FAQs for J-1 Visa
This page has been designed especially for exchange students who are interested in studying at the University of Puget Sound. Puget Sound has an exchange site at the Universitaet Passau, Germany.
Listed below are common questions that many exchange student applicants have. If you have additional questions or would like more information about participating in your home university's exchange program with Puget Sound, please contact Allyson Lindsley in the Office of International Programs.
- What is Puget Sound's mission?
- What kind of education will I find at Puget Sound?
- What type of curriculum is offered at Puget Sound?
- What choice of courses do exchange students have?
- Are all the course syllabi available?
- How many units should I take?
- What are the classes like?
- How much more or less demanding is a 300 level class than a 200 or 400 level class?
- Will I have daily homework?
- What is the workload?
- Is there academic support for exchange students?
- Are there resources available to help with writing papers?
- What is the percentage of international students at Puget Sound?
- What countries do international students come from?
- What is the academic calendar?
- What is Puget Sound's national ranking?
- When is the deadline to submit my application?
- Do exchange students qualify for financial aid or scholarships?
- Do I need a visa to study at the University of Puget Sound?
- How do I maintain my J-1 visa status?
- Where will I live?
- What is the residence policy?
- What activities does Puget Sound offer?
- What opportunities are there for me to join sports teams?
- What are the sports facilities like?
- Are there special programs offered for international exchange students at Puget Sound?
- What difficulties do international students face at Puget Sound?
- Can I contact former or current exchange students to get a student's perspective on life at Puget Sound before I apply?
- What is the weather like in Tacoma?
- What is Tacoma like?
- Is there public transportation in Tacoma?
- Are there work opportunities on campus?
- Are there work opportunities off campus?
1. What is Puget Sound's mission?
The mission of the university is to develop in its students capacities for critical analysis, aesthetic appreciation, sound judgment, and apt expression that will sustain a lifetime of intellectual curiosity, active inquiry, and reasoned independence. A Puget Sound education, both academic and co-curricular, encourages a rich knowledge of self and others, an appreciation of commonality and difference, the full, open, and civil discussion of ideas, thoughtful moral discourse, and the integration of learning, preparing the university's graduates to meet the highest tests of democratic citizenship. Such an education seeks to liberate each person's fullest intellectual and human potential to assist in the unfolding of creative and useful lives. You can find more information about Puget Sound's mission in the Puget Sound Bulletin.
2. What kind of education will I find at Puget Sound?
Puget Sound provides a liberal arts education to last a lifetime. The academic program at Puget Sound is based on a core curriculum for all students and includes a wide selection of majors in the liberal arts. A complete listing of all majors is available in the University Bulletin. A Puget Sound education enables students to adapt their careers and to assume ever greater responsibilities as new opportunities arise in a changing world. It also enables them to lead interesting, enriching and satisfying lives, while at the same time it ensures that they contribute significantly to the leadership and civic improvement of society. Puget Sound is primarily an undergraduate university, with excellent graduate programs in Occupational and Physical Therapy and Education only.
3. What type of curriculum is offered at Puget Sound?
Colleges and universities have historically categorized learning into academic disciplines such as mathematics, English, etc. Alongside the more traditional majors, Puget Sound offers many opportunities for interdisciplinary study. The faculty continually develop distinctive interdisciplinary programs at Puget Sound. Much of the academic core is interdisciplinary, and Puget Sound has developed strong interdisciplinary majors, including Asian Studies, International Political Economy, Natural Science and a Special Interdisciplinary Major. Interdisciplinary minors include African-American Studies, Environmental Studies, Latin American Studies and Women Studies. Examples of Puget Sound interdisciplinary programs and courses include Asian studies, the science in context course included in the core curriculum and the Business Leadership Program.
4. What choice of courses do exchange students have?
Exchange students can choose from the entire range of undergraduate courses at Puget Sound for which they are qualified, with some exceptions. You may not take courses in the Business Department that are listed as BLP (Business Leadership Program), and you may not take courses listed as advising sections. Exchange students must direct inquiries regarding course selection to Allyson Lindsley in the Office of International Programs.
5. Are all the course syllabi available?
Descriptions of courses are available on the web version of the University Bulletin (Catalogue of Courses). You can find out which courses are offered in the upcoming semester by visiting the Course Offerings. Course syllabi are not always available online. You can check with the individual professor or department secretary to see if a course syllabus is available. If you have questions about course selection, you should first contact Allyson Lindsley.
6. How many units should I take?
You are required to take at least 3 academic units at Puget Sound. A full-time academic load is 3 or 4 units, and most students at Puget Sound take 4 units each semester. You will need to coordinate this with your home university to ensure you take enough credits to meet their requirements.
7. What are the classes like?
The faculty at Puget Sound is first and foremost a teaching faculty, selected for excellence in various subjects and for their desire and ability to transmit that knowledge in a manner that promotes critical thinking. Classes are generally, but not limited to, discussion seminars, lectures, presentations, labs, or a mixture of two or more. The average class size is under 20, which gives an opportunity for all students to participate in class discussion. The faculty to student ratio at the university is 11:1.
