The International Community School of Addis Ababa serves the educational needs of the international community in Addis Ababa. ICS Addis accepts students who can be successful in the regular academic program. ICS does not discriminate on the basis of religion, ethnic or national origin or gender in its admissions and educational policies. Admission is based upon completed application forms, previous school records and results from previous or current academic testing as required by ICS staff to determine:

  • the potential of the applicant to benefit from the educational services available
  • the capacity of the school to meet the educational needs of the applicant and
  • the ability of the school to meet the behavioral or emotional needs of the applicant

Students are admitted to ICS according to the following, conditional on having met the admissions criteria:

ICS Addis Statement of Purpose

The purpose of the Association of the International Community School of Addis Ababa is to provide a school for "children of the international community residing in Addis Ababa and throughout Ethiopia and for Ethiopian children, to the extent feasible, in accordance with Ethiopian law” (Articles of Association: Article III). To assure that this purpose can be met, the Board expects the administration to enact fair and transparent admissions guidelines regarding places for children of the international community.

Early Years 2-4 Admissions

Applicants to early years 2, 3 and 4 in the first three categories of the Admissions Priority Guidelines will be accepted by the guidelines, in order of receipt of the completed application requirements. All other applications (category 4) will be considered after 31 January for the following school year. Wait-listed students are prioritized according to the Admissions Priority Guidelines. If a wait-listed student is offered a space, the space must be taken immediately or within a reasonable period of time without a loss of revenue, at ICS's discretion.

Special circumstances: early childhood applicants applying to the STEP Program are considered under the Early Years 5 to Grade 12 admissions policy.

Early Years 5 to Grade 12 Admissions - International Applicants

Students moving to Ethiopia from outside the country are considered international applicants. International applications are considered in order of receipt of all required admissions materials; upon meeting our admissions criteria they will be admitted on a space-available basis. In circumstances where space is not available, international applicants will be placed on a wait list.

Wait-listed students will be prioritized according to the Admissions Priority Guidelines. Wait-listed students who temporarily attend another school in Addis until a space is available at ICS Addis are still considered international applicants. If a wait-listed student is offered a space, the space must be taken immediately or within a reasonable period of time without a loss of revenue, at ICS's discretion.

Mid-year applicants who apply before the school year begins are placed on the wait list until the end of September. 

Early Years 5 to Grade 12 Admissions - Transfer Applicants

Students already living in Ethiopia are considered transfer applicants, unless they are in categories 1, 2 or 3 of the Priority Guidelines. Transfer applicants are eligible to apply to ICS Addis for August enrollment only. Transfer applicants to early years 5 through grade 12 who complete the admissions process and are eligible for enrollment are placed in the transfer wait pool. Applicants in the wait pool are not ranked by the Priority Guidelines.

Transfer applicants in the wait pool are considered for space after a set date. The transfer applicant deadline for 2020-21 is 15 May 2020.

Timeline for Transfer Applications

1 November: applications open for next school year

November-May: applicants complete all admissions requirements and Admissions Committee completes preliminary review

March-May: applicants complete assessments at ICS (may include math, reading, writing, world language and interview/observation)

March-May: Admissions Committee completes final review of admissions requirements and assessments - applicants eligible for admission are placed in the wait pool

1 May: ICS begins allocating spaces to applicants in wait pool (those who have completed all admissions requirements and assessments)

15 May: deadline to complete all admissions requirements (transfer applications are not accepted after this date)

ICS may not have spaces for all applicants in the wait pool. If a wait pool applicant is not offered a space in May, the family may choose to stay in the wait pool until the start of school in August. After August, wait pool applicants are no longer eligible to enroll for that school year. They may renew their applications starting on 1 November for the following school year.

Final determination of a student’s status is decided by ICS Addis.

Admissions Priority Guidelines

Within the guidelines below, families who enroll all their eligible children at ICS are given priority. This applies to both international and transfer applicants.

The following Priority Guidelines apply to international applicants on the wait list only.

