Arts and Sciences Admissions

International FAQs

International FAQs


Applying to Oberlin

Am I an international student?

This is a more complicated question than you might think. In most contexts, an international student is anyone who is not a United States citizen or permanent resident. Thus, a citizen of another country attending high school in the U.S. must apply to Oberlin as an international student. However, undocumented students living in the United States are exempted from this requirement, and will be considered as domestic applicants. U.S. citizens and permanent residents should apply to Oberlin using the domestic application guidelines - even if they live overseas.

I have some post-high school course work. Should I apply as a first-year student or as a transfer student?

Oberlin accepts applications from students who are transferring from another college or university. If you are attending a university full-time and are pursuing a degree, or if you have accumulated 30 or more semester hours of university credit (even if you aren't pursuing a degree), you must apply as a transfer student. In all other cases, you should apply as a first-year student.


Does Oberlin offer financial aid to international students?

Yes. Oberlin College meets 100 percent of the demonstrated financial need for all students that it admits. Financial aid is available in several forms to both first-year and transfer applicants. The nature of the aid and the way to apply is explained at Financial Aid for International Students. It is important to note that because Oberlin's international financial aid budget is not unlimited, students who do not apply for financial aid at the time of admission are not eligible for aid in future years.


Is there a special application for international students?

We encourage you to complete the optional Part I prior to your submission of the Common Application, to indicate your intention to apply to Oberlin. All applicants must complete the Common Application and Oberlin's Writing Supplement. All international applicants must complete the International Certification of Finances Form. In addition, students who are not US citizens but plan on applying for financial aid must complete the College Board Financial Aid Profile, also known as the CSS Profile. (Canadian citizens need only complete the CSS Profile Form, not the ICFF). If you are unable to complete the CSS Profile, please contact us at


What are the application and notification deadlines?

Early Decision I November 15 Notification: December 15
Early Decision II January 2 Notification: February 1
Regular Decision January 15 Notification: March/April

If admitted under the Early Decision plan, you are making a commitment to enroll. If admitted under the Regular Decision plan, you will need to notify Oberlin of your decision by May 1.


How are admissions decisions made for international students?

Oberlin selects students who demonstrate a high level of intellectual potential and achievement in the most rigorous courses available at their secondary school. There are no set numerical requirements for admission to Oberlin; decisions are made only after a thorough reading and discussion of your application file (grades, recommendations, test scores, and personal essays). The international applicant pool is very competitive and Oberlin College typically accepts less than 15 percent of international applicants. You may find it useful to know that the middle 50 percent of international applicants admitted typically have scores and high school grade point averages in the following ranges:

620 720 660 106 3.54 30
720 800 730 112 3.87 33


What tests do I need to take for admission to Oberlin?

All applicants to Oberlin's College of Arts and Sciences must submit the results of the SAT I or the ACT Test. Optional essay sections are not required for either the SAT or ACT. As an international student, you are also required to demonstrate proficiency in English. This is normally accomplished through the submission of a TOEFL or IELTS exam result. Oberlin does not require the results from SAT II Subject Tests. If you live in a country where these tests are not available, you may contact to inquire about alternatives.

Please make every effort to complete all standard exams at least two weeks prior to the application deadline. Later exam dates will cause delays in the review of your application and may hurt your chance of admission. If you must sit for a later exam date, be sure to note that on your Common Application and request the fastest score reporting option from the testing agency.


Do I need to send official score reports of my test results?

Official score reports are required to document standard test results. Photocopies will be accepted as a preliminary measure, but admissions decisions are not considered final until official score reports are received. If you are concerned that your results will not reach Oberlin before the deadline, please contact the testing agency to see when the reports from your testing date will be available.


Am I exempt from submitting TOEFL results?

You do not have to submit the results of the TOEFL exam if your native or first language is English, or if your primary language of instruction throughout secondary school has been English.


Does Oberlin offer advanced standing?

Students entering Oberlin with outstanding results on well recognized national or international examinations may be eligible for advanced standing. Advanced secondary school courses such as Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses may also earn transfer credit. General guidelines for transfer credit may be found in the college catalog. Transfer credit and prerequisite determinations are made, on request, after enrollment by individual academic departments at Oberlin.


Can I apply if I already have a university degree?

Students with an associate degree or alternative one- or two-year degree may apply to Oberlin as transfer students but not as first-year students. In some instances, you may apply as a transfer student even if you have completed a bachelor's degree. This option is limited to graduates whose degree is not a Bachelor of Arts or its equivalent. For example, a student with a Bachelor of Engineering could apply as a transfer student. For students who already have a bachelor's degree, the opportunity to transfer credits is very limited and the College is unlikely to have much, if any, financial aid available.


How will the transcript from my school be evaluated?

Members of our admissions staff are familiar with a variety of national educational systems, and have contacts with school officials in foreign countries who keep them informed about the qualities of their local schools. The results of A Level and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests, as well as other established national exams, can be useful in establishing your record of academic achievement.


What if I cannot complete all the requests on the application?

We understand that some schools may not have college counselors, or that you may not be able to find two teachers who can write the kind of recommendation usually expected by a college admissions committee. Also, there may be situations where SAT or TOFEL test centers are not readily accessible to you. In such circumstances, please contact to discuss alternatives.


