International Students

Preparing to join SPH and moving to Boston

After you have completed the immigration process and obtained your F-1 visa, you are ready to plan your arrival to Boston for graduate school. Below are the steps you will need to take before your arrival, as well as some resources to help you through the process.

Phase 1

  1. Make it official.

    Once you’ve gotten your BU ID number, IT will email you and ask you to set up your BU account information, including your BU email, which will be your primary means of receiving School and University communications.

  2. Plan your coursework and register for classes.

    The Registrar’s Office staff will e-mail you the Registration Packet and Schedule. Consult your concentrator’s guide and register for classes through the Student Link. Contact your faculty advisor or departmental curriculum coordinator or the Registrar’s Office for first-semester advising and advice.

  3. Money matters.

    Finalize funding and other options   to plan on paying for tuition and living expenses. Contact SFS with any questions.

  4. Find a place to live.

    Start your housing search. SPH does not guarantee you housing once you arrive on campus; all housing arrangements must be made by the student. Connect with other students and find roommates on Facebook and learn about Boston’s neighborhoods, work with BUMC’s Housing Resources office.

  5. Become familiar with student life on campus.

    Keep an eye out for emails from Student Services.

Phase 2

  1. Put Orientation on your calendar

    Please be sure to RSVP to Chase Crossno at Meet peers, faculty and staff, and the deans of the School during this two-day interactive and engaging introduction to academic and campus life at SPH. Student Services will email you with the agenda and details.

  2. Get a mandatory physical exam.

    Your doctor must sign your Medical History & Physical Report, which you need to send to Student Health Services (postal mail or fax). Failure to submit the required immunization records will result in a registration hold on your Student Account. You have seven days after the first day of classes to submit this information.

  3. Choose health insurance.

    Decide on a Student Health Insurance plan. Health insurance is required for all students, and more information can be found through the ISSO.

  4. Let us know if you need educational or physical accommodations.

    You can contact Mary Murphy-Phillips, Director of Graduate Student Life, as soon as possible so she can work with you.

  5. Decide what type of transportation you will need.

    Get familiar with Boston public transportation and/or parking services on campus. Apply for a parking pass, if needed. Save 11% on public transportation with a discounted semester-long MBTA pass through BU TranSComm. More info on the TranSComm website. Most students take public transportation to campus.

  6. Check your compliance status to begin the program.

    On the Student Link under the “Personal” tab, you can check your compliance status. Compliance is critical; without it, students are blocked from University functions.

  7. Buy books, course readers, and a computer (if you need one).

    Buy the books and course readers you’ll need through BU Barnes & Noble. Assess your technology needs, and if you need an upgrade or a new computer, discounts are available if you buy software or a computer through BU.

  8. Transfer credits and course waivers.

    Submit transfer credit or course waiver requests to the Registrar.

International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO)

The ISSO provides essential services to ensure student, scholar, and institutional compliance with federal regulations.  Within this office, students can access professional expertise on immigration and employment issues. ISSO also promotes the academic, professional, and personal growth of this diverse community while cultivating an appreciation of its many contributions to the BU campus.

As you prepare to enter the U.S. and begin your studies at SPH, the ISSO will be a resource to you for the following:

Visa and Immigration Services

  • Maintenance of lawful immigration status
  • Assist with processing to:
    • Travel outside and return to the U.S.
    • Work on campus
    • Drop below a full course of study
    • Withdraw from school
    • Extend time limit for completion of study
    • Change major field of study
    • Change academic level
    • Transfer to or from another school
  • Assist with Immigration authorization to:
    • Work off campus
    • Change immigration status
    • Work after graduation
  • Maintenance, renewal, and replacement of passport, visa, I-94, I-20, DS-2019

 Other Services

  • Assist with:
    • New student orientation
    • Cultural adjustment
    • Intercultural programs and events
    • Social Security card application
  • Provide information on:
    • Boston University services, policies, and procedures
    • Community programs and services
    • Holiday programs and travel opportunities
    • Scholarships, fellowships, and educational loans
    • Embassies and consulates

For more immigration and visa information, please contact one of the International Student Advisors
881 Commonwealth Avenue, 2nd Floor | Boston, MA 02215
Phone: 617-353-3565

Finances and Banking

There are a few steps to take before coming to Boston regarding finances and banking. You will need to pay your tuition and fees, and may want to consider setting up a bank account.

