International students looking to attend business schools for MBA programs will have to take an English language proficiency test as part of the admission requirements. This is especially so when candidates are from countries where English is not the official language.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is the world’s most widely recognized and accepted English-language test. About 11,000 institutions in 190 countries and territories, including the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Singapore, accept TOEFL.
This article will provide you with all the information you need concerning the accepted TOEFL scores for top MBA programs in countries and answer any other additional questions you might have about pursuing an MBA as an international student.
- What is TOEFL?
- What are the Benefits of Taking TOEFL?
- What TOEFL Tests are Accepted for MBA Programs?
- Top MBA Programs and their Minimum/Average Required TOEFL Scores
- Which MBA Programs Don’t Require TOEFL?
- Top MBA Programs That Require TOEFL But don’t Set a Minimum Score for Admission
- Top MBA Programs that Require the TOEFL But Have a Relatively Low Minimum Score for Admission
- What are the TOEFL Policies for Graduate Business Schools?
- Scholarships and Financial Aids for International Students
- How to Prepare for TOEFL Exams?
- Additional FAQs — TOEFL Scores for MBA Programs
What is TOEFL?
The Test of English as a Foreign Language is a standardized English language proficiency examination used by several institutions globally to evaluate the ability of non-native speakers to communicate effectively in English.
The TOEFL test is often required of native speakers during admission into several English-speaking Universities in some of the world’s most popular education destinations like the UK, the US, and Australia, to mention a few.
The TOEFL is one of the more popular English Proficiency examinations. It is taken by almost 2.3 million people, across 4500 centers, in 190 countries and territories annually. The cost of taking this test is USD 185 for the iBT (Internet-Based Test) and USD 180 for the less popular Paper-Delivered Test.
The test consists of four sections:
Each section has a maximum score of 30, which students can score, adding up to a total of 120.
What are the Benefits of Taking TOEFL?
- TOEFL Certificate is Widely-Accepted: The TOEFL is the most favored English language proficiency examination for many universities and colleges worldwide. The examination is preferred as the TOEFL scores are accepted over any other Secure English Language Tests (SELT) in almost all countries and territories.
- Ease of Registration: Registering to take the TOEFL is a straightforward process. Anyone interested in taking the test may visit the official TOEFL website, where the appropriate guidelines are clearly stated. There is no need for third-party assistance or a physical registration center.
- Results are Valid for Two Years: Your TOEFL scores remain valid for two years from receiving your results. This means that they are still useful even when you are not immediately willing to include them as part of your admission requirements. You can take the TOEFL several months before you are ready to begin processing your application for the universities that will require them.
- Improves your English Language Skills: The process of actively studying and preparing for your TOEFL exam will help to improve your ability to communicate in English. The skills you pick up while learning to answer questions on the various test sections will be applicable in real-life situations, helping with your English proficiency going forward.
- Multiple Retakes: It is possible to take the TOEFL as many times as you want. Perhaps you did not get the score you wanted, or the previous test you wrote has now become invalid, so you can decide to retake the TOEFL. According to the exam policy, there must be at least 12 days between your consecutive test dates. The registration process is the same as the initial time you took the test.
What TOEFL Tests are Accepted for MBA Programs?
For the schools that require TOEFL scores as an application requirement into their graduate business programs, the overall average scores of the test-takers fall between the accepted minimum for many of these schools that set a minimum required score for admission.
According to the ETS, the average score for test-takers within this category is 85 in total.
This total can be broken down to view the performances in the individual test sections:
- Reading section — 21.6
- Listening section — 21.0
- Speaking section — 20.9
- Writing section — 21.3
The TOEFL is accepted in many prestigious universities as part of the MBA Program application requirement for international students.
Many of the top countries where these institutions are based acknowledge the TOEFL as a valid English proficiency test.
Some of these countries and their top universities which offer MBA programs are discussed below:
United States of America
Being constantly positioned as one of the strongest economies globally and offering the most number of jobs in the management sector, the US is undoubtedly a prime location for all things business-related. The country’s prestigious academic history and system extends into their business schools, and some of the very best business schools in the world can be found in the United States.
International students interested in applying for MBA programs in US schools have to have cleared the GMAT and, in many cases, an English language proficiency test such as the TOEFL.
