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Student and Scholar Information

 
The following information has been developed to provide some general guidance for international students and scholars interested in coming to Alabama universities and colleges.  With over 50 universities and colleges (public, private, research, 2 year colleges) there are many options for international students and scholars to choose from.  Choose a link below for more information:



How to choose a school? 
Alabama stretches from the Gulf Mexico to the rolling hills in the northern region of the state (Huntsville, Florence).  Beauty, history and adventure all come together in Alabama, a state rich in everything from world-class golf to white-sand beaches and top level higher education and research.  

There are many factors that you should consider including: Program of Study (degree you are looking for), Area of Research interest, Size and Location, Costs (tuition, other fees, cost of living, health care, etc.), Services (international office, international students and scholars office, etc.), Housing (on or off campus) and finally Activities, Student Organizations, and campus life functions.

If you are interested in Research Exchanges as a Scholar please contact the Research division of the college or university or the specific departments you may be interested in.  To find out more about Alabama or to find a university or college see the following links:

 >>  Experience Alabama - history, its cities, it culture, and much more
 >>  To find a University or college - comprehensive map, listing and direct links to each institution.

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 Are Alabama universities and colleges accredited?

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissionon Colleges is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states.  All Alabama colleges and universities associated with StudyAlabama are accredited by the SACS organization and are also authorized as institutions of higher education under the State of AlabamaCommission on Higher Education.  Each of these organizations has links to the universities and colleges that are accredited in the State of Alabama.

Additionally each institution may have other specialized accreditation for their different degree programs, please check each institutions for any professional or other accreditation listing they may have for their programs.

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 How to apply to a universities and to get a US visa?

Each university and college has different application processes.  Typically you will need to find their admission page for either undergraduate or graduate studies and then look for their international student application information.  Most applications will require you to complete a basic application and to submit financial support documentation, copies of your education history including HS diploma, transcripts of courses taken, etc..  All your documents will need to be translated into English and converted to equivalent US standards, check with each university admissions office for details.  

Universities and colleges will also have different procedures for hosting research scholars and exchange program participants.   The rules for this program are typically guided under the US Dept of State Exchange Visitor Program.

The documents you will need to apply for a US visa will be sent to you by the university or college you are admitted to.  Typically these will either be an I-20 or DS-2019 along with information on registering for SEVIS and beginning your visa application process. The visa process can take up to three months or longer if you are applying for a specialized degree (or a participating in a specialized research scholar activity) requiring security or other background checks by the US consulate issuing the visa.  For more details on applying for a US visa go to the following:

  >>  Study in the US - comprehensive links resource site
  >>  Study in the States - US Department of Homeland Security web resource page for students
  >>  Education USA - US Department of State resource for finding advising centers around the world, application, visa, and much 
                                 more information critical to study in the US.
  >>  SEVIS - The US Student and Exchange Visitor Information System - key resource information on the US Immigration System

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 How to Get to Alabama? 

Typically students and scholars will arrive from abroad through one of the major US airports including Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, New York, Miami, etc.  There are connecting flights to most of the major Alabama cities from these international hubs. Be aware that today in the US connection.

The major airports in Alabama are in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery.  Distances can be very deceiving so please discuss your arrival plans with your host school.  Rail and bus transportation in the US is NOT something that you can plan on for coming to Alabama and many other areas of the US (except perhaps the major metropolitan areas on the East or West Coast of the US).  Travel in the us is primarily by car and air.  If you wish to rent a car be aware that there are very specific automobile insurance requirements and drivers license requirements that differ by US state.  Rental car agencies also do not rent to those generally under the age of 25 for insurance reasons.  If coming to the US for an extended stay make sure you have your home country drivers license with you and that it is VALID.  Each state has different rules with respect to use of your home country drivers license.  For more information check these resources on Driving in the US:

  >>  Foreign Visitors Driving in the U.S. Quick facts for foreign visitors, students, and residents about driving in the United States of America.
  >>  International Driving Permit - FAQ from US State Department
  >>  State of Alabama Drivers License Agency -  and drivers license manual

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 What is the Cost of Living in Alabama?

Overall the cost of living varies from city to city but in general due to its location and climate the cost of living in Alabama is lower than in many other states in the US.  For a city by city comparison see this web site.

To check on the cost of attendance figures for universities and colleges in Alabama you should check each institutions web site looking for their cost of attendance information that must be provided each year (example 1example 2example 3).  Often other sources such as this one also provide summary information, however please VERIFY the cost of attendance for your specific university. Be aware that often the costs are based on domestic student costs and may NOT reflect international student costs for travel, visas, etc..

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 What is the Weather like in Alabama?

The majority of Alabama’s days are warm and sunny. Rainfall across the state is lowest in October and highest in March. Spring comes early, with range of temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) daily by March. Summer days average in the 80s F (mid-20s C), with periods of heat in the 90s F (32 C) peaking in July. In the cooler months of September, October and November, you usually won’t need more than a sweater or light jacket to stay warm. Severely cold weather is rare in Alabama, though snow flurries can be seen in the higher elevations of North Alabama. For Birmingham, the average low temperature in January is 33 F degrees, while the high is 54 F. In the coastal city of Mobile, the average January low is 40 F and the high 61 F. For more on see the Alabama Climate page.   The weather can vary dramatically from north to south (along the Alabama Gulf Coast) throughout the year.   Check with your school for additional information.

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version 5/21/2014
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