Two international students walk across campus. One is walking with his bike.

Step beyond your comfort zone and discover new approaches to global challenges. As one of the top American public research universities, we supply the tools you need to find your fit — and find bold solutions.

Your international freshman application is a record of all the hard work you’ve put in so far, and a testament to what you still plan to do. Our hope is to learn more about who you are and how you’ll contribute to Colorado State University. Each year, we search for applicants with diverse backgrounds, skills, and perspectives to challenge and support one another on campus.

If you have questions before or during the application process, the International Enrollment Center is ready to help!

Who's an international freshman?

Apply as an international freshman if you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and you’ve never attended college or all your college credits were earned prior to high school graduation.

When to apply

The best dates to apply for admission are based on the semester you want to start at CSU. The application opens August 1 each year for the following year’s semesters.

Freshman students typically start during the fall semester.

Early action date (non-binding)
Submit a complete application file by December 1 to receive full admission consideration and automatic scholarship review by December 31. This date is non-binding, which means you don’t have to commit to CSU if you are accepted.

Regular decision date
Submit a complete application file by February 1 to receive full admission consideration and automatic scholarship review by February 28. After this date, applications for admission are considered on a rolling basis.

While less common, some freshmen start in the spring semester.

Regular decision date
Submit a complete application file by November 1 for full admission consideration and automatic scholarship review. After this date, applications for admission are considered on a rolling basis.

Starting in the summer session isn’t recommended for international freshmen because course expectations are more rigorous and campus services can be more limited. Contact the International Enrollment Center if your circumstances require a summer start.

What we need

A complete application file consists of the Common App, which you will submit online, and the supporting materials listed below. You can submit these items in any order, and we will review your application once we receive all the required items.

Required materials

All freshman applicants use the online Common Application to apply.

International freshman applicants must submit either a $50 application fee or application fee waiver if the fee presents a financial hardship.

You will be prompted to submit your application fee or waiver when submitting your Common Application. 

What we call a “personal statement” is called the “personal essay” in the Common Application. You’ll be able to type OR copy and paste your essay into your application before submitting it. The length must be between 250-650 words. Check out some tips for guidance and inspiration.

Your essay is your opportunity to help us understand what makes you unique beyond your grades and transcripts. It will be reviewed during your admission decision, for consideration if you apply to a competitive major, and for financial aid decisions.

The prompts you choose from are:

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
  • Submit your most-recent transcripts or mark sheets.
  • If a record is not in English, a certified literal English translation must accompany the official transcript.
  • Only transcripts sent directly from the school or stamped and sealed are considered official.
  • Admissions decisions are provisional until we receive your final transcript verifying graduation.

How to submit transcripts

Immigration information is not considered in the admission decision, but the official admission packet and I-20 or DS-2019 are mailed to admitted students only after these immigration details have been received, verified, and approved.

If you need a student visa, you must submit the following items in order to secure an I-20 or DS-2019:

  • Immigration Information Form
  • Copy of the identification page of your passport (must be valid for at least six months beyond the first day of classes)
  • Financial support document(s) demonstrating the ability to meet or exceed your estimated expenses. (Because none of our institutional scholarships cover the full cost of attendance, you must be able to show outside funding.)

How to submit documents

Optional materials

While the personal statement allows you to address your strengths, passions, and goals, the academic explanation helps us better understand your academic background.

GPA below 3.0 or D/F grades

Many students experience dips or inconsistencies in their academic record. There are so many reasons why things can go off course, and we want to understand the full picture. Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. We care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.

The prompt you’ll see in the application is:

If your cumulative GPA is below 3.0/B- average (on a 4.0 scale), if you have any D or F grades, or if you are missing units in the recommended classes, this is your opportunity to explain. Tell us about the situation and/or what happened, what you did to fix it, and how your experience will help you be academically successful at CSU.

Gap year

Not every student goes through high school and directly on to college without a break. If this is you, we want to know more. Be sure to include information about what you have done during your time away from school.

The prompt you’ll see in the application is:

“Provide an explanation of any break or interruption in your education of a semester or longer since 9th grade (or equivalent). Examples include sitting out for a semester or longer during or between academic year(s), completing a gap year, or taking time off between high school and college.”

