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COVID-19

Learn more about how MIT Admissions is responding to COVID-19 in this blog post from our Dean and new dedicated FAQs.

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 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

We have suspended our usual SAT/ACT testing requirement for the 2020–21 application cycle due to the pandemic. For non-native English speakers, we strongly recommend providing the results of an English proficiency exam if you have been using English for fewer than 5 years or do not speak English at home or in school, so that we may consider that information alongside the rest of your application. We accept the following English proficiency exams:

Please note: We no longer require applicants to officially send their SAT, ACT, or English proficiency test scores as part of their application. Instead, they can self-report their scores on the application, and we will verify these scores upon enrollment.

Competitive scores

We do not have cut off or recommended scores for the ACT or SAT as scores are evaluated within an applicant’s context. To view test score statistics from the most recent admissions year, visit our admissions statistics page.

We do have minimum and recommended scores for our English language tests. These minimums are in place to ensure your level of English proficiency. Because English is the language of instruction at MIT, all students must show that they will thrive in our community.

TOEFL Minimum: 90 Recommended: 100
IELTS Minimum: 7 Recommended: 7.5
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic Minimum: 65 Recommended: 70
Cambridge English Qualifications (C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency) Minimum: 185 Recommended: 190
Duolingo English Test (DET) Minimum: 120 Recommended: 125

Updated Fall 2020 requirements

  • We will not require either the SAT or the ACT from first-year or transfer applicants applying this cycle. We expect this to be a one-year suspension of our usual requirements, but will continue to monitor the public health situation closely.  
  • Students who have already taken the SAT/ACT are encouraged to report their scores with the understanding that they help us more accurately evaluate their preparedness for MIT, and with the knowledge that tests are only one factor among many in that process. 
    • Please note: We no longer require applicants to officially send their SAT, ACT, or English proficiency test scores as part of their application. Instead, they can self-report their scores on the application, and we will verify these scores upon enrollment.
  • Students who have not already taken the SAT/ACT are discouraged from doing so if they cannot do so safely, and/or are under such strain that they cannot perform to a degree commensurate with their actual preparation.
  • Students who do not submit SAT/ACT scores will not have any negative inferences be drawn from their absence. Instead, we will make the best, most informed decision we can by assessing other academic aspects of their application like grades, curriculum, and other examinations03 However, as </span><a href="https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/a-special-announcement-about-sat-subject-tests/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">announced</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> earlier this year, we will </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">not</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> consider the SAT Subject Tests.

The guidance above is for the 2020–21 application cycle only. To see our usual testing requirements, click here.

  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
  3. However, as announced earlier this year, we will not consider the SAT Subject Tests. back to text