International Student Support Hub

Learn about resources across WashU for A&S international graduate students

The Office of Graduate Studies has designed this guide to bring together resources from all across campus for our ArtSci international graduate students. We are happy you are here and eager to support your experience throughout graduate school. If there is a resource or opportunity that you would like to see added to this guide, please email artscigrads@wustl.edu.

Campus Resources

There are two offices specifically dedicated to international students at WashU: the Office for International Students & Scholars (OISS), and the Office for International Student Engagement (OISE). In addition, English Language Programs works with international students who need additional English language support. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion supports students from underrepresented and/or marginalized populations and works to celebrate the diversity we have at WashU. See below to learn more about these resources.

For more general resources, check out The Graduate Center’s resources page, which includes financial resources, student support, housing and transportation, academic resources and support, and child and family care resources.

Office for International Students & Scholars (OISS)

OISS is located at Alumni House (6510 Wallace Drive), just across Forsyth from the DUC, in an area called the South 40.

All compliance-based questions related to visa status, work authorization, travel signatures, etc. should be directed to OISS.

Scroll to the bottom of OISS’s website to check out their extensive online library of resources and forms, including what to do after U.S. arrival for international students, filing U.S. taxes as an international student, and the International Student Travel Signature Request Form.

Get to know your OISS advisor, and pay attention to email communications from OISS, as these will contain important information.

Office for International Student Engagement (OISE)

OISE is located in the Women’s Building, Suite 102 (above the Card Center and Parking & Transportation office).

OISE focuses on community building and engagement, providing a welcoming environment through programming, advocacy, and cultural enrichment. They support all international students across WashU’s schools, including undergraduates and graduate students.

OISE manages the International Student Medical Assistance Fund. This fund is designed to support students on F-1 and J-1 visas who may encounter unexpected medical expenses during their academic program in the U.S. See more information at the link above, and contact the Director of OISE with questions or to request use of this funding.

Sign up for OISE’s newsletter via this form, or email oise@wustl.edu to be added to their mailing list.

English Language Programs (ELP)

English Language Programs offers courses, support, and assessment in academic and professional English language. ELP is housed in the School of Continuing & Professional Studies (CAPS).

ELP administers English language proficiency assessments for incoming graduate students that some programs might require (separate from TOEFL/IELTS). ELP uses these assessments to identify the level of English language support needed and make course recommendations. OGS strongly encourages that students discuss these course recommendations with their advisor or Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and make an effort to complete their ELP courses in a timely manner. Reach out to your department’s administrative coordinator or schedule an appointment with ELP’s Program Manager for more information about your program’s policies.

Full-time graduate students in Arts & Sciences are eligible to take up to six (6) units of ELP coursework at no charge to the student. After that point, the student will be responsible for tuition costs for additional ELP coursework. 

Check out ELP Courses and options for individual supports. Courses focus on three pathways: Presentations & Teaching, Conversation Skills, and Academic Writing.

Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI)

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion supports and advocates for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from underrepresented and/or marginalized populations, creates collaborative partnerships with campus and community partners, and promotes dialogue and social change among all students. Key areas of focus at the CDI include education, advocacy, research and scholarship, engagements, and social justice. Scroll down on the CDI's website and select "Graduate and Professional" and "International" under "Narrow by student type" to see more resources.

The CDI manages WashU's Bias Report and Support System (BRSS), through which students, faculty, staff, and community members who have experienced or witnessed incidents of bias, prejudice, or discrimination involving a student can report their experiences. The BRSS team will support students who have witnessed or been the target of bias-related incidents, refer community members to appropriate university and local resources, and more. Reports can be made through the online form (make sure to select BRSS from the drop-down menu) or by calling 314-935-7535 during business hours (8:30am-5pm Monday through Friday).

Important OISS Forms

On OISS’s website, you can scroll to the resources towards the bottom of the page and click on “Forms” under “Narrow by content type.” You should also maintain close contact with your OISS advisor, who will share important forms and deadlines with you. This list shares just a few important forms for you to be aware of.

New International Graduate Student Status Form

All new international graduate students should fill out this form as soon as possible after admission to WashU. The I-20/DS-2019 cannot be processed without it.

International Student Travel Signature Request Form

If you do not have a travel signature that is less than 12 months old on your I-20 or DS-2019, use the Travel Signature Request Form before traveling outside the U.S. You do not need a signature if you are traveling within the U.S.

For re-entry into the U.S., international students are required to have a travel signature on page 2 of their current I-20 or page 1 of their current DS-2019, and the date of the travel signature must be less than 12 months old. Travel signatures can be used for multiple re-entries into the U.S. within 12 months. Other documents are typically required as well, including a passport and a valid F-1 or J-1 visa in your passport. Work with your OISS advisor to make sure you have all required documents before traveling outside the U.S.

If you know you will be traveling outside the U.S. and need a travel signature, it is best to fill out the form as early as possible, especially since the signature will last for 12 months.

Don’t forget about making sure your spouse and/or children have the documents they need before traveling outside the U.S. as well. Your OISS advisor can help you with this.

