TOEFL Scores and Conditional Acceptance

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have already seen Rita’s excellent infographic on the TOEFL score admission requirements. This infographic highlights the TOEFL scores you’ll need for full acceptance into America’s top universities.

For students who haven’t been able to get the minimum scores on that chart, I have some good news. Full acceptance isn’t the only kind of acceptance American universities offer. A growing number of U.S. programs now offer conditional acceptance to international students. Conditionally accepted students can enter a U.S. university on the condition that they improve their English after they arrive. Conditionally accepted students usually take special courses in academic English. They are also given a chance to retake the TOEFL after the get to the U.S. Once their English skills have improved, they may then be fully accepted into a degree program.

Not all universities conditionally accept students with low TOEFL scores. Conditional acceptance is most common at smaller public universities. Some conditional acceptance programs also set their own minimum TOEFL score. For example, a smaller school may accept TOEFL scores of 65 for general admission, but a score of 45 for conditional acceptance.

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Much more commonly, however, these mid-sized universities don’t set a minimum TOEFL score. In fact, if you are interested in enrolling in a university English language program, you may not need a TOEFL score at all.

For those who still prefer a top university, I have more good news. Some top American universities are also starting to conditionally accept students with low TOEFL scores. Boston University conditionally accepts any student that is “able to speak, understand, write, and read simple English sentences.” Conditionally accepted students study English in BU’s Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP). There, they have a chance to raise their TOEFL score and be fully accepted. The University of San Francisco conditionally accepts students with a TOEFL score as low as 60. These students can start taking classes in their major right away. They study their degree part-time, while also taking academic English courses and re-taking the TOEFL.

More and more international students are applying to American universities. Because of this, more and more universities are offering conditional acceptance. If you are looking to study in America, be sure to look at the TOEFL scores required for both conditional and full acceptance. However, keep in mind that it is still very common for universities not to give conditional acceptance, especially if you are looking at top schools. In that case, you may need to take the test again and raise your TOEFL score through preparation.


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