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Graduate: International Students

GGU Campus


Golden Gate University is dedicated to helping our international students from start to finish -- from application to graduation. About 13% of those enrolled at GGU are international students, hailing from more than 40 countries.


Who is defined as an international student?

At Golden Gate University, international students include all students in F-1 or J-1 immigration status.



IAA provides services to international students and dependents, including:
  • Academic Advising
  • Immigration Advice
  • Course Registration
  • Health Insurance
  • Visa Paperwork Assistance
  • International Student Forms
  • Integration into the Community
  • Graduation Information

Mon - Thu: 9 am - 6 pm
Fri: 9 am - 5 pm
Drop-in Hours: Mon - Thu: 10 am - 6 pm, Fri: 10 am - 5 pm





40 Jessie Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105


Appointments are required for all immigration issues (such as applications for practical training or change of status), or for special assistance.


Please note: GGU no longer accept international applicants to undergraduate programs.



GGU international students are granted admission on a rolling basis. Early application allows time for receiving credentials and processing government documents necessary for attendance. Timely submission is important for students currently living outside the United States who will need to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa in their home country.


We do not have specific deadlines but we recommend submitting application materials at least 30 days prior to admission term start date:

  • Fall Term: last week of August
  • Spring Term: first week of January
  • Summer Term: last week of April



Degree Requirements

Applicants seeking admission to a masters degree program must hold a bachelors degree from a regionally-accredited US college or university or a degree comparable to a US bachelor's degree from an accredited international institution.


Applicants must submit official transcripts -- and certified English translations -- from each school previously attended. Examination scores and mark sheets may be submitted if the institutions attended do not maintain transcripts.

Chinese Academic Documents: Applicants must submit credential reports in English for transcripts and degree certificates, issued by the China Academic Degree & Graduate Education Development Center at The documents should be sent directly to Golden Gate University, Office of International Admissions.

English Language Proficiency

Proof of achieving Golden Gate University's English Language Proficiency Admission Requirements is required of all graduate applicants who are non-native speakers of English. The English proficiency tests we accept are TOEFL, IELTS and PTE. We also have an agreement with ELS ( For more information, please contact the International Admissions and Advising office at

Financial Documents

A Certification of Finances form must be submitted by all applicants intending to study on F-1 or J-1 visas. This form provides information required by the US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Download the Certification of Finances Form, or pick one up from the IAA Services Office. This form must be accompanied by an original bank letter.

GMAT / GRE Scores

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is required of MBA applicants ONLY. GMAT score reports must be sent from Educational Testing Service (ETS) directly to Golden Gate University. GRE scores are not required for admission into GGU's graduate programs.



Transfer Credits

Eligibility to transfer academic credits from other institutions is dependent on a number of factors. For more details see:

Additional Coursework

International applicants admitted to graduate degree programs may be required to complete more than the number of units specified as required for degree completion -- regardless of the extent of previous work -- if determined by Golden Gate University additional academic preparation is necessary.

Non-Immigrant Aliens

The university is authorized under federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien students. The university will not issue appropriate documentation until the student has been admitted as a full graduate degree or graduate certificate candidate, and has been financially certified by the university's Certification of Finances approval process.

Residency Requirements

Students holding F-1 or J-1 student or scholar visas may only attend the physical San Francisco campus.

Minimum Course Units and Terms

The US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement requires international students holding F-1 or J-1 student or scholar visas to be enrolled for consecutive terms of sufficient duration and units, typically consisting of no fewer than nine (9) units per term at the graduate level.


Financial Aid

For All International Students:
Country/Region Specific:

All applicants whose first (native) language is not English must meet an English language proficiency requirement to qualify for admission. This requirement may be met through various testing or alternative methods.



Unrestricted Admission

Scores at or above the following:
TOEFL paper-based test (pBT) 550
TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) 79
Pearson Test of English (PTE) 57

Conditional Admission

into the PLUS Program with scores at or above the following:
TOEFL paper-based test (pBT) 500
TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) 61
Pearson Test of English (PTE) 45



Applicants may also qualify for admission by meeting one of the following requirements:
  • Completion of English 1A/1B (or equivalent) at regionally accredited US college or university with grades of B or better in both
  • Bachelor's degree from regionally accredited US college/university or equivalent from recognized college/university in other English speaking country with at least 60 of the units earned in the US or in the English Speaking country
  • Master's degrees from regionally accredited US college/university or equivalent from recognized college/university in another English-speaking country)
  • APIEL (College Board) Undergraduate: 3 or higher, Graduate: 4 or higher
  • Completion of 3 years of high school in the US or another acceptable English-speaking country*
  • Completion of a British-standard "O-level" examination in English Language/ Literature with a mark of C or higher**
  • Completion of a British-standard "A-level" examination in English Language/ Literature with a mark of A/O or D or higher**

* Not all English medium educational systems fulfill this requirement. Qualifying countries: Australia, Anglophone Canada, Great Britain, Ireland and New Zealand.
** Not all countries offering O- and A-level examinations meet British examining board standards. Countries with this standard include: Bahamas, Belize, Brunei, Ghana, Great Britain, Guyana, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Zambia and Zimbabwe.



