MIT TOEFL Requirement: The Score You Need


What’s a good TOEFL score for MIT? Is there a TOEFL MIT minimum you must meet in order to qualify for admission as an undergraduate or graduate student? Who has to take the TOEFL?

In this guide, we go over the MIT TOEFL requirement for each major department and look at how this minimum score varies depending on the program you’re applying to. We then give you expert tips on what to do if you’re struggling to meet the MIT TOEFL score threshold.


Who Needs to Take the TOEFL for MIT?

First off, which applicants actually need to take the TOEFL? The general rule is that if your native language is English, you do not have to take the TOEFL.

At MIT, whether you must take the TOEFL depends on two main factors:

  • Your country of citizenship
  • Your class level (undergraduate or graduate student)

If you’re a US citizen or permanent resident, you will not need to take the TOEFL. If you’re an international applicant from a major English-speaking country such as Canada, the UK, Australia, or New Zealand, you also shouldn’t need to take the TOEFL.

However, if you’re an international applicant from a non-English-speaking country, you may need to take the TOEFL. I say “may” because not all programs at MIT require applicants to submit TOEFL test scores (undergraduate applicants, for example, may submit SAT/ACT scores in place of TOEFL scores).

So how does the MIT TOEFL requirement differ for undergraduate and graduate applicants? Here is a brief rundown of the differences, which we’ll explain more in the next two sections:

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  • If you are applying to be an undergraduate and are from a non-English-speaking country, you do not have to (but may) take the TOEFL.
  • If you are applying to be a graduate student and are from a non-English-speaking country, you will most likely need to take the TOEFL. (However, there are normally exceptions for those who have received a bachelor’s degree from an English-speaking institution.) You may also need to meet a certain score threshold in order to qualify for admission.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the MIT TOEFL score requirements for undergraduate and graduate applicants.


MIT TOEFL Requirement for Undergraduate Applicants

International undergraduate applicants to MIT have two options for proving their English proficiency:

  • Take the TOEFL (and two SAT subject tests), or
  • Take the SAT or ACT (and two SAT subject tests)

In other words, you get to choose one test to take (TOEFL, SAT, or ACT). No matter which test you choose, you have to submit SAT subject test scores from two tests as well. One of these subject tests must be a math test, and the other must be a biology, chemistry, or physics test.

If you decide to take the TOEFL, here is the minimum score you must get to qualify for admission to MIT:

  • 90 iBT / 577 PBT

Although you do not need to score more than this minimum to get accepted, MIT advises applicants to score higher for a better chance of admission. Here is the recommended MIT TOEFL score:

  • 100 iBT / 600 PBT

No matter which score you aim for, you only need to make sure you’re reaching the total score (90 or 100), which you can get with many combinations of section scores. For example, if you’re aiming for 100, you could try to get 25 on each section or something like 28, 23, 27, and 22.

If you decide to take the SAT or ACT instead of the TOEFL, make sure you get a score high enough for MIT. To learn more about what SAT/ACT score you’ll need for admission to MIT, go to MIT’s Admission Requirements page.


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr


MIT TOEFL Requirement for Graduate Applicants

Most of MIT’s graduate programs require international applicants from non-English-speaking countries to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores with their applications.

Graduate TOEFL requirements can vary depending on the school/department and program. At MIT, most graduate programs require a TOEFL score of at least 90 iBT (577 PBT). Some programs, however, may require TOEFL scores that are slightly higher than this minimum.

In addition, many MIT graduate programs prefer IELTS scores over TOEFL scores. While some programs accept scores from either test, others only accept IELTS scores. Therefore, always check directly with your program to learn what its English-proficiency requirements are.

The following chart summarizes the minimum TOEFL requirements for some of the major schools and programs at MIT. If a program does not accept TOEFL scores, this means you must take the IELTS instead.

