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International Student FAQ

Dickinson College provides a useful, innovative and interdisciplinary education that prepares students to be global citizens who lead meaningful lives. Our students develop outstanding communication, analytical and technical skills, the ability to work in a team and a strong work ethic—all traits that employers are looking for.

As an international student considering whether Dickinson is the right place for you, you likely have a lot of questions. Check out some answers to common ones below.

Prior to Applying

What is the difference between a college and a university?

The words college and university are somewhat interchangeable in the U.S. A college is typically a higher education institution that provides only or mostly undergraduate bachelor’s degrees.

A university is an institution comprised of multiple academic divisions such as colleges and schools. In most cases, one or more of these units may be labeled a "college" because they provide undergraduate degrees within the larger university. Universities usually offer graduate or professional degrees in addition to undergraduate degrees.

There are of course many exceptions to these general definitions. Neither colleges nor universities are inherently better than the other in the quality of the faculty, their research and teaching, or in the graduate school and employment opportunities for their students.

How many international students are there at Dickinson?

Dickinson is a community committed to diversity and inclusion, with more than 2,100 full-time students representing 43 states and territories, plus Washington, D.C., and 49 countries. Among the current population, 22% are domestic students of color and 12% are international. 

For the 13th year running, Dickinson ranks in the top 40 nationally on Open Doors’ list of baccalaureate colleges enrolling international students. Landing at No. 29 this year, up from No. 36 in 2020-21, Dickinson has 280 students on campus hailing from 49 countries across the globe.

Where can I learn about admission, financial aid, application procedures, and how to obtain a student visa if I don’t have a college or university counselor or advisor at my school?

EducationUSA is a U.S. State Department network of educational advising offices around the world that provide free and objective information about U.S. colleges and universities. They can also help students learn about funding study in the U.S., the application process, obtaining a visa and preparing to study in the U.S. EducationUSA is a valuable resource for students who may not have a school-based college or university counselor or advisor.

You can locate an EducationUSA Advising Center in your country at Find An Advising Center.

Application and Admissions Process

Please review the International Student Admissions Information page for an overview.

Should I apply as a First-Year or Transfer applicant?

You should apply as a first-year applicant if you are currently completing the final year of secondary or high school. You may also apply as a first-year applicant if you have completed and graduated from secondary or high school and have not enrolled or matriculated at a post-secondary college, university or other institution.

You must apply as a transfer applicant if you have graduated from secondary or high school enrolled or matriculated and taken any coursework at a post-secondary college, university or other institution.

Merit scholarship and financial aid opportunities are the same for first-year and transfer applicants.

Does Dickinson offer application fee waivers?

There is no fee to apply for admission to Dickinson College.

I submitted my materials, but my applicant profile still shows those items missing. What should I do?

Items may take a few days to a few weeks to process and show on your Applicant Portal as complete due to the high volume of materials we are receive, especially around application deadlines. Please do not send documents to us again unless we request more information. Please wait and check your Application Portal again in 5-7 days.

How can I submit my missing items?

Application materials should be uploaded to the Application Portal. School materials (e.g., transcript or school report) can be sent via a secure document-sharing system. Information may also be faxed to our secure line at +1-717-245-1442. 

When will I receive access to my Applicant Portal?

Applicants typically receive portal credentials via email within a few days after submitting the Common Application to Dickinson.  

Note: Students who apply in August will receive their credentials in mid-September. 

What do I do if I cannot open/access my Applicant Portal?

Students who cannot open or access their applicant portal should contact the admissions office at Please provide your name as it appears on your application and a detailed description of your issue.   

Can I apply for admission and financial aid if I have already earned a Bachelors’ (baccalaureate-level) degree or equivalent?

Anyone who has earned a bachelors’ degree or equivalent may apply for admission as a transfer applicant. Please note, however, that applicants who apply for admission and who have already earned a bachelor’s degree are not eligible for merit scholarships and financial aid, and must be able to demonstrate at time of application that they can finance the entire cost of their education. Please visit the Nontraditional Admissions page for more information.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Please review the International Scholarships and Financial Aid page. Dickinson College is need-aware in the admission of international students, and applicants’ ability to provide funding for their Dickinson education is considered in our admission decisions.

What is the total cost of attendance for international students?

The total estimated cost of attendance for 2024-25:

Tuition $65,100
Fees $550

Housing & Food

Books $1,324  
Personal Expenses $1,928  
Health Insurance $2,500  
TOTAL Minimum Estimated Cost $88,482  

These are estimated costs and are subject to change when final costs are officially set by the board of trustees in late February.

Does Dickinson offer full scholarships?

