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Counseling Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

Last Updated: September 2015

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Department of  Psychology                                                                                                                   


International students are an important part of our learning community. In recent years, approximately 25% of the students in our program were born or raised in countries outside of the United States. Our international students enrich our program in many ways, including their ability to provide perspectives on human behavior, research, and counseling that may differ from mainstream US perspectives.

The Washington, DC area is an attractive place to live for many international students because of its rich cultural diversity—a diversity that, to a great extent, is reflected at the University of Maryland. Our area has an abundance of dining and grocery options that represent cuisines from around the globe. Also, the metropolitan DC area is supported by an excellent public transportation system, making it possible to live without a car even if one lives off campus.

As exciting as it can be for international students to arrive at their new university, it can also be stressful since it can involve…

settling into life in a new country and culture

learning and managing visa and work requirements

understanding university requirements for international students

facing the challenges of speaking and reading English

For these reasons, there is no doubt that international students must cope with challenges that domestic students do not need to consider. However, experience has shown that our international students manage these challenges and excel in their graduate work. Below we list some facts, tips, and resources that may be helpful for international applicants to our program, as well as current international students.

International students may face additional fees or fiscal requirements related to their visas due to requirements for year-round enrollment when participating in activities such as externships and internships. When required, this amount would be approximately the cost of 1 credit hour.

The website of International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) at the University of Maryland contains a great deal of useful information for international students, including information related to admissions, arriving as a new student, support services, visa and work requirements, university requirements, and issues related to competency in English. We strongly advise current and prospective students to spend the time needed to become familiar with information on this website. We also recommend that prospective and current students develop relationships with advisors in ISSS early in their relationship with the University of Maryland. Doing so can help international students anticipate and prepare for potential challenges. Some examples of potential challenges include visa restrictions that do not allow international students to accept stipends or pay for externship experiences outside the university (although these experiences rarely offer stipends), visa requirements regarding continuous registration, and certain externship and internship options that are restricted to U.S. citizens (e.g., Veteran’s Affairs Medical Centers).

Who is the best source of information about international student issues as they relate to our program? It’s our own international students. Our students have created their own International Justice Committee to support one another, and to advocate for improvements in the resources and policies related to international students. Issues related to international students are also discussed in our program’s organization for counseling psychology students (COPSA).

One of our program faculty members serves as a program liaison for the ISSS, and meets with international students to understand their concerns. Currently, the liaison is Mary Ann Hoffman.

Finally, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of empowering yourself to be your own best advocate. Our university and program are steadily improving the support our international students receive by default. However, students should not assume that they will automatically be given all of the information important for them to know. It is for this reason that we encourage you to advocate on your own behalf. This means searching for relevant information on the University website, and discussing international student issues with multiple people (including advisors in ISSS, departmental administrative staff, program co-directors, current international students, and our program liaison to the ISSS). Doing so will minimize the chances of having unexpected problems, and will maximize the chances that your experience at the University of Maryland is fulfilling.