1. Stanford University – MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business
The Stanford Graduate School of Business has been consistently ranked amongst the top five MBA programs globally over the last decade.
2. University of Pennsylvania – MBA at Wharton School of Business
Ranked alongside the Stanford School of Business as the top-ranked MBA program globally for 2021, the Wharton School of Business offers a career-changing program that instills leadership qualities in students. The admission process for applicants is very well guided and seamless. Applicants can find all necessary information regarding the process on the school’s official site.
3. Booth School of Business – University of Chicago
Booth School of Business has produced nine Nobel laureates in the Economic Sciences, more than any other business school globally.
4. Harvard Business School – University of Harvard
The Harvard Business School offers an MBA program that combines a rigorous general management curriculum focusing on real word practices. The HBS has a global community that propels lifelong learning and career support alongside peers and staff.
5. Kellogg Business School
The Kellogg School of Management, through an innovative portfolio of MBA programs, helps students to find the right balance among professional, educational and personal goals.
6. MIT Sloan
At MIT Sloan, invention is the priority. The school’s world-class MBA program helps students develop problem-solving abilities and leadership qualities.
7. Berkeley Haas
Currently ranked the 7th best Business School in the world according to US News and World Report 2021, Berkeley Haas offers an MBA program that breeds innovation, critical thinking, communication, and constant adaptation in students.
8. Columbia University
The MBA program at Columbia Business School prepares students with the necessary tools to handle a rapidly changing business world.
The UK is another world financial power, and it comes as no surprise that it has 27 universities ranked in the Global MBA rankings 2021.
Also, London’s current rank as the second most competitive financial center according to the Global Financial Centres Index gives it an edge that makes it an attractive destination for prospective graduate business students.
MBA programs in the UK require international applicants to take the TOEFL with many setting average/minimum scores for acceptance.
1. London Business School
The London School of Business is strategically positioned in the central hub of the UK’s industrial market. The school’s MBA program provides students with an unparalleled environment and opportunity to build global networks. Information about candidate requirements and the application deadlines and processes are available on the school’s website.
2. Judge Business School – University of Cambridge
The Cambridge MBA program combines academic depth with a practical focus, emphasizing teamwork, discussion and debate. It is consistently ranked as one of the top 20 business schools globally, and it boasts a diverse environment with students from a wide range of sectors and backgrounds. Currently, 95% of its MBA students come from outside the UK, making it an excellent place for global networking.
3. Saïd Business School – University of Oxford
Oxford’s Saïd Business school is the business and management school of one of Britain’s oldest institutions. There are four application deadlines available in a year, and all the necessary information about the entire process can be found on the school’s official website.
4. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
The LSE offers a TRIUM Global Executive MBA program that aims to prepare leaders to thrive in a challenging and complex business environment and take a leading role in shaping the future of business worldwide.
5. University of Warwick Business School
According to The Economist, the Warwick full-time MBA program is ranked first in the UK and 17th in the world. The program is directed towards creating entrepreneurial, creative, and effective leaders.
6. Imperial College Business School, London
The newly-designed Imperial Full-Time MBA program at the Imperial College Business School enables you to customize your learning experience in tune with your career goals, gain international business understanding and accelerate responsible leadership aptitude.
7. Lancaster University Management School
The Lancaster MBA program aims to provide graduates with the skills and knowledge required to excel in contemporary business environments.
8. Cranfield School of Management
The Cranfield School of Management was one of the first UK institutions to offer the MBA. The various MBA programs help students develop leadership skills and management tools and techniques necessary to remain in high demand in a fast-moving business world.
Canada has recently become a leading destination for international students. It ranks amongst the top 3 globally, with more than half a million foreigners moving to study in the country in 2019 alone. Quality education, affordable fees, ease of securing a visa, a good number of available work opportunities for immigrants, and a global ranking as an economic power are just some reasons why Canada is such an attractive study destination.
A large number of the top business schools accept the TOEFL as an English proficiency test, and all the top ten business schools have a set minimum score of 100 in the iBT for prospective students.
1. Rotman School of Management – University of Toronto
The Rotman School of Management currently offers the best MBA program in Canada.
2. Sauder School of Business – University of British Columbia
UBC Sauder School is Canada’s leading academic business school.
