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Apply - Exchange Students

International exchange students interested in visiting Illinois State on a one- or two-semester exchange will apply through International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).

Some international students attend Illinois State as exchange students. This special population comes through official agreements between Illinois State University and institutions abroad or organizations.

Incoming International Students

You can see whether an exchange agreement already exists between your university and Illinois State by reviewing our list of partner universities, or contacting the Incoming Exchange Coordinator at

Universities abroad who are interested in creating a new partnership with Illinois State University or have questions about an existing agreement are welcome to contact the Study Abroad Coordinator at

Resources for Exchange Partners

  • Exchange Student Fact Sheet
  • New Nomination Process:
    • All exchange student nominations must be submitted via the ISSS Portal.
    • Current partners who have already accessed the ISSS Portal can log in with their existing portal account username (this should be your email address) and password. If you have forgotten your password, you can click the "Forgot your password?" link at the bottom of the login page.
    • If you are a new user and have never accessed the ISSS Portal, please email to request access.
    • Once logged in to the ISSS Portal, navigate to the Control Center tab and submit an Exchange Nomination Request for each student you wish to nominate.
    • You will receive an email if your nomination is approved and can also check the status of your request(s) at any time by logging in to the portal and reviewing your requests in your Control Center.
    • If you need to change a request after it has been submitted or have a question about your request, please submit a Request Inquiry (also found in your Control Center).
  • Deadlines
  Fall Spring  
March 1 September 15 Please see the "Resources for Exchange Partners" section above for information about the nomination process.
April 15 October 1  
Priority Processing
May 15 October 15 If your application is submitted and all checklist items completed by this deadline, your DS-2019 will be processed the following week.
Final Processing
June 15 November 1 If you do not meet the priority deadline, your application will be held and your DS-2019 not processed until after the final deadline.

Exchange students can be degree-seeking or non degree-seeking, but the majority are non degree-seeking and study here for one or two semesters.

  • Exchange students must be officially admitted by Illinois State University.
  • Many exchange students receive a tuition waiver from the Office of International Studies as part of the agreement with their school at home.
  • For exchange students coming through agreements with universities abroad, Illinois State University creates the immigration form (DS-2019) that they need to apply for their J-1 visa.
  • Students who are sponsored by outside organizations (IIE, Fulbright, World Learning, etc.) usually receive their DS-2019 form from their sponsor.
  • Course Information

Non Degree-Seeking Students

Course registration for exchange students is a specialized process. Students will receive help from both the J-1 Exchange Coordinator in International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and an Academic Advisor in University College (U-College).

How to Get Started

  • See which courses are offered each semester. One of the best ways to do this is by looking up the course you are interested in through the Course Finder. Some courses are only offered in the fall or spring.
  • Speak with your advisor at home about which courses are appropriate for your level of study and experience.
    • Based on your Course Request Form, ISSS and U-College will then collaborate with academic advisors in departments across campus to approve your courses. The advisors will review your requests and transcripts from home to consider your prior academic experience and see whether seats are open in courses you have requested.
    • Exchange students will be registered for as many courses as possible before arrival and will work with staff during orientation week and the first week of classes to finalize schedules.

Choosing Courses

The higher the course number, the more background knowledge you will be expected to have and generally the more challenging the course will be. Here is what course numbers mean at Illinois State:

  • 100-level courses are intended for 1st- and 2nd-year students.
  • 200-level courses are for 2nd- and 3rd-year students.
  • 300-level courses are for 4th-year and some graduate students.
  • 400-level courses are for graduate students.

You may also wish to consider your level of English fluency and that you may need time to adjust to the American style of education in your first semester.

Many international students are surprised by the amount of reading and assignments due every week. International students are advised to take a courseload of 12 credit hours (or 9 for graduate students). Exchange students are also encouraged to make time for social and cultural activities as a part of the requirements of the J Visa program.

Degree-Seeking Students

Exchange students completing degrees at Illinois State University will be assigned an academic advisor in the specific department noted on the DS-2019 who will help students enroll in classes. This advisor will work with ISSS to arrange as much of your schedule as possible before your arrival on campus. After arriving on campus, you should meet with your departmental academic advisor to discuss your plan of study and course registration.

