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Foundation courses for international students

Updated on: Jul 15, 2024
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Foundation courses for international students
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There are certain cases in higher education where international students do not meet the requirements for a certain course but are passionate about pursuing it. Under such circumstances, they pursue a one-year course before officially starting their UG degree.

These one-year preparatory programs are known as foundation courses. These courses add value to a student’s profile and help them get admission to their desired undergraduate courses.

This article will help you understand the concept of a foundation program, its perks, eligibility, top universities and courses, and others.

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What is a foundation course?

  • A foundation course is a preparatory program that adds value to an international student’s profile while they apply for an undergraduate course.
  • The course serves as a groundwork for international students as they prepare for the main undergraduate courses.
  • These courses fulfil the educational standards set by your desired UG programs. International students who are unable to meet the entry requirements bridge the gap with the help of foundation courses.
  • The courses might also stretch for two to three years, depending on the mode of education (part-time).
  • Students opt to pursue a foundation degree if their profile does not meet the UG entry requirements, to enhance their English proficiency skills, or to familiarise themselves with the study destination’s way of life and culture.
  • Educational institutions offer the required facilities and resources to international students for a seamless academic experience.
  • Some universities also assure admission to the respective undergraduate course if the student performs well during the foundation program.

The foundation courses usually last for a year and have two semesters.

Also read: 7 signs you should consider a foundation year

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Top foundation courses abroad

Several disciplines offer foundation courses for international students to bridge the gap between their profiles and the course program’s entry requirements. Here are the top study fields that offer foundation courses in the higher education sector.

Your checklist to apply for a foundation program abroad

The admission process for a foundation program follows a similar procedure as for other higher education degrees. While some steps might differ with the study destination and the university, here is the common procedure for international students to apply for a foundation course.

  • Check if you fulfil the entry requirements for the chosen course and university. A foundation course comes into play mostly when your profile fails to fulfil certain criteria.
  • Check and ensure you fulfil the eligibility requirement for the particular foundation course.
  • Take admission tests, and get the necessary documents ready.
  • Complete the application and send it before the deadline.

Documents required to apply for a foundation course abroad

  • High school academic transcripts
  • Passport
  • Admission tests and English proficiency test scores
  • Letters of Recommendation (LOR)
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP)

Don't miss these proven Statement of Purpose (SOP) templates. Download now for free!

Eligibility criteria to pursue foundation courses abroad

Foundation programs come with various perks for international students. Educational institutions abroad have pre-determined requirements to deem a student’s profile eligible.

International students should remember the entry requirements vary with the study destinations, universities, and specific course programs. Here are the common eligibility requirements to pursue foundation courses.

  • Age requirement: The student must be at least 17 years old to apply for a foundation program. The age limit can be 16 or 18 years in some cases.
  • Educational qualification: The student should have completed high school with acceptable grades (varies according to different factors).
  • English proficiency: The student should have a score within the required range in English language tests like IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, and Duolingo.

English language requirements for foundation courses

Here are the English proficiency test requirements for international students to pursue a foundation year. Remember that the scores vary with every location and university, so make sure to check the specific university and course criteria before applying.


Here are the IELTS minimum score requirements for foundation courses.

  • US: Above 4.5 or 5.0
  • UK: Above 4.5
  • Canada: Over 5.0
  • Ireland: Above 5.0
  • Australia: Above 5.5
  • New Zealand: Above 5.5


Here are the TOEFL minimum score requirements for foundation courses.

  • US: Above 60
  • UK: Above 75
  • Canada: Above 69
  • Ireland: Over 60
  • Australia: Above 70
  • New Zealand: Above 70


Here are the PTE minimum score requirements for foundation courses.

  • US: 30-60
  • UK: 36-50
  • Canada: Over 46
  • Ireland: Over 63
  • Australia: Above 58
  • New Zealand: Above 50
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Here are the Duolingo minimum score requirements for foundation courses.

  • US: Over 100
  • UK: Above 95
  • Canada: Around 115
  • Ireland: Above 105
  • Australia: Over 95
  • New Zealand: Above 80

Also read: Studying undergrad abroad vs. studying postgrad abroad

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Best universities to study foundation courses abroad

UniversityCountryQS World University Rankings 2024
King’s College LondonUnited Kingdom40
University of OtagoNew Zealand206
Northeastern UniversityUnited States375
University of Southern QueenslandAustralia410
Dublin City UniversityIreland436
Coventry UniversityUnited Kingdom571
University of ManitobaCanada671-680
Victoria UniversityAustralia711-720
Kent State UniversityUnited States1001-1200
University of ReginaCanada1001-1200

Data updated as of May 2024 | Source: QS

Country wise foundation courses

Top universities for foundation courses abroad: An overview

University of Otago

QS World University Rankings 2024 - 206

Acceptance rate - 70%

Average fees - USD $17,280 onwards

The University of Otago is home to various foundation programs in different fields of study like health sciences, business studies, arts and humanities, and science courses.