3. McGill University MBA
McGill University offers an MBA program focused on modern business concepts encompassing AI, financial technology, data analysis, and design thinking.
4. University of Montreal MBA program
Ranked the 3rd best Business Program in Canada in 2020 by Bloomberg, the MBA program at HEC Montreal will provide you with the skills and abilities needed to become a first-rate manager.
5. Smith School of Business Queen’s University
The Smith School of Business offers MBA programs that deliver the knowledge, skills, and personal development needed to thrive in an ever-changing business world.
6. University of Alberta
Alberta School of Business offers an MBA program that equips graduates with current knowledge, sought-after skills, and the confidence to advance their careers.
Australia is another attractive study destination for international students. Some of the world’s top business schools are located in the country. TOEFL scores are required, alongside the GMAT. The average iBT TOEFL scores for many of these top schools range from 80-96.
1. Melbourne Business School – University of Melbourne
Melbourne Business School (MBS) is the University of Melbourne’s graduate school in business and economics. It is the leading university for management education in the Asia Pacific region.
2. University of Sydney Business School
Australia’s prestigious first university offers an MBA program that helps students develop personal skills, business knowledge, and leadership qualities. It is currently ranked 4th in the world for graduate employability.
3. Australian Graduate School of Management – University of New South Wales
The AGSW is another top business school in Australia with a globally ranked MBA program. The MBA program in this institution ranked as the very best in the country, according to the Financial Times 2021 Global MBA rankings.
4. Monash University Business School
The Monash Business School is amongst the top 1% of business schools globally. It offers an MBA program focused on next-generation problems, management practices, global orientation, and leadership development.
5. The University of Queensland Business School
The UQ Business School offers the number 1 MBA in the world for student quality (*The Economist 2021). The program aims to help broaden critical thinking, creativity, and agility to respond to an ever-changing business landscape.
6. RMIT University
The RMIT MBA is a practical and challenging program that helps graduates to build real-world business skills and creative problem-solving techniques.
7. Curtin University Business School
Curtin University Business School offers an internationally-recognized MBA program to promote career enhancement and meaningful contributions to organizations.
Asia has recently produced a handful of countries that have begun to compete favorably in the world’s economic affairs and the business school education territory. Singapore has been described as the gateway to Asia and is now at the forefront of business and management studies on the continent.
The country is home to some of the very best business schools globally. Many of the leading universities that offer top MBA programs require TOEFL scores. However, the average accepted scores are not quite as high as their European and North American counterparts.
1. INSEAD Singapore
The world-famous INSEAD Business School has an Asia campus located in Buona Vista, Singapore. The MBA program at INSEAD is renowned for producing top professionals who make substantial impacts in their various fields. The Asia campus, established in 2000, makes no compromise on that standard, as it has also produced some notable alumni over the last two decades.
2. NUS Business School Singapore
The NUS Business School focuses on delivering an MBA program that helps students develop a global business outlook focusing on Asia. This program is consistently ranked amongst the top ten in Asia and the top 20 globally.
3. Nanyang Business School
The Nanyang NTU Business School is another leading school in MBA programs. The university utilizes its strength in research and technology to deliver a program aimed at grooming young global leaders in preparation for the age of disruption.
4. ESSEC Business School Singapore
The ESSEC Business School in Singapore is the Asia-Pacific extension of the prestigious business school-based to groom originally in France. Participants of the MBA program are equipped with a macro-view of core business functions coupled with industry-specific skills and knowledge.
5. Lee Kong Chian Business School – Singapore Management University
SMU was ranked as the 8th best business school in Asia according to the Financial Times EMBA 2020 Rankings. The Lee Kong Chian Business School offers an MBA program designed to shape versatile and dynamic leaders.
Top MBA Programs and their Minimum/Average Required TOEFL Scores
The minimum/average accepted TOEFL scores for MBA programs vary for different schools. This may depend on several factors, including school location, program offered, and the type of TOEFL test taken (iBT or PBT). The accepted score range is usually from 79 to 109, and sometimes it could be lower or higher.
