David Recine

Schools That Offer Conditional Acceptance: Bay Area Edition

I love Northern California, from Monterrey Bay up through Sacramento. And the San Francisco Bay Area is by far one of my favorite places to visit. And not just because the area is home to Magoosh’s headquarters. The Bay Area has so much to offer: amazing weather, a rich history, great local culture, and—for international students and other internationally minded people—lots of multiculturalism!

In fact, if I absolutely had to pick just one place to recommend for international students, it would probably be the Bay Area. It’s that nice! But what do you do if you really want to study in the heart of NorCal, and you don’t quite have the TOEFL scores you need for your program? Take heart—greater San Francisco has an impressive range of options for conditional acceptance—options that make it possible to start your studies before you’ve gotten the minimum TOEFL score for your chosen degree program.


Stanford University

Stanford University does not appear to offer any conditional acceptance options for undergraduate students. But here’s the good news: graduate students who do not meet the minimal TOEFL requirements can be conditionally accepted into Stanford through their English for Foreign Students program. Minimum TOEFL scores for unconditional acceptance vary from grad program to grad program. But Stanford’s EFS program will consider accepting anyone who is a potentially good grad school candidate, but doesn’t have high enough TOEFL scores.

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UC Berkeley

This is the campus in Magoosh’s hometown. It’s also one of the best public universities in both California and the USA as a whole. UC Berekely does not offer conditional acceptance through an on-campus English program. However, they do offer conditional acceptance to students who study English through one of their partner language schools. Berkeley’s list of partners includes Kaplan International, which has schools all over the world, and Language Studies International, which has locations across the USA. So depending on where you live, you may be able to get conditional acceptance into Berkeley before you even relocate to Northern California!


California State Universities

California has two public university systems—the University of California system, which includes UC Berkeley, and the California State University system. CalState has several locations in the Bay Area. And while the UC system has very different conditional acceptance regulations on each campus, most California State campuses have very similar programs. In general, California State schools have on-campus English academies that conditionally accept both undergraduate and graduate students. You can attend these kinds of programs at places like San Jose State, California State East Bay, and Sonoma State.


Golden Gate Language Schools

Golden Gate Language Schools is not an actual university that offers conditional acceptance. Instead, it’s an ESL academy that can get you conditionally accepted into a large number of partner colleges and universities. At the time of this blog posting, Golden Gate Language Schools offers conditional acceptance to 10 two-year colleges and 5 universities. Most of these are in the Bay Area, but there are some out-of-state transfer options too. Go here for details.



  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he’s helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master’s Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he’s presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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