Wire Transfers

1. The simplest way to pay your tuition and fees is by wire transfer to BU’s Student Accounting Services:

Visit the Student Account Services site for links to peer-Transfer or Travelex. Payment through these vendors may often result in faster crediting of payments and a lower exchange rate.


2. Wire funds directly to:
Citizens Bank
1 Citizens Drive
Riverside, RI 02915
ABA 011500120
Account # 110780-805-4
Beneficiary: Trustees of Boston University

The Swift Code for international wires is: CTZIUS33

Please fax a copy of the bank receipt with your name, Boston University ID number, and the dollar amount to BU Admissions at 617-353-5334.


Keeping your finances in order while studying in the United States is an important responsibility for each student. If possible, you should either open a bank account in Boston before you arrive or bring funds with you in a form that local banks will allow you to use immediately (such as travelers checks in U.S. dollars).

If you open a bank account using a personal check drawn from a financial institution that is not located in Massachusetts, local banks will require you to wait a week or more before you can withdraw money from the account. If your check is not in U.S. dollars, you will have to wait even longer before you can use your money. Banks do this to allow time to make certain that the check will be honored by the bank on which the check was written. Please do not travel with large sums of cash as it is not safe.

To open a bank account, you will generally need to provide identification materials such as passport and visa documents, proof of attendance at Boston University, and a Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). For information on how to apply for a Social Security number or an ITIN, please contact the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) upon arrival to Boston University. Learn more.

There are two types of accounts that you may open:

  • Checking accounts allow for easy access to your money to pay bills and make purchases. Most banks charge a monthly fee for a checking account. When opening a checking account, make sure to compare banks and ask about fees. It is often possible to negotiate for lower fees. Also make sure to inquire about the locations of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
  • Savings accounts allow you to save your money and earn interest. Again, be sure to compare interest rates, fees, and rules regarding minimum balances at different banking institutions.

There are many banks in the Boston area that are well known and that have branches on or near the BU campus. Many offer special services for students.

Citizens Bank560 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215 USA
Fax: 617-247-1823
Bank of America771 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215 USA
Fax: 617-247-0568
Citibank880 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215 USA



On-campus housing is not available for SPH students and you are strongly advised to find housing as far in advance as is possible. Please see Housing for more information and resources.

Housing is typically available for students to move in on the first of the month, but if you arrive in Boston before the start of your lease, you will want to arrange for temporary housing with a hotel or hostel:

Hostelling International Boston
19 Stuart Street
Boston, MA 02116
General Manager: Bob Sylvia

The International Guest House (male international students only)
237 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02116

At Home in Boston
15 Cedar Road
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Director: Mrs. Joan Cohen

Working While a Student

Working while on a student visa requires you to follow the rules and procedures for employment established by Boston University, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and their sponsoring agencies. If you have any questions regarding your Visa status or working on-campus, contact the International Students and Scholars Office at or 617-353-3565.

Climate and Clothing

Weather in New England can be unpredictable. However, there are four seasons with distinct weather conditions. New England is famous throughout the United States for its autumn (also known as “fall”), which begins in late September and dazzles locals and tourists alike with the bright reds, oranges and yellows of the leaves on the trees. Winter often brings very cold temperatures and snowstorms, especially December through February, although we have been known to have snowstorms in March and even April. Weather becomes milder towards April, as days become longer and warmer and flowers begin to bloom. Summer in Boston is often very hot and humid. You will need to bring clothing for all seasons, from light summer clothes to heavy coats, boots and hats for winter.

Autumn: 46 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (8 to 15 degrees Celsius)
Winter: 0 to 37 degrees Fahrenheit (-17 to 3 degrees Celsius)
Spring: 38 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 15 degrees Celsius)
Summer: 60 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 35 degrees Celsius)