Who Can Waive TOEFL, and What Evidence You Need?

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If you’re an international applicant (to MBA programs), then you may not have to necessarily write TOEFL or similar tests such as IELTS or PTE, measuring your fluency in English. Instructions by schools regarding who needs to write and who doesn’t are quite clear in most cases, but most instructions aren’t very clear on what evidence they want to see if you had English as the medium of instruction.

Let’s start with the first part.

(Note: Admission policies of schools and guidelines for standardized tests can change. Refer to their website for the most updated information.)

Who can waive TOEFL and similar tests?


But, only for schools such as MIT Sloan and Yale SOM.

Yes, they don’t require TOEFL or similar test. MIT Sloan, for example, gauges your proficiency in English exclusively through interview and the verbal section of GMAT/ GRE.

And on the other extreme is Haas:

Applicants who received their degrees in countries other than the US, UK, Australia, or English-speaking Canada are required to take the TOEFL exam or the IELTS. This includes applicants with degrees from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and most European countries. Only applicants who have completed a full year of US university-level coursework with a grade of B or better are exempt from this requirement. Residence in the US does not waive this requirement.

So for Haas, even if your medium of instruction in undergrad was English, you still need to write TOEFL if you received your degree outside few English-speaking countries.

However, these two schools are outliers. Vast majority of schools allow waiver under conditions that fall between these two extremes:

Those who had English as their main language of instruction in bachelor’s or master’s program

Almost all schools have this as a waiver criteria.

Wharton, for example:

Applicants who earned a baccalaureate or advanced degree at an institution in which the medium of instruction was English, or who have had considerable exposure to the language, may waive the test. A waiver request may be submitted as part of your application.

And LBS:

You may request a waiver if your degree (minimum two years’ duration) was conducted exclusively in English, or you have lived or worked in an English-speaking country for at least two years since graduation.

Some schools such as HBS, however, have preference for English as your medium of instruction in bachelor’s program, and less so in master’s.


Schools also have other criteria for TOEFL waiver. For example, Wharton has ‘considerable exposure to the language’ and LBS has ‘at least two years of work experience in an English-speaking country’ as one of the criteria for waiver.

But, how will school know that your language of instruction in bachelor’s program was English?

Unfortunately, some colleges don’t mention medium of instruction either on transcript or degree certificate, and hence confusion arises.

What do you do in such cases?

Nothing. In most cases.

Most schools maintain a database of colleges across the world, listing their medium of instruction. And if your school doesn’t maintain one or doesn’t have information about your college, they’ll likely ask the school.

So, you don’t need to facilitate any affirmative letter/ email from your college in this regard.

However, few schools may not follow this process.

INSEAD, for example, wants to see evidence in your transcript:

Your transcripts should clearly indicate that the curriculum was entirely taught in English.  Otherwise, you may take one of the following English language tests …

So, just to be sure, there is no harm in writing a brief email to the admissions office (after going through their language requirements, which you can find in FAQs in Admissions section of their website) enquiring about any requirement from your side in this regard.

In almost all cases, their response will be no.


If you’re an international applicant whose medium of instruction in college was English, you need not write TOEFL and, in most cases, you also need not produce any evidence regarding your medium of instruction. However, drop an email to the school checking if they need any information from you.

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