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International Students

The Religious Studies Department welcomes international students, who are able to enrich the intellectual community at Northwestern University.

The International Office at Northwestern University provides information for obtaining a visa, employment eligibility, government regulations (including immigration status), and other resources for new and current international students. It also offers a variety of cultural adjustment seminars, ESL classes, workshops, and orientations for new students.

Language Requirements

TOEFL or IELTS

Foreign applicants from non-English speaking countries are required to take TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System exam)to certify their proficiency in the English language. All tests must be taken no more than two years before the intended quarter of entry and at least 3 months before the given application deadline.

For the TOEFL, you must achieve one of the following scores:

For the IELTS, you must receive a score of 7.0 or higher.

Applicants who have completed at least one year of academic work at a U.S. university do not need to submit the TOEFL. Instead, they must submit the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) score.

ISI

In addition to the services the International Office provides, select students are offered the opportunity to participate in the International Summer Institute prior to beginning graduate study. This elite immersion program provides intensive instruction in the American dialect of spoken English, with a special emphasis on the language skills needed to excel in graduate level courses, to teach undergraduates effectively, and to present their research at conferences and colloquia. Participants practice their spoken English with native speakers at a variety of social events in the Evanston and Chicago area, visiting parks, museums, restaurants, and other local attractions. The curriculum also includes practical forums that address issues such as banking, apartment hunting, transportation, safety, shopping, and health; preparing students for their new life in the United States.

English as a Second Language (ESL)

Northwestern University offers a variety of ESL classes and workshops to assist in your mastery of the English language, including Pronunciation and Intonation (beginning and advanced), Conversation and Fluency, Culture and Fluency, American Academic Culture, Academic Writing, and Academic Presentations. Free Test of Spoken English preparation workshops are also offered on a non-credit basis. In addition to these classes, you are welcome to participate in free weekly tutoring sessions aimed at refining your speaking and writing abilities.

Transcripts

The academic records we refer to as transcripts should provide a listing, year-by-year, of all courses taken and the grade or marks received for each one. It is helpful to have the grading scale of the institution and the student¹s rank in class included when such information is available. Do not submit secondary school records. Secondary school records will not be reviewed and will be discarded.

Electronic copies of transcripts are acceptable for admission, but paper copies are required before matriculation. If your college or university will not mail original official academic documents to you, you may send exact copies that have been verified as "Certified True Copies" by the appropriate institutional official of each institution you have attended. Uncertified photocopies are not acceptable. To be considered, all documents not in English must be accompanied by official English translations.

The Graduate School requires literal, certified translations for all documents issued in a language other than English. We accept translations from the institution issuing the transcript, ATA certified translators, or from the consulate. You may find an ATA translator at the following web site: www.atanet.org. Plain translations, notarized translations, and translations done by someone other than a certified translator are not acceptable. The Graduate School will accept applications from international students earning three-year bachelor's degrees.

Funding

All international students admitted to our PhD program are eligible for Funding. The Graduate School provides a minimum of five academic years and four summers of guaranteed financial support to students in the humanities.

Applying for a Visa

All international applicants must apply for a visa to study in the United States.
They need to complete a Request for Visa Form and sent it to The Graduate School, with accompanying evidence of support. After this form has been received and processed, the information will be sent to the International Office, who will process I-20 or DS-2019 and send it to the admitting department. Your admitting department will then send you your I-20 or DS-2019. You will use this document to obtain your visa.

If you have questions regarding choosing the proper visa or errors in your visa document, please contact the International Office via email intoff@northwestern.edu.

Questions regarding International Credentials should be directed to Nick Alena, Associate Director of Admissions and Recruitment, at n-alena@northwestern.edu, or call 1 847 491 3421.

Please note that I-20 and DS-2019 paperwork takes, on average, 5-6 weeks to process from the date the Request for Visa form is received. Please be sure to submit your Request for Visa forms as soon as possible. Should you experience any unusual delay in the processing of the I-20 or DS-2019, please contact the Department of Religios Studies.

For additional information see Applying for a Student Visa.

Employment

If you plan to work, and certainly before your second-year teaching assistantship begins, you must have a Social Security number. Social Security numbers are issued by the Social Security Administration (part of the U.S. Government) and used for identification purposes, employment, paying taxes, obtaining a driver's license and/or a state I.D. You can obtain a support letter for the application at the International Office and apply at one of the offices in Chicago area. A representative from the Evanston Social Security Office will be on campus two days during the first week of classes in the fall quarter. Check your orientation schedule for date, time, and location. However, it is advisable to apply for a Social Security number during the summer before your second year of study so that your fall stipend checks are not delayed.

For additional information see Employment.

Housing

Many international students choose to live in Northwestern graduate student housing their first year and then rent apartments during the summer before their second year. For more information on housing, both on campus and off campus, see Graduate Housing.

Resources

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