I-20/DS-2019 Extension Application (Change or New Degree)

If you need to extend your program beyond the program length set on your I-20/DS-2019, you must submit an extension application to OISS at least three business days prior to the expiration of your I-20/DS-2019. We recommend submitting this as early as possible, though. The extension application is based on the change or addition of a new degree program.

There is a section of the form that must be completed by an academic advisor who can verify your eligibility for the program extension or change.

If you will need an extension, OGS recommends submitting the form to OISS as early as possible. Extensions are not possible after your program date has passed, which means that missing this deadline can have serious repercussions.

Transportation

There are many transportation options to get to and from campus and around St. Louis: public transportation (MetroLink / MetroBus), campus shuttles, biking, driving/parking, and ride-sharing services (Uber / Lyft). Explore your options below, and check out OISS’s Transportation Guide.

Metro U-Pass

All full-time registered students are eligible for a U-Pass, which allows individuals to ride the MetroLink and MetroBus for free. Request your U-Pass here and learn more information here. Note that the U-Pass has to be renewed each semester, and you have to show a valid WashU ID along with your U-Pass.

MetroLink

There are two MetroLink stations located on/near the Danforth campus: the Big Bend station, located at the intersection of Big Bend and Forest Park Parkway (southeast corner), and the Skinker station, located at Forest Park Parkway and Skinker (southwest corner).

The Central West End MetroLink station is on the Medical campus. See more info about Metro transit here.

Tips: The MetroLink has two lines: the Red Line and the Blue Line. Before boarding, look at the red or blue signs on the train to ensure you are on the correct train and heading in the correct direction. Operators will announce upcoming stations, and you can review the map in your train car to see how many stops you have to ride. Once on board, you will be asked to show your valid U-Pass along with your WashU ID.

Download the Transit mobile app to explore your options and view a map featuring real-time arrival countdowns as well as bus and train schedules and locations.

The Danforth Campus Circulator shuttle provides shuttle service from the MetroLink stations to various locations around the Danforth Campus and the South 40.

Metro Bus

There are several MetroBus stops near WashU’s campuses. There are also a few routes designed specifically for the WashU community.

 

The following bus can be caught at the Mallinckrodt Bus Plaza on the Danforth campus or at the Central West End transit Center on the Medical campus:

  • #1 Gold (connects Danforth and Medical campus and services residential neighborhoods between both campuses)

 

The following buses can be caught at the Mallinckrodt Bus Plaza on the Danforth campus:

  • #2 Red (services neighborhoods north of campus, St. Louis Galleria mall, Brentwood Promenade (Trader Joes, Target, Micro Center) and Walmart)
  • #5 Green (services 560 Music Center, north of campus neighborhoods, U-City Loop, and the Lewis Collaborative)

Download the Transit mobile app to explore your options and view a map featuring real-time arrival countdowns as well as bus and train schedules and locations.

Tips: As the bus approaches, signal to the operator that you want to board by raising your hand. Once on board, swipe your U-Pass through the card reader and show the driver your WashU ID. When approaching your destination, pull the cord or press the strip to indicate your desired stop.

Getting from campus to St. Louis Lambert International Airport

The MetroLink Red Line goes to the airport. The closest stations to the Danforth campus with Red Line stops are Forest Park-DeBaliviere and Delmar Loop.

From the Medical campus, go to Central West End station and use the Red Line.

Whatever station you start from, make sure to get on a train marked as Westbound to Lambert Airport.

The Transit mobile app can help you plan your trip.

WashU Campus Shuttle System

WashU has a shuttle system that is free for students with WashU IDs. You can use it to get around the Danforth campus or areas close to campus, such as the Delmar Loop, Skinker-DeBaliviere, Delmar-DivINe, and the Lewis Collaborative.

Use the TripShot app to track campus shuttles and plan your trip.

Check out resources, shuttles, and maps for the Medical campus.

Campus2Home (Danforth)

The Campus2Home shuttle is available 7 days a week to provide a safe ride home from the Danforth campus to off-campus residences within specified boundaries.

Request a Campus2Home shuttle using the on-demand feature of the TripShot app.

Biking

Biking is a popular way to get around campus and surrounding neighborhoods. WashU has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly University.

If you park your bike on the Danforth campus, you can register your bike with WUPD to help protect against theft and facilitate the recovery of lost or stolen bikes.

WUPD recommends using a Kryptonite U-lock with your bike, which can be purchased at the WUPD office (South 40) for $33.

When you park your bike, make sure to lock it to a bike rack only. Your bike can be impounded if it is locked to anything except a bike rack.

WashU has a student-owned and operated bike company called Bears Bikes, which offers bicycle rentals, repairs, and storage. They are located on the South 40 along the Gregg walkway (underneath Gregg House), closest to the clocktower.

Be on the lookout for self-service bike repair stations on campus, which include air pumps and other tools for performing minor repairs.

The Danforth campus has an Active Commuter Hub on the East End of campus on the lower level of Schnuck Pavilion. You can apply to become a member to access showers, cubby-style lockers, and/or Z-style lockers, for anywhere from $20-40. Undergraduate and graduate students can request a discount.

Parking at WashU

If you are planning to drive to the Danforth campus, a parking permit is required to park on campus, unless you park in visitor garages, which are paid hourly. All vehicles parked in non-visitor parking spots on WashU property must display an appropriate parking permit and be registered with Parking & Transportation Services.

