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International Students

International students at SPU

Welcome! International students are an important part of Seattle Pacific University. If you have any questions along the way, please contact our International Admissions Counselor, Lisa Hirayama, at international@spu.edu.

Botswana  Ethiopia  Sweden  Korea  Thailand  Argentina

Important Definitions

The Application Process

Financial Information and Assistance

Conditional Admission

Frequently Asked Questions


Important Definitions

Who is considered an “international student”?

Anyone who is legally in the United States, but is not a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S., is considered to be an international student.  International students are non-immigrants to the U.S. and are here on a temporary U.S. visa (most commonly an F-1 student visa).

What is a “freshman”?

A “freshman”, or “first-year student”, is a student who is coming to the university directly after high school graduation. (Note: Washington State "Running Start" students are considered freshman/first year applicants.)

Who is considered a “transfer”?

A “transfer” applicant has earned transferable credit from a college or university but has not earned a bachelor’s degree.

What is a “post-baccalaureate”?

Post-baccalaureate (“post-bac”) applicants have previously earned a bachelor’s degree, and are seeking additional bachelor’s-level studies.  They are not seeking admission to a master’s-level program. 



The Application Process

International students are welcome to apply for admission to SPU in the autumn, winter, or spring quarter.  We do not admit new international students in summer quarter.

Approximate Annual Dates:


Late September
Early January
Late March
(Not available)
(Not available)

To apply to SPU, the following is required:

1. Application:SPU uses the Common Application*, an online application that offers students the opportunity to complete one application and submit it to a number of different schools all across the country. First year students (“freshmen”) should complete the “first year application”.  Transfer or post-baccalaureate (“post-bac”) students should complete the “transfer application”.  All applicants will also need to complete the member section questions, which are some additional questions that are unique to SPU.  These questions help us get to know you even better, and give us some insight into why you have chosen to apply to SPU and why SPU might be a great “fit” for you.

*If you are applying for any 2015 term, use the Common Application.

HOWEVER, if you are applying for FALL 2014, you will need to print either the First Year Application or Transfer Application and send it to us via one of the following:

                   Seattle Pacific University

                   3307 3rd Ave W, Suite 115

                   Seattle, WA 98119


2. English Proficiency Test Results: SPU does not offer ESL (English as a Second Language) classes.  An applicant’s potential for academic success at SPU is one of our highest considerations, and therefore students who are non-native English speakers must demonstrate English proficiency.  English proficiency is most commonly established by submitting the official results from the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing System), PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English), or STEP-Eiken (for native Japanese speakers).  Another option is to complete the English program at either the A.C.E. Language Institute, which is located on the SPU campus, or the Washington Academy of Languages (W.A.L.), which is located nearby.  Students choosing this option must complete level 6 and receive a full recommendation from A.C.E. or W.A.L.  They then will not be required to submit an English proficiency score.

The chart below outlines the minimum proficiency test score requirements for general undergraduate admission to SPU:


TOEFL (internet-based) 79
TOEFL (paper-based) 550
IELTS 6.5 overall band score
PTE Academic 56
STEP Eiken Pre-level 1
A.C.E. Language Institute Completion of level 6 with full recommendation
Washington Academy of Languages Completion of level 6 with full recommendation


Other test scores: Seattle Pacific University does not require the SAT or ACT for international applicants.  However, freshman applicants who have taken either exam are encouraged to submit scores as additional evidence of your academic ability.  Sufficiently high reading and writing scores may exempt you from the English proficiency test requirement.  Please consult with the International Admissions Counselor for more information.

If you are a freshman applicant and a native speaker of English, you are strongly encouraged to submit SAT or ACT scores, since English proficiency test results are not required for you.  SAT/ACT scores can have a positive impact on the review of your application.

In order to be considered official, these scores must be sent by the testing agency, or be included on an official high school transcript. When taking the SAT you can identify your request to have your scores send to SPU by including SPU’s test code 4694; for the ACT the code for SPU is 4476.

3. Academic Records:  All academic records must have the official stamp or seal from the issuing institution and must be sent directly from the school or another authorized institution to SPU in a sealed envelope.  We recognize that every country has its own unique educational system -- Please consult with the International Admissions Counselor for country-specific requirements.  Documents must be issued in English, or accompanied by an official translation. We are not able to accept copies of records that were issued to the applicant.  We also cannot accept unofficial photocopies, faxes, or scanned/emailed documents.

