Large group of international college students pose for a photo holding flags of their home countries.

International Affairs


Ringling College welcomes students from all walks of life and from all over the world. Our diverse student body comes to Sarasota from over 65 countries and nearly every state in the US. That’s why it is so important that we provide the support and services needed for everyone to feel comfortable, successful, and safe on campus.

Explore the programs, services, and opportunities we have designed specially for our international students below. We are here to answer your questions at all stages of the admissions process, from completing your application to applying for a student visa. Be sure to stop by the International Student Services office on campus when you arrive for additional information and advice about how to best get settled on campus and in your new community.

International Admissions Information
Kimberly White, Assistant Dean for International Admissions

International Affairs
Amy Pettengill, Director

Student Support

Working and studying in a second language is no easy task. Often valuable programs, resources, and opportunities available to all students can be missed in the shuffle of learning a new city, country, and educational system. That’s why we offer a variety of ESOL services offering customized, comprehensive introductions to living on campus, classroom expectations, and taking advantage of student programs.

Our comprehensive ESOL Programs are designed to introduce non-native English speakers to the resources available to them on campus while also building writing, reading, speaking, and listening proficiency and outlining classroom expectations and etiquette. Programs include:

  • ESOL Skills to connect students with campus services and staff
  • Writing Studio to enhance reading and writing proficiency
  • Pronunciation Class to hone speaking and listening skills

Our international student class sizes are small and we guarantee individualized attention, a necessary factor in ensuring we meet the distinct needs of each student.

Learn More About Our ESOL Program 

ESOL Skills

ESOL Skills: Joining the Ringling Community is a semester-long course created to introduce international students to the resources and nuances of life at Ringling College. ESOL Skills is designed to:

  • Improve classroom and campus life experience
  • Strengthen communication with faculty and staff
  • Introduce proper classroom etiquette and expectations

30-40% of our international student population takes this course to ease the transition of studying in a new country.

Writing Studio

Writing Studio is a semester-long course tailored to the distinct writing needs and challenges of non-native English speakers. Students in this program will be given individualized instruction to ensure understanding of assignments and allow for individual, customized attention.


As a student in Writing Studio, you will strengthen your English language writing, reading, and listening comprehension, enhance your understanding of idiomatic, everyday American English, and receive customized instruction for writing for academic and professional work.


50% of our international students enroll in Writing Studio to take advantage of the unique learning environment and customized resources.

Requirements for International Students

Please review the testing and paperwork requirements designed to facilitate your transition at Ringling College. If you have any questions regarding your student status at Ringling College, please contact Amy Pettengill at:

Proficiency Testing

All international Ringling students are required to take a speaking and listening comprehension test and submit a written essay.

ESOL classes are designed to help non-native English speakers prepare for the coursework required for their degree. ESOL Skills and other ESOL classes may be waived upon successful performance on the proficiency tests, or if one or more of the following conditions is met and supporting documentation is received by the Office of International Affairs:

  • The student’s first language is English.
  • The student has earned a final degree from an accredited college or university where English is the official language of instruction.
  • The student has passed the equivalent of Writing Studio at an accredited college/university with a C or better, or qualifies for the equivalent transfer credit through accepted IB, AP or A-Level test scores.
  • Any student who receives a waiver from ESOL classes and later fails a course due to language deficiencies may be required to enroll in and successfully complete ESOL classes in order to continue in their degree program.


Immigration Forms/Documents

I-20AB: The I-20AB form indicates that you have been accepted (or are enrolled) as a full-time student (F-1) at Ringling College of Art and Design. The I-20AB is presented with your passport to the American Consulate abroad to obtain a visa. The I-20AB and evidence of financial support must be presented at your port of entry each time you enter the United States.

Passport: The passport is issued by your government.  Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months longer than your entire planned stay in the United States.  Your passport and visa should be valid if you plan to leave and re-enter the United States. If you find it necessary to renew your passport while in the United States, the International Student Adviser can help.

Visa: At the American Consulate abroad, you will be issued an F-1 (student) visa, which will be stamped in your passport. This shows the number of entries you may have into the United States and an expiration date after which you cannot re-enter the United States without renewing your visa.

For Canadian Students

Canadian citizens do not require an entry visa to enter the U.S. from Canada, but DO require an I-20. All Canadian citizens entering the U.S. by air will be required to show a passport to enter the United States.

Additionally, your passport may be required for other purposes in the U.S. such as completing a form for employment on campus, or applying for a Social Security number. If you enter the U.S. from a country other than Canada, you are required to present a passport at the port of entry.

To enter the U.S. in F-1 status, Canadians DO require an I-20 and proof of payment of the SEVIS fee. To pay the SEVIS fee, go to and follow the instructions. Be sure to make a copy of the receipt for your own records. 

At the point of entry, Canadian students must present the Form I-20 and supporting financial documentation to the immigration inspector to be admitted into the U.S. in F-1 status.

It is especially important for Canadian students to be vigilant about entering the United States in proper student status, as immigration inspectors are accustomed to admitting Canadian citizens as visitors. Because Canadian citizens do not require application to a U.S. consulate for an entry visa some Canadians think that other regulations that apply to international students may also not apply to them. Canadians are subject to the same regulations regarding employment in the United States, requirement for full-time study, and other provisions for maintaining status.

Other than applying for a visa, it important that you read about and abide by all other provisions relating to F-1 status.

About Ringling College

Career Preparation + Support

To help you achieve your professional and personal success, we provide exceptional career services, on-campus recruiting by employers, internships and many professional learning opportunities. We also guarantee that every student has the opportunity to get professional work experience while at Ringling. This means real clients, real deliverables, and real deadlines. Once you graduate, Ringling’s career services are available to you for life.

Visit the Collaboratory page

Visit the Career Support page

Self Contained, Residential Campus

The Ringling campus is a learning/living environment designed by and for creative individuals. More than 70% of our students choose to live on campus, and, there is always something fun going on. Our residence life staff is always available to help you adjust to life in your new home.

From your first day of orientation until you graduate, you can experience all aspects of student life—residence life, clubs, student activities, special events, and sports/fitness programs —to help you feel welcome and connected.

Visit the Student Life page

A Cultural Oasis

Sarasota is known as the "arts capital" of Florida, and is one of the premier cultural destinations in the United States. Located on the central west coast of Florida, Sarasota enjoys subtropical weather year round, and is full of natural beauty and cultural arts. Its white-sand beaches are ranked among the best in the world. Several major airlines serve the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) , and there are numerous non-stop flights from several U.S. gateway cities daily.

Learn more about Sarasota

Professional Guidance + Support

As a Ringling College student, you can take advantage of our comprehensive academic and personal advising, tutoring and wellness services. English language classes are also available. Our professional staff will help you with any concerns you might have, and guide you to get any help you need.

See a list of services offered

Safe + Secure Environment

At Ringling we are committed to providing our students with the safest possible living and learning environment. A professional staff of uniformed Public Safety Officers is on campus 24 hours a day. Their efforts are supplemented by state-of-the-art locks on all outside residence hall doors, well-lighted campus and parking facilities, and a variety of crime prevention and safety awareness programs.

Visit the Public Safety page

On-Site Health Services

At Ringling, your health and well-being is very important to us. We have an on-campus health and medical center, equipped to diagnose and treat most common illnesses and conditions. We also offer free counseling and mental health services in a confidential environment.

Visit the Health Services page