See Graduate Permit Options via WashU Parking & Transportation. Options include a commuter permit (ParkSmart) to park at West Campus and take a shuttle to Danforth campus, a Daily Usage permit for occasional parkers, and a regular parking permit (Graduate Student Yellow).

Most “yellow” spaces on campus, including surface lots and garages, can be used for parking without a permit after 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. Monday through Friday, and from 5 p.m. Friday until 7 a.m. on Monday. Check signage to make sure.

If you do not have a permit but want to park on campus during business hours (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.), you can park in visitor parking at Danforth garages; you will pull a ticket at the garage entrance and pay by the hour when you exit.

For parking at the Medical campus, see here.

Driving in the U.S.

OISS has put together a guide about how to apply for a Driver or Non-Driver License in Missouri. A Non-Driver license is a state photo identification card and can be used as a primary or secondary document for proof of identity, but this card will not permit you to drive.

OISS also has a guide to purchasing a vehicle in Missouri. This guide includes information about the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining a vehicle in the U.S. (including taxes and insurance), paperwork required in Missouri, relevant terminology related to purchasing a vehicle, and more.

Health and Wellness

Your health and wellness during graduate school are of utmost importance, but navigating the U.S. health care system can be challenging and confusing. OISS has put together a guide on Health Care and Insurance for International Students. Check out that guide and the resources below to become familiar with the support available to you.

International Student Medical Assistance Fund

The Office of International Student Engagement (OISE) manages the International Student Medical Assistance Fund. This fund is designed to support students on F-1 and J-1 visas who may encounter unexpected medical expenses during their academic program in the U.S. See more information at the link above, and contact the Director of OISE with questions or to request use of this funding.

Health Insurance

WashU has a mandatory health insurance program. Students on an F-1 or J-1 visa are automatically enrolled in the University Student Health Insurance Plan (through UnitedHealthcare) and are not allowed to waive out of the plan unless they are on a U.S.-based employer plan through a U.S.-based insurance company.

Full-time eligible graduate students in Arts & Sciences-funded programs on the Danforth campus will receive a health fee subsidy provided by the Office of Graduate Studies. The subsidy pays for a large portion of the premium for the Student Health Insurance Plan and student health fees.  Note that it is not a 100% subsidy: you will still pay for part of the insurance premium and student health fee. These fees will be billed to your student account. If you are eligible for a subsidy, do not worry if the full insurance premium and student health fee are posted to your account; the subsidies are typically added later, and you can wait to make the payment until the subsidies are posted.

If you are not sure whether you are eligible to receive the health subsidies, you can ask the Director of Graduate Studies in your department or email artscigrads@wustl.edu.

If you are in a program housed on the Medical Campus, contact your program administrator for information on health fee coverage.

Student Health and Wellness fee (Danforth campus)

There is a required student health and wellness fee for all full-time, degree-seeking students on the Danforth Campus. The fee covers membership to the Sumers Recreation Center, health education/prevention efforts, and other benefits including no-cost counseling visits.

The fee is billed to your student account each semester. If you are eligible for health fee subsidies, the subsidy will cover a large portion of the student health and wellness fee.

Habif Health & Wellness (Danforth campus)

Habif Health and Wellness Center provides medical, mental health, and health promotion services for all non-DBBS graduate students in Arts & Sciences.

Use Habif’s online booking system to make an appointment related to the treatment of illness or injury, preventative health care, or counseling and psychological services. You can also call Habif at 314-935-6666.

Student Health Services (Medical campus)

The School of Medicine’s Student Health Services provides medical and mental health services for all DBBS students.

Call 314-362-3523 to schedule an appointment, and find more information about appointments here.

Mental health care (Danforth campus)

The Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CCPS) at Habif Health and Wellness Center offers therapeutic services, outreach, and prevention programs. Therapy appointments with CCPS can occur in-person or via Zoom. You can access a certain number of therapy appointments per academic year at no charge; contact CCPS for more information.

CCPS offers “Rapid Access” Zoom Counseling Appointments at the end of each semester. During this time period, students can schedule both return and new appointments with a counselor beginning 16 hours prior to the appointment time. This allows quick access to counseling appointments at particularly stressful times of the year.

Mental health care (Medical campus)

Student Health Counseling at the School of Medicine works with students to resolve personal and interpersonal difficulties. Services include individual, group, and couples’ counseling, crisis counseling, and referrals.

Group Therapy Services- International Chat & Dissertation Support (Danforth campus)

CCPS’s Group Therapy Services typically include an International Chat Workshop Series, designed to address unique issues related to the international graduate student experience, and a Dissertation Support Group, designed to support PhD students who are struggling emotionally, relationally, or academically in their dissertation writing process. Dr. Karolyn Senter runs both of these groups, and you can reach out to her for more information.

TimelyCare (Danforth campus)

TimelyCare is a telehealth app with licensed physicians and counselors who are available 24/7 for virtual medical and mental health visits through the app’s video conferencing platform. This is a great option for graduate students, who often commute to campus, to receive health care at home. This is also a great option when there are longer waiting times for appointments at Habif.

