toefl guide

TOEFL Requirements for Colleges and Universities

Kayla C. October 12th, 2021

When it comes to college admissions in the US and other English speaking countries, each will require certain standards to be met by incoming applicants. In the US many students are required to have a particular ACT (American College Testing) or SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) score. So what about the TOEFL? Do colleges and universities also have standard requirements for this test too? The answer is, yes. It is a requirement that has to be met in order for international students to gain admission to any English speaking college, university or program.The exact TOEFL score you will need for admissions depends heavily on where you choose to study. This short guide will help you figure out what TOEFL scores are good scores for various colleges and universities. We will also list out various colleges and university TOEFL requirements in the US and the UK. However, these are not the only countries that offer English speaking undergraduate and graduate degrees. For more information, you can check out other country's universities TOEFL scores requirements in Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and certain EU countries as well. To help you plan for your TOEFL score goals, we will show you how to find the minimum TOEFL score requirements, recommended TOEFL scores and how to set your TOEFL goal score.

What is a good TOEFL score for Colleges and Universities?

Any TOEFL score that meets the basic TOEFL requirements for the place you wish to study at is a good TOEFL score. The main goal is getting a TOEFL that meets either the minimum TOEFL or higher. If you are applying to multiple universities or colleges, then you should set your goal score to meet the basic TOEFL requirements of all your college or university choices. Basically, a score that meets the highest TOEFL score requirement out of all of your school choices.

When it comes to universities and colleges, their minimum TOEFL scores can vary significantly. The highly competitive and prestigious universities often require a 100 or higher score on the TOEFL. While other colleges and universities require TOEFL scores in the range of 60 all the way to the 80-90. Some colleges and universities don't require any TOEFL scores for either specific programs or all programs offered. So now you are probably wondering “What TOEFL score do I need to get?”. Well, don't worry we got you covered. This guide offers you a short compiled list of major colleges and universities along with their TOEFL score requirements.

US colleges and universities TOEFL score requirements

Among the list are TOEFL score requirements for admission into graduate and undergraduate programs. But before we get to the list there are a few things you will need to know first so that you can understand the list. Not all colleges or universities are strict about their TOEFL score requirements. Some colleges and universities will offer conditional admissions. This means you will possibly be required to take extra courses in ESL (English as a Second Language).However, the more competitive universities may reject your admissions application if you don't meet their minimum TOEFL score requirement. Many individual graduate programs will have their own TOEFL score requirements. Some of these programs may require you to have a higher TOEFL score than what the university or college requires. The most readily accepted TOEFL scores are from the digital version of the test and not the paper version. Don't worry! Most international students meet this basic requirement since the digital version of the TOEFL is the most commonly administered forms of the test.

Here are some of the top US universities that are the most popular among international students:

SchoolSchool rankingUndergraduate TOEFL score requirementGraduate TOEFL score requirement
Babson College1Not availableNot available
Harvey Mudd College2100Not available
Claremont McKenna College3100Not available
Carnegie Mellon University4102Scores vary per program, but it is usually 84
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)590 (100 and higher is recommended for competitiveness)Scores vary per program, but it is usually 90
Columbia University6100Scores vary per program, but it is usually 100
Boston University790 (100 and higher is recommended due to competitiveness)Reading: 21 Listening: 18 Speaking: 23 Writing: 22
Rhode Island School of Design8Not availableNot available
University of Pennsylvania9100; recommended for competitivenessScores vary per program
Bryn Mawr College10100100
New York University11100; recommended for competitivenessScores vary per program
Bentley University1290 (100 and higher is recommended for competitiveness)100
Cooper Union13100none
Princeton University14nonenone
University of California, Berkeley1580Scores vary per program
Rice University1610090
Mount Holyoke College17Average score is 100; no TOEFL score is requiredNot available
University of Southern California18100None; 90-100 are recommended
University of Tulsa197080
California Institute of Technology20NoneNone
Brown University2110090
Georgetown University22None80-100; Scores vary per program
Stanford University23TOEFL not required89-100; Scores vary per program
Harvard University24TOEFL not requiredScores vary per program
Cornell University25100; recommended for competitivenessReading: 20 Listening: 15 Speaking: 22Writing: 20
Georgia Institute of Technology26None79
University of Rochester27100; Recommended score for competitiveness is 107+Scores vary per program
New School2892-100; Scores vary per program92-100; Scores vary per program
Emory University29100Scores vary per program
Brandeis University30None100; Scores vary per program
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign31None; Average entrance scores are between 102-11079 for conditional/limited admissions102+ for full admissions
Illinois Institute of Technology328070-90; Scores vary per program
Yale University33100; Recommended for competitivenessScores vary per program
University of California, San Diego3483; Recommended for competitiveness80
Duke University35none90-100; Scores vary per program
Worcester Polytechnic Institute3679-80Not available
Grinnell College37None; Average entrance scores are between 104-112Not available
Johns Hopkins University38Reading: 26Listening: 26Speaking: 25Writing: 22Scores vary per program
Swarthmore College39None; TOEFL not requiredNot available
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology40Not availableNot available
Pomona College41Not availableNot available
University of Chicago42100; Recommended for competitiveness90-104; Scores vary per program
University of Washington4376; Recommended score for competitiveness 92+Scores vary per program
University of Notre Dame4480; minimum score for speaking is 23Not available
University of California, Irvine45Writing: 25Speaking: 24Reading: 21Listening: 17Not available
University of California, Los Angeles46100+; Recommended for competitiveness87
Amherst College47100Not available
Dartmouth College48NoneScores vary per program
Carleton College4910086
Lehigh University507672