  1. Dependents of US government direct-hire employees and dependents of eligible ICS faculty and staff.
  2. Siblings of current students, and returning former ICS students.
  3. Dependents of ICS alumni/former students.
  4. All other applicants with complete applications, with the following priority:

a. Applicants with accepted incoming siblings

b. Applicants with non-Ethiopian passports

i. Both parents with a non-Ethiopian passports

ii. One parent with non-Ethiopian passport

iii. Both parents with Ethiopian passports

c. All other applicants, in order of receipt of admissions materials.

International Community Enrollment

The percentage of children from the international community should be at least 95% of the enrollment in any grade level in the early childhood and elementary, 90% of the enrollment in any grade level in the middle school, and 85% of the enrollment in any grade level in the high school. The overall percentage of spaces for children from the international community should be at least 90% schoolwide. At all times and at all grades, the school has discretion to ensure diversity. Any exceptions to the percentage of international children at a grade level must be approved by the Head of School and reported to the Board of Governors. If the overall space available for children of the international community is approaching 90%, the Head of School must notify the Board of Governors, and the Board will approve any exceptions that reduce the spaces available for children of the international community below the overall 90% requirement.

Ethiopian Citizen Enrollment

Any Ethiopian citizen applicant must provide a permission letter from the Ethiopian Ministry of Education General Education Inspection Directorate in order for ICS to consider the applicant for admission. ICS is considered a community school by the Ministry of Education, and Ethiopian citizens must have a permission letter to attend any community school.

Student Support Services

ICS charges additional fees for specialized educational services, including occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, educational psychology assessments and the STEP Program. Need for services is determined by ICS and neither services nor fees may be waived. Visit the Tuition and Fees page for more information on the fees.

Learning Support

ICS Addis can provide an appropriate education for most students, including non-native English speakers, students with mild to moderate learning disabilities and highly capable students. However, because of the limitations of the local professional support network, ICS is not able to serve the educational needs of those students with more serious mental, physical, emotional or learning disabilities. The campus is also not handicapped accessible. Admission is open to those students who are able to participate successfully in a mainstream class with some specialist support. In cases where ICS determines that it may have an appropriate educational program for a child, the school may require the parents to fund extra assistance beyond what is available in the classroom.

ICS may deny admission to students whose needs cannot be met by the school's support services, or whose behavior could be detrimental to the classroom and school environment. In addition, ICS may deny admission if parents fail to disclose all relevant information about their child's learning needs during the admissions process.

Please contact the Admissions Office immediately if your child requires special services, so that we can attempt to determine if we can provide a suitable program for your child and if we have space in our programs before you accept an assignment in Addis Ababa.




Grade Placement

ICS grade placement is based on the American system of education. Students enter ICS from a variety of educational backgrounds and we consider factors such as age, previous educational system and academic success within that system when determining grade placement.

ICS uses a 31 August cut-off date to determine the age-appropriate grade level for children. ICS reserves the right to make the final decision regarding grade placement.

Early Years Placement

Students entering the early years must be the appropriate age for the class to which they are applying; no exceptions are made.

For early years 2 (EY2), students must be two years old on or before 31 August to join. Toilet training is not required. Children entering the early years 3 (EY3) program must be three years old on or before 31 August; children in the early years 4 (EY4) program must be four years old on or before 31 August. All children in EY3 and EY4 must be toilet trained.  

Students entering ICS mid-year will be placed in the age-appropriate class. If students were attending kindergarten or a kindergarten-equivalent in schools that follow a different school calendar, they will continue in early years 5/kindergarten at ICS, even if they are age-appropriate for the next grade.

Grades 1-12 Placement

Grade placement for grades 1 to 12 is determined by ICS based on previous educational system and calendar, academic success within the previous system and any additional assessments required by ICS. The applicant’s age is also considered.

For social and developmental reasons, ICS does not not enroll students who are more than one year older or younger than the expected age for the grade into which they should be placed academically. ICS also does not accept students into grade 12 after the beginning of the academic year.

Different School Calendars

ICS is conservative when placing students transferring from other school calendars and students will continue in the grade level in which they were enrolled, or which they just completed. Students will not skip ahead to the next grade level.