Many students worldwide dream of attending some of the best universities in the US. Prestigious names like MIT, Yale, and Harvard are on everyone’s lips. These schools teach their courses in English except Foreign language programs.
For many international students, they have to take English evaluation exams such as IELTS and TOEFL.
International students may enroll in any university of their choice if they meet the minimum TOEFL requirement. Each University is at liberty to set its requirements, which is why the TOEFL scores cut-off differs. This article tells you everything you need to know about studying in the best US universities, and also the accepted minimum TOEFL Scores.
- What Should International Students Know About Studying in the US?
- What are the Requirements for Studying in the US?
- What is the Minimium TOEFL Scores for Universities in the US?
- 1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT
- 2. Stanford University
- 3. Harvard University
- 4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
- 5. University of Chicago
- 6. The University of Pennsylvania
- 7. Yale University
- 8. Columbia University
- 9. Princeton University
- 10. Cornell University
- 11. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
- 12. Johns Hopkins University
- 13. Northwestern University
- 14. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- 15. The University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
- 16. New York University
- 17. The University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
- 18. Duke University
- 19. Carnegie Mellon University
- 20. Brown University
- Where do UK Universities Rank Internationally?
- Which University Does Not Require TOEFL in the US?
- Additional FAQs : TOEFL Scores for US Universities
What Should International Students Know About Studying in the US?
The United States is famous as one of the top educational destinations for international students globally. Reputable institutions such as Times magazine and “QS” place their universities at the top of their numerous rankings. Along with academic excellence, some of the reasons why people study in the US include;
- Reputable Universities: The United States has some of the best universities globally in leading areas such as tech, law, and engineering. The country’s universities have the broadest range of courses for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Aspiring professionals move to the US to partake in universities that have been rated as the best in their respective fields.
- Work while studying: While the United States has some of the strictest labor laws regarding foreigners, it’s still possible for students to work during their studies. The United States allows students with an F-1 or M-1 visa to work for up to 20 hours weekly on campus and in specified training programs. However, first-year students are exempt from taking jobs; students may only do so after their first year.
- Employment Opportunities: The US has a reputation for having some of the best universities globally, so the students who graduate from these universities come highly recommended. Graduates of American universities have access to high-quality career opportunities.
- Field experience: Students studying in the US have the opportunity to gain internship experiences with some of the best firms in their various fields. That’s because the US has several reputed institutions and programs in various sectors available to students. Students can use these to gain valuable internship and work experience in their fields.
- Financial Aid: The United States offers financial aid that students can take advantage of in their education. International students can access a variety of loans, grants, and scholarships from governmental and non-governmental institutions in their studies.
What are the Requirements for Studying in the US?
The TOEFL exam is a prominent English proficiency test widely accepted in top US universities. The exact TOEFL eligibility requirements differ based on university. Various criteria influence a student’s admission into some of these institutions. A university’s requirement varies depending on the candidate’s course of study, academic and other factors.
The general requirements to study in the United States include :
- International Passport
- Curriculum vitae
- Academic transcript/certificate
- Letters of recommendation.
- Proof of English language proficiency
- Statement of purpose
- Proof of funds
What is the Minimium TOEFL Scores for Universities in the US?
For international students, the minimum TOEFL scores accepted is 61 in the TOEFL Internet-Based Test and 475 in TOEFL Paper Based Test. However, some universities give conditional admission for international students who have earned a bachelor’s degree after a minimum of 2 years of study from an institution in an English-speaking country.
Some Universities will also waive TOEFL and IELTS requirements for students who have studied for a minimum of four years in the United States.
United States universities are ranked highly by (Times Higher Education) THE World University Rankings and the (Quacquarelli Symonds) QS University rankings. They occupy the 2nd to 1200th best universities globally out of thousands of assessed institutions.
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a globally famous land-grant research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The University is popular for its sterling programs in Engineering and other physical sciences. Since it was founded in 1861, the institution has continuously produced a stream of world-class alumni. MIT can name 26 Turing Award winners, 98 Nobel laureates, and 8 Field Medalists amongst its alumni. The University is regularly named amongst the world’s most prestigious universities by magazines, the Times Magazine and Bloomberg.
International students must achieve a minimum requirement of 90, and a minimum of 20 in each element on their TOEFL score to gain admission into MIT.
2. Stanford University
Stanford University is one of America’s most prestigious schools. The institute is a private research university founded in 1885 in Stanford, California. The University founded what would later become Silicon Valley. Having Silicon Valley in its environs is a beacon for educational tourists because of the immense internship and employment prospects.
