Documents Required for Applying to US Universities

Going to college in the United States is an exciting opportunity to gain a world-class education and a life-changing experience. Applying to US universities requires a number of documents, such as a personal statement, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and more. Understanding what documents are required and how to best present them to the admissions committee is essential for successful applications. Knowing the requirements and having all the necessary documents ready can help ensure a successful college application.

The United States continues to be a popular study-abroad destination. Over 55,000 Indians are planning to pursue their education in the country this year. To complete the application process, all students are required to submit a number of documents, from academic transcripts to financial documents. To ensure you don’t miss out on any important documents, here’s a list of documents required for applying to US universities!

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How to Apply to US Universities?

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International students can directly apply to the university of their choice. Applications are available online and the application fees range between INR 5,514 to 7,352. Some universities offer fee waivers to students who require financial aid and assistance. Students are free to apply to as many US universities as they wish. 

Documents Required for Applying to UG Courses

Following are the documents required for applying for UG courses in the USA:

  • Letters of Recommendation (LORs)
  • Entrance Exam Scorecards  – SAT/ ACT
  • English Language Proficiency Test Scores
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP)
  • Essays
  • Passport
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  • Marksheets and pass certificates
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Work Experience Letters (if any)
  • Certificates for extra-curricular activities 
  • Application confirmation copy
  • Proof of Funds 

Documents Required for Applying to PG Courses

Following are the documents required for applying for PG courses in the USA:

  • Transcripts for Bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • Letters of Recommendation (LOR)
  • Entrance Exam Scorecards – GRE/ GMAT/ LSAT/ MCAT
  • English Language Proficiency Test Scores
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP) 
  • Passport 
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  • Transcripts 
  • Marksheets and pass certificates
  • Experience Letters (if any)
  • Application confirmation copy
  • Essays
  • Certificates for extra-curricular activities 
  • Proof of Funds 
  • Research proposal/ Any Portfolio (for specific courses)

Must Read: How to Get Into Ivy League Colleges?

List of Important Documents

Now, let’s look at some of these essential documents required for studying in USA in further detail:


This is the most crucial document you’ll need if you want to study abroad. If you don’t already have one, kindly apply as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to have it ready before you schedule your admission examinations. You should also have duplicates of the passport’s initial and last pages on hand.

Curriculum Vitae/Resume

CVs include information about your career goals, education, internships (if applicable), work experience (if applicable), milestone scores (yearly aggregates and final aggregates), projects completed during your undergraduate program (and during your internships/full-time job), and mention of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

Marksheets and Certificates of Graduation

Copies of necessary mark sheets and pass certificates must also be provided by students. For example, Indian students seeking master’s degrees must submit their 10th and 12th-grade marks, as well as all semester grades and passing certificates. At least one (and occasionally two) sets of copies are required for each application. Attestation is required for all copies.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation are one of the most significant documents required for admission to undergraduate and graduate programs at US universities (LOR).

A letter of recommendation (LOR) must be provided by one of your professors or professional/research supervisors and should highlight your academic or professional abilities, accomplishments, and experience. The standard is to have at least three people recommend you.  While some institutions encourage recommenders to send letters directly to the graduate admissions department through email, the majority of universities (particularly for Master’s program applications) need hard copies.


One of the most significant documents necessary for MS in the United States is transcripts.  A transcript is a single piece of paper provided by a school or university. It includes the concerned student’s scores as well as comprehensive data about the undergraduate courses you took in a compact style. Students applying in their final year will need all of their scores up until that point.

For engineering students, for example, the transcript should include information from semesters 1 through 6. For candidates who plan to continue their education after completing their bachelor’s degree, the transcript should include scores from all of the bachelor’s years.

Scorecards for Entrance Exams

In order to get admitted to a university in the United States, students are required to take specific entrance examinations. Before applying to the colleges of your choosing, make sure you check for the program you’re applying for and have your score ready.

The following are some major admission exams:

  • SAT: SAT scores are accepted by almost all colleges in the United States when applying to undergraduate programmes.
  • ACT: Another essential exam to take while applying to undergraduate schools in the United States is the ACT.
  • GRE: The GRE is required for most MS-level programmes in the United States, including Business Management programmes.
  • GMAT: The GMAT is a test that is needed for admission to management schools in the United States.
  • MCAT: Students interested in pursuing medical education in the United States must take this exam.
  • LSAT: The LSAT is required for admission to law schools in the United States.

Scores on English Proficiency Test

Students from countries where English is not the native language are also required to submit the result of an English language proficiency test. This is significant since you will be studying in English in the United States, and universities need to ensure that language will not be a hindrance to your academic success. TOEFL and IELTS are the most popular of these examinations.

Work Experience Letters

If you have interned or worked, be sure to include experience letters from the relevant organizations.

Statement of Purpose (SOP)

Applicants may or may not be required to submit an online Statement of Purpose. However,  If you’re sending it by courier, make sure it’s printed on good paper with a header that includes your name, UserID, and the program you’re applying for. On the university’s website, the standard font size and the spacing option will be specified.


In the United States, several institutions may require applicants to submit an essay along with their application. The essay might be on any subject or one that reflects the candidate’s passion for the field or program. The majority of colleges need one to three of such essays.

Evidence of Funds

Proof of funding is a crucial document for studying in the United States. Universities require this information in order to assess your financial ability to pay for college and establish your eligibility for financial aid/scholarships. Some colleges need a bank statement declaration for this reason. A letter from your bank stating your funds is required for this. Your bank will provide this statement, and copies will be required.

Proposal for Research / Portfolio / Project Description

Universities may also require students for a Research proposal, Portfolio, or Project Description for certain extremely specialized and research-based programs.

For research-based programs, such as doctorate and post-doctoral degrees, research proposals are required.  One of the documents necessary for Master’s programs in the United States is a project description. Writing a thesis is strongly suggestive to apply for these programs.

Applicants seeking master’s degrees in the arts, design, and architecture must submit portfolios. This helps the concerned institution or college in assessing your skills and expertise in your field of study.

Certificates for Extracurricular Activities

If you excel in extracurricular activities, be sure to provide any relevant certifications to back up your claim. This might assist your application to your preferred institution and university to stand out more.

Copy of the Application Confirmation

After you apply and pay the university’s online fee, you’ll be sent to a confirmation page and get a confirmation email. A copy of one or both of these documents must be supplied. Copies of award certificates, participation certificates, volunteer service certificates, technical papers, and published papers.

Also Read: Summer Schools in USA

The US has the maximum number of renowned educational institutes in the world. Most of them are ranked in the top 100 universities by QS. Given below are the top 10 universities in the USA as per QS rankings for 2022:

Top Universities in the USA QS World Rankings for USA 2023 THE World UniversityRankings for USA 2022
Stanford University #3 #1
Harvard University #5 #2
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) #6 #3
Massachusetts Institute of Technology #1 #4
University of California, Berkeley 32 #5
Yale University =14 #6
University of California Los Angeles 40 #11
Princeton University #20 #7
University of Chicago #10 #8
Johns Hopkins University #25 #9
University of Pennsylvania #13 #10
Columbia University #19 #12
Cornell University #21 #13

This was a list of all the necessary documents to include in your application package. Make sure they’re packed properly in a green threaded cover. University-specific courier requirements may exist. Before sending out extra documents, double-check the list on the website.

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Must-Know: List of Public Universities in USA

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