Emerson is providing this information based on its current plans and in accordance with health and safety information currently available. Emerson may, at its discretion, or under direction of government or health authorities, change plans regarding course modalities or activities, and physical access to any facilities.

Emerson College happily welcomes students from across the globe to participate in our Pre-College program, which offers high school students the opportunity to further their academic foundation in arts and communication fields.

The information on this page is intended for “International Students” applying to a Pre-College Program. You may not need an F-1 visa if you are a U.S. Citizen (including dual citizens), U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card” holder), or if you hold another lawful status in the U.S. that allows for full-time study. In order to make the transition into the U.S. as smooth as possible, please carefully review the following information:

1. Applying to a Summer Pre-College Program

Deadline: International students must submit all application materials by February 15, 2024.

  • All of Emerson's Pre-College Studio Programs and Summer Institutes for high school students are available to international students.
  • You may apply to two programs if you wish. If you apply to two programs, you must send us all required application materials for both programs.
  • If you are applying to one of the following Pre-College Credit Programs — Acting, Creative Writers Workshop, Design/Tech for Stage and Screen, Musical Theatre, and Politics, Activism & Leadership Institute — you must submit an official secondary school transcript translated into English with your application.

2. Language Proficiency Test

For students from countries where English is not the national or primary language: Take the TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo English, Cambridge English (Advance or Proficiency) or PTE Academic.

If your native language is not English, you must provide proof of your proficiency in the English language.

If you are an International Baccalaureate (IB) student, or if you attend an English immersion school, you are not required to send TOEFL or IELTS scores. However, we require a letter of English proficiency from an instructor or a guidance counselor. 

If you submit one of the English Proficiency Examinations, please note the minimum score requirements for admission to Emerson College:

We will accept scores from the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition. At this time, we are unable to accept the IELTS Indicator and TOEFL ITP Plus for China.

3. F-1 Student Visa Requirements

In order to participate in our Pre-College Program as an international student,  you will need to first obtain a Form I-20 and apply for an F-1 student visa prior to entering the U.S.  

You cannot participate in our Pre-College Programs with a B-1/B-2 Tourist visa or by entering the U.S. through the ESTA Visa Waiver Program.

If you are actively enrolled in another U.S. school at this time, you may not need to obtain a new I-20 from Emerson College to participate in the Pre-College Program. You must submit copies of (1) your valid passport, (2) unexpired F-1 visa, (3) current unexpired I-20, and (4) most recent I-94.

If you are a U.S. Citizen living outside of the United States, you must submit a copy of your U.S. passport.

Step 1: Obtain a Form I-20

Once you have been admitted to a Pre-College Program, you will need to obtain a Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Status (“Form I-20”) in order to apply for your F-1 visa. To qualify for the Form I-20, you must submit the following to Emerson College:

  • Full payment of tuition and room and board
  • Digital Copy of your current valid passport
  • Proof of health insurance coverage, for the student, provided by a United States-based insurance company.

After the above items are received, you will be issued and sent your Form I-20, which you will use to apply for your F-1 Visa.

If you are a minor under the age of 18, your Form I-20 attestation (on the bottom of page 1) must be signed by both the student and a parent.

Step 2: Apply for your F-1 Student Visa

After receiving your Form I-20 from Emerson College, you will then need to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate outside of the United States by following the steps below:

  • Pay I-901 *SEVIS Fee
  • Make a Visa appointment with your particular Consulate or Embassy. You can locate your specific location here: usembassy.gov
  • At your Visa appointment, be sure to bring with you the following:
    • SEVIS Form I-20
    • SEVIS fee receipt
    • Emerson College Admissions Letter
    • Proof of funding for program
    • Valid Passport

*Note: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires all F-1 student visa applicants to pay a one-time I-901 SEVIS Fee of $350.00 before applying for a visa. Visit U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement to read about current fees and visa application requirements.

*Note: An F-1 visa is not needed for citizens of Canada.

Step 3: Enter the U.S. in F-1 Status

When you land in the U.S. you will be requesting admission to the United States in F-1 status. You will need to prepare the following documents to present to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the airport:

  • Original I-20 – printed out and signed
  • Passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future)
  • F-1 Student Visa (Canadian citizens do not require a visa prior to entry)
  • Emerson College Admissions letter
  • Proof of funding for the program

A few important reminders:

  • Carry your immigration documents in your hand luggage. You will pass immigration inspection before retrieving your checked bags. Be sure you have your Form I-20 and other support documents with you in your hand luggage.
  • Print out a paper copy of your electronic I-20. While you may have received your Form I-20 electronically via email attachment, you must print a hard copy (paper copy) to carry with you and present to CBP.
  • Make sure to present your I-20 and your F-1 visa to ensure you are admitted to the U.S. as a student and not as a tourist. If you are admitted as a tourist/visitor, you will not have authorization to engage in full-time study.
  • Be polite and answer all questions they ask you truthfully. You may be asked further questions. It is important to have all of the above documents in order to provide 
  • Pay attention to customs restrictions. In addition to immigration requirements, pay attention to U.S. customs restrictions on food, banned substances, and currency reporting.

Step 4: Complete Required SEVIS Check-In Upon Arrival in U.S.

Once you arrive in the U.S. you will be required to complete a SEVIS Check-In with Emerson Office of International Student Affairs (OISA), including uploading copies of your immigration documents (passport, visa, I-20, I-94).