Like many U.S. colleges and universities, Dickinson does not provide funding for all costs required to obtain a student visa. At Dickinson, this includes the cost of mandatory health insurance ($2,500), one-time fees of $125, and any travel anticipated above $1,000 per year are not included in determining financial aid for international students. Dickinson financial aid does not provide funding for these items. Students must be able to fund these costs without merit scholarship or need-based financial aid from Dickinson College.

Does Dickinson offer athletic scholarships?

Dickinson’s athletics teams compete in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division III, which prohibits the awarding of scholarships based on athletic ability to students. Athletes may qualify for merit scholarships and need-based financial aid.

What is the Next Genius Scholarship Program, and do I qualify?

Dickinson is partner institution with Next Genius, a Mumbai-based educational initiative that seeks to promote the importance of critical thinking. Qualified students may apply to Dickinson through the Next Genius Program and one student is admitted with a full-tuition scholarship. Other qualified Next Genius applicants are eligible for admissions, merit scholarships and need-based financial aid.


Visit the Academic Programs page to learn more about majors, minors and other programs.

Does Dickinson offer any STEM majors?

Yes, Dickinson offers 13 STEM majors:  archaeology, biochemistry & molecular biology, biology, chemistry, computer science, data analytics, geosciences, environmental science, environmental studies, mathematics, neuroscience, physics and quantitative economics.

Is it possible to double major?

Yes, approximately 25% of Dickinson students double and 44% of all international students double major.

What is a minor?

A minor requires completion 5 of at least five courses and may consist of a combination of required and elective courses.

What are the most popular majors for international students?

Quantitative economics, computer science, mathematics, data analytics, international business & managementneuroscience, biochemistry & molecular biology, international studies, economics and computer science are among the most popular choices for international students.  

Does Dickinson offer support for international students to find internships?

Internships provide students with opportunities to apply their useful liberal arts and sciences education beyond campus. Dickinson guarantees that 100% of students who want an internship will have one. Finding an internship is coordinated through the Advising, Internships & Career Center. Explore stories about students’ internship experiences. Dickinson students have the opportunity to apply for a grant to assist in completing an unpaid or low-paid summer internship.

Are there research opportunities?

Yes! No matter where your interests lie—collecting data on ocean acidification in Australia, doing archaeological field work in Greece or conducting research on community health in Japan—you’ll have the opportunity to get involved in research, collaborate with your teachers and go out there and explore it.

What is Dickinson’s academic calendar?

Dickinson’s academic year starts with the fall semester and ends with the spring semester. The fall semester begins in late August or early September and final exams end in mid-December. The spring semester begins the third week of January and final exams end in mid-May.

What are distribution requirements?

Distribution requirements are courses that every Dickinson student needs to complete in order to graduate. Distribution requirements are designed to introduce students to three major disciplines of learning (arts and humanities, social sciences, and laboratory sciences.) In addition to these courses, each student must take a First-Year Seminar, a Writing Intensive course, a Quantitative Reasoning course, a US Diversity course, and a Comparative Civilizations course. Students must also complete a second language through the intermediate level.

How does the credit system work at Dickinson?

Each course, unless otherwise noted in the course description, is one credit, equivalent to four semester hours.  A typical schedule is four courses or credits each semester (the equivalent of 16 credit hours); a student enrolled in at least three courses or credits (the equivalent of 12 credit hours) is considered full time.  

Does Dickinson award credit for AP, International Baccalaureate, etc.?

Yes. Dickinson recognizes and awards credits for the following: Advanced PlacementInternational BaccalaureateA-LevelsFrench BaccalaureateSwiss Maturite Certificate and the German Abitur Certificate

Student Life

Does Dickinson offer meal options for special religious needs or dietary restrictions?

For those with special dietary needs, Dining Services has separated the top 8 allergens from one of our salad bars.  They also have a self-serve gluten-free area separated from the rest of our meal areas to make it easier to select foods on your own. They even offer dairy-free frozen desserts. 

The KOVE (KOsher & VEgan) serves certified kosher foods. The operation is certified kosher by Dickinson's full-time rabbi. Vegan entrées add another dimension to the KOVE and are prepared without animal products.  

As a part of our meal plan, in collaboration with Center for Spirituality & Social Justice, we offer a yearly Ramadan meal program during observance. This includes a wide variety of Halal meals, snacks, beverages and desserts. 

How does Dickinson support international students?

The Center for Global Study & Engagement (CGSE) assists new students with visas, coordinates free local airport and train station pickup for new international students and provides orientation sessions. Enrolling students will receive communication from their CGSE about visas, transportation, and other important topics prior to their arrival. 