TimelyCare is free for all students who pay the student health and wellness fee (including graduate students who receive health fee subsidies). Make sure to register for the TimelyCare app using your WashU email account.

Sumers Recreation Center (Danforth campus)

Sumers Recreation Center is the gym and fitness facility on the Danforth campus. All students who pay the student health and wellness fee (including graduate students who receive health fee subsidies) have access to Sumers Rec at no cost. Use your student ID card to swipe into the Rec’s facilities.

In addition to operating as a traditional gym with cardio machines and weightlifting equipment, Sumers Rec has a wide variety of options to support your fitness and wellbeing, including group exercise classes (called BearFIT classes), relaxation chairs, and cooking classes.

Personal safety and online safety

WashU has resources to help you feel safe on campus and stay safe online. Take the time to read OISS’s guide to Personal Safety, which includes robust information for international students.

Personal Safety

WUPD offers several resources for personal safety, including:

  • Self-Defense Programs
  • Free personal safety devices (i.e., safety alarms and whistles to use in case of emergency)
  • Bear Patrol (student workers who provide walking and golf cart escorts on campus from 8am-2pm)
  • WashU SAFE app, which includes a Mobile Blue Light feature that helps you quickly call public safety if in a crisis on campus, while sending your exact location so that officers can immediately respond.

Check out WUPD’s full list of safety tips to help prevent yourself from being vulnerable to crime. We highlight just a few tips here:

  •  Always lock your doors (apartment door, car door, etc.), even if you will only be gone for a short amount of time.
  • Never prop open exterior doors.
  • Do not leave valuables (e.g., laptop, phone, wallet, purse, etc.) unattended or out of your line of sight. Do not leave these items in your car, either.
  • Travel and park on well-lit streets, and be aware of your surroundings.

Preventing identity theft

Check out OISS’s guide to preventing identity theft, particularly if you have applied for and received a Social Security Number (SSN).

The Office of Information Security has also published tips and resources for protecting yourself against identity theft.

Avoiding scams

Scam calls and emails are extremely common. Don’t believe every call you get or email you receive: if something looks or sounds suspicious, consider whether it could be a scammer. Be incredibly cautious of anyone who contacts you asking for personal information.

OISS has a thorough guide on Looking Out for Scams for international students. Read the guide to learn more about how you can avoid becoming a victim of scams, including IRS scams, employment scams, ransom scams, online trading scams, and more.

Check out the extensive resources from the Office of Information Security for more information about avoiding scams and staying safe in the digital world.

Filing U.S. Taxes

All international students must file a U.S. tax return, regardless of whether or not they receive income. Additionally, the stipends that most graduate students in A&S receive are considered taxable income.

OISS has published extensive resources and information on their website for filing US taxes as an international student. Financial Services also has a useful tax guide for fellowship stipend recipients, broken down by tax status (i.e., U.S. citizens, permanent residents, resident aliens, nonresident aliens). Most international students at WashU have access to Sprintax to assist with filing tax returns. See below for further information about filing taxes, but please read through the guides linked above as well.

Keep in mind that neither OGS nor OISS staff are qualified or legally able to give tax advice or to assist with filing taxes.

Important dates and deadlines

From January to March of the current year, look out for your tax documents from the previous year (“tax year”), which should come in the mail. You will receive tax documents from WashU and any other U.S. organizations from which you received income.

The tax deadline (often referred to as “tax day”) for federal and state taxes occurs in mid-April of the current year, for the previous year’s taxes. Traditionally, tax day is on April 15th, but sometimes the tax deadline is later than that, depending on which day of the week April 15th falls. You can search “U.S. tax day” and the year to find the deadline.

If you are required to make estimated tax payments (see more on that below), the estimated payments are due quarterly on April 15th, June 15th, September 15th, and January 15th of the following year. Then you would file taxes on “tax day” and enter the estimated payments that you made in the past year. For example, let’s say you arrived on campus in July of 2023 and started receiving your stipend in August of 2023. You would make your first estimated tax payment by September 15th, 2023, for the 2023 tax year. You would make your second estimated tax payment by January 15th, 2024, for the 2023 tax year. You would then file your 2023 taxes by April 15th, 2024 (or “tax day”) and make your first estimated tax payment for the 2024 tax year.

What is the "tax year"?

On tax day in mid-April, you file taxes for the previous calendar year, and that is the tax year. For example, the 2023 tax year runs from January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023, and taxes for the 2023 tax year must be paid by the mid-April tax day in 2024.

What is “tax status”? How do I determine whether I am a resident alien or nonresident alien for tax purposes?

For tax purposes, non-U.S. citizens can be considered nonresident aliens or resident aliens, and that is your tax status. Most international students on F or J visas are considered nonresident aliens. International students on F-1 or J-1 visas are automatically considered nonresidents for their first five (5) calendar years in the U.S., while scholars/researchers on J-1 visas are automatically considered nonresidents for two out of the last six calendar years in the U.S.

If you have been in the U.S. for longer, the Substantial Presence Test is used to determine your tax status.

If you create a Sprintax account and log in, Sprintax will ask you a series of questions to help determine your tax status. See also Sprintax’s blog post: Your US Tax Residency Status Explained.

