Harvard TOEFL Requirements

So, you’re an international student who wants to go to Harvard? Great! What are Harvard’s TOEFL requirements and who needs to take the TOEFL? Find out in this post. 🙂


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TOEFL Requirements for Harvard’s Undergraduate College

If you’re applying as an undergrad, you do not have to take the TOEFL. Here’s what Harvard says:

“A strong knowledge of English is essential for successful study at Harvard, including the ability to understand and express thoughts quickly and clearly. Although you are not required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or other proficiency exams, you may submit your scores if you have done so.”

TOEFL Requirements for Harvard’s Graduate Schools

If you’re applying for a masters or PhD, you will have to take the TOEFL! Different Harvard graduate schools have their own specific set of guidelines for who needs to take the TOEFL, and what score you need. Because of that, it’s important that you consult the websites of the programs you’re applying to.

Let’s look at a few of the different programs’ requirements below:

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

This graduate school houses a variety of different programs — economics, physics, education, math, engineering, and more. If your native language is not English, you must meet one of the following proficiency requirements:

  • take the TOEFL
  • hold the equivalent of a US Bachelor’s degree from an institution at which English is the language of instruction

Note that this graduate school ONLY accepts the TOEFL, and not IELTS.

Harvard Kennedy School of Government

If you’re planning to get a Masters in Public Policy, Public Administration, or International Development, you’ll need to apply to HKS. Like the school above, they require you to take the TOEFL unless:

  • your native language is English
  • OR your entire undergrad was conducted in English

Harvard Graduate School of Design

Architecture masters, pay attention! This school houses the architecture program as well as programs in design studies, urban planning, and more.When applying to this school, you must take the TOEFL if:

  • you do not live in a country where English is the native language

You can, however, submit a waiver if you’ve been enrolled in a university for 2 or more years where English is the primary language of instruction.


What are Harvard’s TOEFL score requirements?

This varies by department, so you’ll definitely need to check the requirements for the program you’re applying to.

For example, Harvard Kennedy requires a score of 100, but the School of Design requires only a 92.

Be sure to also consider: if you want to be a Teaching Fellow, you will likely need a higher speaking score than the minimum requirement.

Lastly, if you want to know even more about minimum score requirements, check out our infographic. And if you’d like to prepare for the TOEFL online with lesson videos and practice questions, be sure to check out Magoosh TOEFL, of course. 🙂


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8 Responses to Harvard TOEFL Requirements

  1. Johannes October 9, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    Hi, should I (undergraduate applicant) include my 111 Toefl score or are 790 and 740 Old SAT on Reading and Writing, respectively, sufficient? Thank you.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 11, 2016 at 4:15 am #

      I would include the TOEFL score. It is a very good one, and it can’t hurt to report all of your good test scores. 🙂

  2. Aakash.Chaudhary July 25, 2017 at 4:41 am #

    I want to complete my graduation(UG) at Harvard University in science stream. Do I need to give TOEFL?
    And what other things I should do to enrolled in the Harvard University?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 26, 2017 at 9:00 pm #

      Hi Aakash,

      You should check out their admissions page to get full details, because every program and course has a different set of requirements. You likely need a TOEFL score, but again, refer to the appropriate website for your chosen path. 🙂

  3. Bethlehem August 21, 2017 at 9:51 am #

    Hi, I am an international student and learned English as a second language. Is it necessary for me to take the TOEFL if I am going to take SAT anyways? Is it important to take the TOEFL to get a scholarship at Harvard?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 21, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

      Hi Bethlehem,

      It is typically a requirement to take both the SAT and TOEFL, and you cannot opt out of the TOEFL just because you took other exams. I cannot speak to the scholarship opportunities at Harvard, but the TOEFL will almost certainly be an admissions requirement.

  4. Alan November 19, 2020 at 1:33 pm #

    I would like to apply for Harvard MPP.
    The minimum requirement there is 100 and 25 in each section
    My total score is 111 but by speaking is 24.
    Do I need to retake the test in this case?
    Many thanks in advanc

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 24, 2020 at 7:52 am #

      Hi Alan,
      You should contact a Harvard admissions counselor for the most complete information, but it does sounds like you’ll have to retake the test. Most schools, especially those like Harvard, have so many applicants that they rarely make exceptions to their requirements. If you want to be considered for admissions, you need to make sure that you meet the minimum requirements.

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