Application documents

List of Documents Required for Applying in US Universities

Yocket Editorial Team

Wish to apply for a program in the US? Confused as to which documents are necessary and which are not? Here is a complete guide. But first, a word of caution: only refer to experienced people for listing out and preparing the documents. These documents are going to decide your professional future, so do not seek advice from random sources. Also, the financial documents required are very crucial and cannot have errors.

You can reach out to Yocket Premium Counsellors for an in-depth understanding of the documentation process

Table of Contents:

Overview of Documents Required for Application to US Universities - Masters & Undergraduate Programs

Before we give you the details regarding documents required for US university admission, here is a quick checklist of the same. We have divided the list into two subsections - documents required for MS in USA and documents required for applying to universities undergraduate level.

Documents Required for Masters in USA

  1. Passport
  2. Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  3. Transcripts
  4. Marksheets and pass certificates
  5. Bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  6. Letters of Recommendation (LOR)
  7. Entrance Exam Scorecards - GRE/ GMAT/ LSAT/ MCAT
  8. English Language Proficiency Test Scores
  9. Statement of Purpose (SOP)
  10. Experience Letters (if any)
  11. Application confirmation copy
  12. Essays
  13. Certificates for extra-curricular activities
  14. Proof of Funds
  15. Research proposal/ Portfolio/ Project Description (for specific courses)

Documents Required for Applying to US Universities Undergraduate

  1. Passport
  2. Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  3. Marksheets and pass certificates
  4. High school diploma or equivalent
  5. Letters of Recommendation
  6. Entrance Exam Scorecards—SAT/ ACT
  7. English Language Proficiency Test Scores
  8. Statement of Purpose
  9. Essays
  10. Work Experience Letters (if any)
  11. Certificates for extra-curricular activities
  12. Application confirmation copy
  13. Proof of Funds

Suggested: 5 Best States in USA for Indian Students 2022

In this video, you will explore the most important documents required for starting your university applications to study abroad!

14 Essential Documents Required for Applying to US Universities

Here are the details on the above-mentioned documents required for abroad studies:


This is the most important document required for studying abroad. In case you don’t have one, please file for one well in advance. Keep it ready before you schedule your entrance exams. Also, you must keep handy copies of the first and last pages of the passport.

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after your planned return date.

Resume/Curriculum Vitae

This will carry information about your objective, education qualification, internships (if any), work experience (if any) milestone scores (yearly aggregates and 10th, 12th final aggregate), projects undertaken during your undergraduate program (and during your internships/full-time job as well), and mention of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.


Transcripts for US universities are one of the most important documents required for MS in the USA. A transcript is a single document issued by an institution.

It contains the scorecard of the concerned student along with full details about the courses you studied at the undergraduate level in a concise format. Students applying during their final year, need all the scores available till that date.

For eg. For engineering students, the transcript should carry details for semesters 1 to 6. For aspirants going well after the completion of Bachelor’s, the transcript should carry scores of all the years of the Bachelor’s program.

How many transcripts do I need for MS in the US?

A student needs to issue a minimum of 2 copies of a transcript for one University. Each of them should be attested from the concerned institution itself.

Marksheets and Pass Certificates

Students also need to produce copies of their relevant mark sheets and pass certificates. For example, Indian students applying for masters need mark sheets of 10th, 12th, all semesters and passing certificates. Each application requires at least one (sometimes 2) sets of copies. All the copies should be attested.

Letters of Recommendation

One of the most important documents required for applying to US universities undergraduate and graduate programs are Letters of Recommendations (LOR).

A LOR has to come from your professors or managers and should describe your skills, achievements and experience at the college or professional level. The norm is to have at least 3 recommenders.

While some universities prefer recommenders to send the letter directly to the graduate admissions department online,  most universities (especially for Master’s program applications) request hard copies.

The content of the LOR has to be printed on the organization’s header paper, sealed inside the official envelope with stamps and signature on the seal. This is to prove that the letters are confidential and were not revealed to the applicant.

Entrance Exam Scorecards

Universities in the USA require students to take certain entrance exams for admission. Check for the program you are applying for and keep your score ready before applying to the universities of your choice.

Some important entrance exams are -

SAT:  Almost all universities in the USA accept SAT scores for applying to undergraduate programs.

ACT: It is another important exam while applying for undergraduate programs in the USA.

GRE: It is mandatory for most of the MS level programmes in the USA, including Business Management programs.

GMAT: It is required for admission to  B-Schools in the USA.

MCAT: This exam is to be taken by students interested in pursuing medical studies in the US.

LSAT: It is necessary to apply for admission to Law schools in the USA

English Proficiency Test Scores

Students coming from non-native English-speaking countries are also required to produce scores on an English language proficiency test. This is important because you will study in the US in English, and Universities need to know that language won’t be a barrier in your studies. The most popular among these tests are TOEFL and IELTS.

GRE/GMAT/SAT and TOEFL/IELTS scores have to be sent online to universities through the ETS website. Apart from that, one can keep a few copies of the scores for safekeeping.

Statement of Purpose

Applicants may or may not have to submit a Statement of Purpose online. If it has to be sent via courier please ensure it is printed on good quality paper with a header containing your name, UserID and program you wish to apply for. The standard font size and spacing preference will be mentioned on the university website.

Work Experience Letters

If you have interned or worked then the experience letters from the concerned organisations, make sure to attach your letters of experience.

Application Confirmation Copy

Once you apply and pay the online fee for the university, you will come to a confirmation page and receive a confirmation email. A copy of either of the two has to be sent. Copies of certificates for awards, participation, volunteer work, technical papers and published papers.

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Many universities in the US may ask students to submit an essay along with the application.  The essay might be on a random topic or a topic that reflects the candidate’s interest in the field or program. Most universities ask for one to three such essays.

Proof of Funds

A very important document needed for studying in the US is proof of funds. Universities need this information to assess your ability to afford the education and determine your eligibility for aid/ scholarship. For this purpose, some universities ask for a bank statement declaration. For this a letter from the bank declaring your savings is needed. This statement will be issued by your bank and the copies need to be attested by the same bank.

Do not send a loan letter along with this. The universities need not know you are applying for an education loan.

Research Proposal / Portfolio / Project Description

For certain very specific and research-based programs, the universities may also ask students for Research proposal or Portfolio or Project Description

Research Proposals are needed for research-based programs including Doctoral and post-doctoral degrees.

Project description is one of the documents required for Masters in USA for programs related to research. In these programs writing a Thesis is generally a part of the program.

Portfolios are needed for applicants for Masters in the Arts, Design and Architecture subject areas. This helps the concerned university and college in evaluating your experience and talent in your field of study.

Certificates for Extra-Curricular Activities

If you are excelling in some extra-curricular activities, make sure you add relevant certificates supporting your claim. This can help improve the overall appeal of your application to your favourite college and university.

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These are all the important documents to be sent in your application package. Ensure they are neatly packed in a green threaded cover. The courier requirements may vary university-wise. Cross-check the list on the website before sending out unnecessary documents. But if get stuck somewhere, do not worry! Connect with our expert counsellors by subscribing to Yocket premium. They will surely provide you with end-to-end guidance or customized services.

Frequently asked Questions about Document Requirements for US Universities

Which are the top universities to apply to the US?

Do US universities ask for certificates?

How many copies of academic transcripts are asked by the US universities?

What is included in proof of qualification?

What supporting documents can be asked for in your university application?

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