graduate: International Students
STUDY IN THE HEART OF SAN FRANCISCO
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 or J immigration status.
INTERNATIONAL ADMISSIONS & ADVISING (IAA)
IAA provides services to international students and dependents, including:
- Academic Advising
- Immigration Advice
- Visa Paperwork Assistance
- International Student Forms
- Integration into the Community
- Graduation Information
Mon - Thurs: 9 am - 6 pm
Fri: 9 am - 5 pm
Drop-in Hours: Mon - Thurs: 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 does not accept international applicants to undergraduate programs.
WHEN TO APPLY
GGU international students are granted admission on 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 or J visa in their home country.
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
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, graduation and bachelor degree certificates, issued directly by the China Academic Degree & Graduate Education Development Center at www.cdgdc.edu.cn. 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. Test score reports must be sent from Educational Testing Service (ETS) or (IELTS) directly to Golden Gate University.
Certification of Finances
A Certification of Finances form must be submitted by all applicants intending to study while on F or J student and scholar 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.
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.
Eligibility to transfer academic credits from other institutions is dependent on a number of factors. For more details see:
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.
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.
Students holding F or J 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 or J 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.
For All International Students:
- NAFSA Financial Aid Guide
- International Student Funding
- USIA Fulbright Program
- The International Institute
- International Education Financial Aid and College Scholarship Search
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.
QUALIFYING THROUGH TESTING
Scores at or above the following:
|TOEFL paper-based test||550|
|TOEFL Internet-based test||79|
|Pearson Test of English||60|
into the PLUS Program with scores at or above the following:
|TOEFL paper-based test||500|
|TOEFL internet-based test||61|
|Pearson Test of English||45|
QUALIFYING THROUGH ALTERNATIVE METHODS
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 another English-speaking country) with at least 60 units completed at the US college (or equivalent)
- Master's degree or higher from a regionally accredited US college/ university (or equivalent from recognized college/university in another English-speaking country)
- IELTS (Cambridge) Undergraduate: Band 6 or higher, Graduate: Band 6.5 or higher
- 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**
- Completion of the Preparation in Language and University Studies (PLUS) Program
* 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.
WHAT IS PLUS?
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 or J 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
Ways Students can Become Involved
Contribute information about classes, the administration, teachers, fellow students and alumni, as well as a variety of other topics.
Get involved in the policies, goals and objectives that affect the student body by promoting student development and properly allocating student funds.
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, change of status applications and reinstatement petitions. 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.
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 CyberCampus course may used to meet the full time enrollment requirement. Students may enroll in more than one CyberCampus 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.
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 or submitting a change of address form to GGU's Records Office.
Recently arrived students from outside the United States, must ensure the I-94 card is marked "F-1" and "D/S" (duration of status) and the I-20 is stamped in the top right-hand corner of page one. 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 obtain 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 travelling 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 three 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 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.
Ultimately, each individual must decide for him or herself whether or not to travel abroad.
Travel While on OPT
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), an Office of the US Department of Homeland Security, recently 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
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.