International Students

Glossary and Common Questions

Below you'll find answers to some of the most common questions we receive from our international applicants. You can also visit our general Admissions FAQ for even more helpful information! Further down this page you'll find a glossary of terms commonly used in U.S. college admissions.

Student Life

Does Messiah College have any student organizations for international students?

Yes, quite a few! The International Student Association/MuKappa aids international students, missionary kids (MKs) and third culture kids (TCKs) in making cultural adjustments and provides an ongoing network of encouragement, fellowship and understanding among its members. ISA/MuKappa also works at bringing world awareness to the College community and to the broader community outside of Messiah College. Other student organizations under the umbrella of the Multicultural Council include the African Student Union, Asian Student Union, Black Student Union, La Alianza Latina and Middle Eastern Student Association.

How diverse is the student body?

Messiah College students represent approximately 37 U.S. states and 27 countries. Our student body includes 2.3 percent international students and 8.5 percent students from underrepresented populations. As a Messiah student you will also live among students, faculty and staff from multiple Christian denominations, from urban, suburban and rural communities, from various political perspectives and from a range of family backgrounds.

What does it mean to be a Christian College?

Messiah College is a Christian college of the liberal and applied arts and sciences. The College is committed to an embracing evangelical spirit rooted in the Anabaptist, Pietist and Wesleyan traditions of the Christian Church.

Messiah is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). Approximately 900 colleges or universities in the United States define themselves as "religiously affiliated." Only 113 intentionally Christ-centered institutions in the U.S.A. have qualified for membership in the CCCU.

Our faculty are committed Christians. Our campus community includes a "zesty mix" of denominations. A very small percentage of our students have no experience with the Christian faith before coming to Messiah, but have an openness to learning about Christianity and a willingness live within our expectations for Christian community as spelled out in our Community Covenant. Often these students and their families come from a background that also shares a common commitment to a moral lifestyle.

How is the food?

We have a fine staff of professionally trained chefs, cooks and culinary employees in dining services who make our food and service the best available. Visit the dining services website to learn about the variety of dining options on campus.

Should international students live on campus?

Yes. Messiah College guarantees housing for students for four years during the academic year (September-May), with the exception of Winter Break (after final exams in December through the start of January term, the first week of January). All students are required to live on campus their first year unless living with family members. After the first year, students can apply to live off-campus. However, the vast majority of students of students live on campus all four years (not counting time spent studying abroad).

Living on campus helps Messiah students develop connections between faith, learning and living. In our residence halls and on-campus apartments, we provide quality facilities and programs conducive to academic success, personal growth and spiritual formation. Residence Life professionals serve as mentors and educators. Peer support is provided through student resident assistants (RAs) and assistant residence directors, as well as through various small group ministries and programs. You can learn more about residence life here.

Can I play sports at Messiah College?

Recreation and exercise are vital parts of the collegiate experience for many students. Intercollegiate, recreational and club sports provide excellent opportunities for interaction with friends and staying in shape. We offer a range of opportunities in competitive and recreational activities. See the following links to learn more:

Intercollegiate Athletics
Club Sports
Rec Sports (Intramurals)


Does Messiah College provide counseling/advising for international students?

All students will have a faculty advisor in their department of study from their first semester until graduation. Academic advising is available and required for all students. In addition, new students arriving from abroad for the fall semester enroll in a one-credit course designed to provide ongoing, in-depth orientation and cross-cultural adaptation to America.

What are Messiah College's academic programs?

Messiah College offers more than 80 undergraduate majors which will enable you to graduate with a bachelor's degree. (Click here to view a full list.) These are four-year programs (though a few programs have the potential to be completed in three or three-and-a-half years). We also offer five graduate programs. If you are interested in a graduate degree, please contact the Graduate Programs Office directly as the admissions process is different than for undergraduate students.

Can I change my major of study?

Yes, you can change your major of study at any point. This is very common among undergraduate students as they explore their career and calling for the future. Bear in mind that you cannot change to a nursing major after you enroll at Messiah. It is also difficult to transfer into programs such as engineering, music, and education due to the rigidity of the programs.

There are several factors students should consider before changing majors.

  • Will it increase the number of semesters required to finish my degree?
  • If a change will cause you to spend more than eight semester (four years) at Messiah College, your financial aid and may not be applied to your additional semesters.
  • If you are on an F-1 student visa, you may have a limited number of semesters in which you can remain on your visa.

You should discuss any potential changes with your academic advisor, the Office of International Student Programs and the financial aid office.

Are there any majors for which international students are ineligible?

International students can choose any major offered at Messiah College. However, due to state regulations/external certification requirements and accreditation requirements relevant to some majors, we suggest that international students work directly with the academic department to determine if being a non-U.S. citizen will impact the completion of their program.