We have compiled a table showing some top MBA programs and their TOEFL score requirements.
|Business School||Minimum TOEFL iBT |
|University of Toronto – Rotman||100|
|The University of Hong Kong||80|
|Stanford Graduate School of Business||100|
|Columbia Business School||100|
|Indiana University – Kelley||100|
|University College Dublin: Smurfit||100|
|University of Oxford – Said||110|
|University of Cambridge – Judge||110|
|London Business School||100|
|Nanyang Business School||100|
|HKUST Business School||100|
|IE Business School||100|
|Emory-Goizueta Business School||100|
|IESE Business School||100|
|ESADE Business School||100|
Which MBA Programs Don’t Require TOEFL?
Although most of the top MBA programs require TOEFL scores from international applicants who are non-native English speakers, several other universities do not require a TOEFL certification.
Other programs require the TOEFL but don’t have any set minimum score for admission. Some other schools do indeed set a minimum TOEFL score for admission into their MBA programs, but these scores are relatively low and attainable.
Top MBA Programs that Don’t Require TOEFL
- Columbia Business School
- Duke Fuqua School of Business
- International Institute for Management and Development
- MIT Management Sloan School
- Rotterdam School of Management Erasmus University
- Yale School of Management
1. Columbia Business School
The Columbia Business School in the USA does not demand the TOEFL as an admission requirement from their international applicants. All applicants are expected to submit a self-reported GMAT or GRE score when applying. All other requirements and a complete guide to the application process are available on the institution’s official website.
2. Duke Fuqua School of Business
The Duke Fuqua Business School does not require international applicants to provide English as a Second Language test scores, but if the applicant already has such certification, they are encouraged to include them as part of their admission documents.
3. International Institute for Management and Development
International students applying to the International Institute for Management and Development located in Switzerland do not need to provide a TOEFL score. Candidates with applications deemed interesting enough by the admission board will be invited for an on-campus assessment, during which their English ability will be then evaluated.
4. MIT Management Sloan School
A TOEFL score is not needed to apply for the MIT Sloan MBA program. The English ability of potential students is measured during personal interviews. The school argues that this is a better way of gauging the ability of the candidate to communicate effectively in English. Scores on the verbal sections of the GMAT or GRE will also evaluate English language ability.
5. Rotterdam School of Management Erasmus University
The Rotterdam School of Management, located in the Netherlands, states that they do not initially require TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores. The admission committee may request them at any point during the admission process. So you might want to have a TOEFL score to provide just in case.
6. Yale School of Management
In the Yale School of Management application guide, available on the official school website, TOEFL, IELTS, and PTS scores are not an admission requirement.
Top MBA Programs That Require TOEFL But don’t Set a Minimum Score for Admission
1. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
The Wharton School is the business school of the University of Pennsylvania. All international applicants from English-speaking countries must present a TOEFL score as an admission requirement. However, there is no minimum score stated.
2. London Business School
The London Business School demands non-native English-speaking candidates submit a TOEFL result during the application process, although a minimum required score is not highlighted.
3. Kellogg School of Management
Kellogg School of Management, Illinois, USA, requires international applicants to provide a valid TOEFL score but no stated minimum accepted score.
4. Tuck School of Business
The Tuck School of Business, New Hampshire, USA, does not set a minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL, but it requires international students to present them.
5. New York University (Stern)
The New York University Stern business school offers a range of programs tailored to students’ personal goals. International students applying to this institution will need to present a TOEFL result as an admission requirement, although there is no specified minimum score for acceptance.
6. University of Virginia Darden School of Business
Darden School of Business requires international applicants to provide valid English proficiency test scores, such as the TOEFL. No minimum score is stated as an admission benchmark.
Top MBA Programs that Require the TOEFL But Have a Relatively Low Minimum Score for Admission
1. Haas School of Business – University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley Haas accepts TOEFL scores of 90 for iBT, 230 for CBT, or 570 for PBT.
2. UCLA Anderson School of Management
UCLA Anderson accepts TOEFL scores of 87 for iBT, 220 for CBT, or 560 for PBT.
3. W.P. Carey School of Business – Arizona State University
The W.P. Carey School of Business accepts TOEFL scores of 80 for iBT or 550 for PBT.
4. Marriott School of Business BYU
The Marriott School of Business accepts TOEFL scores of 94 for iBT, 240 for CBT, or 590 for PBT.
