English Language Requirements

International applicants for admission to the University of Chicago must meet English language requirements set by the school. Information about English language requirements can be found below. For questions beyond what are listed in the FAQs at the bottom, please contact your admissions office.

Minimum Scores Required for Admission

English language policies differ for undergraduate and graduate students.  See below for information on each.

Undergraduate College

Graduate Students

Graduate or professional school student must meet the English language requirements outlined below. Please note that the University policy for graduate and professional school students states minimum requirements; individual divisions or schools may require higher minimum scores.

If you have questions about these requirements, you should begin by contacting gradadmissions@uchicago.edu for assistance.

Acceptable Tests

for the purpose of meeting the English language requirement, students may submit either:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Any other proficiency tests, exams, equivalent coursework, certificate/certifications, endorsement from faculty, and/or other measurement other than the TOEFL or IELTS are not accepted.

Required Minimum Scores

Minimum scores vary by division in some cases.  See below for details on the department/division to which you are applying:

 Physical Sciences* & Institute for Molecular Engineering:


  • Institute for Molecular Engineering (IME)
  • The following departments Division of the Physical Sciences (PSD):
    • Astronomy & Astrophysics
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Physics, and
    • Statistics

Requirement for IME and the PSD Departments Listed Above:

Applicants whose first or native language is not English must demonstrate an adequate command of both spoken and written English, and they are required to submit English proficiency test scores as part of their application. We recognize the internet-based test (iBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Applicants whose total score on the four-part TOEFL falls below 90 (or IELTS falls below 7) will not normally be admitted unless other demonstrable evidence of proficiency in English is available. Individual departments may set higher standards for these scores, and applicants should consult the specific program web sites for details.

Please note: The Department of Geophysical Sciences requires an overall score of 95, with all other requirements being the same as those for the Physical Sciences Division.

All other Departments and Programs in the University


The minimum required score for the TOEFL is 104 overall, with 4 sub scores of 26 each.


Minimum required scores in the IELTS are an overall score of 7, with sub scores of 7 each. (Note: students are required to take the Academic Reading/Writing test within IELTS, not the General Training Reading/Writing test).


TOEFL or IELTS score reports are valid for two years and scores will be considered expired if the test was taken more than two years prior to submission of the application. Photocopies of TOEFL or IELTS Score Reports will not be considered valid.

Return to Top

Language Requirement Waivers

The English language requirement may be waived in the following circumstance only. Contact your admissions department for more information:

  • The applicant is a native of or has studied in full-time status for at least one academic year within the last five years in one of the following countries:
    • U.S.
    • United Kingdom
    • Ireland
    • Australia
    • New Zealand
    • The Caribbean countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, or
    • English medium universities in Canada or South Africa - NOTE: This applies only to English medium universities in Canada or South Africa. Study in English medium universities and in other countries does not qualify for a waiver.

Waivers apply to students from the countries listed above only. Students who are natives of or who have studied in English in other countries (for example, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc.) are not exempt from the English language requirement.

Waivers only apply to those who have studied full time in one of the countries listed on the waiver list above.  Employment in an English-speaking country does not make you eligible for a waiver.

Check the TOEFL and IELTS sites for more information.

NOTE: The above listed circumstances are the ONLY circumstances that qualify from a waiver. Students who studied English (or at other English-medium schools) in countries not specified above, students who studied less than 1 full-time year in one of the countries specified above, and/or students that have worked in the U.S. or other English-speaking countries are NOT eligible for a waiver  See FAQs below for more information.  If you have additional questions beyond the FAQs, contact your Admissions Office for more information.

What to do if you qualify for a waiver

You will only qualify for a waiver if you meet one of the requirements listed above.  If you believe you qualify for a waiver, make sure to inform your admissions department as you are applying for admission to the University and they will review your case.  


See answers to FAQs below.

Return to Top

Where/How to send Test Scores


If you are taking the TOEFL, request the scores to be sent to the University of Chicago. The institutional codes are as follows:

  • University of Chicago: 1832
  • Booth School of Business MBA: 1832-02
  • Booth School of Business PhD: 1819
  • Harris School of Public Policy Studies: 1849


University of Chicago downloads IELTS scores that have been transmitted to our e-download account. Please contact your test center and request that your scores be sent to the following IELTS e-download account:

University of Chicago - Graduate Enrollment  
970 East 58th Street, Third Floor
Chicago, IL 60637

The University does not accept paper IELTS test report forms.

