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First-year applicants: International applicants

MIT has a very long history of educating international students, and we continue to welcome them today.

If you are an international student, you may not be familiar with the application process for American colleges, including MIT. This is a quick overview to help you understand how applying to an American school like MIT works. Some of the information in here is also true for American colleges other than MIT, but you should make sure to check with other schools before applying since we can’t speak for them!

In addition to this page, there are several organizations that will help you learn how to apply to American universities, including MIT. We particularly recommend Education USA, especially their helpful 5 Steps to U.S. Study and local advising centers.

Am I international?

For the purposes of Part 1 of the application, MIT considers any student who does not hold United States citizenship or permanent residency to be an international applicant, regardless of where they live or attend school.01 We recognize that this designation may not correspond to the lived experience of many applicants (including <a href="https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/reaffirming-our-support-for-undocumented-students/">undocumented students</a>) who have spent significant time in the United States, or those who have a liminal status as asylees, refugees, or stateless persons. This classification is federally defined for the purpose of statistical records, but please know that we understand life is more rich and complicated than a checkbox, and we take that into account when reading your essays and evaluating your application. U.S. permanent residents are those students who have an official copy of their green card in hand. If you are in the process of obtaining a green card, then you are considered by MIT to be an international student. If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, then you are considered a domestic applicant.

However, whether you are a domestic applicant or an international applicant does not impact when or how you apply or the financial aid you are offered. Rather, this page is simply intended to be a helpful resource for people who are less familiar with the American educational system and are trying to figure out how to apply to MIT.

When to apply

Most U.S. students apply to MIT at the beginning of their final year of high school, and international applicants should do the same. Only accepted students are required to send final grades, and we understand that they will not be available until the summer months. Most applicants are 17–19 years of age. Some may be younger, especially if they have studied ahead; some may be older, especially if their countries have mandatory military service after secondary school.

Students who have already enrolled02 Exceptions may be granted to students in the southern hemisphere, on an alternate calendar, who begin their college education <em>while</em> undergoing our application process. at another university—either in America or abroad—must apply to MIT as a transfer student.

Grades & coursework

If you attended high school outside of the United States, your grades and subjects of study might have been very different than those of most American students. However, this will not negatively impact your application to MIT.

MIT admissions counselors are trained to understand the educational system in your part of the world. We do not try to convert your grades to the American system, or to find other sorts of equivalence. You will not be competing against your classmates or students in other parts of the world; we do not have caps or quotas for countries. We consider each student as an individual as they proceed through our process.

However, all students need to demonstrate minimum competence in fields they will continue to study at MIT. We recommend that all international students study:

  • Four years of English
  • Mathematics, at least to the level of calculus
  • Two or more years of history/social studies
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

While these courses are not required, studying them will increase the chances that you will be sufficiently prepared academically to attend MIT. Students without all of the listed recommended classes are welcome to apply.

Standardized tests

International students—or domestic students who do not speak English natively—have two options for testing. We have no preference between these options. It is your choice, and you should take the set of tests with which you feel the most comfortable. All November testing is allowed for Early Action consideration and December testing is allowed for Regular Action consideration.

  • Option 1: The SAT or the ACT, as well as two SAT Subject Tests: one in math (level 1 or 2), and one in science (physics, chemistry, or biology e/m).
  • Option 2: The TOEFL (we do not accept IELTS) as well as two SAT Subject Tests: one in math (level 1 or 2) and one in science (physics, chemistry, or biology e/m). This option is especially recommended for students who do not speak English at home or in school, or who have been speaking English for fewer than five years.

Testing requirements

All students must meet the testing requirements. You may not substitute other exams (such as IB, A Levels, etc.) for the above testing requirements. Students from countries where the SAT and ACT are not offered for all students (such as Iran and the People’s Republic of China) will be considered without a full set of required test scores on a case-by-case basis.

We have no minimum or recommended scores for the SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Tests. You may wish to view testing statistics from the most recent admissions cycle here.

TOEFL

We have minimum and recommended scores for the TOEFL. These minimums are in place to ensure your level of English proficiency. Because MIT offers no English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, and English is the language of MIT, all students must show that they will thrive in our community.

For the TOEFL Internet Based Test (iBT), the minimum composite score is a 90. We recommend scores of at least 23 for each section, and a composite score of at least 100. Similarly, for the TOEFL revised Paper-Delivered Test (rPDT), we recommend scores of at least 23 for each section. If you have taken the TOEFL Paper Based Test (PBT) prior to June 2017, the minimum composite score is a 577, with a recommended composite score of at least 600.

Reporting scores

Your scores must be reported to us officially from the testing agency; scores you list on your application and scores appearing on your school transcript will not be considered official. We recommend you list MIT as a school to receive your scores when you take the test. If you take the November/December test, you must list MIT as a school to receive your scores or we will not receive your scores in time for our review.

Our SAT and TOEFL code is 3514, and our ACT code is 1858.

It is important for all students—and very important for international students—to register for tests with the same name as you have indicated on your application and MyMIT account. Your record and test scores will not be linked to our system if the names do not match.

You can get more information and register for the SAT tests online at collegeboard.org, the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) at ets.org/toefl, and the ACT at act.org.

  1. We recognize that this designation may not correspond to the lived experience of many applicants (including undocumented students) who have spent significant time in the United States, or those who have a liminal status as asylees, refugees, or stateless persons. This classification is federally defined for the purpose of statistical records, but please know that we understand life is more rich and complicated than a checkbox, and we take that into account when reading your essays and evaluating your application. back to text
  2. Exceptions may be granted to students in the southern hemisphere, on an alternate calendar, who begin their college education while undergoing our application process. back to text