International Applicants

This section is for you if you are an international applicant applying to the College of Arts and Sciences as a first year or transfer student. Below you will find application deadlines, an outline of the application process, and information regarding financial aid.

  • The College of Arts and Sciences does not require an application fee.
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What We Look For

Oberlin admissions counselors engage in a holistic review process when reading and evaluating each application. This means that all aspects of your application are considered. 

  • We seek an incoming class that represents a variety of talents, viewpoints, and achievements.
  • We prefer a high school record demonstrating proficiency equivalent to four years of English, four years of mathematics, three years of the same foreign language, three years of laboratory science, and three years of social studies. These are recommended but not required.
  • For your teacher evaluations, we strongly recommend they be written by teachers you recently had for academic courses—the people most familiar with your writing, analytical, and quantitative abilities.
  • Two teacher recommendations are usually sufficient, but you are welcome to submit one additional letter of recommendation if it will provide relevant information not found in your academic teacher recommendations. These recommendations may come from private instructors, coaches, clergy, mentors, extracurricular activity advisors, or employers that show evidence of your writing, analytical, and quantitative abilities.

Want more insight? Check out our YouTube channel for a series of workshops led by Oberlin admissions counselors that cover different aspects of the college search and application process

Application Deadlines

You may apply to Oberlin College under one of two decision plans: Early Decision or Regular Decision. We accept applications for Early Decision at two different times of the year; applications for Regular Decision are accepted only once a year. An Early Decision application is a binding commitment to enroll if accepted and should be submitted only after careful consideration. If you are considering applying early decision, please refer to the early decision page for more information.

Steps Early Decision I Early Decision II Regular Decision Intl. Transfer (Fall Entry)
Application Deadline Nov. 15 Jan. 2 Jan. 15 March 15
Financial Aid Deadline Nov. 15 Jan. 2 Jan. 15 March 15
Notification Dec. 15 Feb. 1 April 1 May 1
Reply/Deposit Due* Jan. 2 Feb. 15 May 1 Two weeks after acceptance

International students are rarely accepted for spring transfer. International transfer students seeking fall admission with financial aid are strongly encouraged to apply by January 15 for fullest consideration.

Begin preparing your application materials well in advance of the deadline, and be sure to give your teachers plenty of time to write their letters of recommendation. All required documents should be submitted by the applicable deadline; please call us at + 1-440-775-8411 or e-mail us at international.admissions@oberlin.edu if you are having any difficulty completing your application.

*A $300 matriculation deposit is required to secure your place in the incoming class. This deposit must be submitted via check or online payment along with your intent-to-enroll card. Failure to submit your deposit by the reply deadline may prevent you from enrolling at Oberlin. Payment plans are available for those experiencing financial hardship.

Requirements

Students intending to apply to Oberlin may sign up to receive deadline reminders and additional information by completing our prospective student inquiry form.

We cannot begin reviewing your application until we have received all required components.

Application

We accept online applications through either the Common App or the Coalition Application. You may choose whichever application platform is most convenient to you, but please remember to submit only ONE application. 

An Early Decision Agreement is required for all students who apply via Early Decision. This form must include both parent and school counselor signatures and is available for online completion through the Common App or the Coalition App.

Essay Questions

We require a general personal essay as part of the application. You may use the Common App or Coalition App essay prompts or write on the topic of your choice. View the prompts and read our best essay tips.  

School Report with Official Transcript

To be completed by a secondary school counselor. (If your school has no counselor, a principal, or head of division, another school official may complete the form.) It is important that an official transcript of your courses, grades, and exam marks be included by the school with this report.

Teacher Evaluations (2)

We require two academic teacher evaluations. Both of these recommendations should come from teachers who have taught you in core academic subjects (English, math, science, social studies, foreign language, or an AP/IB class). We prefer letters from teachers who have taught you for a full course in either the junior or senior year. Forms are available for online completion through the Common App or the Coalition App.

English Language Proficiency Requirements

All international applicants for whom English is neither their first language nor the primary language of secondary school instruction are required to demonstrate they possess the level of communication skills that is necessary to succeed in Oberlin's rigorous academic environment. To satisfy this requirement, we accept official score reports from TOEFL (including iBT Home Edition), IELTS, or Duolingo’s English Test (DET).

Note: If it is not possible to take one or more of the required exams where you live, you may contact us for a waiver at international.admissions@oberlin.edu. However, be aware that applicants who provide a standardized test score will be considered more favorably. 

Results of any national examinations you have taken should also be submitted.

Additional Forms

All international students, regardless of aid status, must submit an International Certification of Finances Form. Instructions for completing this are attached to the form. Any international student wishing to apply for need-based financial assistance must also submit the College Board Financial Aid Profile

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. If a student is not applying for financial aid, the expected amount of support per year required for Oberlin is: 

Year Amount
2022-23 $84,655
2023-24 $87,195
2024-25 $89,810
2025-26 $92,505

If you would like to include additional materials to supplement your application, we will accept the following items.

SAT or ACT Test Results

Oberlin has moved to a test-optional model starting with the 2020-2021 admissions cycle and continuing as a pilot program through the 2022-2023 application year. SAT and ACT score submissions will still be accepted, but will no longer be required. For more information, please review our testing policy.

Students who wish to submit test scores as part of their application may self-report their scores on their application. Official scores are only required for enrolling students.

SAT Code: 1587

ACT Code: 3304

Interviews

Interviews are optional and not required as part of the Oberlin College application. Students who live outside of the United States and Canada may schedule a virtual interview with a member of the Oberlin community.

Oberlin College also encourages and accepts independent interviews from vendors such as InitialView or Vericant. If you live in China, you can use InitialView and speak personally with an interviewer.  If you live in Mainland China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan you can use Vericant to speak personally with an interviewer. If you live outside of these countries, you can use these vendors to speak with an interviewer via a video platform.

Your InitialView or Vericant conversation will be recorded and can be reviewed by Oberlin, as well as being shared with other colleges of your choice. Please note that an interview with InitialView or Vericant is not Oberlin-specific so your interviewer will not be able to answer questions about Oberlin. There is a cost for this service.  If this option is a financial burden for you and your family, fee waivers are available

Other Materials

You may send examples of your best academic or artistic work. However, please be aware that certificates are not necessary and, unless they pertain to the final year of your high school education, prove unhelpful in the application reading process. A strong, well-prepared application is both comprehensive and concise.

In addition to all of the above, transfer applicants must also submit:

College Official’s Report

To be completed by the Dean of Students (or appropriate official) at your current university and should be sent directly to Oberlin by that person.

International Transfer Student Midterm Report Form

Required if final grades do not yet appear on an official transcript. The deadline for submission is March 15.

Note: Transfer applicants must submit both a final secondary school transcript and the most recent university transcript as part of the School Report.

FAQs


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. 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.

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, 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:

SAT R 620 720
SAT M 720 800
SAT W 660 730
TOEFL (iBT) 106 112
GPA 3.54 3.87
ACT Composite 30 33

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 here. 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 international.admissions@oberlin.edu 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.


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 over 50 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:

Areas of Study

Departments

Full list of courses

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 Integrative Concentration in Business allows students to add a focus on business and gain professional experience in the field, and the 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.


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, 10% 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.