IELTS Test Scores for Top Universities in the US

Over the years, the United States has remained one of the top countries for higher education amongst international students. Every year, thousands of international students apply to universities across the country for both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

For international students to be considered eligible to study in American universities, they must meet the minimum IELTS score required by the University they are applying to. Doing so shows their English Language proficiency.

The minimum IELTS score accepted by universities in the U.S. varies as each University sets scores they deem acceptable.  This article will help you identify the top universities in the U.S. and provide the minimum IELTS score accepted by them.

What Should You Know About Studying in Studying in the US?

Many international students choose to study in the U.S. because of the numerous advantages of doing so.

  • Quality of Education: The United States boasts some of the best universities in the world, and these universities offer a variety of degrees and courses in several academic areas. International students can choose from the excellent programs offered at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels of study. 
  • World-renowned Universities: Degrees from universities in the US are recognized and accepted around the world for their excellence. Although the United States has stricter measures than other countries, international students can work while studying. Students who possess an F-1 or  M-1 visa can work up to 20 hours a week on-campus and in specified training programs. 
  • Future Career Opportunities: Studying in the United States expands the career opportunities available to international students. The recognition and prestige attached to a certificate from a university in the US make the bearer highly sought after by organizations globally. The United States has several leading institutions in several sectors, and international students can maximize the internship and work experience programs available to gain real-world experience in their fields. However, international students cannot work off-campus during their first academic year, but they can do so subsequently.
  • Financial Aid: Also, there are several financial aid programs set up by the US Government, private individuals and organizations, and universities that international students can benefit from. Typically, financial aid is available in the form of loans, scholarships, or grants.

What are the Requirements for Studying in the United States?

The IELTS exam is one of the preferred English tests for major universities in the United States. Top universities in the United States accept IELTS as proof of English language proficiency from international students.

The requirements for international students intending to study in the United States vary according to universities. Universities have different preferences largely dependent on the student’s course of study, academic records, and ability to meet stipulated requirements.

However, the general requirements for studying in the United States include:

  • The candidate’s passport.
  • The candidate’s curriculum vitae.
  • Academic transcript or certificate.
  • Letters of recommendation.
  • Proof of English language proficiency.
  • Candidates statement of purpose.
  • Candidates proof of funds.

What is the Minimum IELTS Score for Universities in the US?

Generally, international students who apply to study in the U.S. at the undergraduate level must be a minimum of 17 years old.

To be eligible to study in the U.S. at the postgraduate level, the candidate should have completed a bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification from an internationally recognized institution.

The minimum IELTS band score requirements for universities in the U.S. are between 6.0 to 7.0 at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

To better understand how the scoring works for the IELTS exam, check out our details guide: IELTS Band Scoring System Overview.

IELTS Score Requirements for Top Universities in the US

The two most recognized ranking metrics, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the Quacquarelli Symonds University rankings, rank universities in the United States highly.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022 rank U.S. universities among the 2nd – 1200th best universities globally out of thousands of assessed institutions.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT

With 30 departments, five schools, and one college, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranks fifth on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings list. “MIT,” as it is known by adorers worldwide, is famous for its Engineering and Physical sciences programs. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a minimum IELTS test score of 7.0 for undergraduates and postgraduates. Although, admissions recommend a 7.5 score for an edge.  

2. Stanford University

Since its establishment in 1885, Stanford University has gained popularity for its Engineering and Computer Science studies. The Times Higher Education World Rankings list places it fourth. 

Undergraduates and Postgraduates need a 7.0 overall IELTS band score to qualify for Stanford University.

3. Harvard University

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest University in the U.S. The University is one of eight universities with Ivy League status. Cambridge-based Massachusetts University is in second place on the Times Higher Education World Rankings list. The University is widely known for its Social Science programs.

Harvard University requires an IELTS overall band score of 7.0 for admission.   

4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Caltech is a private research institute located in Pasadena, California. The University is renowned for its prowess in science and engineering. The 124-acre campus places second alongside Harvard on the Times Higher Education World Rankings list. Caltech was elected into the  Association of the American Universities in 1934.  The University is also in charge of the management and operation of NASA’s Jet propulsion Laboratory.

California Institute of Technique requires a minimum IELTS score of 7.0.   

5. University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is a private institution in Illinois established in 1890. Renowned as an urban research university, Chicago has a culture of encouraging freedom of expression. As one of the oldest universities in the U.S., it holds the final position in the Top Ten of the Times Higher Education World Rankings list.

