international undergraduate applicants

The general requirements for undergraduate admissions are given on the First-Year Applicants page. Additional documents required for international BA and BFA applicants are listed below.

If you are an international applicant, you must meet all admissions requirements and are expected to enroll as a full-time student for each term of study unless you have been granted prior authorization for part-time study by the Student Affairs Office.

English Language Proficiency

SFAI’s rigorous studio and liberal arts curriculum demands a substantial mastery of English reading, writing, and verbal skills. If English is not your first language, you must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).  

To be admitted to the Undergraduate program you must have a TOEFL score of 550 or higher (paper-based), 79 or higher (Internet-based), or 213 or higher (computer-based).

In lieu of the TOEFL, applicants may submit results of the Academic IELTS. A minimum Academic IELTS score of 6.5 is required for SFAI admission. The General IELTS is not accepted.

In some cases the English Language requirement may be waived at the discretion of SFAI. To be considered for this waiver please respond to the following questions and include this response with your admission application.

  1. Was the last degree that you earned at an institution outside of the U.S.?

  1. Did you earn your Bachelor’s degree from an institution where the language of instruction was English?

  1. Did you complete one or more years of graduate level coursework in English?

  1. If you answered yes to one or both of these questions, please submit to SFAI documentation from the institution that the language of instruction.

  1. Please submit a statement of one page or less with details below on your experience with the English language and why you feel you should qualify for a waiver of the TOEFL or IELTS.

Official sealed transcripts of all secondary and postsecondary academic work, both completed and in-progress

International students or students who studied at international schools must submit official copies of original academic documents or transcripts from all secondary and postsecondary schools, issued in their original languages and accompanied by certified English translations. If you have academic experience beyond a four-year bachelor’s degree, those transcripts must also be submitted.

Guidelines for the submission of documents or transcripts for several countries can be found in the chart below. Please refer to the country in which you attended school and submit the appropriate document. 

For countries not mentioned, please submit similar documents. 

For questions about document requirements, please contact the Admissions Office at or 415.749.4500.

Country Please submit one of the following:
  • Advanced or General High School Diploma (Alberta and Northwest Territories)
  • Senior Secondary Graduation Diploma (British Columbia and Yukon Territories)
  • High School Graduation Diploma (Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island)
  • High School Graduation Diploma/Diplome d'Études Secondaires (New Brunswick)
  • High School Completion Certificate (Nova Scotia)
  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (Ontario)
  • Diplome d'Études Secondaires (Quebec)
  • Completion Of Grade 12 Requirements (Saskatchewan)
  • Senior Middle School (11 to 12 Year Program)
  • Middle School Teacher Certificate (from a normal college)
  • Diplôme de Bachelier de l’Enseignement du Second Degré
  • Baccalauréat de Technicien/Technologique Professionnel
  • Certificat de Fin d’Études Secondaires
  • Brevet de Technicien Supérieur
  • Examen Spécial d’Entrée à l’Université
  • Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife
  • Abitur
  • Reifezeugnis / Zeugnis der Reife
  • Zeugnis der Fachgebundenen Hochschulreife
  • Berufsfachschule / Handelschule Abschlusszeugnis (three years)
  • Teudat Bagrut
  • Bachillerato
  • Títulos (from academic secondary school programs)
  • Preparatoria Program
  • Intermediate Certificate
  • Higher Secondary Certificate
  • Certificate in Industrial Arts Teaching
  • Diploma in Commerce
  • Diploma in Technology
  • Diploma of Associate Engineer
  • Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level Examination
  • Cambridge School Certificate (Division I or II)
  • Industrial Technician Certificate
  • Certificate in Business Studies
South Korea
  • Graduation Certificate from an Academic High School
  • Graduation Certificate from a Vocational High School
  • Certificate or Diploma from a Senior High School
  • Certificate or Diploma from a Senior Vocational High School
  • Devlet Lise Diploması
  • Lise Bitirme Diploması
  • Lise Diploması
  • Devlet Meslek Lisesi Diploması
  • Devlet Teknik Lisesi Diploması
  • Sağlik Meslek Lisesi Diploması
United Kingdom
  • General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level Examination
  • Certificate of Secondary Education
  • General Certificate of Secondary Education
  • International General Certificate of Secondary Education

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The IB program is similar to the British A-Levels, the French Baccalauréat, and the German Abitur, the qualifying examinations for which are recognized by most European postsecondary educational institutions as satisfactory for entrance.

In the United States, the IB program is similar to the College Board’s Advanced Placement program with its series of qualifying courses followed by nationally normed examinations and college-credit recognition. SFAI participates in the diploma program of the IB, a comprehensive curriculum taught in participating secondary schools to students bound for U.S. and international universities.

SFAI will award credit for IB Higher Level examinations with a minimum score of five (5) if the subject matter of the IB course is relevant to the SFAI BA/BFA curriculum. Credit is awarded on a course-by-course basis for a maximum of thirty semester units, with no more than six semester units to be awarded from any one subject-matter group.

International Student Visa Requirements

It is strongly recommended that students begin the visa application process as early as possible.

For details on the required materials for the visa process, please see the International Students section of our website.

If you have questions regarding this process, contact the Global Programs Office.