List of Documents Required for Applying to US Universities



Updated On 14 July 2023


Read Time 10 minutes


When it comes to studying abroad, meticulous preparation is needed, and every step must be taken with utmost care. Having a successful application with no room for error is the road to increasing the chances of receiving an offer letter from your dream university. One major factor of a successful application is the documents required for applying to US universities.


While the application process is taxing, knowing what documents you need can become a lot easier. What documents do you need for which course? These details are generally available on the university’s official website under the offered course section. These documents can be course specific but include many common ones. So without any ado, let’s get started!


A Preview of the Educational Landscape of USA

In the USA, education is provided by various private and public institutions. The private institutions are free from any boundaries and can decide on their curriculum, staffing and other things without external intervention.


On the other hand, state schools or universities are usually supervised by the state or local government with the help of federal funding. The country's law has made education compulsory for children ages five to eight.


Numerous universities and colleges offer a wide range of post-secondary education options that are both publicly and privately governed. Graduate school and college are the two types of post-secondary education. Public research universities, private liberal arts colleges, historically black colleges and universities, community colleges, for-profit colleges, and many other types and combinations of institutions make up higher education. In the long run, the United States has seen an increase in college enrollment rates.


According to several ranking bodies, the bulk of the world's best universities are in the United States, including 19 of the top 25 institutions in the world and the most distinguished institution, Harvard University. The nation is ranked first in the annual U.S. News & World Report list of the Best Countries for Education. With 403 recipients (406 awards), the United States has by far the most Nobel Prize winners in history. This is all a testament to the country's excellent education legacy.


Top Universities and Rankings

Now that we have an understanding of the existing educational landscape of the USA, let’s take a quick look at the top universities along with their QS World University Rankings.

Top Universities in USA for International Students and Their Rankings

University Name 

QS World University Ranking 2023 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Stanford University


Harvard University


California Institute of Technology (Caltech)


University of Chicago


University of Pennsylvania


Princeton University


Yale University


Cornell University


Columbia University


Johns Hopkins University


University of Michigan-Ann Arbor


University of California, Berkeley (UCB)


Northwestern University


New York University (NYU)


University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)


Duke University


Carnegie Mellon University


University of California, San Diego (UCSD)


Brown University


University of Texas at Austin


University of Washington


University of Wisconsin-Madison


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Georgia Institute of Technology


Pennsylvania State University


Rice University


Top Courses

The USA is famous for all sorts of courses, starting from science and technology to performing arts. STEM courses in the country are given special preference and importance, and graduates from these courses get paid amongst the highest in the country. Apart from let's take a glance at the top courses in US listed below.

  • Engineering 

  • Performing Arts 

  • Statistics 

  • Computer Science 

  • Healthcare Management 

  • Information Technology 

  • Social Work 

  • Business Analytics 

  • Accounting

  • Psychology 

  • Mathematics 

  • Visual Design 

  • Art Direction 

  • Film Studies 

  • Visual Design 

  • Nursing 

  • Social Work

  • Business Administration 

Documents Required

US universities are globally known for their rigorous and competitive approach to admission. The competition leaves no room for mistakes, especially in submitting proper documents. The documents' requirements depend on what the university needs you to submit. In general, there are several documents required for admission in USA. Let’s take a look at them. 


  • Letters of Recommendation

  • Transcripts for bachelor’s degrees or equivalent

  • Entrance exam scorecards – GRE / GMAT / MCAT / LSAT

  • Proof of English language proficiency scores

  • Statement of Purpose

  • Passport

  • Resume or CV

  • Other academic transcripts

  • Mark sheets and pass certificates

  • Work experience letters (if any)

  • Certificates for extra-curricular activities

  • Application confirmation copy

  • Proof of funds

  • Research proposal / any portfolio (for any particular course) 

6 Must-Have Documents to Study in USA

Now that the list of documents is clear to you let’s look at the six must-have documents required for applying to US universities to study in USA with which your application is not successful. Let’s get started, shall we?


A valid passport:


A passport is the most must-have document. Your whole process of studying abroad starts with the passport. Universities ask for this document to verify the personal details submitted by you. You must have a visa which is valid for six months after the completion of your course. Don’t forget to always keep a copy of the first and last page of the passport with you. Always keep a check on your passport’s expiry date to not have any problems occur afterwards.


Good English language proficiency scores:


As you must know, English language proficiency is extremely important to apply to USA universities. If you wish to get admission to a top university, you must start preparing for the exam. International English Language Testing System is the most popular English language proficiency exam accepted worldwide. Depending on your university's acceptance, you can also attempt TOEFL or PTE Academic.


