I received an unofficial offer for graduate admission. The graduate director mentioned two steps which will be required to get the official admit.

  1. Background Checking
  2. Signing on the offer letter

As I'm an international student, is it for the security purpose? How long it could take to complete the process?

One of my friends said that, It could be aa check from USA gov. Could you please explain?

  • Which country are you from? The security check from the US government is called "administrative processing", which is initiated at the discretion of the visa officer when you apply for your visa. As far as I know acceptance from the university is decoupled from this type of government security check.
    – Drecate
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 17:11
  • This is the type of thing that varies enough between departments, that you are going to have to ask the graduate director about it.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 17:18
  • I'm from Bangladesh.
    – Fahim
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 17:18
  • Could it be the department waiting to check the references? In other words, could this be a conditional offer on the condition that your references check out?
    – Serafina
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 17:23
  • @Serafina, are you saying that, they could verify the reference letter?
    – Fahim
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


I don't know if this is universal, but I do know that some programs require background checks for anyone interacting with individuals under 18. For example, from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychology webpage (bottom paragraph on that page):

Special note for Applicants to the Clinical Psychology Program: Consistent with Pennsylvania law, all students in the Clinical Psychology Program must satisfactorily pass required background checks that are intended to protect children from contact with individuals who have abused children or have been convicted of certain felonies (including drug felonies), as is further explained here: www.dhs.state.pa.us. FBI, Pennsylvania State Police, and Pennsylvania Child Abuse clearances must be completed during the fall term of the student’s first year. Students may not continue in the Clinical Psychology Program if they fail any of these background checks or decline to submit applications to obtain them. Cost of the clearances is to be covered by the student.

Given that many undergraduate students are underage, and given that as a graduate student you will almost certainly be interacting with undergrads as part of your teaching assistant and undergraduate mentorship duties, this is required for basically all grad students. I know that, at Pitt, this isn't just for the Psych program; lots of programs have a similar requirement.

Much of this is new since the Sandusky child abuse events.

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