5. Questrom School of Business Boston University
The Questrom School of Business accepts TOEFL scores of 95 for iBT or 600 for PBT.
What are the TOEFL Policies for Graduate Business Schools?
TOEFL requirements for graduate business schools usually apply to non-native English speakers who completed their undergraduate education in a different language.
TOEFL exemptions for international students are sometimes available to those who completed more than two years of study in an institution where the courses were delivered in English.
TOEFL policies for specific schools may differ, so it is advised that graduate program applicants carry out some personal research into their chosen university, the department, and even the particular course that they are applying for to review any stated requirements.
Scholarships and Financial Aids for International Students
Completing an MBA program is undoubtedly a massive step in boosting career prospects and academic aspirations. However, a deterrent for many prospective international MBA students is the high cost of these programs and the overall expenses of staying abroad.
This is where the availability of scholarships comes in. Nearly all of the reputable business schools in the world have scholarship opportunities in place for target groups and demographics.
We have compiled a list of some scholarships on offer by these schools. Still, we advise that applicants look into their schools of choice for available financial aids for international students and their eligibility requirements.
1. W.P Carey Business School Forward Focus MBA Scholarship – Arizona State University
This scholarship is made available to all accepted full-time MBA students, regardless of their country of origin or financial situation. It covers the student’s total tuition. All applicants to the W.P Carey Business school are invited to apply for the scholarship, and the deadline is the same as the admissions deadline.
2. Booth School of Business – University of Chicago
The Booth School of Business offers a scholarship that covers up to a full year’s tuition, with additional incentives and awards. It is open to all interested MBA candidates, and the deadlines are the same as the admission deadlines.
3. Warrington College of Business – University of Florida
This is a full-tuition scholarship that will cover the cost of tuition for all units that awardees will have to take for the entire duration of their MBA program. The deadlines for Round 2 of this scholarship are on January 15 and May 15, 2022.
4. Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School offers financial aid to students in Tuition Assistance. The scholarships are approximately USD 40,000, and they are available to domestic and international students.
5. Oxford Pershing Square Scholarship – Saïd Business School
6. Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Scholarships and Leadership Program – Saïd Business School
This scholarships and leadership program aims to cultivate future leaders by providing outstanding university graduates and professionals from emerging and developing world economies with the opportunity to pursue fully-funded graduate studies at the Saïd Business School.
7. INSEAD Scholarships
INSEAD Scholarships are well sought-after means of financial aid for applicants interested in the school’s MBA program. These scholarships are highly competitive and are awarded due to various criteria. They are divided into Needs-based and Non-Needs-based scholarships. Applicants are required to provide accurate details of their financial situations for all scholarships.
8. Nestle MBA Scholarships for Women from Developing Countries
This scholarship aims at encouraging women to take part in MBA programs. It is only available to applicants from a select few countries. The application is on the 1st of September every year.
9. IMD MBA Diversity Scholarships
The IMD offers a scholarship to one individual from each deadline who demonstrates exceptional qualities throughout the admission process and enhances the diversity of the class. The deadline of the scholarship coincides with the admission deadlines.
10. Kofi Annan Scholarship for Developing Country Students – ESMT
This is a full-tuition fellowship grant for emerging leaders from developing countries interested in pursuing an MBA at the ESMT, Germany. It also covers fair compensation for all program-related fees and travel, housing, and insurance costs. Applicants must be from one of the UNs Least Developed Countries (LDC), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDC), or Palestine.
How to Prepare for TOEFL Exams?
To prepare for the TOEFL exam, you need to understand the four sections which make up the test and how they are scored.
The TOEFL comprises the Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing sections, each of which attracts a score of 30, adding up to make a total of 120. The preparation for each of these sections may differ, but the ultimate goal would be to do well enough on each one to get a very good total score.
A few things are worthy of note about the TOEFL exam that prospective takers should be well aware of:
- It is a long exam. The total duration of the TOEFL is almost 4 hours, making it double as both a test of endurance and a test of language. It is common for test-takers to make errors towards the end due to tiredness, so one should be mentally prepared to maintain focus for the entire exam duration.
- Time management is very important. While the time available for completing the test may appear to be comfortably lengthy, one should not be lulled into a false sense of security with the time and should try to avoid dallying on difficult or unclear questions. Test-takers should strive to keep a steady pace going as they move quickly from question to question, sometimes even leaving the ones they are unsure of.
