Tips and Instructions for Graduate Applications For International Sponsored Students

  • Each graduate department and program has different application requirements and deadlines.  Please read all admissions information on the department website carefully.
  • The minimum English requirements for MSU graduate programs are the following:  iBT TOEFL of at least 80 overall with speaking, listening, and reading sub scores of at least 19 and a writing sub score of at least 22; IELTS of 6.5 or higher.  Some programs have higher requirements.
  • Graduate programs require the general GRE test.  A few require a GRE subject test.  Business programs require GMAT.  Please check individual program websites for guidance on GRE or GMAT scores.
  • Most graduate programs require 3 letters of recommendation.
  • For applicants to PhD programs, it is a good idea to read the profiles of faculty members in the department of interest.  Find one or two who are doing research related to your interests and write to them to briefly introduce yourself: your name, which scholarship you have received from your country, your interest in their research, and brief information about your background.  This process will help you get to know the department and whether the program is the right fit for you. Some programs will require that you have a faculty mentor arranged in order to be accepted to the program.
  • Official transcripts should be sent directly to the graduate department, not to the Admissions Office.  The information on the Admissions website that instructs you to send transcripts to the Admissions Office only applies to students applying for undergraduate programs.  Graduate applicants should submit everything to the academic department.
  • Whenever possible, please try to keep your name the same on your application and all documents you submit.  MSU receives many application documents from students, and having different variations of your name on each document makes it more difficult to match documents and complete your application file.
  • The Sponsored Student Recruitment Coordinator will assist you with the application process.  However, it is your responsibility to also communicate directly with the Graduate Secretary in the department you are applying to.  That is the person who can answer detailed questions about whether your application is complete, the timeline for an admission decision, and many other things about the admission process and department.
  • Writing your statement of purpose (MSU usually has 2 statements – an academic statement and a personal statement).

    • Read the instructions on the department website carefully.
    • Use those instructions as an outline for your first draft.  Be sure to write something about all of the points in the instructions.  
    • If the department you are applying to does not provide a lot of instructions about the statement of purpose, keep in mind the following: departments want to know that you are a good fit for their program academically, personally, and in terms of your research background and interests.  They want to see that you have strong reasons for pursuing graduate study in general and specifically at MSU.
  • You will submit an online graduate application and then create a student portal where you will be able to upload documents and list the names of your references.
  • You must also arrange to official academic records from all institutions.  They should be sent directly from your university if possible or in sealed envelopes, signed by the university.
  • For any questions about the items above, please contact Robert Coffey (coffeyr1@msu.edu)

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