Written by Seun Odeyemi

Do you plan to apply to study at university soon? Do you wonder what documents you need to make an application? Did you answer yes to both of these questions? Yes again? Then read on.

Generally, before you can apply to any university in any country, you need to have certain documents ready and on standby. If you submit these documents at once, you would in most cases receive an unconditional offer and proceed to the visa stage.  However, if for some reason you do not submit all the documents at the beginning of the process, you will receive a conditional offer and be required to provide the remaining documents.

International Passport

Some students mistake a passport for their birth certificate thinking that universities require it in order to know your full names.  A birth certificate is needed to obtain a passport.  However, a passport is essential so that once a student is made an offer, the visa process can commence as soon as possible without the delay of applying for a passport.  When students have their passport at the application stage, it displays an element of readiness and commitment to the journey ahead.

Certificates – High school completion and/or undergraduate completion

Whether at undergraduate level or postgraduate level, students are required to have the certificates that were presented to them at either their high school, college or university graduation.  A certificate is an official document that is issued by the government or institution upon completion of a course of study or training. This shows the prospective university that a student is ready to progress to the next stage of education.  It is understandable if you have recently completed high school or a bachelor degree and the official document has yet to be issued.  In this case, the application can still be made and a conditional offer issued pending the release of the anticipated document.  This brings me to the next important document, transcript.


The distinction between transcript and degree certificate is an important one.  A transcript is a certified record from a school or university of a student’s marks throughout a course of study reflecting full enrolment history including all courses attempted, grades earned and awards issued.  A certificate states that a student has completed a course of study and earned a degree; a transcript shows how a student performed during their course of study. Some universities require transcripts from grades 10-12 for high school students applying to an undergraduate program. It makes the process easier and faster if students provide both transcripts and all applicable certificates.

Personal Statement

The personal statement is the most difficult task of all of the documentation.  It is important to write a carefully planned personal statement as it supports your application to study at a university or college.  It is a chance for a student to explain why they have selected the particular course, university/college and country. It is also a chance to articulate your skills and experience and highlight your passion for your chosen field.  At the application stage, you only need one page with approximately five paragraphs. Apply the KISS rule here, Keep It Short and Simple; less is really more.

Academic reference

An academic reference is also referred to as teacher reference on some application portals.  It is preferred to ask a teacher who has taught you during your school/university career to write a reference letter for you about your academic abilities and strengths. It is a good idea to use a teacher who likes you or is the teacher of your favourite subject or subject in which you scored your best marks.  Your reference should sing your praises, so to speak, and let the university know about your attributes and academic abilities.

These are generally required documents necessary to put in an application to study at a university or college.  Specialised courses need more documents such as a portfolio, perhaps.  Some universities require an interview or an audition just to make sure you are the right candidate for the programme and will fit in among your fellow students.

At a later stage in the application process, students will also be expected to provide financial documents to prove affordability, especially in instances where a visa is required to study abroad. Students need to show that they can afford to pay their fees for the first year and also be able to afford their living expenses for accommodation, books, meals, and transport.

At IE Abroad, we can help you to evaluate all of your documents to make sure that all is in order before completing your application and submitting it to universities.  IE Abroad study advisors are available to make the application process seamless and uncomplicated for students.

If you wish to learn more and make an application please reach to one of our team – LETS TALK