International Applicants

Application

Applicants who require a visa to attend MSU should complete an international application. All applicants (both new applicants and those hoping to transfer from other MSU programs) should apply for fall admission.

Step A

Items 1-9 are outlined below. Items 1-9 are required of all international applicants, to be worked on simultaneously. Scroll down to follow detailed application instructions for each item.

  1. MSU Online Graduate Application
  2. Personal Statement
  3. Academic Statement
  4. Resumé
  5. Three Letters of Recommendation
  6. GRE Scores
  7. TOEFL Scores
  8. Official Transcripts
  9. Official Diplomas

Step B

Jump to:

Download Printable International Application Instructions (updated August 2020)

Apply


Helpful Links


Item 1 - MSU Online Graduate Application

Submit Item 1 using the MSU Office of Admissions International Graduate Application portal.

If you forget your applicant ID and/or your password, contact the MSU Office of Admissions for assistance. Use the same name that appears on legal documents, such as a passport or identification card, to complete your application. No paper or email applications can be accepted. The online portal allows you to request letters of recommendation, request letter of recommendation cover forms from your recommenders, view and send e-messages from/to the CSUS Department, submit your application, and check the status of your application.

Select the major code for your desired program on the applicant portal. Major codes are:

MS Codes – Plan A and Plan B

  • 5389: CSUS (Community Sustainability)
  • 5376: STPAM (Sustainable Tourism & Protected Area Management)

PhD Codes

  • 5390: CSUS (Community Sustainability)
  • 5377: STPAM (Sustainable Tourism & Protected Area Management)

Applicants must answer the supplementary questions on the MSU online graduate application before submitting the $75 application fee.

Leave blank the sections on the MSU online graduation application for Personal Statement and Academic Statement. The CSUS Graduate Admissions Committee requires both statements be uploaded as individual PDF files on the applicant portal – this allows the applicant to follow the required formatting guidelines (and statements are easier to read).


Item 2 - Personal Statement

Submit item 2 using the MSU applicant portal.

A typed personal statement is required of all applicants. The personal statement gives the applicant an opportunity to share personal experiences with the Admissions Committee. Prospective faculty advisors and other faculty members also read personal statements during the review and advisor selection process. Upload the statement to the applicant portal. The content below should be addressed in your personal statement, using format guidelines.

Content: Background and Life Experiences

  • How have your background and life experiences (social, economic, cultural, familial, educational, and/or other opportunities or challenges) motivated your decision to pursue your selected graduate degree from the Department of Community Sustainability?
  • Describe how these experiences have prepared you or led you to your proposed degree work. You can choose to focus on a single aspect of your background or write about multiple experiences.
  • Applicants who have overcome economic barriers or extreme personal, social, or cultural obstacles to seek a graduate degree are encouraged to include this information in the personal statement.

Format

Follow the format guidelines below in preparing your personal statement:

  • Essay format
  • Single-spaced, using 12-point font in a Word document, converted to PDF
  • Maximum length: 500 words
  • 8.5 inch by 11 inch paper, not A4 (use only white paper)
  • Use the title Personal Statement at the top of each page (in the header).
  • Include your first and last names (as they appear on your application) in header of each page.
  • Include the program and degree type to which you are applying (CSUS or STPAM; MS-A, MS-B, or PhD) at the top of each page (in the header).
  • Include page numbers at the bottom of each page (in the footer).
  • Do not include any of the following anywhere on your personal statement:
    • MSU PID
    • Phone number, address, email address
    • Photo

Item 3 - Academic Statement

Submit item 3 using the MSU applicant portal.

A typed academic statement (external to the MSU application) is required of all applicants. The academic statement gives the applicant an opportunity to share proposed academic and career goals with the Graduate Admissions Committee. Prospective faculty advisors and other faculty members also read academic statements during the review and advisor selection process. Upload the statement to the applicant portal. The content below should be addressed in your academic statement, using the format guidelines provided.

