An official website of the United States government


January (Year 1)

Start searching for U.S. universities and colleges using the Internet, software and reference books.

Contact the Education Adviser at U.S. Embassy Baghdad for advice.  BaghdadEducationAdv@state.gov

Go to the ETS website to take a TOEFL practice test.

Study English using the resources at the ETS website or books that you buy. Find the dates for college fairs or presentations by university representatives traveling in Iraq.  Keep looking for this information throughout your search.  Attend and ask questions.

  • Find the dates of the TOEFL Test.
  • Find the dates of the GRE Test (or other test for your field of study).


  • Ask your professors and instructors for advice about universities that are good for your field of study.  Ask people who have studied in the United States for their advice.
  • Continue your online research.  Consider things like: field of study, quality of the institution, the ease of admission, location, size, cost, availability of financial aid, housing, and international student services.
  • Email colleges and universities to request information and applications.  Most applications are available online.
  • Be consistent in the spelling of your full name.  Use your official name – the name on your passport or your identification card from the Government of Iraq.
  • Continue studying English.
  • Start studying for the GRE Test.

March – June

  • Continue your online research.  You will become more knowledgeable about application requirements, procedures and costs.  Learn what colleges and universities are looking for in a candidate.  List the institutions that interest you most.
  • Continue studying English.
  • Continue studying for the GRE Test.
  • Talk to your family about how you will pay for your studies – tuition and fees, living expenses, food, transportation, etc.
  • Search online for information about financial assistance for international students.
  • Check out the three official scholarship programs for Iraqi students to see if you qualify:
    Government of Iraq Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research – http://www.mohesr.gov.iq
    The Higher Committee for Education Development (HCED) – http://www.hcediraq.org
    Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research – http://www.mhe-krg.org/


  • Take the TOEFL Test when you are ready.
  • Take the GRE Test when you are ready.  You will probably do better the second time – so try to give yourself enough time to take the test twice before you have to submit your application.
  • Review all the college and university materials you have been collecting.  Begin to narrow your list from the Top 25 to the Top 10 schools you are interested in.
  • Discuss this list with your professors and trusted advisers.  Remember that you will have to pay an application fee to each university, so you want to narrow your search to only those schools you are most interested in.
  • Continue studying English.


  • Narrow your search.  Finalize 5 or 6 universities that you will apply to.
  • Consider at least one “safe” choice, especially if you are applying to highly selective colleges and universities.
  • Review the test scores from your TOEFL and GRE Tests.  If the scores are low, you may want to take the tests again to earn a higher score.
  • Register for the TOEFL, GRE or other tests (if needed).
  • Continue studying English.


  • Carefully review your college application instructions and create a timetable for all the deadlines you have to meet.
  • Be familiar with the policies and rules for sending applications.  Remember that each university will have different rules.
  • Decide who you will ask to write letters of recommendation as part of your applications.
  • Start the Application Forms.  Write your answers first on a paper-copy and ask someone to check the information.  Then copy your final answers to the online application.Continue studying English.


  • If you need to submit a portfolio for the major you have chosen (for example, architecture, art, and film), select and organize samples of your work.
  • Write the first draft of the essays for your applications.  Ask someone to help you with editing.  But, make sure the essays are your OWN writing!
  • If you are applying for Financial Aid, complete Financial Aid Applications with your family.
  • If you are NOT applying for Financial Aid, ask your family to take the International Student Certification of Finances Form to their Bank.  A Bank Official needs to complete the information on the form.  Make copies of the Form.  Submit the original with your Application.
  • Ask for official copies of your Student Records, in Arabic (or Kurdish) and English.  Order enough copies so you can send originals to each university that you are applying to.
  • Continue studying English.


  • Request that your TOEFL and GRE scores (or other test scores) are sent to the universities where you are applying.  If you need to order additional copies of your test scores, do that now.
  • Get the Letters of Recommendation from your Professors or others.  Make sure they are in separate envelopes and sealed.  Make sure your full name is written on the front of the envelope.
  • Ask someone to proofread your essays.
  • Make final changes to essays.  Include FINAL essays in the Application Form.
  • Continue studying English.


  • Submit your applications with fees (and portfolios, if required) to the universities as soon as you are able.  DO NOT wait for the final application deadline.  Make sure to include:  Letters of Recommendation, Student Records (transcripts), Financial Aid Application with supporting documents, and International Student Certification of Finances Form.  You will need to send some documents by mail or by courier to the United States.  Make sure that ALL the documents have your name written in full – in the same format as your passport or official identification.
  • Continue studying English.


  • Keep working hard and earning good grades.  Remember that the final transcript from your undergraduate (bachelor’s) program must be sent to the university you are going to attend – so you want to have good grades!
  • Some universities will hold telephone interviews.  Be ready in case they want to chat with you.
  • Complete any other Financial Aid forms that need to be filled out.
  • Continue studying English.

February – March

  • Continue studying English to improve your skills!


  • You will start receiving letters from the universities telling you whether or not you have been accepted.
  • If more than one college or university accepts you, you must choose which one to attend.  Talk to your family, professors and advisers.  Decide which school you will attend.
  • Accept one offer by the deadline – email to that university and tell them that you will attend.
  • You will need to send a deposit (money) to hold your spot at the university.
  • Decline the other offers – email to those universities; thank them for being selected, but tell them you have decided to accept another offer.  You do not have to explain why you are going to another school.
  • Share the good news with your professors or advisers.
  • Continue studying English.


  • After you accept an offer, you will receive information from the university about “next steps.”  Follow the directions carefully.
  • The university will send you information about how to apply for the study visa.  Go to the U.S. Embassy website to find the visa application form (DS-160).
  • Complete the application form.  Include the information from the university (i.e. I-20 information or DS-2019 information).  Submit the application online.  Gather all the documents you need.
  • Then request a visa interview at U.S. Embassy Baghdad. BaghdadNIV@state.gov
  • Confirm the housing situation at the university.  Many universities will assign (give) you a roommate.  You can start emailing with your new roommate to get to know each other before you meet in person.
  • If you haven’t received an offer from any universities, you can email to ask about your application.
  • If there is some problem – or if some information is missing, send that information to the university immediately.
  • Continue studying English.


  • Continue the visa application process at the U.S. Embassy.  Go for your interview.  Wait for the visa to be approved.
  • Request a final official transcript (record) from your college or university.  Order a copy in Arabic or Kurdish and English.
  • Continue studying English.


  • After you receive your visa, make your travel arrangements.
  • Continue studying English.


  • Depart for the United States.

Start the first semester at your new university!