International Students

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. Legal immigrants or refugees must present documentation of their status either to University Admissions or to the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) Office.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

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. Each student must maintain full-time student status for both the fall and spring semesters.
  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 and local phone number.
  4. Prior to admission, a prospective international student must demonstrate the following:
  5. Academic ability to succeed in the chosen course of study
  6. Adequate financial support to complete the chosen course of study
  7. Adequate command of the English language to maintain legal status as a full-time student for the fall and spring semesters.

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 Proficiency Test (ELPT). 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 Composition I Multilingual), or allowed to enroll directly into ENGL 1110G Composition I. International students excused from ENGL 1105M Intermediate ESL Composition and Grammar Review will be required to take ENGL 1110G Composition I, including students whose native language is English. The student may then be required to complete one or more regular English classes as required for a particular degree. Completion of basic English courses at other U.S. institutions does not automatically satisfy this requirement. Equivalencies for ENGL 1105M Intermediate ESL Composition and Grammar Review is determined by CELP, and equivalencies for ENGL 1110M Composition I Multilingual and ENGL 1110G Composition I are determined by the English department.

Students who fail to achieve an adequate score on the ELPT may be denied admission into their program of study and will not be allowed to continue their study in a degree program at New Mexico State University. The Center for English Language Programs (CELP) and the English Department reserve the right to require additional testing for any student completing the ELPT for verification of language proficiency. Students required to complete additional testing will be handled on a case-by-case basis. All additional testing will be completed via Institutional TOEFL (pBT).

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 nondegree and degree seeking. International students may also demonstrate English proficiency by satisfactorily completing NMSU’s Center for English Language Programs (CELP). 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
    1. have attended the high school for at least two full semesters and
    2. 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 Undergraduate Admissions Office.
  5. Students enrolling in certain programs where English language proficiency is not required.
  6. Students completing coursework in CELP. Satisfactory completion 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 requirement.

Conditional CELP Admission and English Requirements

NMSU, via CELP, conducts an Intensive English Language Program (IELP) for undergraduate and graduate students prior to pursuing their degree programs at NMSU. Subject to all other admission requirements, 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. Only undergraduate students who are conditionally admitted and complete the full sequence of IELP courses will be admitted directly into ENGL 1110M Composition I Multilingual. Placing out of levels by retaking the TOEFL is not allowable once conditional admission status has been granted. Visit for full details.

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. An international student can never qualify for residency and must pay nonresident fees. 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 and the department head of a chosen major or 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. International students may be nondegree if admitted as exchange students, or as part of a special program, or as holders of visas that allow incidental studies related to their current non-immigrant status. (e.g., J-2 or H-1B).
  5. Non-native speakers of English are not normally admitted, or allowed to begin studies, in the summer sessions. There are some exceptions such as students admitted to NMSU's Center for English Language Programs (CELP).
  6. University Community College campuses reserve the right to refuse admission to international students if the necessary immigration and English-language support services are not available.

All application material, including the application for admission, letters of recommendation, transcripts or national examination scores and/or transcripts from colleges or universities (with an English translation), test scores including the TOEFL or IELTS, should be sent to the University Admissions Office by the following recommended dates. Proof of adequate financial support should be sent directly to International Student & Scholar Services.

March 11 for fall semester
October 11 for spring semester

Contact the academic department for specific deadlines. Contact the Office of Study Abroad for exchange program admission deadlines.

Miscellaneous Regulations

1. All international students are required to have coverage at the Student Health Center except when the Las Cruces campus Student Health Center is not available to them.

2. All international students are required to purchase health insurance at the Student Health Center. Exceptions for alternate health insurance plans must be pre-approved by the ISSS Office. Students without insurance will not be allowed to register.

3. 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 office to which they were admitted. The following are the offices that a student may need to report to:

  • Las Cruces campus: International Student & Scholar Services, Garcia Annex, room 246 (exchange students need to report to the Office of Study Abroad)
  • Doña Ana Community College: International Student & Scholar Services, Garcia Annex, room 246 (exchange students need to report to the Office of Study Abroad)
  • Alamogordo Community College: Office of Student Services, Student Services Building, second floor
  • Carlsbad Community College: Office of Student Services, 1500 University Drive, Room 111
  • Grants Community College: Office of Student Services, Walter Martinez Building, Main Office Complex

4. Undergraduate students are required to carry at least 12 credits per semester. Students in non-degree 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).