Content: Plans for Graduate Study

  • Identify the program option to which you are applying (CSUS or STPAM).
  • Identify the degree option for which you are applying (MS-A, MS-B, or PhD).
  • Discuss with specificity what you want to study/research during your degree work.
  • Identify faculty members you believe most closely match your interests (review faculty bios on the CSUS faculty advisor page). You should have conversations with potential advisors prior to applying.
  • Include a summary of discussions you have had with potential faculty advisors.

Content: Academic Interests, Passions, and Careers Goals

  • Discuss why you want to earn the degree specified above.
  • Describe what motivates your interest in this program.
  • Describe what experiences have led to this choice.
  • Explain why this interdisciplinary, systems-based program (rather than a disciplinary program) is a good fit with your goals.
  • Explain how the CSUS or STPAM graduate program will help you meet your educational and career goals.

Content: Contributions

  • Discuss what you will contribute to the Department of Community Sustainability graduate program, to Michigan State University, and to fellow students (especially in your cohort).

Content: Weaknesses

  • If you have apparent weaknesses in your application materials, explain them in your academic statement and describe strategies for addressing them in the future.

Format

Follow the format guidelines below in preparing your academic statement.

  • Single-spaced, using 12-point font in a Word document, converted to PDF
  • Maximum length: 750 words
  • 8.5” X 11” white paper, not A4 (use only white paper)
  • Use the title Academic Statement at the top of each page (in the header).
  • Include your first and last names (as they appear on your application) in header of each page.
  • Include the program and degree type to which you are applying (CSUS or STPAM; MS-A, MS-B, or PhD) at the top of each page (in the header).
  • Include page numbers at the bottom of each page (in the footer).
  • Do not include any of the following anywhere on your academic statement:
    • MSU PID
    • Phone number, address, email
    • Photo

Item 4 - Resumé

Submit Item 4 using the MSU applicant portal.

A typed resumé is required of all applicants. The resumé must be two pages in length and formatted on 8.5” X 11” white paper (not A4). Do not include a photo. Upload your resumé to the applicant portal.

The following content should be included in your resumé:

  • Education
  • Professional experiences (paid and/or unpaid)
  • Other relevant experiences and skills (if any)
  • Certifications, honors, awards (if any)
  • Professional organization memberships and/or involvement
  • Publications and professional presentations (as relevant)

Item 5 - Letters of Recommendation

Request Item 5 using the MSU applicant portal.

Three letters of recommendation are required of all applicants. Applicants must request letters from 3 different recommenders via the portal. Be sure to indicate whether or not you waive your right of access to the recommendations.

  • MS applicants: at least 1 (preferably 2) of your letters of recommendation should be academic. PhD applicants: at least 2 (preferably 3) of your letters should be academic. Be sure they speak specifically to your match with CSUS programs.
  • After the applicant identifies a recommender on the portal, an auto-recommendation request is sent (by email) to the recommender.
  • Applicants may not submit the recommendation materials on behalf of the recommenders.
  • Applicants may view their recommendation status in the portal.
  • Applicants must follow up with their recommenders to ensure letters of recommendation are submitted before the CSUS application deadline.

Item 6 - GRE Scores

Request Item 6 from testing agency.

GRE scores are required of all applicants. Applicants must contact ETS and request GRE reports be sent directly to the MSU Office of Admissions, identifying one of the codes below. The MSU general code is 1465. The general code identifies to ETS to which university/universities you want your GRE scores sent. Select only one of the ETS codes below to identify your MSU degree program interest. It does not matter which code below you select.

  • 0110 – Resource Management
  • 0111 – Parks and Recreation Management
  • 0113 – Renewable Natural Resources
  • 5101 – Interdisciplinary Programs

Requirements and Procedures for GRE Scores

  • GRE scores must be no more than 5 years old at the time of application.
  • Contact the Graduate Secretary via email if the name on your GRE report is different than the name on your MSU online application. The Graduate Secretary must notify the MSU Office of Admissions of the name discrepancy to prevent a delay in the processing of your scores.
  • Copies of scores sent by the applicant to MSU or CSUS via email and/or postal mail are deemed unofficial by the University and will not be considered.
  • Scores must be accessible to CSUS by the application deadline. Thus, the applicant must order a GRE report from ETS long before the application deadline (and take the exam long before that, to allow time for ETS scoring and reporting). GRE reports can take 1-3 weeks to arrive at MSU and an additional 2-4 weeks to be processed after they are received by the MSU Office of Admissions. Thus, it could take as long as 7 weeks for your report to become available to the Department. The scores are not accessible by the Department until processed by the Office of Admissions and you have paid the application fee. Plan accordingly.