PLUS is a full-time academic-preparation program combining language instruction and educational support with enrollment in university graduate course work leading to a degree or certificate. PLUS allows students to improve English proficiency, while emphasizing subject-specific language learning and classroom skills, to keep students on track toward successfully earning a degree.



PLUS courses provide knowledge and practice of the academic skills needed to be successful in GGU classes. PLUS courses include these topics: in-class presentations, working in groups, participation in discussions, writing and researching university-quality papers, analyzing case studies, and more. Students spend 15 hours per week in PLUS classes, in addition to GGU course work.


For all international students at Golden Gate University, it is the student's responsibility to maintain legal F-1 or J-1 visa status. Visa information provided by the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs can be found at the following resources:


International students are encouraged to play an active role in the GGU community by staying informed and participate in academic and administrative functions.


3 Key Features of Student Life at GGU

  1. Information
  2. Involvement
  3. Networking


Ways Students can Become Involved

Student Newsletter

Contribute information about classes, the administration, teachers, fellow students and alumni, as well as a variety of other topics.

Student Government

Get involved in the policies, goals and objectives that affect the student body by promoting student development and properly allocating student funds.

Student Organizations

Network, learn team-building and leadership skills, and participate in social events through a variety of academic, cultural and athletic clubs offered at Golden Gate University.


International Admissions and Advising Services assists students with a variety of immigration related issues including: travel and visa renewals, employment eligibility and other topics. The information provided on this website is meant to serve as a general guideline. It is not considered legal advice.

Immigration regulations are constantly changing, so international students are encouraged to carefully read messages sent by IAA Services and review this website for updates. Students are ultimately responsible for understanding and abiding by the guidelines imposed by current immigration status requirements. IAA Services strongly encourages students to contact our office with any immigration related questions.


Maintaining Status

F-1 or J-1 status students are required to abide by various federal regulations to maintain immigration status. A few of these requirements include: providing IAA with a current address, enrolling in a full course of study, and keeping appropriate immigration documents up to date.


Full Time Enrollment

Immigration regulations require F-1 students enroll in a full course of study while completing degree programs in the US. GGU defines a full course of study depending upon the academic level and degree program. The chart below summarizes enrollment requirements.


Full Time Enrollment Requirements

Undergraduate 12 units per academic term
Graduate 9 units per academic term or more
Doctorate 8 units per academic term or more

Only one online course may used to meet the full time enrollment requirement. Students may enroll in more than one online course after meeting the full time enrollment requirement. Full time enrollment also requires students to be enrolled over the course of the entire term. This means students must enroll in at least one 16-week course or a combination of 8-week terms including both B term and C term.

Students may be authorized to enroll in less than a full course of study if they have academic difficulties, a valid medical condition, or are eligible for a vacation term. Students must receive permission from IAA Services PRIOR to enrolling in a reduced course load or dropping below a full course of study. Failure to receive permission could jeopardize your immigration status.

Students are eligible for a vacation term after completing two consecutive terms as a full time student at Golden Gate University. Students should inform IAA Services of intent to take a vacation term by submitting a Reduced Course Load Form before the beginning of the term.


Address Changes

F-1 and J-1 visa students are required to report a change of address within ten days of moving to a new location. Address updates can be made by logging in to GGU4YOU.


Immigration Documents

Recently arrived students from outside the United States, must ensure the I-94 record is marked "F-1" and "D/S" (duration of status). While in the US, international students should always be aware of the following:

  • Maintain a valid I-20 which reflects your current degree level and program of study. You are responsible for making sure the dates on your I-20 are current and valid.
  • If you are unable to finish all degree requirements before the completion date listed on your I-20, you must apply for a Program Extension before your I-20 expires. An extension cannot be granted after the program completion date has passed.
  • Maintain a valid passport at all times. Contact your Embassy or Consulate to extend your passport.


On Campus Employment

F-1 visa status students are eligible to work part-time while school is in session and full-time during approved vacation terms. Part-time work is considered less than 20 hours per week. Many international students who would like to work on campus at GGU are able to secure positions. On campus job openings are posted on GGU Careers.

International students do not require authorization from USCIS to work on campus. Once a job offer has been received, IAA Services will help students with the documents to apply for a Social Security Number. You will not be permitted to begin work until you have obtained a Social Security Number.



Beginning September 1, 2004, a new United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule went into effect. This rule requires F-1 student visa applicants to pay a one-time fee of $200 to supplement the administration and maintenance costs of the Student and Exchange Information System (SEVIS).


Basic Travel Guidelines

In general, when traveling outside the US, F-1 students will need the following documents:
  • A valid I-20 with the third page endorsed for travel by an IAA advisor The signature is valid for four months
  • A passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of re-entry to the US
  • A valid F-1 visa. The visa only needs to be valid through the date of re-entry to the US
  • Verification of financial support


If you are traveling to a country other than your own, be sure to check with the consulate or embassy of that country. You may need to apply for a tourist visa.

