English Proficiency Requirements

Applicants to the Division of the Social Sciences and the University of Chicago who do not meet the criteria below must submit proof of English language proficiency. The score level required for admission varies by program as listed below. Only the TOEFL iBT or IELTS Academic tests are accepted as proof of proficiency. Home administrations of those exams are accepted.

Waiver Criteria

There are two ways to receive a waiver from the proof of proficiency requirement.

  • Primary Language Waiver: If English has been a primary language of communication and schooling for you since childhood, you may attest to this on the application. We cannot assist you in determining if this is the case for you. Falsifying this information, as with any other information on the application, may lead to revocation of an offer of admission.
  • Education Waiver: If you were enrolled for at least one full academic year in the last ten years, as a full-time, degree-seeking student at an accredited English-medium post-secondary institution in one of the following countries or territories:
    • Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, the United States.
    • Education in English-medium institutions in any countries or territories not listed here does not qualify for the exemption.
    • Only full-time coursework in a degree program at a college or university in one of these countries or territories qualifies. Remote study, lab or research work, non-degree programs, intensive English language courses, or high school/secondary school do not qualify. The qualifying academic year must be completed – i.e., if you are now in a program and are planning to have completed a year by the time you enroll, it will not meet the requirement.

Please do not contact departments or Admissions regarding a waiver. If you meet the criteria the application system will automatically apply the waiver, and will not require you to report a TOEFL/IELTS score.

Acceptable Tests

In order to meet the proof of proficiency requirement, students may submit either:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) internet-based test (iBT), including the standard at-home version or
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic  – Note: applicants are required to take the Academic Reading/Writing test within IELTS, not the General Training Reading/Writing test.
  • Any other proficiency tests, exams, equivalent coursework, certificate/certifications, endorsement from faculty, and/or other measurement other than the TOEFL or IELTS are not accepted. This includes the IELTS “Indicator” test and the TOEFL ITP Plus.

Minimum Score Requirements

For applicants providing the IELTS: No less than 7.0 on each section, with a band score of 7.0 or higher.

For applicants providing the TOEFL iBT:

  • Applicants to all programs except the PhD in Economics: No less than 25 on each section.
  • Applicants to the PhD in Economics: No less than a total score of 90, with no less than 18 on any individual section.

Note: Applicants can meet our score requirements with multiple test administrations. However, we do not accept TOEFL MyBest scores.

How to Submit Scores

Applicants submitting GRE or TOEFL scores should submit them to institutional code 1832. Department code does not matter.

Applicants submitting IELTS scores should have them sent electronically to “The University of Chicago – Graduate Enrollment.” Questions about IELTS submission should be sent to UChicago Grad Admissions at gradadmissions@uchicago.edu.

Once scores are received in the central UChicago score database you will receive an email from gradadmissions@uchicago.edu confirming receipt. Please allow 72 hours after receipt of that email for your scores to attach to your Social Sciences application. If your scores do not appear in your online account after 72 hours, please contact gradadmissions@uchicago.edu. Please note that if your first name, last name, date of birth, and email address on your GRE, TOEFL, or IELTS account do not exactly match your online application, your scores will not automatically match to your application. If that is the case, please contact gradadmissions@uchicago.edu for assistance.

Conditional Admissions

Applicants who have not yet met our English proficiency requirements are still welcome to apply to our programs; however, such applicants may be at a disadvantage in the review process. Should an offer of admission be extended to an applicant with TOEFL/IELTS scores below our minimums, it will be conditional upon submission of scores meeting our requirements. Conditionally admitted students cannot begin the visa process or complete other required pre-matriculation tasks until the requisite scores are received by the University.

Admitted students who met our reading, listening, and writing minimums may be eligible to sit the University’s Academic English Proficiency Assessment – Speaking (AEPA Speaking) in lieu of retaking the TOEFL. Admitted students who met requirements for speaking, listening, and reading may be eligible to site the University’s Academic English Proficiency Assessment – Writing (AEPA Writing) in lieu of retaking the TOEFL or IELTS. Information regarding AEPA options is provided to eligible admitted students at the time they receive their offer. Not all conditionally admitted students are eligible for the AEPA; eligibility is determined by prior TOEFL and/or IELTS scores.