From there, if Sprintax determines that you are a nonresident alien, you can continue to use Sprintax to file your taxes. However, if Sprintax determines that you are a resident alien for tax purposes, you will not be able to use Sprintax and will be directed elsewhere (see more below).

Keep in mind that even if you are considered a resident alien for tax purposes, this does not change your visa status.

Am I required to make estimated tax payments?

Whether or not a stipend recipient is required to make estimated tax payments depends on whether or not taxes are withheld from (i.e., taken out of) your paycheck monthly.

This further depends on your tax status. If you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes, WashU is generally required to withhold federal taxes on your stipend payments but generally not allowed to withhold state taxes on your stipend payments. This means that you would not have to make estimated payments for federal taxes but would have to make estimated payments for state taxes.

If you are a resident alien for tax purposes, WashU is generally not allowed to withhold federal or state taxes on your stipend payments. This means that you would have to make estimated payments for both federal and state taxes.

For more information, read Financial Services’ guide for fellowship stipend recipients and explanation of quarterly estimated tax payments.

Filing taxes

For step-by-step instructions, visit OISS’s guide on filing U.S. taxes and scroll down to “Step-by-Step How to File US Taxes with Sprintax”

You will first collect your documents and determine your tax status in Sprintax. If you are considered a nonresident alien, you will continue to prepare your tax return in Sprintax. If you are considered a resident alien, Sprintax will prompt you to use TurboTax to prepare your tax return, as Sprintax is specifically designed for nonresident aliens.

For resident aliens, keep in mind that there might be a fee to use TurboTax. This is how many domestic students file their taxes.

If you are looking for free, in-person tax assistance, try using the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program. This is an IRS-sponsored program that offers free tax help to qualified individuals.

Sprintax blogs and webinars

Sprintax has a blog with extensive articles related to nonresident taxes. If there is a tax-related topic that you would like to learn more about, use the search function to identify relevant articles. Sprintax also hosts numerous tax webinars for international students; log into your Sprintax account or contact oise@wustl.edu for help accessing these.

Professional Development and Career Support

For a variety of career resources targeted to graduate students, check out the Center for Career Engagement’s Graduate Student and Postdoc Career Resources. This includes information about workshops and programs, non-academic career searches, and academic career searches.

The Office of Graduate Studies has also assembled a wide variety of resources for diverse careers, including academic and non-academic careers.

Resume support

Check out the Center for Career Engagement’s extensive guide on Resumes & CVs for Graduate Students and Postdocs to learn more about the differences between resumes and CVs and what to include on each document.

On the Center for Career Engagement’s website, a live chat button will appear in the bottom right corner where you can connect live with a Career Peer for resume & material review and learn about CCE’s resources. Career Peers also hold drop-in hours Monday-Friday from 10am-5pm in DUC 110. Career Peers are fellow WashU students (including undergraduates) who are trained in giving resume support.

You can also schedule an appointment with a WashU career coach for resume/CV review.

Meeting with a career coach

When you schedule an appointment with a WashU career coach, you can select the option to show recommended coaches, which will then populate automatically based on your degree level and school.

You can also filter by specialty under the “Coaches by Specialty” section, including specialties such as academia/faculty, data science, research/science, and exploring/deciding (for those who want to explore a variety of career options).

When you meet with a WashU career coach, you can discuss anything from exploring career paths to identifying your skills to crafting job materials (resumes, cover letters, CVs, etc.), to interviewing.

Mock interviews

On the Center for Career Engagement’s scheduling page, if you select “Mock Interview,” you can schedule various types of mock interviews with WashU coaches.

WashU also subscribes to Big Interview, which is an online tool for improving your interview skills through lessons and mock interviews.

Professional development opportunities at WashU

Pivot 314 is a year-long program presented by The Graduate Center and the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The program is intended for mid-career PhD students to explore possible career pathways outside and alongside of the academy, through engagement with the St. Louis entrepreneurial community. Pivot 314 includes curated programming focused on professional development, strengthening leadership, and experiential learning through a 10-week paid internship with an early-stage startup in St. Louis. For the summer internship, international students must apply for and receive CPT. To ensure CPT approval, international students must select an internship that is aligned with their academic program/research.

The Professional Development in Teaching Program presented by the Center for Teaching and Learning is designed to be the starting point for a career that includes teaching. The program is specifically targeted for graduate students and postdocs. The program emphasizes the practice of scholarly teaching, which is defined as teaching that draws on evidence-based classroom strategies suggested by current educational research and that prioritizes self-reflection and assessment.

Exploring career paths

As you explore various career paths, check in with yourself: what skills do you already have? What skills can your graduate program help you develop? What career paths exist that require those skills? What do some potential career paths look like for people with similar credentials and interests as you?

Spend some time with online career exploration resources, including Imagine PhD (primarily for humanities and social sciences), MyIDP (primarily for careers in the sciences), Versatile PhD (primarily for PhDs), and InterSECT Job Simulations (job simulation exercises for career transitions).

You can also connect with WashU alumni in careers of interest to you on the WashU Alumni LinkedIn page and WashU CNX, which is the university’s official online networking platform.

If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend starting with Imagine PhD, as it is user-friendly and includes assessments to help you determine your career interests and priorities.