8. How much more or less demanding is a 300 level class than a 200 or 400 level class?
Courses at the 100 level are introductory and open to freshmen (first year students), and normally do not have prerequisites. Courses at the 200 level are generally designed for sophomores (second year students), and may be taken by any student, and normally do not have prerequisites. Courses at the 300 level are generally designed for juniors (third year students), and are normally taken in the junior and senior year. Even though prerequisites may not be stated explicitly, they require special proficiency in the field, and this need for proficiency varies by department. Courses at the 400 level are senior level. In most cases, there is the expectation of previous experience in the field and junior or senior class standing. If you have further questions, please contact Allyson Lindsley.
9. Will I have daily homework?
Yes, all students are assigned homework daily. The academic system at Puget Sound is a continuous assessment system. Students work closely with faculty and are graded on their work throughout the semester. It is not unusual to have multiple tests, exams, and papers scheduled throughout the term, in addition to a final exam or research paper.
10. What is the workload?
Students describe the work at Puget Sound as challenging. The workload will not be too overburdening if you apply good time management. Generally, you should spend at least 3 hours of studying for every 1 hour spent in class.
11. Is there academic support for exchange students?
Tutoring and advising resources are available for all students on campus through the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching. The Center also helps students learn how to develop good time management and study skills that will help them excel academically.
12. Are there resources available to help with writing papers?
Students can seek the help of the Writing Center, which is a branch of the Center for Writing and Learning that is dedicated to teaching all Puget Sound students how to improve their academic writing. They do not proofread, but rather, they teach students the tools and skills that will help them improve their papers.
13. What is the percentage of international students at Puget Sound?
International students make up about 1 percent of the student body.
14. What countries do international students come from?
The international student population at Puget Sound is small but diverse. Currently the countries represented by our international students include China, Japan, Italy, France, South Korea, Macedonia, and Vietnam.
15. What is the academic calendar?
Puget Sound is on a semester system. The fall semester begins in late August and finishes in mid-December. The spring semester lasts from mid-January to mid-May. Each semester is 16 weeks long. There is a winter break (about 4 weeks) between semesters, and a one week spring break in March.
16. What is Puget Sound's national ranking?
Fiske Guide to Colleges, U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review's The Best 306 Colleges rank Puget Sound as one of the nations top liberal arts colleges. For its 2009 list of best colleges, U.S. News & World Report again included the University of Puget Sound in the top 100 national liberal arts colleges. U.S. News noted Puget Sound's impressive retention rate, both among freshmen who continue to the second year, and among seniors who finish in four years. Puget Sound graduates study at the nation's top graduate schools, including California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, The Johns Hopkins University, Oxford University, Princeton University, Rice University, Stanford University, University of Michigan, University of California at Berkeley, University of Washington and Yale University. Last year more than 80 percent of Puget Sound graduates who applied to medical and dental schools were accepted, almost twice the national acceptance rate.
Applying to Puget Sound
For the most up-to-date information on applying to Puget Sound as a J-1 exchange student, please contact Allyson Lindsley in the Office of International Programs.
1.When is the deadline to submit my application?
The deadline for applying as an exchange student may vary depending on your home institution. Please check with your exchange coordinator at your home institution or contact Allyson Lindsley in the Office of International Programs at Puget Sound.
2. Do exchange students qualify for financial aid or scholarships?
No, exchange students do not qualify for need-based federal financial aid in the United States or for merit-based scholarships at Puget Sound.
3. Do I need a visa to study at Puget Sound?
Exchange students are responsible for obtaining the proper visa for study at Puget Sound. Generally, you will need to apply for a J-1 visa at your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You can only apply for your J-1 visa after you have been accepted by Puget Sound and have received your DS-2019 Form from the Office of International Programs. If you have any questions about your visa status, contact Allyson Lindsley in the Office of International Programs.
4. How do I maintain my J-1 visa status?
International students must comply with all requirements of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). These regulations are explained to you during international student orientation with the International Student Advisor. You can also find information about your visa status in the International Student Handbook.
1. Where will I live?
Exchange students live in a single room in one of the university's 58 on-campus houses. Your room will be furnished with an extended length twin-size bed, a chest of drawers, a bookcase, a desk, a desk chair, and a closet. Also, each room is wired for connections to the university computer network and the Internet for your computer. For more information, you can view the Residential Life section of our website.
2. What is the residence policy?
The policies outlined in the Residence Policy apply to all students living in campus residential facilities. These policies are primarily designed to protect the rights, health, and safety of all individuals living in the community. At the same time, they place responsibility upon resident students to live in a manner that respects the rights of others and fosters a strong community. Failure to comply with these guidelines is a violation of university standards, and will be adjudicated through the normal student discipline process.