School / Program TOEFL Accepted? Minimum Required TOEFL Score
School of Architecture and Planning
Architecture Yes 100 iBT (but may apply with as low as 90)
Media Arts and Sciences No
Real Estate Development MS Yes 100 iBT / 600 PBT (recommended)
Urban Studies and Planning Yes 100 iBT / 600 PBT
School of Engineering
Aeronautics and Astronautics Yes 100 iBT

110 iBT (average)

Chemical Engineering Yes 100 iBT
Civil and Environmental Engineering Yes 100 iBT
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science PhD Yes 100 iBT
Materials Science and Engineering No
Mechanical Engineering Yes 100 iBT / 577 PBT
Nuclear Science and Engineering Yes 90 iBT / 577 PBT
Social and Engineering Systems PhD No
Technology and Policy MS No
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
History; Anthropology; and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) PhD Yes 90 iBT / 577 PBT
Political Science Yes 100 iBT / 600 PBT
Sloan School of Management
MBA No (English-proficiency test not required)
Doctoral program Yes 90 iBT / 577 PBT
School of Science
Biology PhD Yes 100 iBT / 600 PBT
Brain and Cognitive Sciences PhD Yes None
Chemistry PhD Yes 100 iBT
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences Yes 100 iBT / 600 PBT
Microbiology PhD No
Operations Research Yes 100 iBT
Physics PhD Yes 100 iBT


In this chart for MIT, TOEFL score requirements generally take two forms: minimum required scores and recommended scores.

Required scores are scores you must meet in order to qualify for admission. If you don’t meet these scores, your application will be rejected (unless you qualify for conditional admission).

Recommended scores are scores you don’t need to get in order to qualify for admission; however, you will have a better chance of admission if you do get them.

For MIT, as well as for any other school, always aim to get the recommended score (over a required minimum score). Getting (or exceeding) a recommended score will make you a more competitive applicant for your program, thereby increasing your likelihood of getting accepted.




What If You Don’t Meet the MIT TOEFL Requirement?

It’s not easy getting a high enough TOEFL score for MIT. So what can you do if you’re having trouble meeting your goal score? Here are a few options depending on whether your score is close to or far from the MIT TOEFL score minimum.


If Your Score Is Close to the MIT TOEFL Requirement …

  • Contact your program. Ask whether they are willing to review your application despite the fact your TOEFL score is slightly lower than what’s required. If your program agrees to consider you for admission, use the time before you submit your application to strengthen other parts of it, such as your statement of purpose and CV/resume.
  • See whether you qualify for conditional admission. If your program offers conditional admission, you’ll most likely need to fulfill an English-language requirement or class before you can start taking regular courses at MIT.
  • Pay for a TOEFL score review. If your program at MIT doesn’t offer conditional admission and won’t accept lower TOEFL scores, consider getting a rescore. With this service, ETS (the maker of the TOEFL) rescores your Speaking and/or Writing sections, potentially raising your total score by 1-3 points (though it could also lower it!). A rescore is better than retaking the test as it’s cheaper and less time-consuming.


If Your Score Is Far From the MIT TOEFL Requirement …

Your best option is to retake the TOEFL. If you do this, though, make sure you spend plenty of time honing your weaknesses and figuring out ways you can improve your score.

The more points you need to hit the MIT TOEFL minimum, the more hours you’ll need to study. And the more hours you need to study, the more time you should try to give yourself before test day. Generally, it’s best to set aside at least three to six months for TOEFL prep.

To figure out how many hours you’ll need to study, subtract your current TOEFL score from the TOEFL MIT score you need for admission.

For example, if I’m applying to MIT’s doctoral program in chemistry, I’ll need to score at least 100 on the TOEFL. Let’s say my current score is 94; this means I’ll need 6 points to reach my goal score of 100.

Once you’ve found this difference, use the chart below to determine (roughly) how many hours you’ll need to study for each TOEFL section:

Section Study Hours for 1-Point Improvement
Reading 6-8
Listening 6-8
Speaking 15
Writing 6-8

In my example, I need to improve my total TOEFL score by 6 points to qualify for admission to MIT’s doctoral program in chemistry. If I wanted to improve my Reading, Listening, and Writing sections by 2 points each, I’d have to study at least 36 hours (because 2(6) + 2(6) + 2(6) = 36).

Once you have an estimated number of study hours, divide up the number of weeks you have until test day to get a rough number of hours you should study for the TOEFL per week. If I’m studying 36 hours over the course of three months, for example, I’ll need to prep about three hours each week. This gives me my best chance of meeting the minimum MIT TOEFL requirement on test day.


Here’s to hoping you get into MIT!


What’s Next?

Want to know what TOEFL scores you’ll need for admission to other great schools? Then check out our comprehensive list of 50+ schools and their TOEFL score requirements.

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Author: Hannah Muniz

Hannah graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in English and East Asian languages and cultures. After graduation, she taught English in Japan for two years via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.