Undergraduate Education

More than 3,000 colleges and universities offer undergraduate degree programs in the United States. This vast array of choices means there are programs available to meet everyone’s needs. The information and links below provide information on identifying, preparing for and applying to just the right undergraduate program. EducationUSA’s website leads you through Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study. You can also download EducationUSA’s guide to undergraduate studies in the U.S., available as a PDF for free download in both English and Arabic.

The timeline for applying to an undergraduate college or university in the United States is quite different than the Emirati system. The application process to U.S. colleges and universities may require between 12-24 months. You should start the process more than a year ahead of time and most students start much earlier than that! It is possible to complete the process in a short period of time, but this would severely limit your choice of schools. Planning ahead provides a better chance to get into the colleges of your choice. Below is the recommended timetable for preparing to apply to U.S. universities.

Grade 10

  • Improve Grades
  • Take PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) or take PreACT
  • Summer School (Especially extra English and Math courses)

Grade 11

  • Begin university search by visiting your high school counselor or EducationUSA advisor
  • Attend education fairs in your area including Najah (ask EducationUSA advisor for a list)
  • Take standardized tests like the SAT or ACT (see below)
  • Identify as many universities as you are interested in and contact them for information

Grade 12

  • September: Take TOEFL or IELTS
  • October: Re-take SAT1 or ACT in necessary
  • Request letters of recommendation & transcripts
  • November: Take SAT2 (subject test)
  • December: Apply to a variety of different universities, not just one or two
  • Watch the applications deadlines carefully! International students are generally encouraged to begin their studies with the Fall semester, just like almost all American students do. Early Decision and Early Action deadlines begin in November for the following Fall. Traditional application deadlines range from January through March for the following Fall. A limited number of programs offer rolling admission, which means they accept students until classes are full, but this is not the standard practice. Waitlists are far more common.

Most colleges and universities in the United States require standardized testing for undergraduate admissions. Admissions requirements vary, so be sure to confirm which test(s) you need with the institutions that interest you.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test will measure your language ability as it relates to speaking, writing, listening and reading. The TOEFL iBT is offered in major cities across the UAE. For more information, including test preparation, please visit the ETS website.

Another English language proficiency test is the International English Language Testing System, developed in part by the British Council. For more information, please visit the IELTS website.

SAT: a test that measures critical reading, writing, and mathematical abilities. The SAT Subject Tests measure knowledge in specific subject areas. The SAT is widely accepted at accredited two and four-year colleges and universities in the United States, and hundreds of institutions around the world.

ACT: a curriculum-based multiple-choice assessment that tests reading, English, mathematics, and science, with an optional essay section. The ACT is widely accepted at accredited two and four-year colleges and universities in the United States, and hundreds of institutions around the world.

One of the most important parts of the process is finding the right school. No one can tell you what the best college or university is for you, because that is a complicated question that requires a lot of research and quite a bit of thought about your own preferences.