Item 7 - TOEFL Scores

Request Item 7 from testing agency.

TOEFL (or alternative English language proficiency) scores are required of all international applicants except international applicants who are citizens of the countries listed below. Applicants must contact ETS and request TOEFL scores be sent directly to MSU Office of Admissions using the MSU General Code: 1465. The general code identifies the university to which you want the scores sent.

Countries for Auto-Waiver of English Language Requirement

The TOEFL exam is required of all international applicants except if:

  • applicant is a citizen of/born in the countries listed below:
    • A – Anguilla, Antigua, Australia
    • B – Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands
    • C – Canada (except Québec), Cayman Islands
    • D – Dominica
    • G – Grenada, Guyana
    • J – Jamaica
    • M – Federated States of Micronesia, Montserrat
    • N – New Zealand
    • S – St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent
    • T – Trinidad, Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands
    • U – United Kingdom (England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland), U.S. Virgin Islands
  • applicant earned 4-year BA/BS in the U.S. or other English-speaking country, or
  • applicant earned a campus-based MS degree from a U.S.-based AAU institution

TOEFL scores must meet the University TOEFL requirements outlined below:

  • PBT (paper-based test): minimum average score of 550; no sub-score below 52
  • iBT (internet-based test): minimum average score of 80; no sub-score below 19 for reading, listening, and speaking; no sub-score below 22 for writing

CSUS does not offer “Provisional Admissions” for graduate students.

Alternatives for English Language Proficiency

Find information on alternative assessments to the TOEFL and on the University’s English language proficiency requirements for international applicants.

Requirements and Procedures for TOEFL Scores

  • TOEFL scores must be no more than 2 years old at the time of application.
  • Contact the Graduate Secretary via email if the name on your TOEFL report is different than the name on your MSU online application. The Graduate Secretary must notify the MSU Office of Admissions of the name discrepancy to prevent a delay in the processing of your scores.
  • Copies of scores sent by the applicant to MSU or CSUS via email and/or postal mail are deemed unofficial by the University and will not be considered.
  • Scores must be accessible to CSUS by the application deadline. Therefore, the applicant must order a TOEFL report from ETS long before the application deadline (and take the exam long before that, to allow time for ETS scoring and reporting). TOEFL reports can take 1-3 weeks to arrive at MSU and an additional 2- 4 weeks to process after they are received by the MSU Office of Admissions. Thus, it could take as long as 7 weeks for your report to become available to the Department. The scores are not accessible by the Department until processed by the Office of Admissions. Plan accordingly.

Non-Automatic Waiver of English Language Requirement

Applicants being recruited by a faculty member in CSUS may apply for a waiver if certain conditions are met and strongly supported by the potential CSUS advisor (advisor letter should be sent to the Graduate Program Coordinator. If approved, this letter, with an approval confirmation, will be sent to the College and Graduate School for their review.). See the procedure to request a non-automatic waiver. The advisor must be able to personally attest to the student’s English language skills.


Items 8 and 9 - Official Transcripts and Diplomas

Request Items 8 and 9 from former institutions.

Official hard copy/print transcripts and diplomas are required of all international applicants for each previous academic institution attended. Applicants must arrange for one official transcript and one official diploma (plus English translations of each, if not already in English) to be sent directly to the Department of Community Sustainability from each university or college listed on the online graduate application. All colleges and universities attended (even if no degree was granted) must be listed on the online application.