During the first semester, there will also be extended Orientation workshops as well as many CGSE-hosted and all-college events, lectures and activities. All international students will get a chance to meet one-on-one with the CGSE staff during their first semester on campus.

Throughout the year, CGSE will send messages about academic events, information sessions, important deadlines and international student issues, such as Winter Break housing and tax requirements. 

If you are unsure where to find a particular service on campus or how to navigate through student requirements, CGSE can provide direction and explain which offices and departments are relevant to your question or problem.

Where is Carlisle located and how do I get there?

Dickinson College is located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a vibrant town located approximately 25 miles/40km southwest of Harrisburg. Carlisle is within convenient driving distance of many East Coast cities.

Harrisburg International Airport (MDT) is located less than a half-hour drive from Dickinson. A number of airlines offer direct flights to and from major cities and hubs such as Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Charlotte (CLT), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Dallas Forth Worth (DFW), Denver (DEN), Detroit (DTW), Newark (EWR) and Philadelphia (PHL).

The Harrisburg AMTRAK train station provides train service to and from New York City, Philadelphia and other cities.

Greyhound offers bus service from and to Harrisburg and many cities and destinations.

Dickinson provides shuttle services to Harrisburg International Airport, AMTRAK train station, and Greyhound bus terminal at the start and close of each semester and for fall, winter, and spring semester vacations.

Capital Area Transit (CAT) provides bus service from Carlisle to Harrisburg, including the AMTRAK train station, as well as other locations in the region. Taxi and Uber service is also available.

What is the weather like at Dickinson?

Dickinson experiences four seasons and the temperatures vary from an average high of 38°F (3°C) with an average low of 21°F (-6°C) in January to an average high if 86°F (30°) with an average low of 62°F (17°C) in July. Summers are warm and humid and winters are cool with some snow. But do not worry – residence halls and classroom buildings are airconditioned in warmer weather and heated in cooler weather, and we’ll be sure you have the appropriate footwear, jackets, gloves, and hats for all weather conditions!

What clubs and organizations does Dickinson offer?

With more than 110 cultural, arts, performance, political, academic, religious, community service and other student organizations, Dickinson offers many opportunities to engage with other students and the local community and develop talents, skills, and interests. Just a few of the international and cultural organizations include the Asian and Asian-American Collective, Black Student Union, Chinese Students and Scholars Association, Dickinson Vietnamese Students’ Association, Korean Student Association, Latin American & Caribbean Club, Muslim Educational and Cultural Association and South Asian Cultural Club.

Explore opportunities for engagement.  

Is housing guaranteed for all four years?

As a residential college, Dickinson has a four-year residency requirement, meaning that all students are required to live in college housing and participate in a college dining meal plan during their fours years of study. Housing is guaranteed for all four years.  

Can I remain in my residence hall during college vacations?

Housing remains open during the following break periods:

  • October mid-term pause
  • Thanksgiving vacation
  • spring vacation.

During these breaks, you may remain in your assigned room at no additional cost. Winter break housing is also available at no cost, but students must apply to remain on campus.

Meal plans are not in effect during some of these periods and any food and meals are not included in student meal plans and must be purchased separately. Students may utilize the common area kitchens within the residence halls to cook and prepare meals. 

What resources are there to help international students maintain their religious/spiritual life?

Dickinson offers a growing community of religiously diverse students, staff and faculty. Directed by the Center for Spirituality & Social Justice, the campus' religious diversity includes a number of student groups and local communities for individuals to continue to practice as well as explore other traditions. In addition, the center provides opportunities for spiritually curious students to consider a number of practices that are often unexplored in a Western landscape. For more information, visit the Center for Spirituality & Social Justice website. 

How safe is Dickinson?

Carlisle is a vibrant town with small-community charm and an urban, international flair and was recently ranked as one of the safest college towns in the U.S. Additionally Dickinson’s Department of Public Safety operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, and provides a variety of programs and services including first aid/CPR training, tips for personal safety, the Campus Safety Shuttle, medical van transport within the Carlisle, as well as residence hall or room lockout services, or even someone to walk you across campus. Public Safety Officers act as liaisons to their assigned residence halls so that students and Residential Advisors can meet the Officers and provide feedback or ask questions about safety and security at Dickinson College.

Is medical care available at Dickinson?

International students are required to enroll in the Dickinson College Health Insurance program. The Wellness Center provides services available for all students and serves as their primary-care provider while studying at Dickinson. The Center is staffed with nurse practitioners and offers multiple services, including treatment for common illnesses and injuries, immunizations and physical exams. Mental health counseling, emergency care and nutritional services, as well as wellness education, are also available.