Will Oberlin assist me in obtaining a travel visa?

Yes. The Office of International Students will send you a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 Form) after you accept an offer of admission-typically in mid-May. You will need to present this form to the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy to receive the F-I Student Visa. You will receive additional information regarding your arrival at Oberlin by mail from the International Student Advisor.


Earning a Degree from Oberlin

What academic degree would I receive from Oberlin College?

In four years you would receive a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. The BA is often the first step in higher education for most professional careers in the U.S. Unlike the educational systems in many countries, in North America, "arts" refers to the humanities and the sciences, as well as the arts. Therefore, your degree could be in one of 47 majors, which includes all of the natural sciences.

Students enrolling in the Conservatory of Music may earn both a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Music degree by applying to enroll in Oberlin's five-year, double-degree program. Oberlin also has a limited number of master's degree programs in the Conservatory of Music.


What is the difference between Oberlin College and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music?

Oberlin students enjoy a unique combination of cultural and academic resources: a world renowned Conservatory of Music coupled with the College of Arts and Sciences, which offers one of the top liberal arts programs in the U.S. The Conservatory and College are separate institutions, however, with very different application procedures and requirements.

The Conservatory of Music (600 students, including 175 double-degree students) is a world-class professional school of music, distinct from the College of Arts and Sciences (2,300 students). Conservatory classes, facilities, and programs, however, are open to all Oberlin students.


What subjects can I study at Oberlin?

You can study just about everything at Oberlin. We offer 47 major programs of study that are grouped in three main areas: humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Popular majors at Oberlin include biology, politics, economics, mathematics, environmental studies, computer science, history, English, and psychology. Oberlin also allows students to design their own major. See more details on academic majors and programs at:



Does Oberlin offer degrees in business or engineering?

Oberlin prepares undergraduates for subsequent study of business and engineering at the graduate level. For example, students who major in economics and/or computer science are often strong candidates for graduate programs such as the MBA. Our Business Scholars Program, offered during Winter Term, provides opportunities for students to work with successful Oberlin alumni in the financial sector.

Oberlin's 3/2 Engineering Program partners with highly respected American schools of engineering. Students study at Oberlin College for three years and then for two additional years at California Institute of Technology, Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, or Washington University. Students earn two degrees-a BA from Oberlin and a BS in engineering from the other institution. Financial aid for the engineering portion of the degree is provided by the engineering institution, requires a separate application, and may not be the same as the aid that Oberlin provided. Even if you do not pursue Oberlin's 3/2 engineering option, you can still go on to earn a graduate degree in engineering.


Learning More About Oberlin

Where is Oberlin?

The town of Oberlin is located in the state of Ohio, 35 miles southwest of Cleveland, a major metropolitan area. Cleveland features a world-class orchestra and art museum, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and three professional sports teams among many other attractions.

A 25-minute drive from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Oberlin College attracts many of its students from the cities of America's east and west coasts. Currently, 8% of our student body is composed of international students, who represent 50 different countries. As a result, Oberlin offers a sophisticated and cosmopolitan community-a genuine microcosm of the United States itself-in a safe and secure setting. In many ways, this creates an ideal environment for learning.


How is Oberlin rated among liberal arts colleges?

College guidebooks consistently rank Oberlin among the top 25 selective liberal arts colleges in the United States. These include The Fiske Guide to Colleges, Hidden Ivies, Princeton Review, Looking Beyond The Ivy League, and U.S. News & World Report.


What is a "liberal arts" education?

Intellectual depth and breadth characterize a liberal arts education. Depth is realized through intensive training in a particular subject or major. Breadth results from exposure to the content, approach, and insights of several different subjects. Oberlin's general education requirements encourage students to seek breadth in their education, while the major requirements bring depth to their education. Oberlin's liberal arts curriculum is designed to:

  • equip you with skills of creative thought, technique, and critical analysis that enable you to use knowledge effectively;
  • provide intensive training in a chosen discipline or area of knowledge;
  • prepare you for advanced study and work beyond the college years;
  • foster understanding of the creative process and develop an appreciation of creative, original work;
  • expand social awareness, social responsibility, and capacity for moral judgment so as to prepare you for the present and future demands of society; and
  • cultivate a desire for lifelong learning.


Is Oberlin a college or a university?

In the United States the term "college" has several different meanings, but always refers to post-secondary (after high school) education. In the U.S., the term "university" generally refers to institutions that offer graduate degrees and consist of several individual colleges. Because Oberlin College has both a College of Arts and Sciences and a Conservatory of Music, it meets the usual definition of a university. The Oberlin College name has been retained, however, because it highlights our focus on undergraduate education. At Oberlin, classes are always taught by professors rather than by graduate assistants. In addition, students do not have to compete with graduate students for research facilities or faculty attention.


What are the possibilities for employment after graduation?

A liberal arts degree can be your passport for either advanced study or professional employment in a wide range of professions. International graduates holding an F-1 student visa are eligible to apply for a year of employment in the U.S. under USCIS guidelines for "optional practical training" (OPT). Applications for OPT must be processed through the Office of International Students.

The Career Center provides a wide range of services and contacts regarding employment, including internships, for both current Oberlin students and recent graduates. A network of Oberlin alumni may also be helpful in finding employment. Most international students take the opportunity to work in the U.S. for one or more years after completing their degree.