Does Messiah College provide study abroad opportunities?

Yes! Messiah has a nationally recognized study abroad program. For more than 10 years Messiah has ranked in the top 20 bachelors institutions sending students abroad. Click here to learn more.

Financial Aid

Does Messiah College offer financial aid to international students?

Yes. All students can qualify for academic merit-based scholarships, and many international students are awarded these scholarships based on their academic performance in high school/secondary school. Messiah College also offers need-based scholarships specifically for non-U.S. citizens who do not qualify for federal financial aid from the U.S. government. These scholarships are applicable for all four years (assuming satisfactory academic performance). Transfer students are also eligible for financial aid.

Can international students work on campus?

Yes. U.S. citizens, permanent residents and students on F-1 visas can apply to work in a variety of on-campus "work study" employment positions. If you have campus employment as part of your financial aid award package, Messiah will automatically assign you to a campus job prior to your arrival. (You may need to complete some additional paperwork prior to arrival or during orientation.) Students who do not have a campus employment component in their aid package may still apply for available campus positions. You are, of course, responsible for keeping your job through good performance.

Summer campus employment is not guaranteed, but international students may apply for these positions and many of our international students remain on campus to work during the summer months. Housing and meals are included for students employed during the summer. International students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and up to 40 hours per week when school is not in session. Students are generally assigned 8-10 hours per week during the school year. 

Note for F-1 students: On-campus work is actually the only legal employment option for students on an F-1 visa (with the exception of Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training, which are employment options directly related to your major available later in your college career and in the year following graduation).

If you are a non-U.S. citizen with a visa or immigration status other than an F-1 visa, contact the Office of Admissions at to learn about potential employment options.

I cannot afford to pay the full cost of a Messiah College education. Will my financial need hurt my chances of being admitted?

Your financial situation will not impact your chances of being admitted to Messiah College. However, non-U.S. citizens must prove ability to pay the cost of educational and living expenses in order to obtain a Form 1-20, which is necessary to apply for an F-1 student visa.

How much aid do you give to international students?

Financial aid is awarded to non-U.S. citizens on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration both academic merit and financial need. The average aid package ranges from $500-$16,500 awarded annually (renewable at first-year dollar amount). U.S. permanent residents follow the same financial aid process as U.S. citizen applicants living in the United States (see below).

How much aid do you give to U.S. citizen applicants living abroad, such as MKs and TCKs?

U.S. citizen applicants living abroad go through the same financial aid process as U.S. citizen applicants living in the United States. These students are potentially eligible for Messiah College merit-based scholarships and need-based scholarships and grants, as well as U.S. federal aid, which can be in the form of loans or grants. They can also apply for private student loans.

How do students cover the resulting financial gap of an award that does not meet their full need as demonstrated by the IFF or FAFSA?

Many of our international students seek financial support or sponsorship from extended family, their home church or other groups willing to invest in their academic potential.

Does Messiah College raise tuition every year?

Like most schools, the cost of tuition and other fees are typically raised by a small percentage each year. Keep in mind, however, that financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants will remain at the amount awarded your first year.

Does Messiah College give loans to international students?

No. Messiah College does not provide loans to any students as a form of financial aid. Students who receive loans as part of their aid package either qualify for loans from the U.S. government (students who are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents) or apply for private loans from financial institutions.

How do I apply for financial aid?

Non-U.S. citizens - complete the International Financial Form as part of your application process. When you receive your acceptance letter, it will also include your financial aid award information.

U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents - after January 1 of the year in which you intend to enroll at Messiah, complete and submit the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can submit the FAFSA even if you haven't yet received your acceptance from Messiah College. Note that the FAFSA will likely be a required document for any U.S. college or university to which you apply. You will receive your financial aid award package separate from your acceptance letter.

Is there a separate application for merit-based scholarships?

No. All information required to determine your eligibility for merit-based scholarships is part of the application for admission.

I do not intend to apply for financial aid. Must I still submit Messiah College's Financial Aid Application or the International Student Financial Aid Application?

IFF - Non-U.S. citizens applying for an F-1 visa must submit the IFF as part of the application process, even if they are fully able to fund their own education. The IFF is how you must demonstrate your ability to pay for your education.

FAFSA - U.S. citizens and permanent residents are not required to submit the FAFSA. Before deciding against submitting the FAFSA, keep in mind that eligibility for any federal aid (including Stafford Loans and ParentPLUS loans) requires a FAFSA submission. FAFSA results may also qualify you for Messiah College need-based aid, even if you don't receive federal aid.

