started on this process. You will simply need to use your time more efficiently and work at a faster pace!

Please note there is a separate timeline for applying for sports scholarships through the athletic recruiting process. For more information, please see the EducationUSA handout on Athletic Scholarships.

1½ Years before Enrolment (Winter of Grade 11)

  • Begin by reading the Undergraduate Study in the U.S. section of this website or the EducationUSA handout on Undergrduate Studies.
  • Check out the Why Study in the U.S. section and make sure that study in the U.S. is right for you.
  • Decide whether you want to do a four-year Bachelor's degree or a 2+2 program (two years at a community college followed by two years at a 4-year institution)
  • Start researching and choose the 8-12 universities that you will apply to.
  • Learn about options to fund your studies, as well as the application process for U.S. universities - Many students will choose universities based on availability of scholarships, cost of attendance and application components.
  • Attend a basic information session where EducationUSA advisers at USIEF will cover everything you need to know to apply for U.S. universities - the application process, admissions exams, choosing the right institution and funding opportunities.
  • Find out information and register for standardized tests such as ACT
    SAT and/or PSAT

10-12 Months Before Enrolment

  • If you have not done so already, register for and take the standardized test, such as the SAT or the ACT.
  • Attend a Basic Information Session at an EducationUSA center if you have not already done so.
  • Narrow your choices to the 8-12 universities which you will apply to.
  • Contact your teachers for 2-3 reference letters.
  • Begin drafting your essays.
  • Alongside your admissions applications, plan for your expenses.
  • Mid-October/early November - Application deadlines for Early Decision (legally binding) and Early Action deadlines.
  • December/January - Regular application deadlines.

Lead up to Enrolment (Spring/Summer of Grade 12)

  • From March: Receive admissions and university funding decisions by post or e-mail.
  • Evaluate all your admission offers and decide which university you want to attend. Seek the advice of an EducationUSA adviser if you can.
  • Spring: Gather paperwork for your I-20 (F-1 Student visa)
  • Attend a Pre-Departure orientation conducted by the EducationUSA center closest to you, or failing that, read the Tips Before You Go to the U.S. section of our website to prepare for your arrival in the U.S.
  • Typically by May 1, notify the universities of your decision and pay a non-refundable deposit to hold your place.
  • After accepting your place, submit your paperwork for the I-20 or DS-2019 and apply for your U.S. student visa
  • Summer: Complete your visa interview at the US Embassy at the consulate closest to you.
  • Mid-August/early September: Attend new student and international student orientations before classes begin.
  • Travel to the US and embark on the greatest adventure of your life!


For any query on U.S. higher education, call us on our EdUSA toll-free hotline 1-800-103-1231 between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm (Monday-Friday)