This process is required for OISA to “activate” your SEVIS record and report to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that you enrolled at Emerson College as expected.

For detailed instructions, see: International Student SEVIS Check-In


Below are links to U.S. Embassies around the world and additional Visa information:

4. Immunizations and Health Insurance

You will need to provide proof that you have received all immunizations listed for undergraduates, as well as three doses of Polio immunization. The list of required immunizations can be found here.

Tuberculosis Test

If you answer YES to the TB risk assessment questionnaire, you will need to take a TB test. It is encouraged to receive a Quantiferon Gold blood test rather than the tuberculin skin test (TST). The blood test is more accurate and often eliminates the need for a chest X-ray.

International students must be tested for tuberculosis no earlier than three months prior to the start of the program if you are from a country not listed below:

Albania, America Samoa, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montserrat, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Norway, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, United States Virgin Islands

All international students must be covered by a health insurance plan provided by a United States-based insurance company. Proof of insurance is required. 

5. Residence Life

All international students must stay in one of the College’s residence halls, and students are typically assigned to a four- or six-person suite. The residence hall has 24-hour building security.

Acting, Creative Writers, Design/Tech, Musical Theatre students may move into the residence hall on Wednesday July 5th or Thursday July 6th before 12pm. They will sign up for a move in time upon admission and acceptance to the program. They must move out of the residence hall by 5pm on Saturday August 5th.

TV Writing & Production, Journalism, Digital Filmmakers and Politics, Activism & Leadership students may move into the residence hall on Wednesday July 5th or Thursday July 6th before 12pm. They must move out of the residence hall by 5pm on Saturday, July 28th.

Professional staff and student staff members live in the residence hall, explain College policies, refer students to College services and offices, respond to emergency situations, sponsor after-program activities, and provide general support services to residents. Support services include mediation of interpersonal conflicts, responding to emergencies, enforcement of College policies, and assisting students in general during their stay.

Curfew: Two curfews will be enforced.

Building curfew: Students must be inside the residence hall no later than 10:00 p.m.

Room curfew: Students must be in their rooms by midnight.

Room assignments: A week or so before the program begins, you will receive your room assignment, along with your class schedule and other information, such as class locations. Roommates are assigned based on completed roommate questionnaires.

6. Student Life

Rules & Policies

Each Pre-College student will receive a Student Handbook. You will be expected to follow Emerson College’s rules and all policies explained in the handbook. Special Note: Drinking age in the United States is 21 years old. Smoking is prohibited in all Emerson College-owned or -leased buildings.

Leaving Campus

Residential students may leave campus during non-program hours if they sign out with two other residential students. The sign-out policy is explained in the Student Handbook. If you plan to sleep off campus, your parents must submit a completed and signed Parental Permission form. The programs are intensive. We strongly suggest that you limit off-campus overnight visits to weekend and non-program hours.


Evening activities are offered frequently. Activities will be scheduled by our professional staff and may include activities based on information pre-college students provide to us in an activity questionnaire. Often students participate in such activities as an author reading, a museum visit, or attendance at a play.

7. Frequently Asked Questions

1. As an international student, can I apply to the Online Summer Pre-College Programs?

Yes. You can apply to the Online Summer Pre-College Programs.

2. I’m not a U.S. citizen or U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card” holder) and I’d like to come to Pre-College. Can I attend the program on a B-1/B-2 tourist visa or on the ESTA visa waiver program?

No. You must enter the U.S. with an I-20 in F-1 student status, NOT as a B-1/B-2 visitor. The Department of Homeland Security prohibits full-time study in the B category. The regulation states with regard to B-1/B-2: “Enrollment in a course of study prohibited.” 8 CFR 214.2 (7).

3. I want to come to your Pre-College Program and I am already attending a high school in the U.S., do I need an F-1 visa?

No, you do not need an I-20 immigration document if you are already attending high school in the U.S. in a legal non-immigrant status and if you plan to return to that school fall semester. You must submit copies of (1) your valid passport, (2) unexpired F-1 visa, (3) current unexpired I-20, and (4) most recent I-94.

4. I have a Canadian passport. Do I still need an I-20 or F-1 visa to attend?

Although Canadian citizens are exempt from the requirement to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate, Canadian passport-holders are still required to obtain an I-20 and enter the U.S. in F-1 status in order to engage in full-time study.

5. How long after I am accepted will it take for me to receive my Form I-20?

Once you are accepted into a Pre-College Program, you will receive a link to upload various forms. Once ALL of the forms are completed and your Pre-College bill is paid in full, your I-20 will be sent to you via email.

6. Once I get my I-20 and F-1 student visa and arrive at  Emerson College, is there anything else I need to do or am I done with my immigration requirements?

There is one more step to take. The Department of Homeland Security requires that you complete the International Student SEVIS Check-In with the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA). During orientation, OISA will provide additional information about this process. 

7. Do I need an F-1 visa to apply to the Summer Pre-College Programs that take place Online?

No, you do not need an F-1 visa to apply to any of the Pre-College courses or programs that take place online; if you are taking Pre-College courses / programs online you are not permitted to be inside the United States or on an F-1 visa.

8. What format will the online courses and programs take place?

The Summer Pre-College Remote program will be offered both synchronously via Zoom and asynchronously via Canvas and the schedule will be Eastern Standard Time (EST). The program will require you to use Google suites as well throughout the duration of the program

If you have any additional questions, please contact: PreCollege [at] emerson.edutitle="Email Emerson Pre-College".