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Every year, the CRDM Program admits international students. Some of these students are Fulbright scholars, and others are funded by the program. If you are planning to come as a Fulbright scholar, you should check the Fulbright requirements in your home country. In those cases, you normally should start your application process in your home country and with the Fulbright agency at least one year prior to the intended start of the Ph.D.
If you have additional questions about the life of an international student at NCSU, please contact the Office of International Services (OIS). They can provide you with information about how to apply, immigration requirements, and orientation.
The Graduate School requires a minimum TOEFL score of at least 80 for all international students who do not have a Master’s degree from a US University.
Make sure you have all your documents in order. Check your passport—usually the expiration date should not be shorter than six months. It is recommended to start the process of obtaining your visa (student [F-1] or exchange [J-1]) well in advance, as it is a time consuming process that in some cases can last over three months.
After arriving at NC State, all international students should contact the Office of International Services (OIS). This office offers information about general administrative issues, academic expectations, taxes, health immunizations, etc. Every semester the OIS organizes an orientation for international students.
It is a good idea to get an ID issued by the North Carolina government. Even if you don’t have the intention to buy a car and drive regularly, it is advisable to get a driver’s license; the other option is to get the regular state ID, which is only for identification purposes. Either of those can be obtained at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). There is a DMV office at the shopping center on Gorman Ave. and Avent Ferry Rd. Please refer to the DMV website to check the requirements. If you are planning to work, you need a Social Security Number (SSN). Details about the SSN could be found on this link. Fulbright and other exchange students (J visa) who will not work in the U.S. still need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
Getting a Bank Account
The CRDM program does not offer exchange students (J visa) teaching opportunities. If you want to have this experience, you should make formal inquiries to faculty members. The program does not have available teaching positions for students without Teaching Assistantships (TA), but there are some opportunities, as listed below:
- Shadowing a Professor: You have the option to “shadow” a class with any professor on campus. This means you will work closely with a faculty member helping them prepare classes, lecture and grade assignments. This shadowing can be achieved through taking CRD885 as a 3-credit course. CRD 885 will also satisfy the professional preparation requirement. Further instructions for taking CRD 885 can be found here.
- All Ph.D students can apply for the Preparing for the Professoriate (PTP) program. This is a competitive program designed to give “doctoral students an immersive mentoring, teaching, and future faculty preparation experience.”
- Guest lectures: Another option to gain teaching experience for those without a TA is to ask a professor teaching a class of your interest to allow you to be a guest lecturer.
If you would like to do an internship during the summer, look for those that explicitly say they accept international students (F visa). Internships in private companies for F visas often not remunerated positions; however, if the job is within an academic context, students with an F visa can engage in paid work. If you are on a J visa you can get involved in a remunerated internship without any problem; you just have to let your sponsor know you are planning to work (in these cases, the employer might try to subtract your internship payment from your scholarship, but you can send them a formal letter explaining why they should not deduct the money). Deadlines for competitive summer internships are usually on November/December of the previous year. Plan ahead.
Internships at International Organizations
Entities like the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Organization of American States (OAS), World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), among others from time to time list positions for international students who want to do an Internship with them. This could be a good option to gain professional experience.
Enroll in Professional Development Courses
Use your time in the U.S. to explore the professional development courses that NC State offers, such as the Preparing Future Leaders initiative. If you have plans to teach after finishing your PhD program, join the Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching that gives you the fundamental expertise to thrive as an instructor. In addition, check the several workshops that the library organizes throughout the year. The variety of topics is great, ranging from using citation tools to working with Arduino.
Become a Volunteer
You will receive a lot of help during your time in the U.S. and it is possible to express your gratitude by becoming a volunteer in diverse NC State events. You may receive e-mails asking for help, however, you can keep in mind two main events that happen every year. The first one is the CRDM recruitment week in the Spring semester. The second one is International Orientation Day in August.
Improve Your English Skills
The Office of International Services maintains an English Conversation Club that meets every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. The ECC is a great place to practice your skills by talking with native speakers in a relaxed atmosphere. There is no application or registration required.
Keep Your Cultural Heritage Alive
There are many students’ organizations at NC State, including cultural ones like LASA (Latin American Student Association) and Maitri (Indian Graduate Student Association). Becoming a member of these groups allows you to bond with people from your home country and to introduce your cultural background to friends from other nationalities.
Returning to Your Home Country
If you plan to go back home, you should get in contact with researchers from your own country and with scholars working on similar subjects as you. Learning about the industry and private companies in your country will also be helpful. Exploring different job opportunities in your home country is crucial. If you do this early in the program, there is a possibility that by the end of the program not only will you have a network that can help you get a job when you graduate, but you will also have an understanding of the job climate and economic expectations in your country.
Staying in the U.S.
If you plan to stay and work in the U.S., you should familiarize yourself with the legal policies regarding OPT and H1B visa. OPT is a document that allows F-visa students to work in their field of study for 12 months after graduation. You can apply for OPT as early as 90 days prior to the end date on your I-20. Once you get the OPT you are only allowed to be unemployed for a maximum of 90 days. If you are successful in finding a job, after the 12 months of your OPT some people can get a H1B visa, which authorizes you to work in the United States even after OPT ends. To apply for H1B, you must have a sponsoring employer who will apply for the visa on your behalf. It is possible to find an employer willing to apply for a H1B visa for you before graduation, as long as you can prove that you have completed all coursework and that will receive your diploma upon graduation. Information on changing status can be found on the OIS website.
CHASS Career Services
Take advantage of the benefits provided by the career services from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Familiarize yourself with the job searching process and business etiquette in the United States. You can find information on the College’s career development services on this link.