All transcripts from previous educational institutions:


Universities in USA require you to submit all the transcripts and mark sheets from the 10th standard onwards. These transcripts play a crucial role in helping the admission committee to offer you a place. Ensure you have collected all of these from your current or previous institutions beforehand to avoid any hassle at the last moment.


2-3 Letters of Recommendation:


Letters of recommendation are required by every USA university to consider applications for the chosen course. These play an important role in your application as letters of recommendation are given heavy weightage in universities abroad. The requirement of how many letters are needed varies from one university to another.


Generally, you are required to submit two academic and one professional letter of recommendation. In case of no professional history, you can submit all the letters as academic ones. These LORs are submitted online and might require you to submit information like name, email, organisation, and designation of the recommenders. After this, the university will send a mail to all the recommenders asking a set of questions related to your candidature.


Personal Statement or Essay:


A personal statement is asked by every university regardless of where you are applying. It is one of the most important documents required for applying to US universities. US universities require you to either write a statement of purpose, shedding light on your academic and personal details, your hobbies, why you have decided to study the chosen course at the chosen university, and your future plans and goals.


Additionally, you might also be required to write your answers for certain essay questions at the time of application. These questions might be related to your hobbies or interests, something that inspires you, or you wish to achieve for the benefit of society. A good statement or essay can interest the admission committee in your profile.


Financial Documents:


Financial documents are required by the university in order to assess whether you have the means to study at the US university. Strong funding assures the application committee and works in your favour. You can also outline how you will manage the tuition and living expenses. Based on your financial condition, you can also request scholarships that can subsequently help you with the cost of studying in USA.  


Cost of Studying in USA

The cost of studying in USA for Indian students is regarded as higher than in other countries, but the benefits are also higher than the rest. Getting a degree from a prestigious institution in the USA makes it all worth it. Pursuing undergraduate degrees in the USA is costlier than postgraduate degrees in the country.


The cost largely depends on the study area you wish to reside in and the university of your choice. A degree in the USA might cost you somewhere between $12,000 to $75,000 and can go up for certain courses. It's best to check on the university website or get in touch with our counsellors to guide you with the costs. You will be required to submit financial documents to prove that you can study at the institute and have enough funding.



Q. What paper do you need from India to take admission to the USA?

A. Attempting exams completely depends on the university and the course. You will be required to submit English language proficiency exams like IELTS or TOEFL. Depending on your course, you might also be needed to attempt admission exams like GRE, GMAT, etc. It is best to check the exam requirements beforehand and make the application accordingly.


Q. What is the success rate of a US visa in India in 2023 after submitting the proper documents?

A. According to the data reported online, the success rate of US visas in India in 2023 after submitting the proper documents is recorded to be somewhere around 85%.


Q. What are the requirements to study in USA for Indian students?

A. The requirements for Indian students to study in the USA largely depends on the university and the course they are applying for. In general, the requirements include good English language proficiency scores, a valid passport, transcripts from previous educational institutes, recent passport-size photographs, a confirmation page of DS-160, form I -20, payment of application fees for SEVIS, a personal statement or essay, application as a non-immigrant, etc.


Q. How much Indian money is required to study in USA?

A. Finances you need in order to study at US universities depend on the course you are choosing to pursue along with the selection of the university. Private and public universities’ fees greatly differ, and you must first check the tuition cost and then shortlist the university. Generally, it might cost around $12,000 to $75,000 and can increase depending on your study area.



To conclude, the USA is a great selection country to pursue your higher education abroad. You will need a set of documents to complete your application online. These sets of documents are outlined in the course section of the university. It is best to check and collect these documents before making the application for a smooth process. You need a valid visa, LORs, proof of funds, transcripts, statement of purpose, etc, to complete the application successfully. We have outlined the important documents required for applying to US universities above in the blog, and you can take reference from them. We hope you have all the information you need. We wish you luck with your application.


We hope you had an insightful read about the documents required for applying to US universities and got useful insights on the top courses, universities, etc. If you would like to get a deeper insight into how to study in USA, we encourage you to have a word with our team of expert counsellors at Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC). Our counsellors will provide you with guidance throughout your study abroad journey. Get help with the application process, SOPs and filing for a visa. Visit us and get one-to-one counselling or avail yourself of free video counselling via our website. We will be happy to help you, so please do not hesitate to contact us at or 1800-1230-00011. 


blog meet

Get the best study abroad guidance

blog meet

Get the best study abroad guidance

Book Your Online Counselling Session

Meridean overseas whatsappChat