The university’s foundation studies certificate serves as a great pathway program for international students. The courses bridge the gap between your profile and the university’s eligibility criteria to pursue an undergraduate degree.

Foundation courses available

Northeastern University

QS World University Rankings 2024 - 375

Acceptance rate - 7%

Average annual fees - Around USD $19,780

Northeastern University’s rigorous foundation curriculum helps students build a strong base in their core subjects before beginning their higher education. The university, in some cases, also admits top-performing international students to their undergraduate programs.

The university’s faculty and advisors guide students every step of the way to embark on a successful academic path.

Foundation courses available

  • Foundation in Professional Speaking
  • Foundation in Principles of Management
  • Foundation in Biology

University of Southern Queensland

QS World University Rankings 2024 - 410

Acceptance rate - 70%

Average annual fees - Around USD $10,414

The University of Southern Queensland’s pathway programs set up the perfect academic platform for international students to choose and enrol in their desired undergraduate program.

The university has a number of multidisciplinary foundation courses under its belt, that come with facilities and resources on par with the higher education courses.

Foundation courses available

Dublin City University

QS World University Rankings 2024 - 436

Acceptance rate - 42%

Average annual fees - From USD $13,763

Dublin City University offers full-time one-year (two semesters) foundation programs to satisfy their desired UG program requirements and/or improve their English language skills.

The university understands international student needs and provides foundation courses in science, engineering, business, and humanities stream. These courses specialise in guiding students through the foundation of the specific field of study before starting their undergraduate program.

Foundation courses available

Kent State University

QS World University Rankings 2024 - 1001-1200

Acceptance rate - 88%

Kent State University’s foundation program boasts of offering widely comprehensive and resourceful courses.

From digital media to arts, there are different specialisations available and international students easily attain the required academic level to pursue their undergraduate degrees.

Foundation courses available

  • Foundation in 2D Composition
  • Foundation in 3D Composition
  • Foundation in Digital Media

Also read: Top 10 career courses

University of Regina

QS World University Rankings 2024 - 1001-1200

Acceptance rate - 68%

Average annual fees - Around USD $18,325

The foundation certificate courses at the University of Regina offer various facilities and resources for international students to excel in the basics of their desired field of study before starting their undergraduate degree.

The university has various foundation programs in nursing, science, and other fields of education.

Foundation courses available

Opportunities for international students after pursuing foundation courses

A foundation degree paves the way for international students to satisfy the entry requirements to pursue their desired undergraduate degree. The courses would also help them improve their English language skills to pursue higher education in an English-speaking country.

Foundation courses come in different specialisations, helping students gain basic knowledge and understanding in various fields of study. Here are the fields of study international students can pursue their UG degrees.

  • Business studies
  • Arts and humanities
  • Paramedics
  • Medical studies
  • Education
  • Computer science
  • Information technology

In addition to pursuing undergraduate courses, students can also pursue entry-level jobs available across different sectors in the global market.

Discover the foundation course that best suits your interests and apply for the upcoming intake today!

Frequently asked questions

Can international students do foundation year?

Yes, international students pursue foundation courses to bridge the gap between them and the entry requirements for their desired undergraduate degree. Students also pursue this course to enhance their English skills to study in an English-speaking country.

Which country is best for foundation courses?

Here are the top study destinations for international students to pursue a foundation course.

How many years is a foundation course?

The duration for a foundation course is 1-year as the program usually has two semesters. The courses might also extend for 2-3 years, depending on the mode of the degree.

Is the foundation course worth it?

Foundation courses give students the basic knowledge and understanding of the field of study they prefer to begin their academic journey with. These courses are worth pursuing as they boost your profile when you apply for an undergraduate program.

Who is eligible for the foundation course?

The eligibility criteria vary with every study destination and university, but here are the common requirements for international students to pursue a foundation degree.

  • An international student who had completed high school with acceptable grades. The grade requirements vary with every university.
  • Scores within the pre-determined range in English proficiency tests like IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, and Duolingo.

How many specialisations are there in the foundation course?

Here are the top specialisations in foundation courses.

  • Paramedics
  • Medical studies
  • Business studies
  • Biochemistry
  • Arts and humanities
  • Computer science
  • Information technology

What can I do after a foundation degree?

International students can apply for their desired undergraduate programs after completing their foundation degree. Also, there are entry-level job opportunities in different sectors for foundation degree graduates.

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Related tags:
Foundation courses
Foundation Subjects
Foundation degree eligibility
best foundation course universities
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