International Student Admission

The general policies of the university as outlined in this catalog apply to international as well as domestic students. However, some special policies are required by federal laws applicable only to international students.
An international student is any individual attending NMSU while present in the United States on a non-immigrant student visa (F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, H-4, NATO Visas, and possibly others such as students in protected refugee status).
Legal immigrants (green card holders) should present documentation of their status to University Admissions and go through the same admission process as U.S. citizens.

Federal Regulations

The United States Department of Homeland Security has established rules for students in non-immigrant status, such as those with F-1 or J-1 visa types.  Some of these rules include:

  1. For immigration purposes, each student must maintain full-time student status
    1. Full time status for fall and spring semesters is defined as 12 or more credits for undergraduates (only 3 per semester allowable online).
    2. Full time status for summer is defined as 6 or more credits for undergraduates (only 3 per summer allowable online).
    3. Exceptions possible for final semester.  Consult ISSS officials for more details.
  2. International students may not work off campus without authorization. On-campus employment may be authorized under certain conditions.
  3. All international students must maintain an up-to-date record in the ISSS Office. This record must indicate the student’s current living address, phone number, and email address.
  4. Prior to admission, a prospective international student must demonstrate the following:
  • Academic ability to succeed in the chosen course of study.
  • Adequate financial support to complete the chosen course of study.
  • English language proficiency as defined by the university.

University Procedures for International Students

Regular Undergraduate Admission and English Requirements

After regular and full admission to an NMSU degree program, each international undergraduate student is administered an English Language Placement Test. Based on the results, the student is either assigned to ENGL 1105M Intermediate ESL Composition and Grammar Review (a bridge course designed to ensure success in ENGL 1110M), or allowed to enroll directly into ENGL 111 M. International students excused from ENGL 1105M Intermediate ESL Composition and Grammar Review will be required to take ENGL 1110M. The student may then be required to complete one or more regular English classes as required for a particular degree. Completing basic English courses at other U.S. institutions does not automatically satisfy the ENGL 111 M requirement.  Equivalencies for ENGL 1105M are determined by CELP, and equivalencies for ENGL 1110M Composition I Multilingual or ENGL 1110G are determined by the English department.  CELP and the English Department reserve the right to require additional testing in cases of dramatic discrepancies between TOEFL/IELTS scores and ELPT, or in other unusual circumstances.  In cases where further testing is required, students will have to take the TOEFL PBT (Paper Based Test).  Placements will be based on those scores as follows:  519 and below = CELP, 520-529 = 110.  530+ = 111.

In rare cases, exceptions to the above scoring and placements may be applicable.  CELP reserves the right to identify cases where dramatic discrepancies exist between the ELPT and the original TOEFL or IELT score submitted for admission.  In such cases, students may be asked to take the institutional Paper Based TOEFL (PBT).  This test will be administered locally, in a timely fashion, and at the university’s expense.  Following the PBT a re-assessment of the student’s English course placement will be made by CELP.

Students voluntarily objecting to their ELPT score and placement in CELP are allowed to take the Institutional TOEFL one time only, at their own expense, for the purpose of re-evaluation of their English course placement by CELP.

Conditional CELP Admission and English Requirements

NMSU, via Center for English Language Programs (CELP), conducts an Intensive English Language Program (IELP) for undergraduate and graduate students prior to pursuing their degree programs at NMSU. International students in this program are admitted to the university for the sole purpose of studying English, with a guarantee of full admission to the university upon completion of the CELP program (subject to all other admission requirements). Only undergraduate students who are conditionally admitted and complete the full sequence of IELP courses will be admitted directly into ENGL 111M.  Placing out of levels by retaking the TOEFL is not allowable once conditional admission status has been granted.   Visit for full details.

English Language Proficiency

NMSU requires a score of 520 (paper-based) or 68 (internet-based) or better on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or a score of 6.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), for all international students both non-degree and degree seeking. International students may also demonstrate English proficiency by satisfactorily completing NMSU’s Center for English Language Programs (CELP) programs. A waiver of the TOEFL requirement may be considered for:

  1. Students who are native speakers of English.
  2. Students completing high school in the United States who (a) have attended the high school for at least two full semesters and (b) have scored in at least the 75th percentile in English on the ACT.
  3. Students transferring from a junior college, or university in the United States who have earned a minimum of 30 acceptable semester credits (45 acceptable quarter credits) with a GPA of 2.0 or better (acceptable credit means classes that require a high proficiency in both written and oral English).
  4. Students demonstrating English-language proficiency using methods accepted by the Office of University Admissions or ISSS Office.
  5. Students enrolling in certain programs where English language proficiency is not required.
  6. Students completing coursework in CELP. Satisfactory completion of each level in CELP requires a final grade of no less than 70% in all courses.  Visit for full details.

The university reserves the right to require any prospective international student to meet the TOEFL or IELTS requirement.

Financial Support

No financial aid is available from NMSU for international students. The university reserves the right to require advance deposit of funds for any period deemed reasonable prior to granting admission. Each prospective international student must submit a current financial support document with his/her application. This document must show that:

  1. The person providing the financial support has the necessary funds.
  2. The funds can be transferred from the student’s home country to the United States.

Admission Restrictions

International student admission may be prohibited based on one of the following conditions:

  1. The dean of a chosen college, the department head of a chosen major, and the President of a Community College campus may refuse to grant admission.
  2. There may be a disproportionate number of international students or a disproportionate number of a particular nationality in one department, college or community college.
  3. Academic advisors may not be available.
  4. Sufficient classroom-based courses are not available to maintain visa status (e.g. courses are online).

All application material, including the application for admission, letters of recommendation, transcripts, national examination scores, transcripts from colleges or universities (with an English translation), test scores including the TOEFL. Pearson’s  IELTS, should be sent to the ISSS Office by the following recommended dates.  Additionally, proof of adequate financial support should be sent directly to ISSS.
For full consideration for undergraduate admission, ISSS maintains the following deadlines:

July 1 (application initiated) for fall semester
July 15 (all documents submitted) for fall semester
October 1* (Study Aboard and CELP Programs) for spring semester
November 15 (application initiated) for spring semester
December 1 (all documents submitted) for spring semesters

* Contact the Office of Education Abroad for exchange program admission deadlines, and CELP for intensive English program deadlines.

Miscellaneous Regulations

  1. All international students are required to have student health insurance.  Insurance will be automatically billed to the student’s account each semester.
  2. New international students are not permitted to register until all ISSS requirements are met, including attending orientation and taking the English Language Placement Test. All international students are, therefore, required to report to the campus to which they were admitted. The following are the offices that a student may need to report to:
    1. Las Cruces campus: International Student & Scholar Services, Garcia Annex, room 246 (exchange students need to report to the Office of Study Abroad)
    2. Doña Ana Community College: International Student & Scholar Services, Garcia Annex, room 246 (exchange students need to report to the Office of Study Abroad)
    3. Alamogordo Community College: Office of Student Services, Student Services Building, second floor
    4. Carlsbad Community College: Office of Student Services, 150 University Drive, Room 111
    5. Grants Community College: Office of Student Services, Walter Martinez Building, Main Office Complex
  3. Students in nondegree exchange J-1 visa status must be engaged full time in a prescribed course of study as determined by the NMSU Responsible or Alternate Responsible Officer (RO/ARO).  Consult ISSS for more details.

NMSU Alamogordo

Some admission and tuition exceptions have been developed for international military and their family members stationed in New Mexico.  Contact the NMSU-A Student Services Office for details.