International Undergraduate Students

Beginning Spring 2019, applications for admission must include a professional foreign credit evaluation report from a member institution of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) for every transcript from a foreign secondary school and/or university attended.

International students are an important and valuable part of NMSU’s community.  While international students enjoy all the rights, privileges and protections of domestic students, as well as subject to all the same responsibilities and regulations, some special policies are applicable only to international students. The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is responsible for ensuring the visa and admissions requirements are met.  Some students not seeking degrees, such as international exchange students, may also work directly with the Office of Education Abroad.

Federal Regulations

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.

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 (Degree Seeking)

International students are subject to the same admissions standards as all other NMSU students, but some additional requirements apply. This section addresses those additional requirements.  Visit for more information.

English Language Proficiency Requirements

For full undergraduate admission to the university, NMSU requires a score of 520 (paper-based) or 68 (internet-based) or better on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), a score of 6.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or a 51 on the Pearson for all international students both non-degree and degree seeking. Prior to full admission, international students may also demonstrate English proficiency by satisfactorily completing NMSU’s Center for English Language Programs (CELP) programs (see Conditional CELP Admission section).

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 years 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 enrolling in certain programs where English language proficiency is not required.

  5. Students completing coursework in CELP. Satisfactory completion of each level in CELP requires a final grade of no less than 70% in all courses as evidenced by an end of level standardized test.  If a student does not meet the 70% on the end of level test they will need to repeat the level. A level consists of classes in Listening/Speaking, Grammar, Writing, and Reading/Vocabulary.  The test is comprised of sections that reflect those areas of English proficiency. Visit for full details.

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

English Language Placement Test

Placement in writing classes for international students is determined by the results of the English Language Placement Test (ELPT).  

Based on the results of the ELPT, the student is either assigned to SPCD 110 (a bridge course designed to ensure success in ENGL 111 M), or is allowed to enroll directly into ENGL 111 M (for multilingual students).  International students excused from SPCD 110 will be required to take ENGL 111 M. 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 SPCD 110 and equivalencies for ENGL 111 M or ENGL 111G are determined by the University Student Records Office, who may refer exceptional cases to the English Department in the College of Arts and Sciences.

In cases of dramatic discrepancies between TOEFL/ IELTS/Pearson scores and the ELPT, the ELPT results shall determine placement.

Conditional CELP Admission: 

NMSU, via Center for English Language Programs (CELP), conducts an Intensive English Language Program (IELP) for undergraduate students to prepare them to pursue their degree programs at NMSU. International students admitted into this conditional admission 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, and have satisfactorily passed the end of program English proficiency test will be will be admitted to the University without the TOEFL or IELTS. Students must take the English Language Placement Test (ELPT) to be correctly placed within the English department's credit bearing courses.  Placing out of levels by retaking the TOEFL is not allowable once conditional admission status has been granted. Visit for full details.

Exchange students who are here to improve their English skills and participate in some credit courses will be placed in CELP according to their English language proficiency and will complete the sequence of intensive English until they complete the last class in the program.  Then they will matriculate into the academic sector of the university for a semester of courses in their chosen fields.

Proof of Financial Support

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.

  3. Proof of adequate financial support should be sent directly to ISSS.

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), and test scores (including the TOEFL. Pearson’s IELTS) should be sent directly to ISSS.  For full consideration for undergraduate admission, applicants are subject to the following deadlines:

July 1 (application initiated) Fall Semester
July 15th (all documents submitted) Fall Semester
October 1st* (Study Abroad and CELP Programs) Spring Semester
November 15th (application initiated) Spring Semester
December 1st (all documents submitted) Spring Semester

* 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.  (See for more information.)

  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 (when applicable, see English Language Proficiency Requirements section).  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:

  3. Students in non-degree exchange J-1 visa status must be engaged full time in a prescribed course of study.  Consult ISSS for more details.

  4. All international students are required to register at the Campus Health Center upon arrival and undergo a TB test or submit results of a current TB test done in the home country within a week of arriving.  Guidelines will be provided by the Campus Health Center.

    1. Las Cruces campus: International Student & Scholar Services, 152 Breland Hall Tel. (575) 646-2834,  (Note:  Exchange students need to report to the Office of Study Abroad in 132 Garcia Annex.)

    2. Doña Ana Community College: International Student & Scholar Services, 152 Breland Hall (exchange students need to report to the Office of Study Abroad in 132 Garcia Annex)

    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

International Exchange Students

An Exchange Student is defined as a visiting student, who is coming to NMSU for one semester to one Academic Year, but is not seeking a degree.  An Exchange Student typically comes to NMSU from one of NMSU’s partner universities or from one of NMSU’s partner consortiums.

Application Process for International Exchange Students

Prior to admission to NMSU, a prospective international exchange student must be nominated from their home university, complete an application with the Office of Education Abroad (OEA) and submit their required documents.The process is as follows:

  1. Nomination for exchange must be submitted by the Home University to the Incoming Exchange Coordinator by April 1 for Fall semester and October 1 for Spring semester. Please see your home university exchange coordinator for more information and to complete the nomination process.
  2. Once nomination is received, students will be directed to make an account at the OEA website:
  3. The student is then required to complete the Exchange Student Nomination Form Questionnaire and upload the following documents:
    1. Passport
    2. Transcripts (in English)
    3. Financial Document showing proof of $5000 per semester attended. ISEP students do not have to provide the financial documents
    4. Current TOEFL scores (2 years or less), see below for acceptable scores.
  4. All international students, regardless of status, must apply for Admissions to NMSU  Once the Student’s OEA application has been approved, OEA Staff will submit the documents listed above to Admissions on behalf of the student.

Academic Restrictions

The majority of the NMSU catalog applies to Exchange Students, with the following exceptions:

  • Courses must be taken at Main Campus only.  Community college courses, including DACC are not available to Exchange Students.

  • The Nursing Department is the only department that is strictly off limits to exchange students, with case-by-case exception by the department and this would have to be approved well in advance of the student being nominated.

  • Exchange students are required to abide by all pre-requisite requirements and class size restrictions (i.e, if a course is closed when the student goes to register, an exception cannot be made)

  • Online courses are restricted due to visa requirements (no more than 3 credits can be taken online. Additional fees will apply.).

Miscellaneous Regulations

  • All international exchange students are required to be enrolled in NMSU approved health insurance.  Office of Education Abroad will enroll the students and bill the insurance amount to the student’s account. 

  • Exchange Students are required to attend a mandatory Orientation before courses begin.  This will be scheduled and facilitated by the Office of Education Abroad; abiding by guidelines set forth by the US government per J-1 visa requirements.

Exchange students are subject to the same English Language Proficiency policies outlined in the section on University Procedures for International Students.