FAQs - International Students
Who is an international student?
An international student is an applicant who is not a US citizen or a permanent resident.
What are VISA types?
Individuals who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents in the United States for the purpose of study should be in F-1 or J-1 status. In general, most students are given the I-20. Those students who are government sponsored or who are on exchange programs are given the DS-2019.
- To enter the U.S. in F-1 status, ODIA must provide the student with an I-20 (Certificate of Non-Immigrant Eligibility) that is used to obtain the F -1 visa. ODIA is required to determine if students have enough financial resources to attend school and pay for their living expenses while attending school without resorting to illegal employment or relying on public funds. The F-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa and therefore the student must prove to the visa office that he/she has ties to the home country and will not remain in the United States.
- F-1 students must register full time each fall and spring semester. There are specific situations that permit a student to under enroll but must be approved by an international student adviser.
- Dependents (spouse and children) can also obtain an I-20 for F-2 status. F-2 dependents may not work under any circumstances. F-2 children may attend school through secondary education. After secondary education, F-2 dependents (both spouse and children) may not attend higher education without changing to F-1 status. They may, however, take avocational or recreational classes on a part-time basis.
- Another visa category that is for study is the J-1 (student category). The Certificate of Non-Immigrant Eligibility for J status is the DS-2019. This is also a non-immigrant visa status. The rules for the J-1 are similar to the F-1. However, there are two important differences.
- Those in J-1 status may be subject to what is referred to as the "two-year home residency requirement" or subject to 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The two-year home residency requirement means that those individuals must return home for two years before applying for the H, L, or permanent residency visas. In addition, those subject to the two-year home residency requirement cannot change status to another within the U.S. A J-1 becomes subject to 212(e) by coming from a country and studying a field on the skills list, being sponsored by the U.S. government or the home country government, or studying in a program for graduate medical education.
- The other difference is that dependents may apply for work permission.
Other Visa Types
B-1, B-2, F-2, WB, WT
- May not begin studies until change of status to student is approved. There is currently conflicting information on whether an F-2 may begin study after change of status application is submitted or after change of status is approved.
Principal holders of A-1, A-2, E-1, E-2, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, I, L-1 and Those in H-1B, H-1C, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, J-1 (Professor), J-1 (Researcher), J-1 (Specialist), J-1 (Trainee), J-1 (Physician), J-1 Au Pair, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-2, P-3, R-1, TN
- May engage in incidental study while continuing to maintain valid status (in other words, continuing to do what the immigration status requires).
Those in A3, H-4, J-2, L-2, M-2, NATO-1-7, O-3, P-4, R-2, TD and Dependents of A-1, A-2, E-1, D-2, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, I, L-1 Q-1, Q-2, and Q-3
- May engage in part- or full-time study
Can international students apply to any Graduate and Undergraduate program at TSU?
What are the differences between a domestic (US citizen) application and an international application?
All undergraduate applicants use the same application and submit the same admissions materials. However, there are three differences for international students:
- An English language proficiency test may be required. It can be waived under certain circumstances.
- A certification of finances is required.
- Transfer student applicants with international transfer credit (college or university credit completed after high school outside the United States) are required to submit a course-by-course evaluation of their coursework from foreign universities and official course descriptions.
Do I need to take the TOEFL or IELTS (English language proficiency test)?
If your native language is not English, you must submit official results of one of the following tests in order to receive consideration for admission:
- Paper-based TOEFL score of 500
- Computer based score of 173
- IBT score of 61
- IELTS score of 5.0
Are offers of admission binding in any way?
An offer of admission is not binding. We do, however, ask that you confirm with us if you intend to attend TSU prior to Orientation. Specific deadlines for confirmation will be included in your offer of admission.
Do you know of any other sources for scholarships and financial aid?
Here are some links to scholarship and financial resources for international students. These links are provided for your information only. These resources are not affiliated with or approved by TSU.
Education USA -
EduPass Scholarships for International Students -
International Financial Aid and College Scholarship Search -
What is the total cost of attendance? How much do I need to have on my certification of finances?
The total attendance cost for international students for the 2013-14 academic year is approximately $30,500.00.
What is a certification of finances? Why do I need to send one? How do I submit it?
If you are not a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, you must certify that you have sufficient financial resources to study in the United States. You must submit a certification of finances in order for TSU to create documents necessary, including the I-20, for your F1 visa application.
You have two choices for your certification of finances.
- If you are paying for your education, submit a current bank statement (on bank stationery) showing a balance of at least $30,500.00 (tuition and fees for one year of study at TSU). The balance should be converted into US currency.
- If someone else (a sponsor or sponsors, government agencies, family members) is paying for your education:
a. Sponsors must submit a current bank statement (on bank stationery) showing a balance of at least $30,500.00 (tuition and fees for one year of study at TSU). The balance should be converted into US currency.
b. Sponsors must submit a letter indicating they will pay for your education in the United States.
What is the Universities Test code for GMAT/GRE/SAT/TOFEL ?
Test Codes for Tennessee State University: - GMAT: 1803
- GRE: 1803
- MAT: 1753
What are my housing options?
On Campus Housing
Students planning to attend TSU may want to live on campus. To do so, you must first submit a Housing application. This is a separate process from applying for admission to the university.
Off Campus Housing
Contact the Office of Diversity and International Affairs (ODIA) for contact information on apartments close to campus. Phone - 615-963-5640
Travel & Transportation