International Students

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 and explaining university standards for admission.  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 temporary protected status).

Lawful permanent residents (green card holders) should present documentation of their status to University Student Records 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 online credits can apply to the full-time requirement).
    2. Full time status for summer is defined according to NMSU requirements (only 3 online credits can apply to the full-time requirement for students beginning their program in the summer).
    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:

  5.  Academic ability to succeed in the chosen course of study.

  6.  Adequate financial support to complete the chosen course of study.

  7.  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.

Applications for admission that include the transfer of credits earned at a non-U.S. university 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

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), or a score of 6.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), 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/IELTS 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 two-year college, community 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.
  6. Students scoring a 75% or better on the English section of The China National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), commonly known as Gaokao, and passing the Oral Language Test given by CELP.
  7. Students scoring a 70%---(3) or better in English with the International Baccalaureate.

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 ENGL 1105M (a bridge course designed to ensure success in ENGL 1110M), or is allowed to enroll directly into ENGL 1110M (for multilingual students).  Please note that these classes are only available on NMSU's Las Cruces Campus. International students excused from ENGL 1105M 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 1110M requirement. Equivalencies for ENGL 1105M and equivalencies for ENGL 1110M or ENGL 1110G 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 scores and the ELPT, the ELPT results shall determine placement.

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 or IELTS) should be sent directly to University Student Records.  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.

Graduate International Students

For more information on graduate international student procedures, please visit the Graduate School section of this catalog.

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:

    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 Center.)

    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 Center)

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

  4. All international students are required to register at the Aggie Health and Wellness Center within a week of arriving to 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 Aggie Health and Wellness Center.

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.

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.

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 March 15 for Fall semester and September 15 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:

  • Exchange students must take the English Language Placement Test.

  • 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.).