International Applicants to Dedman College

We welcome international applicants at SMU!  Our campus has a significant international graduate student body and we believe that international students provide diverse perspectives and backgrounds that are invaluable in graduate education. 

Please note that the following policies are for those applying to Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences programs. If you have questions about the admissions policies for programs outside of Dedman College, please contact the appropriate admissions office for your program of interest. 

Language Requirement

Applicants who do not speak English as their native language are required to supply scores on the TOEFL English language proficiency test, the IELTS English competency test, the Duolingo English Test (DET), or the TOEFL Essentials exam.  The minimum TOEFL score for admission is 80. The minimum IELTS score is 6.5. The minimum score for the TOEFL Essentials is 8.5 with a minimum score of 8 in all subsections. The minimum DET score is 110 unless specified otherwise by a program or department.  SMU’s ETS (TOEFL) school code is 6660. For the IELTS, please indicate “SMU – Graduate Application Processing Office”. For DET, please send scores to “SMU – Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.”

This requirement can only be waived if applicants have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a U.S. institution or a qualifying country from the list below:

  • American Samoa
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada (except Quebec)
  • Dominica
  • Ghana
  • Grenada
  • Grand Cayman
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Trinidad/Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • United Kingdom
  • U.S. Pacific Trust

Video Essay (Dedman College applicants only)

In addition to the TOEFL or IELTS, international applicants to the Ph.D. program must also complete a Video Essay portion of the application if they received a TOEFL speaking score below 23, or an IELTS speaking band below 6.5.  For all other applicants, the Video Essay is optional.  The link to the video essay is available through your application status portal on the checklist after you submit your application.

To complete the video essay, you'll be taken to a screen where you can test your microphone and webcam to record a practice video. If your equipment is not working, we recommend that you wait and try again at a later time. We cannot reset your response and allow you to try again for technical difficulties.

To complete the video essay requirement, you only have to respond to ONE question. Once you start the actual video essay, you will see a question appear along with a video from a faculty member asking you that same question. You have 120 seconds to prepare and respond to the question.  Questions are randomized and are about general topics (e.g., Why are you considering graduate school? or Tell us about a challenging time.) If you do not like your response to the first question, you are offered one more opportunity to record a response to a new question. Please note, refreshing your screen will count as a response. Please remember, we cannot reset responses, so please be prepared to record and submit your recording as is.  

Financial Support

If admitted, foreign students must provide a Certification of Finance Form/Letter of Financial Backing as evidence of financial support. This should represent that sufficient money will be available to the applicant to cover all expenses while at the University. This letter may be signed by a parent or sponsor but must be certified by a bank. The document must be notarized and on file before the process for visas and passport can proceed.

Degrees from Foreign Universities

International applicants who hold a bachelor's degree from a foreign university should not assume that these degrees will be automatically accepted in U.S. universities. Decisions will be based on the academic standings of the institutions from which the applicant has graduated. Professional diplomas and higher certificates from technical or vocational schools are normally not considered as equivalent to a bachelor's degree.

If you have a 3-year Bachelor's degree, we do require that you provide a transcript evaluation with your application to demonstrate that it is equivalent to a U.S. 4-year Bachelor's degree. You can find a list of our approved evaluators here

Course Load Requirement

You must maintain a full course of study for each spring and fall semester. A full course load is 9 hours for most graduate students, although hours may vary by program and MUST be confirmed with your Academic Advisor/Dean.

Passports and Visas

Before the international student may depart for SMU, both a passport and a visa are required. The government of the student's home country is responsible for issuing the passport. If the international student is accepted by Southern Methodist University, a letter of acceptance will be sent from the Graduate Office. The SMU Office of International and Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will send an I-20 form (F-1 visa or J-1 visa) once the financial support has been verified. It is important that the name on the application matches exactly the name on the student's passport.

To meet U. S. government regulations, the international graduate student on the F-1 or J-1 visa must take at least nine semester hours each semester to qualify as a full-time student.

For further assistance:

I-20 Request Process and Submitting Requirement Documents:
Graduate Application Processing Office

Receiving Your I-20 or Making Changes to I-20 After Issued:
Office of International Student and Scholar Services
Phone: 214-768-4475

Health Insurance

All international students must be covered by hospitalization insurance and must show proof of such insurance at the time of registration. Coverage may be obtained individually or through the University for an annual fee of approximately $1,300. In addition, students purchasing this insurance are required to be eligible to use the Student Health Center, which may require an additional amount of approximately $120 per semester. Additional information about this requirement can be obtained through the ISSS Office ( Students will need to provide a record of immunizations on the SMU health form, which can be downloaded from the Student Health Center's website.

Living Accommodations

Many international students live in University residence halls and in University operated apartments while some live in off-campus housing. Students admitted to our programs receive a housing guide with information on local neighborhoods and contacts for apartment complexes. Admitted students are also given access to a private portal where they can connect with other incoming students who may be searching for housing or roommates.