Anytime you travel, please complete the I-20 Request Form and leave your I-20 at IAA at least one week before you will be leaving San Francisco. If you have dependents in the US, they will also need to obtain a travel signature on their dependent I-20 if they plan to travel.

If you are on OPT and residing outside of the Bay Area, you will need to mail your most current I-20 along with an I-20 Request Form to IAA Services to get the proper signature for travel. Please plan ahead.

The US Department of State and the Citizenship and Immigration Service have increased the level of review international visitors face at US Consulates and Embassies abroad, US airports, and border crossing posts with Canada and Mexico.


Travel While on OPT

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), an Office of the US Department of Homeland Security, revisited its policy concerning reentry for students on OPT. Based on this new interpretation we advise students to travel outside the US only if they can establish they are currently employed in the US or have a valid offer of employment.

Students on OPT should plan to present the following documents at the US Port of Entry:
  • A valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • An official letter of employment or offer letter
  • A current I-20 with a travel signature on the third page, dated within the last three months
  • A valid F-1 visa
  • A passport valid for at least six months
  • Verification of financial support


Additional Recommendations

If you choose to travel, please follow these recommendations:
  • Carry proof of current enrollment at GGU and an official or unofficial copy of academic transcripts. It will now be important to also carry a letter from an IAA advisor if you have ever taken less than a full course of study.
  • Be honest, patient and courteous with all government officials, even if they are not the same way in return.
  • Consult the US Department of State website for alerts and information on visa issuance at particular US Embassies and Consulates abroad.
Be prepared when you travel for the following possibilities:
  • Delays in appointment scheduling and visa processing at US Consulates.
  • Change of visa processing at some US Consulates to include mail-in or "drop box" service for visa applications.
  • Delays in flights within the US and returning to the US from abroad due to heightened security measures at airports and delays along the Canadian border.
  • Inquiries and increased review of documents at all ports of entry for non-US citizens.
  • Multiple inspections of the same person by Immigration Service and/or Customs Officials.
  • Possible photocopying of documents by USCIS officials and possible videotaping of USCIS, Customs or FBI interviews.
  • Inspection of personal belongings, luggage, pockets or other searches.
  • For students in certain technologically sensitive fields, the Department of State is required to conduct a security clearance prior to issuing an initial US entry visa or extension of visa through a US Consulate abroad. The fields are listed on the Technology Alert List. Clearance may take one month to several months.



Given the current rapidness of changes to immigration regulations and practices, this information is subject to change.




All international (F-1 and J-1) students are required to have health insurance coverage when enrolled at Golden Gate University. As such, the university offers a student health insurance plan through Kaiser Permanente for international students in the Schools of Business, Tax, and Accounting. Students will be automatically enrolled in the plan upon registering for courses. Students who are already enrolled in a health insurance plan that meets the same standards of coverage as GGU's offered plan may opt out of GGU's health insurance plan by submitting a waiver. Students who do not submit a waiver, or whose waiver request is denied, will be enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan and their account will be charged.

View the GGU Student Health Insurance Brochure for more comprehensive information about the Student Health Insurance Plan for international students.



Students should aim to make any changes to their insurance coverage (waive/enroll) before registering for classes. To waive participation in GGU's plan, please complete the Online Health Insurance Waiver as soon as possible, and prior to the waiver deadline. The waiver deadline is 10 calendar days after the start of the term. For the Accounting and Tax cohorts' one-month plan, the waiver deadline is on the fifth day after the start of the fall term. You can submit your waiver request through this link. You will only be able to submit a waiver request once every term.

Approved waivers are valid for one academic term. For any questions about the waiver/enrollment process, please contact The Office of International Admissions and Advising.


After the normal enrollment and waiver period has ended (10th calendar day of the term), students may enroll in GGU's plan only if their alternate insurance plan has been involuntarily terminated. Students must immediately notify their international advisor that their outside coverage has ended, and proof of termination must be presented to the International Admissions and Advising Office within 30 days of termination. Students will be enrolled in GGU's school plan effective on the date of termination.



Healthcare Reform regulations require that all potential insured members are notified of the availability of the health insurance plan Summary of Benefits Coverage (SBC) document. The purpose of this document is to make it easier for you to read and understand the insurance benefits made available to you in a simplified document that is standard across all insurance companies. You may obtain a copy of your SBC on the Wells Fargo Student Insurance Website or by calling our student insurance broker, Wells Fargo Insurance Services at 1-800-853-5899.

View the Statement of Benefits Coverage



7/15/14 8/15/14 1/1/15 5/1/15
8/14/14 12/31/14 4/30/15 8/31/15
5 days after start of term 10 days after start of term 10 days after start of term 10 days after start of term
$194.33 $850.00 $757.33 $757.33
Note: Costs below are in addition to the student premium.
$404.33 $1,820.00 $1,617.33 $1,617.33
$257.67 $1,160.00 $1,030.67 $1,030.67

*Dependents may be enrolled within 30 days of the following qualifying life events: birth, marriage, adoption. Golden Gate University does not process dependent's health insurance enrollment. To enroll a dependent, contact Wells Fargo Insurance at 800-853-5899.