Applying for Graduate Studies

Required Materials for Graduate International Candidates

Every year, Wheelock enthusiastically welcomes international graduate students to our learning community. We are committed to working closely with international applicants who, by virtue of being educated outside of the United States, will need to fulfill certain admissions requirements. These include: 1) applying for admission to Wheelock College, 2) applying for a U.S. Visa, and 3) traveling to and applying for admission into the US.

The steps involved in each of these activity areas are listed below. We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to the priority deadlines. It is common for the processing and gathering of materials to take longer for international students, and we want to ensure that you have the best chance of being considered for your desired start date.

Applying to Wheelock

1. Wheelock Graduate Application and Fee
To apply online, go to our online application.

2. Essay - You must submit a 3-5 page essay describing why you would like to attend Wheelock College as a graduate student. The essay should include information on which degree program you would like to pursue, how you became interested in this field of work as well as why you feel that Wheelock College, with its mission to improve the lives of children and families, would be the ideal place to continue your education. We also encourage you to describe the strengths that you bring to your chosen field and the challenges that you will face.

You are welcome to submit additional materials that you feel may give the Admissions Committee a broader view of your achievements. Supplemental essays regarding poor performance in undergraduate coursework may also be appropriate. Please contact a graduate admissions counselor if you have questions.

3. Letters of Reference - Three (3) letters of reference are required. One should be of an academic nature from a faculty member who is familiar with your academic work (e.g., a former professor or instructor). The second reference should be from an individual who can discuss your work or relevant experience. The third letter may be either academic or professional at your discretion. References from family members and/or friends are not acceptable. Please note that additional letters of reference may be requested at the discretion of the Admissions Committee.

All references must arrive in unopened envelopes with the evaluator's signature across the flap. While a student's recommender may draft a letter on his or her own letterhead, we do require that the Reference Form be submitted along with your signature accompanying the recommender's information. Please make sure that information regarding the confidentiality of the letter is appropriately marked on this form.

4. Academic Records (transcripts) - To apply for admission to a graduate program at Wheelock College, you must hold a Baccalaureate Degree from an accredited institution. Degree-seeking applicants must present official transcripts from each junior college, college, and university (including Wheelock College, if applicable) at which you were granted a degree. Please also provide transcripts for any graduate work you have completed.

You should contact the Registrar of each school you have attended, requesting that an official transcript be sent either to you or to the Office of Graduate Admissions at Wheelock directly. If you choose to submit the transcripts, they must be sent in their original sealed envelopes. Any applicant still taking courses or completing a program at the time of application may be eligible for conditional acceptance and must submit a follow-up transcript showing final grades and degree subsequently obtained. Additional transcripts regarding transferred course work may be requested at the discretion of the Admissions Committee.

5. Transcript Evaluation - Applicants are required to provide a course-by-course evaluation of their undergraduate and graduate course of study, if completed outside of the US. Acceptable evaluations can be obtained by sending all international transcripts to:

Education Credentials Evaluators
Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc.
PO Box 514070 Milwaukee WI 53203-3470

World Education Services
Bowling Green Station
P.O. Box 5087
New York, NY 10274-5087

6. Resume - Work experience and career progression are important and will be considered by the Admissions Committee. Please submit your resume in a professional format and include contact information, educational background, work experience, and skills.

7. Financial Verification - You must submit a Financial Verification Form as part of your application process. This official documentation from your bank (or the bank of your sponsor) will be used by the Admissions office to certify that you have sufficient funding for the first year of study. Information regarding this dollar amount can be found on the Financial Verification Form.

8. Interview - Not all degree programs require an interview. However, application interviews are required for the following programs: Child Life Program, Integrated Elementary and Special Education for Initial Licensure Program, and the Organizational Leadership Program. Also, while interviews for the Social Work program are not required, they may be requested by the Director of the program. The Admissions Committee also may request an evaluative phone or personal interview with an applicant to further discuss the applicant's academic and professional goals. Students applying to other programs may request an evaluative interview. All students are welcome to speak informally with members of the admission staff and faculty by phone or online. In each case, unless you are initiating the request for an interview, the Admissions Committee will contact you directly.