The school is well-rounded in various spheres of educational development. It lists Olympic medalists, Nobel laureates, Turing award laureates, and field medalists amongst its alumni.
Stanford University requires aspiring students to score at least 100 on their TOEFL test to qualify for admission into the university.
3. Harvard University
Harvard University is one of the US’s most famous universities – founded in 1636. It is also one of the oldest universities in the world. The esteemed University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
With an endowment valued at USD 53.2 billion, the University can grant generous financial aid to students with very lenient terms. The University has more alumni that have won Field medals and Nobel prizes than any other country in the world.
Aspiring students hoping to gain admission into Harvard University must fulfill a minimum TOEFL requirement of 105 –a minimum of 26 in the Speaking section, 26 in the Listening section, 26 in the Writing section, and 26 in the Reading section.
4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
Caltech is a private research institute founded in 1891. Instruction in the University is geared primarily towards pure and applied sciences. Caltech was elected into the Association of American Universities in 1934.
First-year students in the University are mandated to live on campus, and as much as 95% of the entire student population stay on campus. The University can mention 76 Nobel laureates, 4 Field medalists, and 6 Turing Award winners amongst its alumni and faculty members.
Caltech’s TOEFL requirements are moderate. A TOEFL score of 100 will be sufficient to gain admission into any of Caltech’s faculties.
5. University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university founded in 1890, with its main campus is in Chicago, Illinois. Several major publications highly regard the University as one of the best universities in the world. UChicago has many alumni who have impacted various academic disciplines such as Economics, Physics, Political Science, and Literary criticism.
Aspiring students to The University of Chicago must meet a minimum TOEFL score of 104 with no less than 26 in each subsection to gain admission.
6. The University of Pennsylvania
Founded in 1740 by one of America’s most prominent founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania is one of the colonial colleges in the US. It’s also North America’s first school of medicine, the first collegiate business school.
UPenn is well steeped in history – its first professor of law wrote the first draft of the US constitution. The University currently has an endowment worth over $20 billion. It was one of America’s leading institutions in research in 2019, with a research budget of $1.02 billion.
To be considered for admission into The University of Pennsylvania, applicants must score a minimum of 100 on the TOEFL iBT test.
7. Yale University
Yale University is one of the country’s elite institutions. It was also founded in 1701, making it one of the oldest in the US. The University is a private ivy league research university. The University’s endowment is currently valued at USD 42.3 billion, the second-largest educational institution.
Additionally, the University’s library houses more than 15 million volumes, making it the third-largest academic library in the United States. Students in Yale University compete in intercollegiate sports as the Yale Bulldogs in the NCAA Division I.
International students who intend to gain admission into Yale University must score at least 100 on the TOEFL iBT.
8. Columbia University
Founded in 1754 in New York, Columbia University is one of America’s most iconic universities. The University is the fifth oldest University in the United States, and it is regularly ranked amongst the most elite universities in the world by several publications.
Columbia University is a founding member of the Association of American Universities and the first University to grant the M.D. degree in the US. As of 2021, Columbia’s endowment stands at USD 14.35 billion.
To get admitted into Columbia University, international students have to score a minimum score of 105 in the TOEFL iBT.
9. Princeton University
Initially founded in 1746 as the College of New Jersey, Princeton University is a private ivy league research university in Princeton, New Jersey. It is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American revolution.
The University has an endowment of USD 26.6 billion, the largest endowment per student in the United States.
Aspiring students can find undergraduate and postgraduate instruction in humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. However, they must first fulfill a minimum TOEFL iBT requirement of 100 to qualify for Princeton University.
10. Cornell University
Founded in 1865, Cornell University is an ivy league university and one of the few private land grant universities in the United States. Cornell’s alumni and affiliates have reached enviable strata of achievement in media, politics, and sciences.
The University can name 61 Nobel laureates, four Turing Awards winners, 34 Marshall Scholars, 33 Rhodes Scholars, 29 Truman Scholars, 7 Gates Scholars, 63 Olympic Medalists, ten current Fortune 500 CEOs, and 35 billionaire alumni, one Fields Medalist amongst its alumni and affiliates.
Cornell University requires applicants to score 100 and above on the TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition to be considered for admission and to remain competitive in the review process.
11. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
The University of Michigan was founded in 1817. Colloquially known as M, U-M, U of M, UMich, or Michigan, it’s a popular public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The University is regularly ranked amongst America’s best universities by popular global publications such as the independent and the Guardian.
The University has an endowment worth over $ 17 billion, which is one of the highest of any public research university. The University has an impressive lineup of alumni. The University of Michigan can name
53 MacArthur “genius award” winners, 26 Nobel Prize winners, six Turing Awards winners, one Fields Medalist, and one Mitchell Scholar amongst its alumni and associates.
For students to receive an invitation or an audition from the university, they must submit English proficiency scores that exceed or meet the minimum required scores. The University of Michigan requires applying international students to exceed a minimum TOEFL Score for students intending to get an undergraduate or master’s degree and 100 for doctoral applicants.
12. Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University was founded in Maryland in 1876 as a private research university. The University is considered as the United States’ first research university. Johns Hopkins is a founding member of the American Association of Universities.
The University is known for groundbreaking research in several fields like Neurosurgery and cardiology. As of 2019, the University could mention 39 Nobel laureates and one Fields Medalist amongst its affiliates.
To qualify for admission into John Hopkins University, intending students must score a minimum of 100 total for the TOEFL iBT with a preferred distribution of 26 for the Reading section, 26 for the Listening section, 22 for the Writing section, and 25 for the Speaking section.
13. Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university based in Evanston, Illinois. The University was founded in 1851, making it the oldest chartered university in the state. Northwestern is regularly ranked amongst the most prestigious universities globally.
Northwestern University joined the Association of American Universities in 1917 as an early member. The institution has an endowment of USD 15 billion, one of the largest endowments in the world with an annual budget of USD 2 billion.
To gain admission into Northwestern university, students must meet a minimum score of 95 in the TOEFL iBT. However, students from institutions where English is the primary language of instruction are not required to submit a TOEFL score.
14. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
The University of California is one of America’s more famous institutions because it is regularly depicted in several media due to its proximity to Hollywood. The University is a public land-grant research university founded in 1882. UCLA is one of the country’s well-reputed universities, so it’s considered as Public Ivy.
The institution is a hallmark of academic excellence and public achievement, making it one of the best universities in the world by well-reputed college and university rankings. As of October 2021, 27 Nobel laureates, three Fields Medalists, five Turing Award winners, and two Chief Scientists of the US Air Force have been affiliated with UCLA as faculty, researchers, or alumni.
UCLA offers students an opportunity to join an impressive lineup of alumni by setting a lenient TOEFL minimum requirement score. Students who want to study at UCLA must meet a minimum score of 87 in the TOEFL iBT.
15. The University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
The University of California, Berkeley was established in 1861 as a public land grant research university. The University is one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities. World famed for its research work, Berkeley hosts several leading research institutes, including the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and the Space Sciences Laboratory.
The University also excels in sciences, politics, arts, and sporting achievement. UCB can count 223 Olympic medalists, 114 Nobel laureates, 25 Turing Award winners, 14 Fields Medalists, 28 Wolf Prize winners, 103 MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipients, 30 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 19 Academy Award winners amongst its alumni, past and present.
Students interested in admission to the University of California Berkeley must have a minimum TOEFL score of 80. However, the University prefers a minimum score of 100.
16. New York University
New York University is a private research university based in New York.
In 2019, the University became the largest University in the United States via enrollment. The University enrolled 51,848 students in that year, including 26,733 undergraduate students and 25,115 graduate students.
NYU receives the most applications of any private university in the United States. The University has several degree-awarding campuses globally. It has campuses in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai and academic centers in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Washington, DC.
New York University has no minimum test requirement for international students. However, competitive applicants should have a TOEFL iBT score of 100 to stand a chance.
17. The University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
Established in 1960, The University of California, San Diego is a public land grant research university located in San Diego, California. The University is held in high regard as a public Ivy.
The University van proudly names 28 Nobel Prizes laureates, the second most of any UC campus, three Fields Medalists, eight MacArthur Fellows, and three Pulitzer Prize winners amongst its researchers and alumni.
For interested applicants to receive admission into The University of California San Diego, they have to meet a minimum score of 85 for the TOEFL iBT.
