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MIT TOEFL Requirements

Several students have asked us about MIT’s TOEFL requirements (maybe this is because 40% of MIT’s grad students are from outside the US!). Who needs to take the exam? What score do you need? If you’re planning to apply to MIT as an international student, here’s what you need to know about its English language and TOEFL requirements.

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Photo by John Phelan


MIT TOEFL Requirements: Undergraduates

First off, MIT undergraduate programs do not accept IELTS (this is different than the requirements for graduate schools — listed below). So, if you take an English Language Proficiency exam for undergraduate admissions, you will have to take the TOEFL. Notice how I said “if” at the beginning of that last sentence? That’s because you actually have options when it comes to taking standardized exams for admission to MIT. You have two options, as stated on MIT’s International Admissions site:

You can take:

  • the SAT or the ACT Plus Writing
  • AND two SAT subject tests: one in math (level 2 or level 2), and one in science

That’s a total of 3 exams.

OR you can take:

  • the TOEFL
  • AND two SAT one in math (level 2 or level 2), and one in science

Also a total of 3 exams.

Keep in mind that MIT recommends the second option for most international students, stating:

This option is especially recommended for students who do not speak English at home or in school, or who have been speaking English for fewer than five years.


MIT TOEFL Requirements: Graduate Students

If you’re a graduate level international student applying to MIT, you will have to take an English Language Proficiency exam if your first language is not English. MIT states:

English is the language of instruction in all subjects within the Institute, and all papers and theses must be written in English. All applicants whose first language is not English, including those currently enrolled in US institutions, must present evidence of their ability to carry on their studies in English. Qualifying applicants must take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

But, like many other universities, TOEFL requirements vary by department and academic concentration. Luckily, MIT has an awesome PDF that lists all of the department requirements very clearly. You can find that PDF here. and can search for the department you’re applying to.

Some departments require a TOEFL score or an IELTS score, some accept ONLY an IELTS score, some allow for these requirements to be waived, and some do not. So, it’s really important to check the PDF for your department’s requirements.

For example, the Aeronautics and Astronautics department does not accept TOEFL waivers, and requires either an IELTS or a TOEFL score.

On the other hand, the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department allows waivers for both the IELTS and the TOEFL, for qualifying students.

And the Comparative Media Studies department doesn’t accept the TOEFL at all — you’ll have to take the IELTS exam if you’re applying to this department.


What score will you need to be accepted?

For prospective undergrads who choose to take the TOEFL, you will need an absolute minimum score of 90, but MIT recommends a score of 100+.

For graduates, again this depends on the program you’re applying to — and remember to check if your department prefers the IELTS over the TOEFL (a lot of programs at MIT do). For mechanical engineering programs, although the IELTS is preferred, if you choose to take the TOEFL, you will need a minimum score of 100. The physics department also requires a 100.

If you want to know more about minimum score requirements for top universities, take a look out our scores infographic. 🙂

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