Requirements and Procedures for Transcripts/Diplomas

  • Transcripts/diplomas are deemed official if they are sent in a sealed envelope directly to the Department from the respective institutions in an official, sealed envelope via postal service, FedEx or other delivery service.
  • Digital, photocopied, and scanned copies of transcripts/diplomas are considered unofficial and will not be accepted or reviewed. International students must provide official paper copies.
  • Any transcript/diploma received by the Department from an applicant or from an entity other than the institution is considered unofficial and will not be accepted or reviewed.
  • Official English translations of transcripts/diplomas originally in a language other than English must be submitted with the original official documents. A translation is deemed official if it is sent with the official transcript in a sealed envelope via postal mail directly to the Department from the institution or Ministry. (All must arrive by the application deadline.)
  • Official transcripts/diplomas for work completed at MSU need not be submitted because the Graduate Program Office can access records of MSU coursework and granting of MSU degrees.
  • Applicant must order each official transcript/diploma (and translation, if applicable) long before the application deadline and ensure that each institution/Ministry sends the transcript/diploma directly to the Department of Community Sustainability. Transcripts/diplomas can take 2-8 weeks to arrive at the Department; international transcripts may take longer. Plan accordingly.

Transcript and Diploma Mailing Instructions

Do not send official transcripts and diplomas to the MSU Office of Admissions because it is difficult for Department staff to know when documents arrive, and to access official documents, if they are sent there.

The applicant must contact each institution, pay the required transcript, diploma, and translation fee(s), if applicable, and request official hard copy/print transcripts be sent from the institution directly to:

CSUS Graduate Admissions
Michigan State University
Department of Community Sustainability
Natural Resources Building
480 Wilson Road, Room 131
East Lansing, MI 48824

Note: Previous Degree Completion

If you have not completed a required previous degree at the time of application (4-year bachelor’s degree for MS applicants, or master’s degree for PhD applicants), a departmental acceptance will be “conditional” until you officially complete your previous degree – prior to beginning your CSUS/ STPAM degree. Be sure to submit official diploma (home language plus English translation) to confirm degree completion as soon as you have completed your degree.

Other Official Academic Records

Official academic records are required of all applicants, as relevant to the various academic institutions. Applicants must arrange for the following to be sent directly to the Department of Community Sustainability: one official/certified university or professional school record of subjects/mark sheets, diplomas, and/or certificates from each institution attended. The names of all certificates, diplomas, and degrees earned and dates received should be noted on the official academic records.

Requirements and Procedures for Academic Records

  • Academic records must be sent directly by the principal/registrar of each school you have attended, or by the Ministry of Education in your country, directly to the CSUS Department.
  • Academic records are deemed official if they are sent in a sealed envelope via postal, FedEx or other delivery service, and sent directly to the CSUS Department from the respective institutions.
  • Photocopies or scanned copies of academic records are considered unofficial and will not be accepted or reviewed.
  • Any academic record received by the Department from an applicant or from an entity other than the institution or Ministry of Education is considered unofficial and will not be accepted or reviewed.
  • Official English translations of academic records originally in a language other than English must be submitted with the original documents. A translation is deemed official if it is sent with the official academic record in a sealed envelope via postal, FedEx or other delivery service directly to CSUS from the institution. (All must arrive by the application deadline.)
  • Applicant must order academic records (and translations, if applicable) long before the application deadline and ensure that each institution/Ministry sends the documents directly to the Department of Community Sustainability. Academic records can take 2-8 weeks (or more) to arrive at the Department, especially from international locations. Plan accordingly.

Academic Records Mailing Instructions

Do not send official transcripts and diplomas to the MSU Office of Admissions because it is difficult for Department staff to know when documents arrive, and to access official documents, if they are sent there. Applicant must contact each institution, pay the required academic record and translation fee(s), if applicable, and request official records be sent to:

CSUS Graduate Admissions
Michigan State University
Department of Community Sustainability
Natural Resources Building
480 Wilson Road, Room 131
East Lansing, MI 48824


Item 10 - Affidavit of Support (info here based on 2020-21 amounts)

Item 10 should be uploaded in the applicant portal.

If the CSUS Department admits you, the next step is for the MSU Office of Admissions to admit you. This will happen only if sufficient financial support is verified. If you are offered an assistantship stipend of less than US $16,928, or are not offered an assistantship, you must provide an affidavit of support for verification by the Office of Admissions. If needed, this is the final item required as part of your application.