Transcript Updates

If your transcript from home has been updated since you applied to Illinois State University, please scan and email it to Any new classes you have taken could increase your ability to enroll in specific courses at ISU.

  • Application Process

How to Apply to the University

Incoming international exchange students must officially apply to Illinois State University for admission through one of our exchange partners.

Submit Your Application

You must submit an Application for Admission to apply to the University.

Click on "Create an account" to create your account. Once you create an account, you should:

Non Degree-Seeking Students
  • Apply as a "Non-Degree (Visiting)" applicant on the online form.
  • The online application will ask you to select your student type. Select either: "International Exchange – Graduate" if you are currently working on a master's degree or "International Exchange – Undergraduate" if you are currently working on a bachelor's degree.
  • The online application will ask you: "What VISA/Permit status would you like to obtain for your studies at Illinois State University?" Select "J-1 (Exchange Visitor)".
  • The online application will ask you to: "List all college-level courses that you are currently taking, or plan on taking, before you attend Illinois State University." When listing all of your current classes, you will be asked to list the number of credit hours. The number of credits can align with the credit system at your home university. If your home university does not have a credit system, enter "1" for each class listed.
Degree-Seeking Students
  • Apply as a "Graduate" applicant on the online form.
  • The online application will ask for you to select your program. If you are a Paderborn Transfer Degree-Seeking student, you should select "Master of Business Administration - Traditional".
  • The online application will ask you: "What VISA/Permit status would you like to obtain for your studies at Illinois State University?" Select "J-1 (Exchange Visitor)".
  • When prompted, choose "Pay with check or money order later." Upon confirmation that you are an exchange student, the Office of Admissions will remove your application fee.
  • Final decisions of your admission are made by your major department, International Admissions, and Graduate School.

Finalize Your Application

  • On the Review Application Submission page, you will need to click on "Finalize Application and Pay", but please note that you will not be asked to pay the application fee.
  • It is important to save your application often and to keep your password .

Complete Your Checklist

Exchange students applying to Illinois State University will need to upload the following items as part of their application checklist. Once your document has been reviewed and accepted by an International Admissions representative, you will see a checkmark appear next to it.

  1. Official Letter of Nomination and Academic Good Standing from your home university. See sample.
  2. Proof of English Proficiency for non-native English speakers. We do not accept letters to prove English ability.
    • TOEFL score (minimum: 79 iBT) or
    • IELTS score (minimum: 6.5 overall band) or
    • Duolingo score (minimum 105)
  3. Unofficial transcripts in English from your home University.
  4. Proof that you can fund your entire stay in the U.S.
    You must show sufficient funds for the entire length of your intended period of study. Please refer to the links below for estimates. Your funding sources must represent actual money that you will have access to during your studies.
  5. Passport photo ID page copy.

After You're Admitted

Complete the After You’re Admitted Steps to ensure you are prepared for your arrival to campus.

After you have been admitted to the university and submitted your J-1 Proof of Finances, you will be issued a DS-2019 document. Your application checklist will contain the F-1 Proof of Finances; please do not use this form as it does not contain accurate financial information. You should instead fill out the J-1 Proof of Finances form; this document is needed in order to apply for your J-1 visa. You will be notified via email when your new DS-2019 is ready.

Read through the Exchange Student Pre-Arrival Guide that contains all kinds of information about when to arrive, how to apply for your visa, course registration, and more.

In the email, you will also be given instructions on how to submit the course request form. You will complete this form by listing all the possible courses you would like to take while at Illinois State University. Please list as many ideas as possible. Illinois State's Course Finder and complete course catalog are available online.

How to Apply for Your J-1 Visa

The form that Illinois State will create so you can apply for your visa is called the “DS-2019” or “Certificate of Eligibility”.

  • The type of visa that you will apply for is called the “J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa”.
  • You will need to apply for a J-1 visa at your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  • Within the J-1 Visa, there are many categories that indicate a person’s objective of being in the U.S.
    • Most exchange students will be categorized as a “Student Non-Degree”. This means that you will be enrolled full time in classes and earning credits, but you will not be seeking a degree here.
    • Students who are applying to the dual-degree MBA program or who are seeking a degree at ISU will be categorized as a “Student Masters” or “Student Doctorate” depending on the degree level.