3. What activities does Puget Sound offer?
With 75 percent of students coming from states outside of Washington, Puget Sound students can experience a residential college life, where most weekend activities take place on campus. More than 100 organizations and clubs featuring a range of curricular and co-curricular activities, including an active student government association (ASUPS) and an International Club. When you need a break from studying, opportunity abounds for activities in Tacoma, Pierce County, and Seattle. You can attend a concert or theatre production on campus, in Tacoma, or in Seattle, practice your sport, practice your musical instrument, take part in club activities, walk or jog along the Tacoma waterfront, take a ferry ride to Seattle, ski in the Cascades, etc., etc. The list is endless!
4. What opportunities are there for me to join sports teams?
Puget Sound offers varsity sports teams, intramural teams, club sports, and physical activity classes. For more information, check out the Office of Admission website.
5. What are the sports facilities like?
Puget Sound has excellent recreation facilities: outdoor track, swimming pool, racquetball courts, weight room, indoor tennis courts, a rock climbing wall, and gymnasium facilities. The Rendezvous in the Wheelock Student Center provides a great spot for a break, with pool tables, air hockey, and pinball machines. The Expeditionary rents outdoor equipment. Tents, backpacks, and much more are available for reasonable rates!
6. Are there special programs offered for international exchange students at Puget Sound?
International students at Puget Sound take part fully in the academic, social, and residential life at Puget Sound, alongside American students. In addition to the services that are available to all students on campus, the Office of International Programs is available for immigration advising, cultural adjustment advising, and as a general resource for international students. Furthermore, each fall the university offers an orientation program for international students, the International Student Seminar. This series of seminars provides an introduction to university life at Puget Sound and in the U.S., an overview of U.S. history and politics, and a chance for international students to visit historical and political sites in the Tacoma area. The International Club is also an excellent avenue for international students to meet each other, to meet Americans interested in international issues, to become involved on campus and in leadership roles, and to bring the world to the Puget Sound campus.
7. What difficulties do international students face at Puget Sound?
Most students, including international students, encounter a period of adjustment during their first semester or first year at a university. As an international student, you will most likely experience a period of adjustment academically and culturally.
You may find that the homework assignments are different or more frequent than you anticipated, or that you are writing more papers than you expected. However, there are many resources on campus to help you, including the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching, your professor, and your academic advisor. In addition, you may also find that others students in your class form study groups outside of class. While students describe the academics at Puget Sound as challenging, they also find them very rewarding. Many are involved in creative, scholarly work with their professors. Students at Puget Sound experience a superb academic life and a solid foundation for a career or graduate school.
Another difficulty you may encounter is an adjustment period to life in the U.S., and university life in particular. Although this is commonly referred to as culture shock, this experience is not a single event; rather, it is a cycle of personal readjustment you experience when you encounter challenges to your own cultural beliefs, values and behaviors. The best way to prepare yourself for culture shock is to read about it, learn about your host country, set realistic goals and expectations for your time abroad, keep an open mind, and be adaptable. The Office of International Programs is available to advise you on cultural issues, and the campus has an excellent health center that provides counseling and medical assistance to students. For more information on cultural adjustment and tips on dealing with culture shock, please see the International Student Handbook.
8. Can I contact former or current exchange students to get a student's perspective on life at Puget Sound before I apply?
If you're interested in speaking with former or current exchange students about Puget Sound, please contact Allyson Lindsley. Most exchange students are happy to share their experiences with you and give you some helpful hints.
9. What is the weather like in Tacoma?
The weather in the Pacific Northwest is generally mild and rainy. Day time winter temperatures in Tacoma range from 35-50 degrees Fahrenheit, and snow is unusual except in the mountains. Summer temperatures range from 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The driest months are generally August and September. Most of the rain falls between November and April.
10. What is Tacoma like?
What is Tacoma like? The third largest city in Washington State, Tacoma offers all the amenities of a large city without giving up its small-town charms. Tacoma is home to a symphony, museums, theatres, excellent restaurants, a major shopping mall, and much more. At the same time, Tacoma is a friendly town where neighbors come together to help each other. University of Puget Sound is located in the pleasant, historic North End neighborhood of Tacoma, minutes away from downtown as well as from the beautiful waters of Puget Sound. Seattle is only 40 minutes north, accessible by car, train, bus or ferry. Mt. Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, and the Pacific Ocean are each less than two hours away.
11. Is there public transportation in Tacoma?
Yes, Tacoma has a bus system through Pierce County Transit. The bus system includes service from the Puget Sound campus to the major shopping areas in Tacoma. Pierce County transit also runs buses to Seattle 7 days each week. The cost is about $3.00 one-way.
12. Are there work opportunities on campus?
In general, international students are allowed to work up to 20 hours each week in on-campus employment while classes are in session. There are a wide variety of employment opportunities on campus, including jobs in the cafeteria, the library, facilities services, and some administrative offices on campus. Career & Employment Services has resources for finding work. Before an exchange student looks for on-campus employment, the student must make an appointment with Allyson Lindsley in the Office of International Programs.
13. Are there work opportunities off campus?
Employment opportunities off campus exist for students who engage in academic training. Career and Employment Services has resources to help students find internships. Before an international student looks for employment, the student must make an appointment with Allyson Lindsley in the Office of International Programs.