Every award requires a written essay, usually a “personal statement,” “proposal,” or both. A personal statement or intellectual autobiography challenges students to discuss their lives. A proposal requires students to describe and defend their academic project or intended course of study. Mastering both types of essay writing will serve students beyond scholarship and fellowship applications.
As with all effective writing, the essays need to be written for the audience. An applicant must thoroughly understand the concerns and goals of the granting agency and consider how the applicant’s life and work might relate to members of the agency.
The crucial opening paragraph should present a dense, cogent articulation of the main idea. Exceptional application essays usually go through up to twenty rounds of revision. Remember that it may take pages of writing to produce one good opening paragraph.
Write the personal statement using your own tone, a snapshot of the forces and people that have changed you, the issues that move you, the direction you wish your life to take, and how the program for which you are applying will further those plans. The essay should be specific about life experiences (school, travel, friends, mentors, work experience, family) that led you to the work you wish to pursue, but it should not be overly personal. Avoid generic statements like, "I have always loved art" or "I have always felt a compassion for other people." Write about what you think and the experiences that led you to develop these thoughts. If you find yourself explaining your feelings, you’re on the wrong path.
If you manage to convey the impression that your life has led you inevitably to the project, if you tell a story, you have succeeded. Remember you’re your goal is to persuade a granting agency trying to choose between many quality applications that there is an exact match between your abilities, knowledge, interests and the work you wish to pursue. Demonstrate a familiarity with the resources to be used during the course of work on the project. Whether this entails knowing people, detailing experience with libraries or archives, or exhibiting knowledge of social and ethnographic situations, this is an essential part of showing that a project requires support and can be done within the frame of the fellowship or grant.
Particularly when applying for graduate study, the proposal should be justified and presented in terms of the historiography of the scholarship in the field. A detailed understanding of the relevant scholarship must be demonstrated, along with an explanation of the ways in which the proposed undertaking will fill gaps in the record, or reverse or modify its conclusions. (Avoid arrogant language or statements like, "No one has ever worked on this topic before." Someone probably has, so show how your approach differs from or adds to existing scholarship.) The crystal-clear narration of an innovative project is the bedrock of success. If you can highlight your project’s timeliness or resonance with current socio-political, cultural, or economic concerns, that’s a bonus.
SIU grants conditional admission (for most undergraduate majors) to international students who meet the minimum academic requirements for admission except for English Proficiency. Students admitted conditionally will be required to attend the Center for English as a Second Language until they are able to pass the English requirement.
A student will be considered a transfer student if he or she has taken any course work at college/university level. All transcripts must be submitted, no exceptions.
Students who have completed 0-25 semester hours at the college/university level will also be required to submit high school transcripts.
SIU has no application deadline for most majors for undergraduate international students however, it is recommended that students submit all materials at least 2 months in advance of the semester start date in order to allow for adequate visa processing time.
These requirements apply to ALL undergraduate Major classifications unless otherwise noted:
(1) Application & Fee: The application fee of $40 cannot be waived for undergraduate students.
(2) English Language Requirements: (any one of the following methods will meet the minimum English requirement)
- TOEFL - 68 on the internet based test
- TOEFL - 520 on the paper based test
- ITEP - 4.0 (academic plus only)
- IELTS - 6.0
- 2 Face-to-face English composition classes taken in the U.S. at the college level with a grade of A or B
- Have completed more than 48 college level credit hours at a U.S. institution
- Are from a country whose primary language is English (i.e.: United Kingdom, Australia as verified by admissions officer)
- Graduated from a U.S. high school having spent the final 2 years in the U.S.
- Have been released by SIU's Center for English as a Second Language (CESL)
- Students who do not meet the above requirements must attend CESL and be released before they will be allowed to attend SIU
(3) Academic Requirements: (grade point averages are on a 4.0 scale and are calculated by SIU)
- 26 credits or more at another college/university - submit college/university transcripts showing a GPA of 2.0 or greater on ALL coursework
- 0-25 credits at another college/university - submit high school AND university/college transcripts showing
- 2.0 GPA on all coursework
- proof of graduation
- 5 Passes on the GCE O or A level exams (under the Cambridge/ed excel model)
All documents/transcripts must be in original form bearing the official seal of the issuing institution. Email submissions will NOT be accepted. Attested copies bearing an original stamp and signature of the attester may be accepted if an original transcript is unavailable to obtain.
Applicants should submit official test scores or high school diplomas/certificates, or proof of graduation as applicable
(4) Financial Statement: (minimum requirement is listed in the "Total Financial Statement Required" column)
International students must submit proof of assured financial resources sufficient to pay for their entire first year of tuition, fees, and living expenses. Applicants must submit an official bank statement which shows the balance of the account within the last 6 months. The minimum amount required for admission can be found here in the Minimum Financial Statement column.
*Students who wish to bring their spouse and/or child as an F-2 or J-2 dependent must also give proof of sufficient financial resources for each. A student must show an additional $5,000 for a spouse and/or $2,500 per child. Students can be admitted without financial proof for dependents, however, immigration documents will not be issued for dependents until sufficient proof of funding is received.
(5) Not required for admission: (for most undergraduate majors)
- personal essays
- recommendation letters
- SAT or ACT tests
*However, freshmen students may be eligible for the High Achievers Tuition Rate based on SAT/ACT scores
*Transfer students may be eligible for the High Achievers Tuition Rate based on their GPA