Strong English language skills are important to academic success at CSU. Within your application, you’ll be prompted to indicate whether you are seeking direct admission or conditional admission regarding your English proficiency.

  • If you wish to be considered for direct or clear admission, we’ll ask how you intend to demonstrate English proficiency.
    • If you plan to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores, we prefer results sent directly from the testing service. Alternatives to these tests are considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Applicants who do not present (sufficient) evidence of English proficiency can be considered for conditional admission and, if admitted, will be referred to the Intensive English Program.

Applicants from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom whose first language is English are exempt from this requirement.

How to submit scores

We do not require a letter of recommendation for admission or scholarship purposes. Recommendations, if submitted, are not given much weight in our review.

If you opt to submit a recommendation, you may do so through the Common Application or as a PDF or Word document attachment emailed to

CSU does not require ACT or SAT scores. If you submit scores, they will be added to your application, but they will only be reviewed if you email us at to request that they be considered.

Even when requested, scores are not given much weight in the decision. Test scores are not used as the basis for declining an application or for consideration in the scholarship award process.

How to submit ACT or SAT results

Who we look for

Every incoming class looks different, though every class reflects our commitment to maintain high academic standards and provide people of all backgrounds access to higher education.

In general, students with a 3.0+ GPA (on a 4.0 scale) and a steady or upward trend in grades are admitted to CSU.

Research at CSU and across the country suggests grade point average (GPA) is the single most-predictive factor of a student’s potential for success in college. However, we know numbers aren’t the only way to understand someone’s readiness. That’s why we also review applications holistically, meaning we take a range of academic and personal factors into consideration.

3.44-4.08 GPA
6-7.5 IELTS
83-102 TOEFL

This data reflects the middle 50% of freshmen admitted in Fall 2022. This means half the students we admitted have credentials in this range; 25% of the students we admitted have credentials above this range; and 25% have credentials below this range.

Factors we consider

We verify that you’ll complete our 18 recommended high school classes. We consider the range and relative difficulty of the courses you’ve taken each year.

We look for meaningful engagement in school, extracurricular, and community activities to understand your strengths and interests.

We review your trends in grades over time and by subject and look for evidence that you have a solid foundation. In general, students with a 3.0+ GPA (on a 4.0 scale) and a steady or upward trend in grades are admitted to CSU.

Additional factors
We want to understand circumstances that have impacted your course selection, performance, and involvement. Also, some competitive majors require specific course work and/or a higher grade point average to be admitted to that major.

What to expect

So what does the full application process look like? See the main steps and timeline for making it all happen.

  1. Complete your online application.
    Completing the application typically takes 30-45 minutes, not including the time you spend writing your personal statement and uploading supporting documents. If you have started but not finished your application, you can return to it.
  2. Activate your electronic identity.
    Within one to two days after you submit your application, you’ll receive an email with instructions to activate your electronic identity (what we call a NetID), which allows you to access your application status.
  3. Check your application status and email inbox to ensure your application is complete.
    Some applicants may be asked to submit more information, such as a new transcript, evidence of English proficiency, or an explanation of academic performance before receiving an admission decision.
  4. Wait for your admission decision.
    This is often the hardest part! Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Most applicants will receive a decision within four weeks after submitting a complete application with all required materials.
  5. Check your application status online or check your inbox for news and next steps.
    We will notify you of our decision through email first, followed by the printed, official admit packet, which usually arrives by mail two to three weeks after admission. If a student visa is required, the official admit packet is express mailed only after all immigration information has been received, reviewed, and verified. Notifications generally fall into one of these categories:

Direct (clear) admission
Applicants who are admitted into CSU and into the program of their choice.

Direct or conditional admission: alternate major
Some applicants are admitted to CSU but placed in an alternate major or a related exploratory studies program instead of the competitive major they requested, either because they don’t qualify for direct admission or because capacity has been reached.

Conditional admission

Some applicants meet our academic requirements but have not satisfied the English proficiency requirement for direct admission. Conditional admission allows students to begin CSU’s Intensive English Program or submit English proficiency to clear admission.

Not admitted
Applicants who are not offered admission are encouraged to apply as a transfer student in the future or ask for reconsideration with compelling new academic information. Learn more about your options.


You’re ready. Start your application. (Or come back to finish it!) And reach out to your admissions counselor with any and all questions you have. That’s what they’re here for!