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U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Study in the States

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Glossary

Use the Study in the States glossary to define key terms throughout the F and M student process in the United States. If you are a current or prospective student, select “students” to see terms that specifically relate to you—from visas, to forms, benefits, and more. School officials should select “schools” to find more information on certification, responsibilities, and how to help their F and M students. You can also sort terms by selecting the letter of the alphabet a term begins with.

Dependent

An F or M student’s spouse and/or minor child (who is unmarried and under 21 years old). Dependents may legally accompany you to the United States or join you in the country while you study. They must apply for either an F-2 or M-2 visa.

Designated School Official (DSO)

​A regularly-employed member of the school administration designated by the head of a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school to provide recommendations to F and/or M students enrolled at the school regarding maintenance of nonimmigrant status, and to support timely and complete record keeping and reporting to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

Doctorate Degree

The highest form of post-graduate degree that students can earn in the United States.