All international applicants accepted by the CSUS Department of Community Sustainability must review thoroughly the information on the next page to determine the information required by MSU. Students ultimately are responsible for meeting the financial requirements established by the University if 1) their fellowship or assistantship funding does not meet requirements for any academic year, or 2) no funding is offered through the University.

What is the Affidavit of Support?

The Affidavit of Support confirms that the international applicant is financially prepared to meet the costs associated with obtaining a graduate education at MSU. An I-20 form and a letter of acceptance will not be issued by the University until sufficient financial support is verified by the Office of Admissions. The Office of Admissions will ask for the relevant proof of financial support after the CSUS Department sends you an acceptance letter. The Office of Admissions will not send an official acceptance letter until sufficient financial proof is verified.

I am a MS-A or MS-B applicant. Do I need to submit the Affidavit of Support?

  1. Yes, if your graduate assistantship stipend (for 2020-21) is less than US $16,928 per semester and you do not bring dependents (e.g., spouse/children). The University requires you to show financial support for the difference between US $16,928 and your assistantship stipend. The Office of Admissions may require proof of additional funding, especially if you bring dependent(s).
    1. Example: If your assistantship stipend equals US$ 11,000/semester for academic year 2020-2021 (fall & spring), you must provide financial proof that you have US $5,928 per semester to cover the difference.
  2. Yes, if you are not offered a graduate assistantship. The University requires you to show financial proof in the amount of US $46,810 if you do not bring dependents. If you bring dependents, you will be required to provide proof of additional financial resources.

I am a PhD applicant. Do I need to submit the Affidavit of Support?

  1. Yes, if your graduate assistantship stipend (for 2020-21) is less than US $16,928 per semester and you do not bring dependents (e.g., spouse/children). The University requires you to show financial support for the difference between US $16,928 and your assistantship stipend. The Office of Admissions may require proof of additional funding, especially if you bring dependent(s).
    1. Example: If your assistantship stipend equals US $11,000 for academic year 2020-2021 (fall & spring), you must provide financial proof that you have US $5,928 to cover the difference.
  2. Yes, if you are not offered a graduate assistantship. The University requires doctoral students to show financial proof in the amount of US $37,546 if you do not bring dependents. If you bring dependents, you will be required to provide proof of additional financial resources.

What if I plan to study during the summer semester also?

If you plan to attend summer school, proof is required for an additional US $16,907 for tuition, fees, books and miscellaneous expenses.

No Affidavit of Support is required if:

You are offered a graduate assistantship stipend equal to or greater than US $16,928 and you do not bring dependents.

For detailed information about proof of financial support, see:


Application Review

Completed applications are reviewed by the CSUS Graduate Admissions Committee, a committee of CSUS Department faculty.

Applications that pass Admissions Committee review are made available to all faculty in the Department for review (2-week time window). Faculty indicate their interest and ability to accept an applicant, and if they are able to provide any funding.


Department Decision

Typically, applicants can expect a Department admissions decision by email 8-10 weeks after their application is complete (all items received by the Department), depending on when in the review cycle it is completed.

If you are accepted, initial advisor assignment and funding information are provided in your Department offer letter. Assistantship details, if applicable, will follow in a separate letter.

If you are accepted, the CSUS Department’s decision is preliminary to MSU’s review and official acceptance.


University Decision

The MSU Office of Admissions reviews application items of applicants who are admitted by the Department.

If an applicant is accepted by MSU, an official letter of acceptance will appear in the student’s portal.

Notify the Department Graduate Secretary and Graduate Program Coordinator if and when you receive correspondence from the MSU Office of Admissions.


Applicant Decision

If you are admitted by the Department and the University, send an email notification to the CSUS Department Graduate Secretary and Graduate Program Coordinator that you accept or decline the offer. Please CC your assigned advisor.

Send this decision by email as soon as possible, or by April 1 or (if applied near the March 1 deadline) no later than two weeks after you receive the official University acceptance letter.