Information for International Students

For Newly Accepted Students

Preparing for arrival

After you accept your offer of admission, the Department and Graduate College will immediately start the procedure for your visa application. In order to complete the paperwork for the I-20 or DS-2019 form needed for your visa, we will usually need documentation indicating that you or a sponsor are able to cover the cost of education while in the United States. The Graduate College’s website provides detailed instructions regarding submission of evidence of financial resources.

During the months prior to their arrival, international students should consult the Graduate College website, which provides up-to-date information regarding visas and health requirements for incoming international students. The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)  also provides important additional resources for prospective and current international students. Those include  pre-arrival information about visas, health care, and information about the academic system, transportation to/from UIUC, and directions on how to secure housing, a bank account and a Social Security Number (SSN).

First days upon arrival --please see this handy step-by-step guide compiled by current students

After their first arrival in Champaign-Urbana, incoming international students are required to check in with the History Department, Graduate College, ISSS, and McKinley Health Center, to process additional paperwork regarding visa, fellowship, and health documentation. It is important to be well informed about the documents students need to bring to the United States, and the paperwork they need to take care of during their first days on campus. The websites of those offices provide all the necessary information to prepare. As the weeks before the start of the Fall semester are a busy period on campus, check-in procedures can be quite time-consuming. Students are therefore strongly encouraged to arrive at least a week before the start of classes to run campus errands, open a bank account, secure housing, and get settled. The History Department also organizes its own orientation for incoming graduate students in the week before the start of the semester. Incoming students should therefore check with the Department when they are expected on campus.

International incoming students should note that additional expenses are normally due prior to the first disbursement of financial aid. These costs can include start-up costs (first and last months’ rent, security deposits, utilities, and groceries) and university fees. We recommend all students be prepared for additional out of pocket expenses, as the first paycheck usually does not arrive until mid to late September.

In the program

Financial Aid:

For general information, see main Financial Page under Current Students.

To be appointed as a Teaching Assistant (TA), the most common form of aid after the first year (fellowship supported) and before dissertation fellowships, international students are required to demonstrate oral English proficiency in one of the following ways:

  • TOEFL iBT Test with a minimum score of 24 on the speaking sub-section

  • IELTS with a minimum score of 8 on the speaking sub-section

  • EPI Test with a minimum score of 5

  • TSE with a minimum score of 50

For international students who have not already demonstrated these minimum requirements when entering the program, the University’s Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) offers prospective TAs the opportunity to demonstrate oral proficiency in English by taking the English Proficiency Interview (EPI) on campus.

In preparation for their first semester of teaching, in addition to the History Department’s own TA orientation, international students are required to attend an International TA orientation session organized by the Graduate College.

Other sources of financial aid for international students, in addition to departmental fellowships, include Research Assistantships (RA-ships, which are arranged with individual faculty members who have received funding to an RA), employment in other campus units (such as the library, area studies centers, etc), and external fellowships (sometimes from their home countries). Although many fellowships (such as FLAS) are only available to US citizens, there are a number of university fellowships that are open to international applicants. The Graduate College and other websites provide helpful tools for exploring external funding opportunities both on campus and nationally and internationally.

The History Department typically does not provide funding during the Summer semester. International students are not allowed to work off campus in the United States. However, international students staying on campus during the Summer can apply for jobs or TA-ships on campus. For more information regarding summer employment, international students can consult ISSS. Students who find Summer employment on campus should also contact the History Department early on, to make arrangements for tuition waivers.

A Social Security Number is required for all international students to work, file taxes, and receive US identification. Many landlords, banks, and all state and federal government agencies require the use of the SSN on official paperwork. Prior to receiving your SSN, you will need to carry your passport or other authorized identification to complete many tasks. Please consult the History Department and ISSS early in your first semester to start your SSN application process.

International History Graduate Student Caucus

The International Student Caucus is a formalized group dedicated to promoting international diversity in the Department of History. It offers assistance and guidance to first-year international graduate students. It is also an opportunity for networking, event-planning, and collaboration with HSGA through which international students can get more involved in the department and on campus. Meetings will be held regularly and focus on the interests and concerns of international students in the department.

2020-21 Contact:  Alexandra (Lex) Sundarsingh, ats9@illinois.edu.