Freshman applicants Please arrange to have official transcripts sent to SPU from each high school or secondary school attended for grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 (if available), or the equivalent years in your country. (Note: Be sure to include grade 9, even if it was part of middle school/junior high school in your country.)

If you have completed secondary school exams (O-level, HKCEE, WAEC, SPM, etc.), please submit an official copy of your final exam certificate or diploma that shows all coursework completed and grades received.

Transfer applicants:  Please arrange to have official transcripts sent to SPU from each college or university attended, both in the U.S. and outside the U.S.  Transfer applicants who have completed 45 college-level/transferable quarter credits (30 semester credits) or more are not required to submit high school transcripts.

4. Application Fee: There is a $50 application fee, which can be paid through the Common Application website.  Alternatively, you may mail a check or international money order to the SPU Admissions Office.



Application Deadlines

International student applicant deadlines are the same as those for U.S./domestic applicants.  


Applicant Status
First year/freshman
November 15 (early action)* February 1 (final)
November 15
March 1
(international applications not accepted)
Transfer and Post-Baccalaureate**
April 1 (early action)* July 1 (final)
November 15
March 1
(international applications not accepted)


*Apply by the “early action” date to receive an earlier decision and highest priority for housing and class registration.

**Transfer and post-bac students wanting direct admission to nursing may apply only for autumn quarter admission, and the nursing application deadline is January 15.  Transfer and post-bac students who intend to study nursing but are not yet ready to apply for the major are welcome to apply for admission to the university in the autumn, winter, or spring quarter.



Financial Information and Assistance

Estimated Cost of Attendance: The 2014-15 estimated cost of attending SPU for one academic year is:


Personal Expenses:
Health Insurance:


Financial Documentation:  SPU does not require financial documentation at the time of application.  However, international students who are offered admission and choose to attend SPU will be required to complete the Declaration of International Student Finances (DISF) form and provide a current bank statement showing evidence of the availability of adequate funding for the first year of study at SPU.  The U.S. Department of State requires schools to verify students’ funding before issuing the I-20 form.

Scholarships:  International students are eligible for most of the scholarships that are listed on our website. There are no deadlines for the majority of these scholarships, as most do not require a separate application (unless noted in the description of the scholarship). We consider all admitted students for our scholar awards at the time they are admitted to the university and offer them to students who meet the criteria. 

Other Financial Assistance:  The U.S. Department of State requires that non-immigrant international students provide evidence of their ability to fully support their own educational and living expenses for the duration of their time in the United States.  International students are not eligible for any U.S. government-funded financial assistance.



Conditional Admission - Language School Partners

SPU offers a letter of conditional admission to students who appear to meet our minimum academic requirements for admission, and are enrolled at one of our partner ESL programs, either the A.C.E. Language Institute or the Washington Academy of Languages. Our letter of conditional admission outlines the specific conditions that will need to be met for admission to the university once a student is ready to apply.

Once an A.C.E. or W.A.L. student successfully completes level 6, s/he is eligible to apply for full admission to Seattle Pacific University. 

A.C.E. or W.A.L. students who would like to request a letter of conditional admission are asked to provide SPU with:

  •  The completed “Request for Letter of Conditional Admission” form
  •  Unofficial copies of their high school transcript
  •  Unofficial copies of college or university transcripts, if the student attended a college or university after completing high school.  (Note:  Students who have completed at least one year of university-level/transferable coursework are not required to send a high school transcript.)
  • A copy of the student’s A.C.E. or W.A.L. enrollment letter  



Conditional Admission - Community College Partners

SPU also offers a letter of conditional admission to international students who enroll at one of our local community college partners – currently Cascadia Community College, Edmonds Community College, Everett Community College, and Shoreline Community CollegeOur letter of conditional admission is usually issued at the time the student is admitted to the community college, and outlines the specific conditions that will need to be met for admission to the university once a student is ready to apply.

Cascadia, Edmonds, Everett, or Shoreline Community College students who are interested in conditional admission to SPU should begin by contacting their college’s international admissions office.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ'S)

General Questions about Applying

Can I begin at SPU in any quarter?