- Recordings are played only once. In the TOEFL listening section, the recordings are played only once. This is another tricky exam feature that puts students’ note-taking skills to the test.
While the structure and demands of the exam appear to be scary at a glance, fundamentally, it still carries the difficulties of any normal exam, and it should be approached accordingly.
Some tips on how to effectively prepare for the TOEFL are discussed below.
1. Evaluate Your Current Level
Taking an English assessment test that is in many ways similar to the TOEFL exam should be the very first step of your preparation process.
An assessment would help evaluate your current level and highlight existing weaknesses and strengths in your use and understanding of the English language. This helps to point out the aspects that need to be focused on and assists in setting realistic and attainable learning goals or milestones.
2. Devise a Study Plan
To manage your time and track your study progress effectively, you must create a study plan. This plan has to be oriented to include time for each different TOEFL section.
Periodic mock tests in the actual exam format should also be included in this study plan. Understanding and knowing how to navigate TOEFL-style questions is a massive step on the road to getting an excellent TOEFL score.
3. Consume English Content
A good method for improving English reading and listening skills is watching and reading English news. It allows you to experience what natural conversational pace and delivery sound like.
Several popular English news outlets such as CNN, CBS, The New York Times, and BBC can be used as learning tools. The BBC even runs a helpful animated program called English at University, which teaches common words and phrases that non-native speakers should know.
Also, watching English television series can help broaden your knowledge of the conversational English language. Reading English books regularly will increase your vocabulary as well.
4. Use Language-Learning Apps or Websites
Using language-learning applications or English websites can accelerate proficiency in a language. Gamified study lessons, progress tracking, and grammar pattern identification are some features that make these resources effective as learning tools.
Apps such as Duolingo, Hellotalk, and Babbel and sites such as EnglishCentral are all popular tools for those looking to pick up any language. Some of these tools provide the feature of directly communicating with a native speaker of the language, further exposing learners to the language first hand.
5. Use Official Practice Questions
There is no better way to become acclimated with the TOEFL in its entire form and structure than using official TOEFL practice questions.
Additionally, TOEFL questions that have been administered in the past are usually repeated by many ETS resources. Many free sample tests are available on resources such as
- TOEFL iBT Interactive Sampler: A free software that includes TOEFL practice tests almost in its entirety. It is only available on Windows.
- TOEFL iBT Sample Questions: It contains a large number of impressively accurate TOEFL past questions
- TOEFL iBT Quick Prep: It comes with PDFs containing official sample questions, audio files, and exam guidelines.
Additional FAQs — TOEFL Scores for MBA Programs
Is TOEFL Required for MBA?
Yes, the TOEFL is an admission requirement as an English Language Proficiency Test for many MBA programs.
The accepted scores may vary from school to school or from country to country, but having a TOEFL score to present is a necessity in the admission process of many top business schools in the world.
Is TOEFL Required for Harvard Business School?
The Harvard Business school demands a valid TOEFL result as a part of the information to be provided during the admission process for the MBA program.
The MBA Admissions Board has set a minimum acceptable score of 109 on the iBT for interested applicants and discourages those with scores lower than that from even applying.
Is TOEFL 109 a Good Score?
A score of 109 out of 120 on the TOEFL iBT is really good. It falls around the 92nd percentile of all scores recorded from test-takers annually.
Most top schools will accept TOEFL scores between 100 and 110.
Is TOEFL Accepted for Masters?
When applying for a Masters’s Degree in an English-speaking country, international non-native English speakers must provide results for English proficiency tests such as the TOEFL or IELTS.
The TOEFL is the most accepted and most recognized Test of English in the world.
What MBA Programs Don’t Require TOEFL?
As discussed above, a few business schools offering MBA programs do not require TOEFL scores from international applicants. Other means are used to evaluate the ability of non-native speakers to communicate well in the English language.
Schools that do not require the TOEFL as an admission requirement for international students include:
Columbia Business School
Duke Fuqua School of Business
Rotterdam School of Management
Yale School of Management
MIT Sloan Management School
International Institute for Management and Development
Additional Reading — TOEFL Scores