Handshake career management platform

Handshake is WashU’s career management platform. On Handshake, you can interview for jobs and internships on campus, find career tips and Q&As, stay connected with peers and job-related news, navigate upcoming employer events on campus, and register for career fairs and events put on by the Center for Career Engagement. We recommend setting up a profile so that you can stay up-to-date with all things career management at WashU.

On Handshake, there is an option to filter by employers who hire international students.

Learn more about Handshake and access how-to videos here.

Events, workshops, and career fairs

The Center for Career Engagement hosts a wide variety of events and workshops that can be found on their website and on Handshake.

We recommend the Graduate/Professional Job Search Series (“Navigating the Job Search for Grad Students”), put on by the Center for Career Engagement and The Graduate Center. Visit The Graduate Center’s monthly calendar and filter by “Professional Development” to see scheduled job series events.

We also recommend the Center for Career Engagement’s regular career-related workshops for international students. Keep an eye out for these workshops, which OGS regularly features in our newsletters and communications.

The Center for Career Engagement hosts a career fair every year, typically in February. On Handshake’s events page, click on “Career fairs at your school” and look for the All Campus Internship & Job Fair. The employers tab of the career fair page will give you the option to filter by employers who accept OPT/CPT and/or employers who will sponsor or don’t require U.S. work visas.

Working as an international graduate student

Read through OISS’s guide on F-1 Student Employment & Training for detailed information on employment as an international student on an F-1 visa. That guide includes much more information; OGS has pulled out a few key details below.

Generally speaking, on-campus employment is allowed without requiring the Department of Homeland Security’s authorization. It is still a good idea to check with your OISS advisor before starting on-campus employment, as starting employment that is not authorized or allowed is a violation of status and accrual of unlawful presence.

All off-campus employment must be pre-authorized with assistance from OISS. Keep in mind that even volunteer work can require pre-authorization, as immigration laws interpret any kind of service that receives compensation (even just compensation in the form of experience) as work. When in doubt, contact your OISS advisor.

F-1 students can utilize CPT (Curricular Practical Training) and OPT (Optional Practical Training) to obtain on-the-job training in the student’s field of study to supplement and complement the academic program. In most cases, F-1 students cannot undertake practical training until they have been in lawful full-time status for a full academic year (i.e., both fall and spring semesters). Typically, CPT is used during the academic program and OPT is used after completing the academic program, but there are options for pre-completion OPT.

CPT must be part of a structured program offered in the curriculum. In other words, CPT is tied to a registered course. Each individual school at WashU determines what counts as a CPT-approved course. Keep in mind that students who use 12 months of full-time CPT are no longer eligible to use any OPT; please talk to your OISS advisor before undergoing 12 months of full-time CPT.

F-1 students are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT for use during (pre-completion) and after (post-completion) the completion of the academic program. Some F-1 students in specific STEM fields could be eligible for a 24-month STEM OPT extension. Keep in mind that when you apply for OPT, you will need to be able to make the case for the connection between the job or work experience and your academic program. Click here for detailed information about applying for OPT.

If you have any questions or doubt about work-related activities, please contact your OISS advisor. Working without authorization can severely affect your visa status, so it is always best to ask.

Getting Involved

There are so many ways to get involved and foster connections as a graduate student at WashU. You can explore some of your options below. Feel free to email artscigrads@wustl.edu if you want to get involved but do not know where to start; someone from OGS’s student affairs team can help find the best path for you.

OGS GradWell Programming

GradWell is the Office of Graduate Studies’ holistic programming to support graduate student wellbeing in Arts & Sciences. Part of GradWell programming includes monthly social and community-building gatherings. GradWell events are designed to be inclusive and welcoming. Check out the events calendar for upcoming events.

The Graduate Center

The Graduate Center (TGC) is a place for all graduate and professional students at WashU to develop, gather, and connect. While the Office of Graduate Studies in A&S focuses specifically on Arts & Sciences graduate students, The Graduate Center works to support graduate and professional students across WashU’s eight schools.

Visit The Graduate Center at the lower level of the Ann W. Olin Women’s Building in Suite 005. You can also reserve study rooms and meeting rooms in The Graduate Center’s space.

Check out the news and events page or TGC Monthly Calendar for upcoming events.

University-wide Graduate Student Groups

The Graduate Center oversees many university-wide graduate student groups, including groups such as the Africa United Graduate Association, Black Graduate Student Association, Chinese Students and Scholars Association, Korean Graduate Student Association, Latino Graduate Student Alliance, and more.

The Graduate Center also oversees two different graduate student governing bodies: the Graduate Professional Council (GPC) and Graduate Student Senate (GSS). GPC is the university-wide governing body for all graduate and professional students at WashU, with representatives from all eight of WashU’s schools. GSS represents all PhD students at WashU, including representatives from Arts & Sciences, McKelvey Engineering, Brown School, Olin Business School, and the School of Medicine. Both organizations often offer social, academic, and professional programming. Look out for their email communications, and email gpc@wustl.edu or gss@wustl.edu for more information.

Find more information about these groups and browse any upcoming events on WUGO (Washington University Group Organizer). On the organizations page, you can select “Graduate Center” from the “Categories” drop-down menu to see these university-wide graduate groups.