International applicants are welcome to apply for admission to begin at SPU in the autumn, winter, or spring quarter.  We do not admit new international students in the summer quarter. 

 What makes a good essay?

Your essays will help the Admissions Committee better understand you. A good essay will be well-written, 300 words or more, and will inform the Committee of the experiences you have had and what you hope to accomplish at SPU and beyond. It is important that the essays be written by YOU, without editing assistance from others. We do not expect non-native speakers' writing to be "perfect" and free of grammatical errors! However, we do encourage you to take time to proof-read and submit the best example of your writing.  

What do you look at when you read my application?

We look at your GPA and test scores, and then we read between the lines. What kind of classes did you take? Are your grades getting better, declining, or are they consistent? We read any recommendation letters that you have chosen to submit (not required). We also look at your activities to see what you are doing with your time. All of this information gives us a picture of who you are as a unique individual, and whether you are prepared for Seattle Pacific University. Be sure to fill out the application completely.  Answer every question, and give us as much information as possible about yourself.  This is not the time to be shy!  It is okay – in fact, it is GOOD – to brag about yourself and your accomplishments!

When will I receive an admission decision?

Freshman applicants who complete their files by the Early Action deadline (Nov. 15) should hear in January. Students applying for regular admission will likely hear in March. Transfer applicants should expect to hear from us within 4 weeks after completing their application.  If you have any questions about your application, feel free to contact the Admissions Office or the International Admissions Counselor directly. 

Should I have an interview?

An interview is a great idea if you can make it happen. It’s always better to "speak for yourself" in person. If you live far away and cannot visit campus, it is possible to schedule an interview over the phone with your admissions counselor.

What if I am denied admission to SPU?

Denying students is tough all around. We want the best for every student and that sometimes means saying no. Some students really want to be at SPU, and we recommend that they take a minimum of 30 transferable college-level quarter credits at another school, and then contact us to have us re-evaluate their application. Other students attend another school on their list and graduate from that school. In each case, we hope that you stay motivated to complete a university degree.

Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

International students are not required to submit scores from the SAT or ACT.  However, freshman applicants, particularly native English speakers, are encouraged to submit SAT/ACT scores, as they can enhance your application.  If you choose to take one of these achievement tests, we recommend that you sit for the test at least two times (two SATs, two ACTs, or one of each).  We will consider only your top score.

I am a native speaker of English.  Do I still need to send an English proficiency test score?

No.  Native English speakers do not need to show English proficiency.  SPU considers an international student to be a “native English speaker” if both their primary and secondary education took place in Australia, Canada (other than Quebec), Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, or the U.S. (other than Puerto Rico).  SPU does not require international students to submit SAT or ACT test scores; however, freshman applicants who are native English speakers are strongly encouraged to take the SAT or ACT and submit official scores, as these scores provide us with additional evidence of your academic ability and achievement.

For Transfer Students

How many students transfer to SPU?

Each year approximately 300 students transfer to SPU.

What is the minimum GPA needed in order to transfer?

Typically, a minimum GPA of 2.5 is needed to be eligible for general admission to SPU.  Some majors do require a higher cumulative GPA.  Please check with an admissions counselor for more information. 

What is the minimum number of credits needed to transfer?

There is no minimum number of credits needed to transfer. Once you have completed at least one college course after graduating from high school, you are considered a “transfer student.” Students with less than 45 quarter credits (30 semester units) must also submit an official high school transcript. 

Do transfer students need to submit a high school transcript?

A high school transcript is required only if you have completed less than 45 quarter credits (30 semester units) at the time of application. 

When do I need to apply for my major?

Freshman students usually apply to their major at the end of either their freshman (first) or sophomore (second) year at SPU. 

Transfer students applying to transfer directly into SPU's nursing program must submit a nursing application along with the university application by January 15. The nursing program accepts students only once per year, to begin in Autumn Quarter. 

Transfer students who are interested in any other major will generally complete at least their first quarter at SPU before applying for formal admission to the major.  In some cases, transfer students with particularly strong GPAs who have completed the prerequisite courses for their major may be directly admitted to the major along with their admission to SPU.  Your admissions counselor can provide more information about this.

Can transfer students live on campus?

