TOEFL Requirement for MBA Programs and Business Schools

Graduate Business School TOEFL Policies

The TOEFL requirement for graduate business school most frequently applies to international students who did not complete their undergraduate degrees in English-speaking countries. International applicants with bachelor's degrees from universities in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand are usually exempt from the TOEFL. Some business schools will also extend this exemption to citizens or permanent residents of those countries, regardless of where they studied previously. Business school applicants with undergraduate degrees from universities in countries where English is not the everyday language should assume that they will have to submit TOEFL scores, although some institutions may grant a TOEFL waiver if the applicant's undergraduate program was taught in English.

TOEFL Passing Standards at Business Schools

The majority of business schools set minimum TOEFL standards for applicants who must take the exam, and this is an indication that the TOEFL is not a significant factor in the application (assuming that the applicant's scores are at or above the given levels). Prospective graduate students who are required to take the TOEFL, however, must achieve high scores in order to qualify for admission to the top-ranked business schools. The minimum TOEFL score for the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business is 104 on the iBT or 600 on the PBT. Prestigious institutions with a minimum TOEFL score of 100 include the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. Some highly-ranked business programs will accept lower TOEFL scores, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management (90) and UCLA's Anderson School of Management (87).

TOEFL Averages and Business School Admission

Some business schools do not have minimum TOEFL standards, and report the TOEFL scores of their accepted students only in terms of averages. At these institutions, the TOEFL may be a factor in admissions decisions rather than simply a prerequisite. Harvard Business School, for example, will officially consider any TOEFL score, but this program "discourages" applicants with scores below 109. At the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, the average successful applicant achieves a TOEFL score of 106, but this institution has no policies that require all applicants to score at this level. Students who receive lower scores can be and are accepted to graduate business programs at UVA.

Average TOEFL Scores of Graduate Business Students

According to ETS, the average scores for all test-takers in graduate business programs are 21.6 reading, 21.0 listening, 20.9 speaking, 21.3 writing, and 85 total. A total score of 100 is in the 77th percentile of all test-takers in the business school category, while a total score of 112 is in the 96th percentile. There are no significant differences in the total scores of male and female graduate business students. Average sectional scores for males are slightly higher in reading and listening, but females are slightly better at speaking (writing scores are the same for both males and females).

Business Schools and International Students

Many business schools have large populations of international students. The PhD offering at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business is one such program, which consists of 55% international students. The latest MBA class at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School is 32% international, with 71 countries represented. At the Yale School of Management, 45% of the student population holds citizenship in another country, including 24% from nations in the Asia Pacific region, 10% from Europe, 7% from Africa and the Middle East, and 4% from the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. 40% of the most recent MBA class at the Stanford Graduate School of Business comes from outside of the United States, including 61 other countries.

Financial Aid for International Students

International students are often eligible for loans to cover the cost of business school attendance. Harvard Business School, for instance, will help arrange private educational loans without need for a cosigner through the Harvard University Employees Credit Union. At the Stanford Graduate School of Business, all students are eligible for financial aid, regardless of citizenship. The Stanford GSB offers need-based awards, based on the financial circumstances of the student. The Financial Aid Office at Stanford will also recommend various loan options, which allow students to borrow an amount up to the cost of attendance, minus any other awards or contributions.