A&S Graduate Student Association (GSA)

The A&S Graduate Student Association (GSA) is a new governing body just for Arts & Sciences graduate students, including Masters and PhD students as well as students in DBBS. While University-wide student groups are run in collaboration with The Graduate Center, GSA is run in collaboration with the A&S Office of Graduate Studies. Each school has its own graduate student governing body, and this is ours.

Stay tuned for communications about opportunities and programming from GSA.

DBBS Student Groups

DBBS has many additional organizations and campus groups to join: see here for more information. DBBS’s Student Advisory Committee (SAC) includes an international student committee.

Peer mentoring

Grad Peer Circles is the Office of Graduate Studies’ peer mentoring program, which supports peer mentoring within A&S departments as well as across A&S programs. If you’re interested in learning more about Grad Peer Circles, serving as a peer mentor, or being connected with a peer mentor as a mentee, email artscigrads@wustl.edu.

Social Media

Follow the Office of Graduate Studies on Instagram @washu_gradartsci to keep up with events on campus, the Meet the OGS video series, graduate student highlights, and more. OGS regularly shares events from campus partners and opportunities to get involved.

Dining on campus

WashU Dining partners with local businesses to offer a variety of unique food and beverage options around campus.

Dining options

Looking for coffee or food on the Danforth campus? Check out locations and hours of on-campus dining options.

Looking for coffee or food on the Medical campus? Check out locations and hours of on-campus dining options. There are many food options near campus on Euclid as well.

Mobile ordering (Danforth campus)

Many of WashU’s on-campus options now include mobile ordering on the Grubhub app. Download the app and connect to WashU’s campus (if you download the app while on campus, this process should occur automatically). You can then connect your Grubhub account to Bear Bucks if you would like.

Bear Bucks

Bear Bucks is an optional cashless account accessed through your student ID card. Using Bear Bucks allows you to make tax-free purchases at on-campus dining locations. You can add funds to your Bear Bucks account here and check out a comprehensive list of every merchant on campus who accepts Bear Bucks.

Handling conflict within departments

As a graduate student, you are developing your own identity as a researcher and scholar, while working with faculty who also have their own identities as researchers and scholars. You will likely have different values, interests, and priorities than the faculty members who teach your classes and supervise your research. This is perfectly normal and expected, but it does mean that you might not always see things the same way as faculty with whom you work, which can lead to conflict. OGS hopes that you will feel comfortable articulating your perspective if conflicts arise.

We encourage you to seek perspectives from trusted faculty mentors and staff in your department if you need support handling conflict related to your program. You can also reach out to artscigrads@wustl.edu to engage OGS’s Director of Graduate Student Affairs, who has significant training and experience in conflict mediation.

Mentoring agreements

The Office of Graduate Studies has created mentoring agreements as a way to promote a stronger and more uniform culture of mentoring for A&S graduate students. The agreements allow faculty and graduate students to come to a shared understanding of how they will collaborate and interact with each other, promoting greater transparency around common concerns in the mentor/mentee relationship. Working with a faculty mentor or advisor to complete this agreement will help you get on the same page with each other, which can alleviate potential conflict throughout your program.

The agreements, as well as an FAQ, can be found under “Mentoring Resources” here. Use the Humanities agreement or Natural Sciences and Social Sciences agreement depending on your discipline.

Grade disputes

If you believe a grade you have received – whether referring to a single assignment or to the course grade as a whole – is inappropriate, arbitrary, or assigned for non-academic reasons, you have the right to discuss any grade(s) with the instructor and to request a change of grade(s). It is important to file grade appeals as soon as possible after the grade is assigned.

You can find more information about graduate grade appeals on OGS’s policies and procedures page. You are welcome to speak with your advisor or with a member of OGS’s academic affairs team (artscigrads@wustl.edu) to discuss the possibility of appealing a grade.

Guidelines and procedures for handling student grievances

OGS maintains student grievance guidelines and procedures for graduate students to follow if they feel they have legitimate complaints regarding academic matters or an interaction with a faculty member, staff member, or fellow students. The procedures ask that the student first seek resolution from their faculty advisor, then from their Director of Graduate Studies, then from the Chair of their degree program. If the complaint remains unresolved, the student can engage the Office of Graduate Studies (artscigrads@wustl.edu) to work toward a resolution. Read the grievance guidelines for more information.

If the complaint is related to bias, prejudice, or discrimination, consider reporting the allegation using the Bias Report and Support System (BRSS). If the allegation is related to sexual or gender-based harassment or discrimination, consider engaging the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) Center and/or the Gender Equity and Title IX Compliance Office (GETIXCO), in addition to BRSS. Keep in mind that the RSVP Center is a confidential resource, while GETIXCO might or might not be able to guarantee confidentiality.

Housing

Finding a comfortable place to live, not only in a new city but also in a new country, can feel daunting. The vast majority of graduate students at WashU live off campus. We recommend reaching out to other graduate students in your department/program to ask where they live, how they found their apartment, and any other questions you have related to housing. You can also reach out to the Office for International Student Engagement with questions (oise@wustl.edu).