The University of Chicago requires its applicants to require a minimum IELTS band score of 7.0. 

6. University of Pennsylvania

Founded by Benjamin Franklin, The University of Pennsylvania is one of the leading research institutions in Philadelphia. The University is one of the eight Ivy League universities. This school boasts a Student-Faculty ratio of 6:1 with a 4,722 Faculty strength. The Institution is ranked 13 in the Time’s Higher Education World Rankings.

To enroll at The University of Pennsylvania, undergraduates must have a minimum IELTS band score of  7.0.

7. Yale University

Founded in 1701, Yale University is the third-oldest Institution of higher education in the United States. Yale is a private research institution located in New Haven, Connecticut. The school has a faculty strength of 4,962. It is also one of the eight Ivy League universities. Yale offers scholarships to outstanding students and has 3,149 honors students as of 2021. Yale is 9th on the Time Higher Education World Rankings list.

Applicants should have a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 or higher to qualify for Yale University.

8. Columbia University

With more than ten schools and four affiliate schools, Columbia University is one of the leading institutions in the U.S. The University is also one of the eight Ivy League universities. Its main campus is in the heart of New York City on Broadway. Columbia is the Alma Mata of former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. The Time Higher Education World Rankings list places the University at 11.

Columbia University’s minimum IELTS admission requirement is 7.0.

9. Princeton University

Princeton University is a private research university, and it is one of eight Ivy League universities. The University has a student-faculty ratio of 5:1 with a total of 5,267 undergraduates and 1,289 Faculty. Princeton is famous for its all-around excellence. The University is ranked seventh on the Time Higher Education World Rankings list, giving it a coveted spot as one of the top ten best schools.

The minimum IELTS requirement to apply for admission at Princeton University is a 7.0 band score.

10. Cornell University

Cornell University is a statutory land-grant research university. The prestigious University holds the 22nd spot on the Times Higher Education World Rankings list. Founded in 1865 in Ithaca, New York, The University is one of the eight Ivy League universities. 

Aspiring Cornellians need to score at least 7.0 on their IELTS overall band for undergraduate degree programs and 7.5 for graduate degree programs to enroll in the Institution. 

11.  University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan is a public research institution located in Ann Arbor.  The University is a founding member of the Association of American Universities.  The Institution currently sits at number 24 on the Times Higher Education World Rankings list.

A minimum band score of 7.0 in IELTS is the requirement for admission at the University of Michigan.

12. Johns Hopkins University

John Hopkins is widely acknowledged as the leading Institution to study medicine in the U.S. The school is located in Baltimore, Maryland. The University boasts an impressive nine academic divisions and is widely considered the first research University in the United States. It is no surprise that this citadel of learning holds the thirteenth spot on the Times Higher education World Rankings list.

John Hopkins University requires a minimum of 7.0 overall band score in IELTS. 

13. Northwestern University

Northwestern University is a private research institution. With three campuses and 12 schools, including colleges. Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law is highly reputed in the country. In 2007, the Princeton Review Placed the law school 1st in best career prospects. The school has a bustling extracurricular life. Northwestern ranks 25th on the Times Higher Education World Rankings list. The school has over 500 student organizations and clubs, with 19 intercollegiate athletic teams.

Northwestern University is one of the few with a minimum admission IELTS band score of 7.5. 

14. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

The University of California Los Angeles is a public research university located in Los Angeles, California. The University is widely considered as one of the Public Ivy Schools. With 5,400 international students representing 118 countries, it is the epitome of diversity. UCLA is the 20th University on the Times Higher Education World Rankings list.

A 7.0 overall band score in IELTS would get your foot in the door at UCLA. 

15. The University of California, Berkeley (UCB)

The University of California Berkeley is a public research university located in Berkeley, California. Several academic publications rank the University as one of the world’s top universities. Berkeley has 350+ degree programs. Their unique sports program boasts 117 gold Olympic medals won by students and alumni. Berkeley occupies the 8th position on the Times Higher Education World Rankings.

The acceptable IELTS band score for admission into Berkeley is 8.0.  

16. New York University 

New York University is a private research university based in New York City. The University has the largest enrollment of any private university in the United States,  with 51,848 students. NYU has 19 schools, including colleges, and provides 11,000+ students with housing. The school is ranked 26th on the Times Higher Education World Rankings list.