Top UK universities TOEFL score requirements

The UK is a little tricky for international students who wish to study abroad. Many colleges and universities in the UK may not accept the TOEFL and instead will require you to take the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). However, there are universities and colleges in the UK that do accept the TOEFL for their admissions. Here we give you a list of some of the UK universities and colleges that accept TOEFL*         

SchoolUndergraduate TOEFL score requirementGraduate TOEFL score requirement
University of CambridgeNot available; contact admissions offices for further detailsNot available; contact admissions offices for further details
University of OxfordNot available; contact admissions offices for further details100; A recommended score of 110+ for competitiveness
University of DerbyNot available; contact admissions offices for further details80-92
University of StirlingNot available; contact admissions offices for further details80-90
Hult International Business schoolNot available; contact admissions offices for further details90
University of East AngliaNot available; contact admissions offices for further details88
Manchester Metropolitan UniversityNot available; contact admissions offices for further details89-90
University of Leeds8392

* For a full list, you can check online here. There are many universities in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland that are partnered with UK universities and colleges. However, these colleges may not accept TOEFL and instead either require no TOEFL scores or IELTS scores for admissions.

Understanding the difference: Requirement vs. Recommended TOEFL scores

Various colleges and universities often offer a minimum TOEFL score for their admissions applications. Some colleges will offer recommended TOEFL scores to help students determine a good TOEFL score for competitiveness. Students who can achieve the recommended score or higher will often take precedence over lower scoring students. This means if you can score the recommended TOEFL score or higher, your chances of being accepted by the university or college goes up.

For those who meet the minimum score requirement, this means you have a chance of getting into that college but you may be overlooked by someone with a higher TOEFL score. If the rest of your admissions application is good then you still have decent chance of getting into a few colleges of your choice.  

How to find TOEFL score requirements for your college or university choices

It is extremely important for students to do all their research when choosing which schools to file an admissions application with. You need to look up not only the university's minimum TOEFL score but also their recommended scores and whether or not they require specific score for each section of the TOEFL. Sometimes you will have to contact the university in order for you to get their TOEFL score requirements and other information. Universities and colleges often have different TOEFL score requirements depending on what type of program or degree you are getting. If you are looking to enter any university's programs you will need to know what they require for admittance.

Undergraduate programs

Typically colleges and universities give a minimum and/or recommended TOEFL scores that qualify for all of the college's undergraduate programs. To simplify your search ETS offers students a database of all universities and colleges that accept TOEFL scores. You can search by location or by school here.

This database provides required TOEFL scores for both undergraduate and graduate programs. Some colleges and universities will require you to contact them first for TOEFL score information details.

Graduate programs

Many graduate programs for both master's and doctoral degrees will have their own preset TOEFL score requirements. They will also often have recommended TOEFL score requirements since these programs tend to be far more competitive. You will often see that a specific graduate program will often require a higher TOEFL score than the one set by the university or college. You can search by location or by school here.

How to set a TOEFL score goal

When it comes to getting into a college or university of your choice you want to make sure you have a good TOEFL score. Any TOEFL score that meets the basic and/or recommended TOEFL score requirements of your university or college of choice is a good TOEFL score.

But for those who are still unsure of how to determine their score goal, we give you these three simple steps:

1.) Make yourself a chartTo help find the highest TOEFL score out of your university choices, you can start with a chart.This will give you a good visual of what TOEFL scores you will need to gain admissions into either an undergraduate or graduate program. In the notes section make sure to give any details surrounding specific TOEFL section score requirements, degree programs, financial aid, and other important details that the school can offer you.

An example of what your chart can look like:

SchoolsYour ranking of schools *TOEFL score requiredMinimum TOEFL scoreRecommended TOEFL scoreNotes

2.) Find your college or university TOEFL score information online

There are many online resources out there that can help you easily find information for required TOEFL scores, recommended TOEFL scores, and more. Universities often list score requirements on their international student's section or may require you to contact their admissions office for details. Remember graduate programs may require different TOEFL scores than undergraduate programs.

3.) Determine your TOEFL score goal

Out of your list of schools, pick the school that has the highest required TOEFL score. This score will be your TOEFL score goal. This is so you can have a chance at getting into all of your school choices.

Final thoughts

All in all, almost every college and university has a set TOEFL score requirement. If you are hoping to study abroad in other English speaking countries outside of the US, then you will need to make sure they accept TOEFL scores. Many UK universities are switching to IELTS, but Canada and Australia will still accept TOEFL scores from international students.Remember as long as you have a TOEFL score that meets most, if not, all your potential college admissions requirements then you will have a high chance of success in your admissions.


Looking for TOEFL preparation?

Check out our NEW TOEFL prep online learning tool called TOEFL Tutor.
TOEFL Tutor will help you achieve your target score with 1500+ TOEFL practice questions.

Try TOEFL Tutor Free!

Popular Videos

Check out our YouTube channel for more TOEFL preparation videos
BestMyTest on YouTube