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The following items must be submitted before an International Application for admission can be evaluated

1. Graduate School Application

Complete the online Graduate School Application.
Online Graduate Application

Please Note: F-1 and J-1 non-immigrant students can only study at the Vermillion or the University Center (Sioux Falls) campuses.

2. Application Fee

An application fee of $35.00 U.S. dollars must accompany each application for admission.  The application fee cannot be waived or deferred and it is non refundable.

3. English Proficiency Test Scores

  • Proficiency Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 79 on the Internet-Based TOEFL (IBT) or 550 on the written TOEFL is required for graduate admission.  
  • The International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) Exam is also accepted with a minimum score of 6.0. 
  • Duolingo English Test will be accepted for fall 2020 admission with a minimum score of 105.
  • The PTE Academic English Test is also accepted with a minimum score of 53. 

Applicants from or who have obtained an undergraduate or graduate degree from English-speaking countries are not required to submit an approved English Proficiency exam score if their academic records indicate that English was the classroom language for their schoolwork. Foreign students who have obtained an undergraduate or graduate degree from an American college or university are not required to submit an English Proficiency exam score.

*Conditional Admission: In limited situations, graduate programs may recommend conditional admission for an applicant who meets all academic criteria for admission, with the exception of the English proficiency requirement. Not all departments offer conditional admission.  Please e-mail for additional information on whether your program of interest allows for conditional admission.

4. Official Transcripts

Official transcript(s) of all academic work at the undergraduate and graduate levels with English translation verifying receipt of an undergraduate degree. The USD Graduate School and/or academic departments retain the right to require an Educational Credential Evaluators/World Education Services (ECE/WES) evaluation for a student if such evaluation is deemed necessary.

*All applicants who have studied and/or have conferred degrees from post-secondary institutions in China must submit verification of conferred degree certificate(s) from China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC) and verification of all transcripts showing post-secondary coursework from either China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center (CHESICC) or CDGDC.

5. Admission Test Scores

If test scores are required by a graduate degree program, the test score reports must be sent directly to the Graduate School from the testing center. The applicant may wish to upload a copy of the test scores when completing the online application.

6. Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required of applicants to most graduate degree programs; however, five letters are required for application to the Ph.D. program in Counseling and Psychology in Education through the School of Education and only two letters are required for application to the Beacom School of Business and to the transitional Doctorate in Physical Therapy program.

7. Statement of Purpose

Applicants are encouraged to provide information about their reason for pursuing graduate studies, interest in research or creative activity relevant to their proposed graduate program, and goals for the future.  Not all graduate programs require a formal statement of purpose and instead require supplemental information.  If the program does not have a statement of purpose requirement, the applicant should submit a general goal statement as to why he or she wants to attend graduate school.  Applicants can upload their statement of purpose when completing the online application.

*Please Note: Permanent residents and American citizens whose first language is not English and do not have a degree from an American University, must also submit and English Proficiency exam score for admission to the University of South Dakota. 

Financial Ability Requirements

All students are required to demonstrate financial ability to pay for at least one year of academic and living expenses before being issued a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status (I-20) by the University of South Dakota. For this important application step, the University of South Dakota follows the average annual enrollment of 18 credit hours for undergraduate students plus an estimate for living costs.

Once you have been accepted to USD, your I-20 cannot be issued until you have proven financial ability.  You must complete the Financial Ability Form and provide official financial documentation showing the amount of cost to attend USD.  If the statement is not your personal bank statement, a letter from the person owning the bank account is necessary indicating that person will be sponsoring you.  Please send the form and financial documents together. **To avoid delays, send the form and financial documents with your application materials.

Transfer from American College or University

If you are transferring from another American college or university, please contact International Admissions at

Mailing Address for Application Materials

Graduate Admissions
University of South Dakota
414 E. Clark Street
Vermillion, SD  57069-2390

Email: or
Telephone: 605-658-6200
Fax: 605-677-6118

If you have questions about the International Student Graduate Application process, please contact International Admissions at 605-658-6200 or by email at