OISS resources

Read through OISS’s guide on housing in St. Louis for international students and Housing Handbook from 2023-24. The handbook includes information about things to remember during your apartment search, neighborhoods near WashU, an apartment search checklist, and more.

OISS has also compiled information on laundromats, furnishing your apartment, and renter’s insurance companies. Renter’s insurance covers damages to your possessions when you rent an apartment or house; some landlords require renter’s insurance as part of the lease.

Transition housing for new international graduate students

WashU offers temporary on-campus housing at a reduced rate for international graduate students from early June to early August. On OISS’s housing guide, scroll down to the “Transition Housing” section for more information about how to reserve this housing.

Quadrangle Housing

Quadrangle Housing manages several off-campus apartments near the University, owned by WashU. You can browse properties for graduate students, faculty, and staff and explore their resources for international students.

Apartment Referral Services (ARS)

Apartment Referral Services (ARS) includes various off-campus housing options. Keep in mind that ARS is a referral service: the housing options on ARS are owned by private landlords or companies, not by WashU. ARS also includes lists of people looking for roommates.

Parallel Properties

Parallel Properties rents a variety of apartments to both WashU and non-WashU students, all located between the Danforth and Medical Campuses.

GSS Off-Campus Housing Blogs

The Graduate Student Senate published four off-campus housing blogs in 2021, in which graduate students wrote about their experiences living in neighborhoods near the Danforth campus. The four featured neighborhoods are Skinker-Debaliviere, Maplewood, University City, and Richmond Heights. Check these out if you want to get a sense of what it’s like to live in these neighborhoods as a graduate students.

Exploring St. Louis

We hope you will come to find that St. Louis is a great place to live, especially as a graduate student. Part of the magic of St. Louis is that there are so many opportunities to experience art, culture, and community without breaking the bank. Cost of living is much lower in St. Louis than it is in other large U.S. cities, and St. Louis has many free attractions, including the St. Louis Art Museum, STL Zoo, Missouri History Museum, and more. In fact, WashU boasts that there are more free, world-class attractions in St. Louis than any place in the U.S. outside of Washington, D.C.!

Visit Explore St. Louis to learn more about St. Louis’s neighborhoods, communities and traditions, attractions, food and drink, and more.

Food

St. Louis is known for our toasted ravioli (deep-fried ravioli, affectionately called “t-ravs”), St. Louis-style pizza (thin-crust, square-cut pizza using Provel cheese – you’ll either love or hate this), and gooey butter cake (an extra buttery, gooey dessert, true to the name).

Outside of these signature food items, St. Louis has a fantastic dining scene with all different types of cuisine for all budgets. We especially recommend checking out the restaurants on South Grand, which hosts a diverse array of international dining options. The Loop and the Central West End (CWE) also have a lot of popular restaurants and dining options. Both neighborhoods are close to WashU and fun to walk around in. Many graduate students live and hang out in these neighborhoods.

Sports teams

St. Louis has several major sports teams, and tickets to sporting events are often less expensive here than they are in other cities. Plus, there are plenty of sports bars all over St. Louis if you want to watch the games, including Ballpark Village, which is right by Busch Stadium (where the Cardinals play).

The St. Louis Cardinals baseball team plays home games at Busch Stadium. The St. Louis Blues hockey team plays home games at Enterprise Center. The St. Louis CITY soccer club plays home games at CITYPARK.

While we no longer have an NFL team (National Football League) – and yes, many St. Louisians are still upset about this – we do still have American football through the St. Louis Battlehawks, who play in the XFL league.

Museums

St. Louis has so many museums and galleries to explore. We especially recommend the St. Louis Art Museum and Missouri History Museum, which are both free and near the Danforth campus in Forest Park. We also suggest checking out the City Museum; while not free, the City Museum is a truly unique attraction – an artist-built playground featuring artifacts from all over the world.

Theaters

St. Louis has a vibrant theater scene, including the Grand Center Arts District, which Forbes has called “America’s most exciting emerging arts district.” OGS often partners with The Sheldon Concert Hall to bring graduate students to performances. If you’re here in the summer, we especially recommend catching a show at The Muny, an outdoor theater in Forest Park where the last nine rows (over 1400 seats) are always free.

Parks

The St. Louis area hosts dozens of parks. If you’re at WashU, you will certainly experience Forest Park, which is (fun fact!) twice the size of Central Park in New York City. The zoo, art museum, history museum, Muny outdoor theater, planetarium, and other attractions are located in Forest Park.

Other beloved city parks include Tower Grove Park, which frequently hosts farmers’ markets and other events, and Francis Park, which includes a beer garden in partnership with a local brewery.

Civic and Community Engagement

WashU’s Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement has put together a guide called New in the Lou, which is designed to help students become engaged members of the St. Louis community. Even though international students cannot vote in local, state, or national elections, there are so many other ways to approach civic engagement in St. Louis, and Gephardt can help you explore those options. Gephardt hosts a weekly dinner series, Civic Café, where students share a meal together and learn more about different topics, as well as other programming that Graduate Students can join in for. In addition, the Gephardt Institute's St. Louis Impact Fund is designed to catalyze and support mutually beneficial relationships between Washington University students and community organizations aiming to advance efforts critical to community needs. Graduate students are encouraged to apply!