International students begin their O’Dowd experience with a two-week orientation to help acclimate to U.S. culture and school life. U.S. students immediately engage with the international students to help lead the orientation program. Upon arrival, the international students are placed with host families through pre-approved agencies who care for and partner with O’Dowd during the students time at school.

international_boyStudent Support

A full-time, committed international coordinator and counselor supports the international students from the moment they arrive on campus and throughout their time at O’Dowd. The coordinator communicates with parents and teachers regularly to ensure students’ academic success and emotional well-being while at O’Dowd. Regular conference sessions, meetings and other support are available to all international students.

Language Proficiency

In order to determine proficiency, all student must take one of the following tests: TOEFL, IELTS, SSAT, or TOEFL Junior (9th grade applicants only.)

For more information about submitting your test scores, please contact Robin Lau, or (510) 577-9100 ext.616.


Total Tuition 2018-19: $31,000

International tuition includes:
• Books
• Uniforms
• International academic counseling
• University counseling
• Academic mentoring
• Orientation and transition programs
• Administrative support associated with Immigration and Customs
• Individualized English language supports including after-school one-on-one tutoring specialized class sections, and SAT/ACT preparation

international_girlsHow to apply

How to Apply to O’Dowd’s International Student Program

1. Submit an online application »

2. Provide test scores. We accept TOEFL, IELTS, SSAT, or TOEFL Junior (9th grade applicants only). You may send your TOEFL scores to Bishop O’Dowd High School by using our institution code: 6244. To send SSAT and IELTS scores, please send or e-mail a copy of your score report to

3. Submit recommendation forms. Provide recommendations from an English teacher, math teacher and principal/counselor from your current school.

4. Transcripts. Submit official transcripts for the past three years including the current academic year.

5. Schedule an interview with the Admissions Team.

6. Submit a Deposit. Places are offered on a rolling basis. If accepted, students must submit a $5,000 deposit to secure their place.

For information about dates, deadlines and where to submit information, please contact Robin Lau, or (510) 577-9100 ext.616.

International Program Frequently Asked Questions


1. How large is Bishop O’Dowd High School? How large is the international program?

Diversity of ethnicity, culture, belief, and experience is reflected in all facets of the O’Dowd community and is enhanced by our international presence. The current total enrollment at Bishop O’Dowd is 1165. Of that total, approximately 2% is international.

2. What is the ethnic makeup of the student body?

African American 19%; Asian 12%; European-American 43%; Latino 12%; Middle Eastern 1%; Native American 1%; Other 12%.

3. How many Honors and AP courses are offered?

Currently, we offer a total of 25 Honors and AP courses. For details on our courses offered, please see our Advanced Academics page.

4. Is the application process for international students different from the domestic process?

Yes, we ask our international applicants to follow the International Application Procedure. All international students must submit either the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Though we strongly prefer these tests, we will accept the TOEFL Junior for 9th grade applicants only. Once we receive all application materials, including the online application, test scores, transcripts, and recommendations, we will schedule a Skype interview with the applicant. (We would also be happy to interview the applicant in person if he/she is available to meet on campus.) For any additional questions regarding the application process, please contact Robin Lau.

5. Does Bishop O’Dowd offer Spring admission?

At this time, we are only considering applicants for Fall admission.

6. Why is the tuition for international students higher than the tuition for domestic students?

At Bishop O’Dowd, we care deeply about both providing a truly diverse and immersive experience for our international students and promoting their integration into a new community. Therefore, we offer significant resources and support structures specifically for international students. The following resources are included in the tuition:

  • A full-time counselor, working exclusively with international students, provides guidance in academics, extracurricular and career development, college counseling, and personal counseling.
  • An after-school academic support program specifically for international students offers class tutoring, time management, writing, and vocabulary development.
  • A comprehensive two-week orientation covering ESL material to support academic success, class scheduling, book and uniform orders, cross-cultural presentations and activities, as well as recreational events. Current domestic students assist throughout the orientation to provide a welcoming transition into a new community.
  • The cost of books, uniforms, and several all-school outings are included as well. We do all that we can to bring our international students into our greater school community.

7. Does Bishop O’Dowd arrange for homestay?

While we do not place students directly, we work closely with several vetted agencies that assist our students with their homestay arrangements. For more information related to homestay agencies, please contact Robin Lau.

8. What is the average SAT/ACT for Bishop O’Dowd students? Which colleges and universities do graduates attend?

Please visit our School Profile for this and more information about our school.