Return to Top

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Who must take the TOEFL/IELTS?
Everyone who is an international student, has not studied for at least one academic year within the last five years in a school in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or an English-medium university in Canada or South Africa, must take the TOEFL or IELTS.

2. When should I take the TOEFL/IELTS?
You should take the TOEFL/IELTS in time to be able to have the results submitted at the time of your application. To find out more about when TOEFL/IELTS examinations are scheduled at a test site near you, please consult the TOEFL and IELTS web sites.

3. I received my education in an English medium program Singapore, India, or a different country that is not on the list above. Do I have to take the TOEFL/IELTS?
Yes, you do. Students who have studied in English in Singapore, India, or any other country that is not on the list above are not among those exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS.

4. I took the IBT TOEFL and have an overall score of 104, but one of my sub-scores is below 26 and the program I am applying for requires at least 26 on each part. Do I have to retake the TOEFL?
Yes, you do have to retake the TOEFL. The requirement is a score of 104 with sub scores of 26 or better. If you receive your test results and find that an element of your score does not meet the requirement, you should immediately make arrangements to retake the test.

5. I attended a U.S. high school for two years. Do I have to take the TOEFL/IELTS? No, you do not have to take the TOEFL/IELTS if one of the two years has been within the last five years. However, you must submit a transcript that shows that you have attended high school in the U.S.

6. I don't have the required TOEFL/IELTS score. Can I retake the TOEFL/IELTS once I arrive in the U.S.?
Unfortunately not. The fulfillment of the English language requirement is one of the elements required for us to issue you a visa document. If your TOEFL/IELTS score does not meet the requirement, we cannot issue the document, and you will not be able to enter the country. So it is imperative that you retake the test right away.

7. I have taken the SAT/GRE/GMAT. Do I have to take the TOEFL/IELTS?
Yes, you do. While the SAT/GRE/GMAT are significant elements of your application to the University of Chicago, they do not specifically address your English language proficiency. So you have to take the TOEFL or IELTS and submit the results along with your other test results.

8. I have taken the TOEFL/IELTS and have earned the required scores. Do I still need to take the GRE?
Yes, you do. The TOEFL/IELTS and the GRE test very different things and are not taken in lieu of each other. That means, if you have taken the TOEFL/IELTS, you must still take the GRE. If you are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS, you must nevertheless take the GRE. If you have questions about admissions procedures (rather than about the TOEFL/IELTS), please contact your department. The staff there is most qualified to provide specific answers.

9. I received my secondary education in Germany and earned the highest marks in English throughout. Do I have to take the TOEFL/IELTS?
Yes, you do. Since you do not fall into one of the categories of individuals who would be exempt from taking the TOEFL/IELTS, you must provide a TOEFL/IELTS score.

10. My TOEFL/IELTS scores are below the required minimum, but I don't have enough time to retake the TOEFL/IELTS before coming to the U.S. What should I do?
Of course, you should make every effort to take the test as soon as possible. However, you should also be in contact with your department at the University of Chicago to determine what your options are in regard to beginning your program later. Some departments may permit a student to commence studies in the winter or spring quarter, while in other programs this may not be possible. Knowing exactly what your options are will help you plan for the immediate future.

11. I studied in Belize for several years. Since the University of Chicago web site says that students who studied in an English-speaking country are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS, does that mean that I do not have to take the TOEFL/IELTS?
Unfortunately not. While the official language of Belize is English, only those students are exempt who have studied in one or more of a specific set of English-speaking countries. Those are the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and English medium universities in Canada and South Africa. Someone who studied in an English-speaking country other than these must take the TOEFL or IELTS.

12. I have worked in the U.S. for more than two years. Does that mean that I am exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement?
No, you must take the TOEFL or IELTS. The University's policy stipulates that individuals who have studied in the U.S. for at least one year within the past five years are exempt from having to take the TOEFL/IELTS, but employment does not meet that requirement.

13. I took the TOEFL in 2008 and I am applying for the fall of 2010. Can I still use those TOEFL results?
Yes, since the TOEFL is valid for two years you can still use those results.

14. I still have some questions regarding my English language proficiency. Whom should I contact?
Your first point of contact is always your admissions contact in your academic department in the University. Administrators there will guide you through the process and will communicate with other offices in the University as needed to gather additional information. If you still have questions after talking to your academic unit, you can email us at international-affairs@uchicago.edu.

Other Resources