English Language Requirements

Test of English as a Foreign Language - TOEFL
International English Language Testing System - IELTS

Where to send scores:

If you are taking the TOEFL, request the scores to be sent to the University of Chicago; the University of Chicago institutional code for ETS is 1832. (Exceptions: Booth School of Business: 1832-02, Harris School of Public Policy Studies: 1849)

If you are taking the IELTS, you should request the scores be sent electronically to the University.

Minimum scores:

International applicants for admission to the University of Chicago as a graduate or professional school student must meet the English language requirements outlined below. These requirements do not apply to applicants to the undergraduate College. For the College’s information on English language proficiency, please see https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/apply/applicants/international/#englishtest. Please note that the University policy for graduate and professional school students states minimum requirements; individual divisions or schools may require higher minimum scores.

Students may submit either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for the purpose of meeting the English language requirement.

Requirement for applicants to graduate programs in the Division of the Physical Sciences* only:

*Departments in the Division of the Physical Sciences: Astronomy & Astrophysics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geophysical Sciences, Mathematics, Physics, and Statistics.

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.

Requirements for applicants to 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.

Language requirement waivers:

The English language requirement may be waived if the applicant is a native of or studied in full-time status for at least one academic year within the last five years in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or English medium universities in Canada or South Africa. Students who studied in English in other countries, for example, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc., are not exempt from the English language requirement.

Check the TOEFL and IELTS sites for more information.

Frequently asked questions about the TOEFL and IELTS:

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 Singapore in English. Do I have to take the TOEFL/IELTS?
Yes, you do. Students who have studied in English in Singapore 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 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.