International Student Requirements

The following requirements must be met by international applicants to all academic programs in the Duke University School of Nursing.

International students are encouraged to review the resources for international students and to apply as soon as the window for application opens for the year they wish to attend Duke, to ensure sufficient time to complete the additional requirements listed below. Applicants to the PhD Program must follow the requirements of The Graduate School.

Financial Support

Evidence of adequate financial support for the duration of the program must be provided by applicants to the ABSN Program, MSN Program, and DNP Program. See the visa eligibility section below for more information. (The PhD Program does not require proof of adequate financial support, because its students are currently fully supported for a minimum of five consecutive years, beginning with their year of matriculation. See the PhD Program in Nursing Graduate Student Handbook for further information about financial support for PhD students.)

Proof of English Proficiency

Any applicant who does not currently hold a United States permanent resident card (green card) or who has never studied at a US institution must submit scores from:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), administered through the Educational Testing Service (specify institution code 5156 to ensure that TOEFL scores are reported to Duke), or

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) administered by Cambridge ESOL/British Council/IELTS Australia.

The applicant’s score must not be more than two years old, and an official copy must be sent to Duke University directly from the testing agency. Personal copies and attested or notarized documents are not acceptable. It is the policy of the Duke University School of Nursing to consider students with a minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL internet-based test (with minimum subscores of 22 in Reading, 22 in Listening, 26 in Spelling, and 24 in Writing); or a minimum IELTS score of 7.0. Applicants to the PhD Program must meet the Duke University Graduate School English language proficiency requirements.

The English proficiency requirement may be waived if, at the time of application, the applicant has studied full-time for two or more years at a college or university in a country for which the primary language is English, and the sole language of instruction of the college or university is English.

Visa Eligibility

To study in the United States, international students must obtain the appropriate visa. Students attending Duke University will receive one of the following types of visas:

  • F-1 Student Visa, with an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility issued by Duke University.

  • J-1 Exchange-Visitor (Student) Visa, with a DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility issued by Duke University (or a sponsoring agency).

For additional information about F-1 and J-1 visas, prospective international students should consult the Duke Visa Services website.

Before Duke can issue the I-20 or the DS-2019, US immigration law requires that the university must have documented evidence that a student has adequate financial resources to cover the expenses of studying here for at least one year. (Additional funds must be verified if a student plans to bring a spouse or children.)

Once a student is enrolled in the ABSN or DNP Program, the visa approval process is initiated by the Duke University School of Nursing Admissions Officer. International students accepted to the PhD Program must follow the visa application and approval procedures of the Duke University Graduate School.

  • If a student is being awarded any financial assistance from Duke, this information is utilized in the visa approval process. Please note, however, that financial assistance from Duke, if offered, may or may not cover the minimum amount required for a visa eligibility form to be issued. Each student must assume responsibility for the amount needed beyond what Duke may award.

  • The appropriate visa is issued only after a student has been offered admission, has returned the online enrollment form, and has provided verification of the necessary funds.

  • If an international student is currently attending a US institution and is planning to transfer to Duke University School of Nursing, the current school must transfer the student’s visa record to the Duke Visa Services website. It is the student’s responsibility to submit the request to their current school.

Consult the Duke Visa Services website for additional information about visa eligibility and applications. This website also provides updates in the event of changes in US immigration law.

Course Load Requirements for Students with F-1 Visa

  • In the ABSN Program and Nurse Anesthesia DNP Program, on-campus international students with an F-1 visa must maintain a full-time course load each semester. A full-time course load is at least nine credits per semester for the fall and spring semesters, and at least six credits per semester for the summer semester.

  • Duke University School of Nursing provides on-campus, distance-based, and online courses of study. International students with an F-1 visa are not allowed to take more than three credits online during any semester.

  • International students in the MSN and DNP Programs are required to obtain an F-1 visa in order to attend the executive on-campus sessions required by the program.

  • International students in the PhD Program must maintain a full-time student status during their duration in the program as specified by the Duke University Graduate School.

Additional Requirements for International Applicants to DNP and PhD Degree Programs

  • Passing score on the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) Qualifying Exam.

  • Full Education Course-by-Course Report from the CGFNS Credentials Evaluation Service. For students educated outside the United States, the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) Qualifying Exam is a prerequisite for taking the Registered Nurse licensing examination in the state of North Carolina and for obtaining a nonimmigrant occupational preference visa (H1-A) from the US Immigration and Naturalization Service.

    • CGFNS offers a three-part International Certification Program: 1) a credentials review, which includes secondary and nursing education, registration, and licensure; 2) the CGFNS International Qualifying Exam testing nursing knowledge (administered four times per year at multiple locations worldwide); 3) an English language proficiency examination.

    • Application materials and information about examination dates and locations may be accessed via the CGFNS International website or requested from CGFNS, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19014; (215) 349-8767. The registration deadlines for these exams are approximately four months prior to their administration. Early application is therefore essential.

  • Licensure or eligibility to be licensed as a registered nurse. International students are encouraged to thoroughly review the program licensing requirements prior to applying to ensure that all criteria can be met.