9. MTEL information for Professional Licensure candidates only - Students applying for a masters degree program that will enable them to be eligible for professional licensure must submit copies of their initial licensure documentation. For more information please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions.

10. Child Life and Family Centered Care applicants - Students applying to this program must complete and submit to Graduate Admissions a form documenting 100 hours of volunteer work completed under the supervision of a Child Life specialist. You must have completed at least 50 of these hours at the time of application.

11. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) - To be admitted to Wheelock, all international graduate students will have to demonstrate proficiency in English. If your native language is not English or if you have not received a degree from a college or university in the US, you will need to submit a recent score (not more than two years old) from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Wheelock College's TOEFL code is 3964. (If you have completed a degree from an English-speaking institution, the Director of Graduate Admissions may elect to waive the TOEFL requirement upon completion of a telephone interview with you.) Students who wish to be exempt from this requirement may speak with the Director of Graduate Admissions. The minimum TOEFL score generally accepted is 550 paper based, 213 computer based or 80 IBT.

Applying for a US Visa (F-1 Students)

International students should be aware that the immigration and visa process can take several months. The following are the steps you should follow to obtain a US visa for entry into the US.

1. Read your enclosed SEVIS Form I-20
Your SEVIS Form I-20 indicates that we have created a record for you in the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Your assigned SEVIS ID number is in the upper right corner of page 1 of your SEVIS Form I-20. If any information on your SEVIS Form I-20 is incorrect, please contact Mary McCormack (; 617-879-2267). If all of the information is correct, complete item 11 on page 1. Note: The spelling of your name and your date of birth must be exactly the same as reflected in your passport. If your name and/or date of birth on SEVIS Form I-20 are not exactly the same as the information that appears in your passport, please request that we issue you a corrected Form I-20. Please send a photocopy of the passport so that we can make sure that all information is consistent.

2. Make Sure Your Passport is Valid
In order to avoid possible problems applying for a visa or entering the U.S., it is recommended that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you intend to remain in the U.S.

3. Pay the SEVIS Fee
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now requiring proof of payment of the $200 SEVIS fee before issuing a visa or approving any benefits of status. While immigration regulations indicate that the fee should be paid a minimum of three business days prior to a visa application at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, we suggest that students pay the fee as soon as they receive the Form I-20 to allow sufficient time for DHS to update the fee payment in the student's electronic SEVIS record. Please refer to the Student and Exchange Visitor website for more information:

The SEVIS fee is NOT required from students currently in the U.S. in valid F-1 immigration status. Similarly, the fee is not required from students transferring to a new school or changing to another degree program or level within five months from the completion of the previous F-1 program. However, students who have studied in the U.S. in F-1 status in the past, but have departed the U.S. for longer than a five month period or changed to another immigration status must pay a new SEVIS fee before commencing the new program regardless of whether the student will need a new F-1 visa.

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt from the requirement to possess a visa to enter the U.S. However, they are still required to pay the SEVIS fee. Proof of SEVIS fee payment for these individuals will be verified at the U.S. port of entry before they are admitted to the United States in F-1 status.

The fee can be paid to DHS either:

  • over the internet with an electronic application form and a credit card;
  • by mailing a paper application with a check or bank draft drawn in U.S. dollars to a processing center in the U.S.; or
  • by making a payment at a participating Western Union in your area.

There is currently no mechanism to pay the fee at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate or at a U.S. port of entry. You must have proof of payment when applying for the visa and entering the U.S. We strongly recommend that you pay the fee online with a credit card whenever possible to secure an immediate receipt.

All students who pay the SEVIS fee will receive a formal receipt that should be used as proof of fee payment. The receipt Form I-797 will be sent to the mailing address provided on the Form I-901. This receipt notice will take time to process and to arrive in the mail. Although fee payments may be entered into the immigration (SEVIS) record, it is strongly recommended that students retain the fee receipt with other important immigration documents to use as needed.

4. Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain a valid F-1 visa
Citizens of all countries, except citizens of Canada, are required to have F-1 visas to enter the U.S. to study. You must contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to initiate your visa application. Most Consular Posts will process an application 120 days prior to the start date of the academic program listed on your SEVIS Form I-20. Please refer to the following U.S. Department of State (USDOS) website for more information:

To apply for a visa, you will need to submit the following documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate:

  1. Application for Nonimmigrant Visa (Form DS-156) which can be obtained from any U.S. Consulate or downloaded from the following USDOS website:
  2. Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-157), for all male applicants between the ages of 16 and 45, which can be obtained from any U.S. Consulate or downloaded from the following USDOS website:
  3. Contact Information and Work History For Nonimmigrant visa applicant (Form DS-158), which can be obtained from any U.S. Consulate or downloaded from the following USDOS website:
  4. Application fee (check with the Consulate for the fee amount and how it must be paid or visit the following USDOS website at
  5. One photograph (2 inches square [51 x 51mm], showing full face, without head covering, against a light background). Refer to the Visa Application Instruction for more details.
  6. Your Passport.
  7. Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status (SEVIS Form I-20) from Wheelock College.
  8. Form I-797 Receipt or online proof of SEVIS Fee payment.
  9. Admission letter from Wheelock College.
  10. Original financial documents proving the availability of sufficient funds as reflected on your SEVIS Form I-20.
  11. Documents which demonstrate that you intend to return home after your studies (see explanation below).

All visa applicants are now required to schedule an appointment for an interview. Please keep in mind that it may take a few weeks to schedule an appointment, so you should initiate your visa application as early as possible. Before your interview, practice answering questions in English about your visa application, your plans in the U.S., and your plans after you return home. Be positive and respond to questions with clear, concise answers during your interview.

You may not need to do anything special to prove that you intend to return home. It may be sufficient for you to explain, if asked, that you plan to return to your country to work, to continue your studies, or to do whatever you plan to do when you return home. However, you may be required to prove that you have such strong ties to your country that you will return there. If you believe it is likely that you will need to prove this, or would like more information, please read the handout entitled Proving "Nonimmigrant Intent" for U.S. Visa Application Purposes and refer to the Visa Process Guide on the following USDOS website:

Traveling and Applying for Admission to the U.S.

Once you have obtained your F-1 visa, you are ready to travel to the U.S. Immigration regulations allow you to enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days prior to the start of your program indicated in section 5 of your SEVIS Form I-20. You must carry with you items 6-11 listed in Step 4. Place these documents in a folder or envelope that you will have with you at all times during your travel. During your trip to, or upon your arrival in, the U.S., you will be given a form called Arrival Record/Departure Record (Form I-94). Using a pen, print the information requested on this form, making certain to spell your name exactly as it is spelled in your passport.

When you arrive in the U.S., you will apply for "admission" and an Immigration Inspector will examine your documents.

You will need to present the following documents:

  • Form I-94.
  • Passport with valid F-1 visa.
  • SEVIS Form I-20.
  • Proof of SEVIS fee payment.

You will need to have the following documents ready to present, should the Inspector ask for them:

  • Admission letter from Wheelock College.
  • Original financial documents.
  • Documents which demonstrate your intent to return home.

The Immigration Inspector may ask you one or more questions. If you are asked about the funds that will pay for your studies, answer the question and offer to show the Inspector your financial documents. If you are asked about your "intentions," answer the question and offer to show the Inspector the documents that demonstrate your intent to return home.

If you have the required documents and there are no more questions, the Inspector will "admit" you to the U.S. by processing your passport, your Form I-94, and your SEVIS Form I-20. When you leave the inspection area, make certain you have all your documents in your possession.

Questions regarding obtaining a visa and gaining admission to the U.S. should be directed to Mary McCormack, Associate Vice President for Student Success (; 617-879-2267).

Jobs for international students after graduation

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available to international students who have completed their course of study at Wheelock College. The employment must be directly related to the student's major area of study. Temporary employment for practical training must be completed within a 14 month period following the completion of study. Students interested in this option should speak with the Designated School Official at least 6 months prior to the student's anticipated graduation.

All applications materials once submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions become the property of Wheelock College. Incomplete applications as well as applications for students who have been admitted and do not register or who have been denied will be kept on file for one year from the time of application or admission decision. After this period they will be destroyed.

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