The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences has a wide-ranging international student population that ensures a richly diverse and stimulating environment. We welcome applications from all over the world.
If you are not a citizen of the United States or do not hold official United States Permanent Residency status, you will need to provide the following additional information with your application:
- Certified English translations of all transcripts and academic records. We encourage international applicants to visit our Frequently Asked Questions section on submitting transcripts.
- Official score report sent directly from testing organization which meets the minimum requirements for English Proficiency (see below).
NOTE: The TOEFL ITP exam is not accepted as proof of English language proficiency.
We advise international students to apply for fall admission to allow sufficient time to process your application. If you would like to apply for a program with spring admission, we encourage you to contact the Graduate School Admissions Office or your prospective department for useful information on submitting all required documentation within the shorter timeline.
English Proficiency Requirement
Proof of English proficiency is required of all applicants by submitting official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). This requirement is waived only if you have received, or expect to receive, an undergraduate or graduate degree from a college or university in any of the following countries prior to enrollment in GRS: the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland. This waiver does not include undergraduate or graduate degrees earned from an institution in a country listed above while enrolled in a “dual degree” program with an institution in another country. Studying in the medium of English in a country other than the ones previously listed or studying as an exchange student in an English-speaking country without completing a degree program is not sufficient to waive the English proficiency requirement.
Applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements of English proficiency are not eligible for admission.
Minimum TOEFL Requirements
It is important that you schedule your TOEFL test well in advance of the application deadline. ETS should forward the official score report to the Admissions Office (institution code 3087) so that it arrives before the application deadline date.
The TOEFL Bulletin of Information and registration form can be obtained from:
- TOEFL/TSE Services website
- American embassies and consulates
- Offices of the United States Information Service (USIS)
- U.S. education commissions and foundations abroad
- Binational centers
- Certain private organizations
If you can’t obtain the documents locally, request them well in advance from TOEFL/TSE Services, P.O. Box 6151, Princeton, NJ 08541-6151, U.S.A.; 609-771-7975.
Unless otherwise indicated by the department/program to which you are applying, the minimum score requirement is:
- paper-based test: 550
- internet-based test
- Reading section – 21
- Listening section – 21
- Speaking section – 21
- Writing section – 21
Minimum IELTS Requirements
In addition to the TOEFL, the IELTS is also accepted as proof of English proficiency. The overall band score of 7.0 is required for admission to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Applicants submitting IELTS scores will need to contact their testing center and request official test scores be mailed to the following address before the application deadline:
BU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Test Scores
P.O. Box 9203
Watertown, MA 02471
Post Academic Review
If you are offered admission following the academic review of your application and then you accept that offer of admission, you will be notified via email to submit the following documents:
- A completed, signed International Student Data Form or International Applicant Coversheet.
- Copy of the personal information page of your current passport.
- Copies of all current visas, if applicable.
- Financial support documentation (Sponsorship Certification and Bank Statement).
You must provide a bank statement or other appropriate evidence of financial support adequate to cover travel to and from Boston and for tuition and living costs for at least one full year at Boston University. The Estimate of Expenses can be found on the International Students and Scholars Office website. Please note the minimum amount listed may be increased by up to 5% each academic year. Immigration regulations prohibit most international students from accepting any employment except University appointments during the first year of study in the United States.
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:
Must I submit the International Student Data Form and the required financial documentation with my application?
All international applicants who are offered admission and accept their offer are then required to submit the completed International Applicant Coversheet or International Student Data form with required passport/visa documentation. These applicants would be immediately notified by email and given instruction how to submit this documentation.
In the event applicants are offered admission without sufficient financial aid to cover the estimate of expenses for themselves and any dependents they may have, applicants must also submit appropriate financial documentation before official admission is given and the visa process can begin.
Can I apply for an application fee waiver?
There is no application or petition for a fee waiver. The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences does not waive the application fee under any circumstance.
Does my transcript have to be in English?
Yes, all transcripts submitted to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences must be in English. If you are submitting a transcript that is not in English, you must submit a certified English translation of the transcript and degrees awarded.
Do I need to obtain a WES/ECE evaluation?
The WES/ECE evaluation is not a required component of the application. If you have attended an institution that is not located within the United States, we request that you upload your unofficial transcript in the appropriate section of your application. The Graduate School may contact you at the time of review if a WES/ECE evaluation is necessary.
I expect to receive financial assistance from the department. Must I still submit the required financial documentation?
All full-time PhD and MFA students will be admitted with full fellowship aid. If you are admitted to a PhD or MFA program, please select the appropriate option on the International Student Data Form.
Unfortunately, financial aid for MA and MS degree applicants far exceeds our capability to support many highly qualified students. If in the event you are recommended for admission without financial aid, you would need to provide financial documentation to begin the visa process.
What forms of financial support are acceptable?
We accept checking or savings bank account statements, bank loan statements, scholarship award letters (not based on admission to degree program), or support letters from the government or independent organization. The financial documents must be in English and clearly state your name or, if applicable, your sponsor’s name. The currency on all financial documentation must be in U.S. dollars. Additionally, bank letters should specify either the amount of U.S. dollars in the account, or a minimum U.S. dollar amount available for use.
If you are being sponsored, then a bank statement must be accompanied by a legalized letter of sponsorship. Photocopies of any financial documentation are not acceptable. The International Students & Scholars Office has detailed information regarding financial support documentation on their website.
Please note that once a financial document is sent to our office, it will not be returned under any circumstances. Students should request two copies of bank statements or bank letters from their bank as the second copy of the bank statement or bank letter will be needed for visa processing at the student’s embassy appointment.
What is a legalized letter of support (Financial Sponsorship Letter)?
A legalized letter of support is an original letter, written and signed by your sponsor(s), stating their relationship to you and that they are willing to support you for the upcoming academic year at Boston University with a specified amount of money (which must be sufficient to cover the estimated expenses as determined by the International Students & Scholars Office). It does not have to be notarized or signed by a lawyer. The submitted letter must be an original letter, not a photocopy, and must be signed and dated within the past year. A Financial Sponsorship Certification Form can be used in place of a legalized letter of support.
How much are the estimated costs that have to be covered by financial support?
The International Students & Scholars Office provides an estimate of expenses that should be sufficient for one year of attendance at Boston University. The most recent estimate is posted on ISSO’s website. Please be aware that this estimate is updated on a yearly basis. If the estimate posted on the website is for a previous academic year, you should expect an increase and submit financial support documents accordingly.
If I have no financial support and I am dependent on financial assistance from the department, how do I indicate this on the International Student Data Form?
On page one of the International Student Data Form, you are asked to indicate how you will be funded during your studies at Boston University. If you have no financial support and will rely solely on financial assistance from the department, please write a brief statement on the bottom of page one outlining why you have not included financial documentation with the form.