What 'supporting documents' are required to be submitted with the International Financial Form?

The student/student's family, as well as anyone else committing to sponsor a student financially, must provide supporting documentation. These documents can be in the form of bank statements, employment letter, tax document or award notices. The name on the supporting document should match the name listed under Section 3 of the IFF. The student's name should also be clearly marked on the supporting document. All documents should include a date. Original and certified documents are a must!

Admissions Requirements

What do you look for in an applicant?

An applicant who is likely to be a good fit in the Messiah community is a well-rounded individual, has solid academics and extra-curricular school activities, demonstrates academic readiness (especially in written and spoken English proficiency, as we have limited resources for English language learners) and desires to be within a Christian community.

Which is more important—a high GPA or honors level classes?

Our admissions staff takes into account both the grades a student receive AND the level of academic challenge offered by the classes a student has taken. One is not valued above the other, as both can demonstrate a student's ability to succeed academically at Messiah College.

What is Messiah College's policy on standardized testing?

The SAT I and ACT scores can qualify you for admission and impact your eligibility for scholarships. The TOEFL and IELTS can qualify you for admission but will not help you qualify for additional financial aid. Test results must be submitted to Messiah College directly from the testing institution or verified by your school as part of an official transcript.

What are Messiah College's requirements regarding standardized tests?

Applicants must submit at least one standardized test score from the following options:

  • SAT: minimum composite score of 1000 on critical reading and math
  • ACT: minimum composite score of 22
  • TOEFL: minimum 80 internet-based test/ 213 computer-based test/ 550 paper-based test
  • IELTS: minimum 6.5

Do I have to submit the TOEFL?

The TOEFL is one of four exams which Messiah College will accept as part of the application process. You may submit your TOEFL exam results, or you may submit results from the SAT I, ACT or IELTS exam instead.

What is Messiah College's institution code for requesting official score reports from SAT, ACT and TOEFL?

If you choose to have the results submitted to Messiah College by the testing institution, you will need to supply the institution with Messiah College's unique code: SAT code - 2411; ACT code - 3630; TOEFL code - 2411.

Do you accept the SAT II results?

While a student may choose to submit his or her SAT II scores as supplementary evidence of academic ability, this is not a required test. It will have no impact on scholarship eligibility, and it will not meet the requirement for a standardized test score. Scores from the SAT I, ACT, TOEFL or IELTS must still be submitted.

I have taken IB, AP or A-Level courses. Can I get Messiah College credit for them?

IB Policy: Messiah College recognizes International Baccalaureate (IB) level work and will grant credit for examination scores of five or better on higher level courses only.

AP Policy: A student entering Messiah College will be granted four credits for Advanced Placement (AP) examinations of the College Board upon presentation of a score of three or higher.

A-Level Policy: Upon receipt of a transcript from the British Examination Authority, the College also will grant four credits for each British Advanced-level examination (A-level) score of B or higher.

German Abitur or French Baccalaureat: Messiah College will award a maximum of 16 credits. Exams to be accepted by Messiah College must be in subjects where we would also accept AP scores.

How do I determine if I should apply as an international student or a domestic student?

You should apply as an international applicant if you are a U.S. citizen living abroad or a U.S. legal permanent resident or Green Card holder or a non-U.S. citizen currently on a visa or requiring a visa to study in the U.S. and you are applying for first-time or transfer admission.

You should apply as a U.S. citizen applicant if you are a U.S. citizen and currently live in the U.S.A. or a U.S. territory and are applying for first-time, transfer or part-time degree seeking admissions.

I have graduated from secondary school, but have not yet attended a college or university. Under what status should I apply?

You should apply as a new first-year student and not a transfer student.

Can I apply for entry in the spring (February) semester?

Yes, you can.  Choose spring on the application. 

If I have attended a post-secondary institution but would like to start my studies over, can I apply as a first-year student?

Any student who has attended a post-secondary (college or university) after graduation from high school/secondary school must apply as a transfer student.

Can I submit some of my documents now and the rest later, or do I have to submit everything all at the same time?

You may submit your application documents one at a time, but we will not begin reviewing your application file until all items have been received. For example, you may submit your application online and then send the remaining supporting documents by mail. Once all required documents have been received, your application will be reviewed.

What is the mailing address for sending my documents to Messiah College?

You may send application documents to 
Messiah College - Office of Undergraduate International Admissions
One College Ave Suite 3005
Mechanicsburg PA 17055 U.S.A.

I can't afford to send official TOEFL or SAT score reports directly from ETS or the College Board. How can I send them?

If your TOEFL or SAT scores are included on your official high school transcript, sent to us directly from your school, we will consider those as official score reports.