18. Duke University
Duke University is one of the United states’ oldest private research universities. The institution is steeped in a history of excellence. Duke was founded in 838 in Durham, North Carolina. The University is amongst the most selective in the country, with an acceptance rate of 5.7%
The University is research-intensive, spending over $1billion annually. In 2019, the University was affiliated with 15 Nobel laureates and 3 Turing Award winners. It can also proudly name 50 Rhodes Scholars, 25 Churchill Scholars, 13 Schwarzman Scholars, and 8 Mitchell Scholars amongst its alumni.
nternational students looking for admission into Duke University must score no less than 90 for the TOEFL iBT.
19. Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University is a private research institute based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The institute was founded in 1900. CMU has several degree-awarding locations globally, including Qatar and Silicon Valley. Its past and present faculty and alumni include 20 Nobel Prize laureates and 13 Turing Award winners.
The Carnegie Mellon university sets a competitive minimum TOEFL iBT requirement score of 102. However, the University gives consideration to students with subscores (each test section) of 25 and above.
20. Brown University
Brown University is a private ivy league research university founded in 1764 in Providence, Rhode Island. The University is one of the united state’s oldest institutions of higher learning.
The University also has the oldest applied mathematics program in the United States, the oldest engineering program in the Ivy League, and the third-oldest medical program in New England. The University has a very selective admission process with an acceptance rate of 5.4%. For students to gain admission into the university, they must have a minimum score of 100 on their TOEFL iBT.
Where do UK Universities Rank Internationally?
The Times Higher Education Ranking and the QS World Universities are the standards when ranking universities globally.
Most prestigious universities require 90 to 100 overall TOEFL scores for admission. Whereas someplace cut-offs on individual elements, others don’t. We’ve drawn a table for easy assessment.
|Times Higher Education|
World University Rankings
|QS World University Rankings||Educational Institution||Minimum Score|
|Minimum Total Overall |
|2||6||California Institute of Technology||–||–||–||–||100|
|2||5||University of Harvard||26||26||26||26||105|
|5||1||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||–||–||–||–||90|
|7||20||Princeton of University||–||–||–||–||100|
|8||32||The University of California, Berkely (UCB)||–||–||–||–||80-100|
|10||10||University of Chicago||26||26||26||26||104|
|13||25||Johns Hopkins University||26||26||22||25||100|
|13||13||University of Pennsylvania||–||–||–||–||100|
|20||40||The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)||–||–||–||–||87|
|24||23||University of Michigan – Ann Arbor||–||–||–||–||88|
|26||42||New York University||–||–||–||–||100|
|28||53||Carnegie Mellon University||–||–||–||–||102|
|34||The University of California, San Diego (UCSD)||–||–||–||–||85|
|–||–||State University of New York||–||–||–||–||70|
|–||–||University of Ohio||–||–||–||–||61|
|–||–||University of Texas Pan-American||–||–||–||–||61|
|–||–||North Dakota State University||–||–||–||–||71|
|–||–||California State University||–||–||–|
|–||–||Southern Arkansas University||–||–||79|
|–||–||Central Michigan University||–||–||–||–||61 to 78|
Which University Does Not Require TOEFL in the US?
Every university in the US teaches in English. The essence of the TOEFL test is to ensure candidates understand their lectures. As an international student, there are other tests you can use as proof of English proficiency, including the Intensive English Language Program (IELP).
Some American universities that accept the IELP test include:
- State University of New York
- The University of Arkansas.
- The University of Iowa.
- University of New Orleans
While most prestigious universities require a TOEFL test, some don’t –o Other universities waive English proficiency tests required for students on certain conditions, such as:
- Studying in a college/university that communicates in English for at least three years.
- Being a citizen of specific countries, like English-speaking European countries and Australia.
Some US universities that do not require a TOEFL test include:
- California State University
- Drexel University
- Marymount California University
- Northwood University
- Rider University
- University of Dayton
- University of Wisconsin
Additional FAQs : TOEFL Scores for US Universities
Do all the US Universities Accept TOEFL?
Yes, the TOEFL test is a United States-based exam that every university in the country accepts.
Although, it is not always required. When it is required, however, students have to exceed the stipulated minimum required score.
Failure to do so guarantees that such a student would not be admitted into the University.
What is a Good TOEFL Score for the USA?
The minimum TOEFL requirement in the US is 61, although TOEFL test score requirements vary based on the institution.
Within universities, colleges and faculties also have different criteria. The acceptable TOEFL scores for prestigious universities range from 90-100, while other high-ranking schools accept TOEFL scores from 80-90.
However, it is worthy to note some universities have no TOEFL requirements. For these universities, an international student’s TOEFL score would be immaterial.
Additional Reading — TOEFL Scores