On campus housing is guaranteed and required for students who are under 20 years old at the start of the academic year. First-time freshmen are eligible for the residence halls.  Transfer students under age 20 are eligible for housing in either the campus apartments or the residence halls.  Students who are aged 20 or older may apply for housing in the campus apartments; however, if demand for campus housing exceeds supply, priority will be given to students who are required to live on campus. For more information about on campus housing, please visit the Residence Life and Housing website.

I have taken English 101 at my college.  Do I still need to send an English proficiency test score?

Yes.  We do not waive the English proficiency test requirement based on previous university coursework.  The one exception is for post-bac applicants who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited/recognized college or university in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or Ireland.  Students in this case will have the English proficiency requirement waived.

Are Running Start students considered transfer students?

No. "Running Start" students are considered freshman applicants. However, their college credits will transfer under the same policies as all transfer students.

Are community college High School Completion Program students considered transfer students?

Students who have taken ONLY high school-level courses in a Washington State community college High School Completion program, and NO college-level courses, will be considered freshman applicants.

Students who have earned/are earning a high school diploma through a Washington State community college High School Completion program, and at the same time completed/are completing college-level credits at that community college, will be considered transfer applicants. 

Students who enrolled in a community college “High School Completion” program and did not finish the high school diploma must complete the Associate’s degree to be considered eligible for admission to SPU.  Such students will therefore be considered “transfer” students.


How much does it cost to attend SPU?

Please refer to the current estimated cost of attendance, listed on our “Declaration of International Student Finances” form. 

Additional information about cost is available on our Student Financial Services website.

Do I need to send financial documents as part of my application?

No.  We do not require financial documentation as part of your application for admission.  However, if you are offered admission to SPU, we will then ask for proof of financial resources.  The U.S. Department of State requires that international students show evidence of sufficient funds to cover the estimated total cost of their educational and living expenses for one year. We cannot issue an I-20 until we have received that financial documentation.

Are there any scholarships available?

Yes. SPU does not currently have any scholarships that are specifically for international students.  But international students are eligible for most of the scholarships that you see listed on our website.   

There are no deadlines for the majority of these scholarships, as students do not need to submit a separate application for most of them (unless noted in the description of the scholarship).  As long as you apply by the regular admission deadline you will meet the deadline for scholarship consideration.  We consider all admitted students for these scholarships at the time they are admitted to the university and award them to any students who fit the qualifications.  You will see on the website that there are a few special scholarships that do require a separate application – the Ames Scholarship, or the Fine Arts Scholarships, for example. 

There are a few scholarships for which international students are not eligible, but those are only scholarships that are funded by state or federal money.  In the descriptions of those types of scholarships it should say clearly that students must be citizens or eligible permanent residents of the US to be considered.

Questions About Seattle Pacific University

What are SPU’s most popular majors?

SPU offers 62 undergraduate majors, from accounting to youth ministry.  An additional 57 minors are available, and 39 special areas of concentration.  We take pride in the knowledge that ALL of our departments offer students a strong, challenging education and excellent preparation for their future career or further studies.  The SPU departments with the largest enrollment include:





Engineering and Computer Science


Political Science

Family and Consumer Sciences






Integrated studies (Education)



How many international students are there at SPU?

SPU has a small but active international population – currently approximately 70 undergraduate students and about 45 graduate students.  Our international students represent about 30 different countries.

How big are SPU’s classes?

73% of our undergraduate classes in autumn quarter 2013 had enrollments of 30 or less students.

I’m not Christian.  Would SPU still be a good choice for me?

SPU does not require that students be Christian.  However, we want to be sure that you are aware that this is a Christian university, and that is a central part of who we are as a community.  Your teachers are likely to approach their disciplines within a Christian framework and from a Christian perspective, and it is important that you are comfortable with that, and with living within a Christian environment.  There is certainly not any expectation that you become Christian yourself – you are absolutely welcome here as a person of another faith, or of no particular faith.  But we will ask you to take up to three “foundations” classes in Christianity during your time at SPU, and to be prepared to have open discussions about questions and issues of faith, both in and outside the classroom. 


My World

Yikhwan Dillard
Meet Anthony Bayya. Spend 10 minutes with him and try not to crack a smile.

After you learn about Anthony, go ahead and meet other interesting SPU students at the My World Gallery.