International Students

FAQs - International Students

Below you'll find answers to some of the most common questions we receive from our international applicants as well as a glossary of terms commonly used in U.S. university admissions.

Student life

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 campus community and to the broader community outside of Messiah University. Other student organizations under the umbrella of the Multicultural Council include the African Student Union, Asian Student Association, Black Student Union and La Alianza Latina.

You can learn more about the composition of our student body on our Messiah at a glance page!

Messiah University guarantees housing for students for four years during the academic year. 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).


All students 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.

Yes, you can change your major of study at any point. 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 semesters (four years) at Messiah University, your financial aid 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 International Student Programs Office and the Financial Aid Office.

International students can choose any major offered at Messiah University. 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.

Financial aid

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 University also offers need-based scholarships specifically for non-U.S. citizens who do not qualify for federal financial aid from the U.S. government. Need-based scholarship amounts are calculated based on the information submitted in the Affidavit of Support. These scholarships are applicable for all four years (assuming satisfactory academic performance). International transfer students are also eligible for financial aid. See our international financial aid details here .

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 guaranteed if you attend the "Summer Job Fair" in February before the intended summer. Many 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 cost only $20 per week, which is automatically taken out of a student's paycheck during their summer employment. 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 university 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.

Non-U.S. citizens must prove their ability to pay the cost of educational and living expenses in order to obtain a Form I-20, which is necessary to apply for an F-1 student visa. Students must complete an Affidavit of Support form as part of their application process before being admitted to Messiah University.

Financial aid is awarded to non-U.S. citizens on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration both academic merit and financial need.

Complete and submit the Affidavit of Support along with supporting financial documentation for need based aid. In addition, 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.

No. Messiah University 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.

Non-U.S. citizens: Complete the Affidavit of Support for need based aid.

U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents: In the fall of the year before 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 University. Note that the FAFSA will likely be a required document for any U.S. university to which you apply. You will receive your financial aid award package separate from your acceptance letter.

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


The Affidavit of Support and the supporting financial documents are required forms that must be submitted before we will evaluate your application. Non-U.S. citizens applying for an F-1 visa must submit these forms as proof that the student/family is fully able to fund his/her education. These documents are how you demonstrate your ability to pay for your education.


FAFSA for U.S. citizens and permanent residents is not a required form. 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 University need-based aid, even if you don't receive federal aid.

The student's family or sponsor must submit financial documents showing enough funds in their account(s) to pay for the first year of college expenses.  Examples of financial documents are:

  •     a letter from the bank showing current account balances
  •     fixed deposit slips
  •     certificates of deposits
  •     3 months of recent bank statements
  •     award notices


The student's name should be clearly marked on the supporting document.  All documents must be written or translated into English and be dated within the last 6 months.

Admissions requirements

Students are required to submit at least one standardized test as proof of English Proficiency. The SAT, ACT and CLT scores can qualify you for admission and impact your eligibility for academic scholarships. The TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo English Test or Pearson PTE can qualify you for admission. Official test results must be submitted to Messiah University directly from the testing institution or verified by your school as part of an official transcript.

Under certain circumstances, completion of prior English studies will also qualify students for admission. Examples include:

  • 3 consecutive years of full-time high school or post-secondary education in English (in the US, in an English-speaking country or in a North-American curriculum where English is the primary mode of instruction)
  • Final grade of 4 or better on the AP (Advanced Placement) English Language and Composition or AP Literature & Composition exam.
  • Final grade of 3 or better on the IB English 12 A1 or A2 (HL) OR a final grade of 4 or better on the IB English 12 A1 or A2 (SL) OR a final grade of 4 or better on the IB English 12 B.
  • Final grade of C or better on the GCSE O-Level English Language-A.


The TOEFL is one of seven exams which Messiah University will accept as part of the application process. You may submit your TOEFL exam results, or you may submit results from an SAT, ACT, CLT, IELTS, Duolingo English Test or Pearson PTE instead.

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

IB Policy: Messiah University considers higher level International Baccalaureate courses to be similar to Advanced Placement courses of the College Entrance Examination Board and grants six semester hours of credit for scores of four or better. Three semester hours of credit will be granted for completion of subsidiary level courses with a score of five or higher. Three semester hours of credit will be granted for successful completion of the Theory of Knowledge, if the student has received the diploma. 

AP Policy: A student entering Messiah University will be granted credit 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, Messiah University will grant credit for each British advanced-level examination (A-level) score of B or higher. 

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

You can read more about AP, IB and CLEP tests here.

Yes, you can. Choose 'spring' on the application.

Any student who has attended a post-secondary institution (university) after graduation from high school/secondary school and has more than 12 credits earned, must apply as a transfer student.

You may send application documents to:
Messiah University
Office of Undergraduate Admissions 
One University Ave
Mechanicsburg PA 17055 U.S.A.

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. Otherwise, they need to be sent directly to Messiah University from College Board or ETS.

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

Feel free to use our Contact an International Student feature. You can also email your questions to and we will have our international work study student answer.

Any further questions may be directed to


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.

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."

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.

Transcript - Official record of secondary school classes/courses and final grades for each course. This document typically reflects 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 - The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) helps prove that you have sufficient English skills to allow you to participate and succeed 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 and online versions of the exam are available at