Do you need my transcripts in the original language or in English?

If your original transcript is not in English, you will need to provide a certified, translated copy for us to review.

Can I pay the application fee or admission deposit by credit card?

Yes, if you do it at the time of submitting your online application.

How can I get an application fee waiver?

The application fee is waived automatically for all applications received prior to November 15. If you are applying after November 15, and are not able to pay your application fee, you can ask your high school guidance office to submit a fee waiver request on your behalf to Messiah College.

I have questions that are not addressed in the international FAQ section. Where can I direct these questions?

Any further questions may be directed to Sarah Wade at or

Can I contact a current international student with my questions?

You are welcome to send your questions to and we will do our best to have a current international student respond to your questions.

When and how will I be notified of my admission/financial aid decision?

You will receive an email notification with your admission decision. A letter will follow by mail (typically by Fed Ex, based on the mailing information you provide us) with all relevant admission, immigration and financial aid information.

What is my "MCSquare" account?

Messiah Community Square (or MCSquare for short) is a place for the Messiah community (students, employees and educators) to come and access various systems, services and information from one place. As a student within the Messiah College community, you will be using MCSquare for the following: Messiah email, financial aid information, step-by-step instructions to prepare for enrollment, course registration, meeting other studentsand more.


College - in the United States, the terms "college" and "university" are often used interchangeably. The level or quality of education available can be comparable in a college or university.

Financial aid - Commonly refers to the money given for educational expenses in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and work study. Financial aid may or may not have to be paid back to the school and/or lender.

Grant- A grant is a form of financial aid that is awarded to a student based on financial need. Students are not expected to pay back aid given in the form of a grant.

International student - Around campus, among students and staff, the term "international student" is commonly used to refer to any number of student populations who have lived outside the United States at some point in their lives, i.e., non-U.S. citizens, students on visas, MKs, TCKs, U.S. permanent residents, etc. However, on this international admissions website, we have endeavored to use the term "international student" to specifically reference students on visas in the U.S.A. for the purpose of academic study.

Liberal arts - A liberal arts education provides a focus of study on human thought, action, emotion and character, providing the means for students to form a comprehensive intellectual, moral, and spiritual identity during their college years while they also cultivate the highly prized career skills of critical and creative thinking, articulate oral and written communication and a broad grasp of society and culture. Wherever your interests lie in our many areas of study, you'll find abundant opportunities to pursue them with confidence that your undergraduate education will open doors to a wide variety of graduate and professional programs and future careers.

Loan- A loan is a form of financial aid that is awarded to a student based on financial need and ability to repay. Students are expected to pay back aid given in the form of a loan, along with any interest that may accrue during the payback period. Loans are generally not available to non-U.S. citizens except where they have a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has a good credit rating.

Major- another term for an academic program of study which leads to a bachelor's degree. In some countries this is the term for "career" or "course of study."

MK- Missionary kids (or MKs) are the children of missionary parents, and thus most were born and/or raised abroad (that is, on the "mission-field"). They can be a subset of third culture kids (TCKs), but not always. In the past MKs usually were thought of only as American, but there is now a growing number of MKs from other countries. The term is more specifically applied when these children return to their "home" or passport country (the country of their citizenship) and often experience various difficulties identifying with fellow citizens. The resulting feeling is described as "reverse culture shock." MKs often identify more with where they were raised (and this could be multiple cities, countries or continents) than where their parents were raised, but are not fully at home in any one culture. (Definition derived from

Recommendation - A form completed on behalf of an applicant by a mentor/leader who can attest to the applicant's character, qualifications and fit for the university community.

Rolling admission- With rolling admissions, application files are reviewed shortly after all requirements have been received, and applicants are often notified of their acceptance or rejection within a few weeks of applying. A college with rolling admission typically accepts applications for as long as spaces are available for enrollment.

Scholarship- A scholarship is a form of financial aid that is awarded to a student based on certain measures of merit. Students are not expected to pay back aid given in the form of a scholarship, however students may be required to maintain certain academic or extra-curricular standards in order to keep the scholarship.

TCK - Third culture kid; A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents' culture. The third culture kid builds relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the third culture kid's life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of the same background, other TCKs.

Transcript - Official record of secondary school classes/courses and final grades for each course. It is typically of the last four to six years of high school/secondary school (depending on the country).

Transfer student - A transfer student is any applicant who has attended college/university and completed 12 or more credits post-high school graduation.

TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language; The TOEFL test helps prove you have the English skills you will actually use in an academic classroom. More than 8,000 colleges, universities and agencies in more than 130 countries rely on TOEFL® test scores to help make admissions decisions. Paper, computer-based and online versions of the exam are available. Visit