Applying for Graduate Studies: International Students

NOTE: Wheelock College has reached an agreement to merge with Boston University. Please note that the graduate application requirements may change.

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 (click on each item for step-by-step instructions):

1) Applying for admission to Wheelock College

2) Applying for a U.S. Visa

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.


1. Wheelock Graduate Application
Please apply using the 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.

You must use the electronic reference form we provide as part of the online application. Please follow the instructions on the application to have the electronic recommendation sent securely to your recommenders by email.

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 the applicant took courses or was granted a degree.

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 - Upon acceptance to Wheelock, you will be required to complete our Financial Verification Form that documents your ability to pay the estimated annual cost of attendance.

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, Educational Studies/International Teaching and Global Learning, Integrated Elementary and Special Education for Initial Licensure Program, and the Nonprofit 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 master's 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.

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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 ( or 617-879-2267). If all of the information is correct, complete item 11 on page 1—use BLUE INK. 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) require proof of payment of the SEVIS fee before issuing a visa or approving any benefits of status. This fee must be paid by new F-1 students with "initial attendance" I-20s who are beginning an academic program in the U.S. in F-1 status. We recommend 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:

You must also pay the SEVIS Fee if:

  • You have studied in F-1 status in the past, but are entering the U.S. on a new SEVIS record number.
  • You have studied in F-1 status in the past, but have since changed to another immigration status, and are now changing back to F-1 status.
  • You are a Canadian citizen. While Canadian citizens do not have to apply for a visa, they must still pay the SEVIS fee.

You do not have to pay the SEVIS Fee if:

  • You are an F-2 dependent.
  • You are an F-1 student who is currently in the U.S. under valid F-1 immigration status.
  • You are an F-1 student who is transferring to a new school or changing degree program or level using the same SEVIS record number.
  • You will be required to show proof of your SEVIS fee payment at both your visa interview and when entering a U.S. port of entry.

The SEVIS fee must be paid to DHS prior to your visa appointment or U.S. entry through the following methods only:

  • Over the Internet with an electronic application form (Form I-901) 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.
  • By making a payment at a participating Western Union in your area.

To pay the SEVIS fee online, log onto the FMJ website ( and follow the instructions for completing the Form I-901. If you are unable to pay the fee online by credit card, be sure to indicate your method of payment and follow any additional instructions for paying the fee by check or Western Union. Student should print their payment confirmations from the FMJFEE website ( Students should retain the printed fee receipt along with other immigration documents to use as needed.

Step 4: Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain a valid F-1 visa
Citizens of Canada are not required to obtain an F-1 visa to enter the U.S. to study. However, citizens of all other countries must be in possession of an F-1 visa to enter the U.S. You must initiate the visa application process with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is strongly recommended that you review the website of the specific consular post to learn about their visa application procedures, documentary requirements and deadlines. Most consular posts will process a visa application 120 days prior to the start date of the academic program listed on your SEVIS Form I-20. All first-time applicants for an F-1 visa are 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 after receiving your SEVIS Form I-20. Visit for a list of embassies and consulates.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) website offers information and list of required documents for the visa application.

In addition to the documents listed on the U.S. DOS website, you will also need to be ready to submit the following documents:

  • Admission letter from Wheelock College
  • Original financial documents proving the availability of sufficient funds as reflected on your SEVIS Form I-20

Please bear in mind that there are special procedures for citizens of Cuba, Syria, Sudan, and Iran to apply for a U.S. visa. Please refer to the US DOS website for more information.

Proving Non-immigrant Intent

The consular officer will determine whether you intend to enter the U.S. temporarily for study, or whether they believe you plan to immigrate permanently to the U.S. In order to prove your "nonimmigrant intent" you must show "strong ties to a home abroad which you do not intend to abandon." Consider the questions below to help assess if you may have difficulty with this point of eligibility:

  • Is it difficult to obtain an U.S. visa in your country?
  • Are a significant percentage of F-1 visa applications in your country denied by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate?
  • Are any members of your immediate family U.S. citizens or permanent residents? Are any members of your immediate family living in the U.S.?
  • Are you married, and applying for F-2 visas for your spouse or children?
  • Will this be your first trip to the U.S.?
  • Have you recently finished one activity in the U.S. and will now begin a new activity?
  • Have you ever been denied a U.S. visa?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of the questions above, it may be more likely that you will need to provide additional documentation to support your intent to return home after your activities in the U.S.

Possible Complications in the Visa Application Process

For citizens of select countries, or those students entering certain prospective fields of study, the consular officer may decide to process your application through a "security clearance" before granting the visa. Security clearances may take more than a month to process, so it is important to apply for your F-1 visa in case you are put through this process. Once the visa application has been sent for security clearance, the student must simply wait until the consular post approves the visa.

In the unlikely event that your visa application is denied, it is difficult to get the Consulate to change its decision. Therefore, it is important that you arrive at your appointment prepared with complete supporting documentation. If your visa application is denied, the ISSO recommends that you ask the Consulate for a written explanation of the denial reason. Please contact the ISSO immediately so that we may help you strategize how to strengthen your chances and your documentation in a second visa application. For more information on steps to take after a visa denial, please visit the DOS website.

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It is important that you keep your passport, your I-20, proof of SEVIS payment, original financial documents, and your Wheelock College admission letter in your immediate possession when you travel to the U.S. When you arrive in the U.S., you will apply for "admission" at the U.S. Port of Entry, and an immigration officer will examine all of your documents. The immigration officer may ask you a few questions. If you are asked about funding, answer the question and offer to show the officer your financial documents. If you are asked about your "intentions," explain your plan to study and offer to show the officer the documents that demonstrate your intent to study while in the U.S. and any documents you may have that help demonstrate your intent to return home after you finish your studies.

If you have the required documents and have answered all questions, the officer will officially "admit" you to the U.S. and will stamp your passport indicating the date of entry and immigration status you have been granted. When you leave the inspection area, make certain you have the following documents in your possession: (1) passport, (2) the SEVIS Form I-20and (3) all supporting financial documents. Verify that the U.S. Entry Stamp in your passport is clear and indicates F-1 and D/S (Duration of Status).

Visit the Study in the States website for more information.

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).


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.

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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 two years from the time of application or admission decision. After this period they will be destroyed.

Wheelock College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other school-administered programs.

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