The admission requirement for New York University is a minimum of a 7.5 IELTS band score. 

17. The University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Founded in 1960, U.C. San Diego is a public research university located in  San Diego, California.  The University offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. It is one of the most sought-after universities in the United States, with over 140,000 applications in 2021. UCSD holds the 34th position on the Times Higher Education World Rankings list.

To apply to the University of California San Diego, students have to attain the minimum IELTS score requirement of  7.0. 

18. Duke University

Duke University is a champion of diversity and inclusion.  The private research university is located in Durham, North Carolina. The University spends over $1 billion annually, making it one of the ten largest research universities in the United States. Among the University’s alumni is Richard Nixon, a former president of the United States and 14 living billionaires. Duke ranks 23rd on the Times Higher Education World Rankings list.

Duke University requires a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 for enrollment.

19. Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  However, the Institution has several degree-awarding campuses in several continents, including Qatar and Silicon Valley.  Carnegie is well respected for its graduate studies in computer science; it is ranked joint first by the U.S. News in this category.

 To qualify for enrollment at Carnegie Mellon University, the student seeking admission must fulfill a requirement of a 7.5 IETLS band score. 

20. Brown University

Brown University is a prominent research university. The University is one of the eight Ivy League universities. Brown’s academic excellence stems from its student-centered method of learning. The Institution is ranked 29th on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

To qualify for admission at Brown University, any aspiring student must satisfy a minimum IELTS band score of 8.0 for undergraduate degree programs and 7.5 for graduate degree programs. 

Where Do US Universities Stand According to QS World University Rankings in 2022?

World RankingName of Educational InstitutionMinimum IELTS Requirements (Undergraduate)Minimum IELTS Requirements
(Postgraduate)
1Massachusetts Institute of Technology7.07.0
3Stanford University7.07.0
5Harvard University7.07.0
6California Institute of Technology7.07.0
10University of Chicago7.07.0
13University of Pennsylvania7.07.0
14Yale University7.07.0
19Columbia University7.57.5
20Princeton University7.07.0
21Cornell University7.07.5
23University of Michigan- Ann Arbor7.07.0
25Johns Hopkins University7.07.0
30Northwestern University7.57.5
32University of California, Berkeley7.07.0
40University of California Los Angeles7.07.0
42New York University7.07.0
48University of California San Diego7.07.0
52Duke University7.07.0
53Carnegie Mellon University7.57.5
60Brown University8.07.5

Which University Does Not Require IELTS in the US?

The list of universities in the United States that do not require IELTS include:

  • University of Colorado
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of Iowa

Universities that do not require IELTS in the U.S. ask for the following alternatives from international students:

● If the student is a citizen of a county considered an English-speaking country, they will not be required to show proof of English language proficiency.

●  Students who are cannot provide English test scores can opt-in for the University’s preparatory program for the English Language, known as the Intensive English Language Program (IELP).

● Proof that the student’s previous education was taught in the English language.

● An alternative test of English language proficiency such as TOEFL, Duolingo English Test, etc.

FAQs About IELTS Scores for Universities in the US

1. What if I Cannot Meet the IELTS Requirements?

For students who do not meet the IELTS requirements for studying in the United States, some universities offer to enroll in a preparatory English language program to improve English language proficiency. Some universities and institutes also provide Summer English language preparation courses for international students to enroll in and increase their English language proficiency.

Is It Possible to Study in the U.S. without IELTS?

Yes, studying in the United States without IELTS is possible. Here is a list of U.S. universities that do not accept IELTS:

1. University of Colorado
2. University of Delaware
3. University of Arkansas
4. University of Iowa

However, note that these universities might require other tests to provide your English language proficiency and fluency. We recommend that you check with each of these universities what their enrollment or admission requirements are.

Can I Study in the U.S. with an IELTS Band Score of 5.5?

Although the minimum IELTS requirement for Universities in the U.S. is between 6.0-7.0, students with a band score of 5.5 may still be eligible to study in the U.S.  Here is a list of U.S. universities that accept IELTS band 5.5 and above.

1. University of Missouri
2. Ohio University
3. North Dakota State University
4. The University of Texas-Pan American
5. Central Michigan University
6. The University of Louisiana at Monroe
7. Southern New Hampshire University
8. New Mexico State University
9. Kent State University
10. Murray State University
11. Washington State University
12. Oklahoma City University



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