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Impact x2 Qais

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How can we work together to promote better cultural understanding worldwide?

Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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With your help, students like Qais gain the skills they need to tell their story and give us a broader understanding of the world.

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Testing Requirements

Do I have to take the GRE?

All applicants (excluding MFA applicants) must submit an official test result of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as required by the department to which you are applying. Check departmental requirements for the GRE and the GRE Subject Test on the Application Requirements and Deadlines page.  The MAT is not an acceptable substitute (with the exception of the Sociology/Social Work PhD program which does accept the MAT score report). For more information about GRE testing dates and score reporting, please visit the ETS website.

Do I have to take the TOEFL?

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.

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 – 18
    • Speaking section – 23
    • Writing section – 22

In addition to the TOEFL, the IELTS is also accepted as proof of English proficiency. The band score of 7.0 is required for admission to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Do you accept the IELTS instead of the TOEFL?

Yes, we do accept the IELTS and the minimum score required of international applicants is 7.0. Please visit the IELTS website for more information regarding testing dates and score reports.

What is the institution code number for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences?

When you are ordering your score reports from ETS, please use institution code 3087 for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Do I need to provide a department code when taking the GRE?

You do not need to specify a department code when requesting test scores be sent to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

I sent my test scores to a different school at Boston University. What should I do?

Boston University now receives score reports electronically.  Please ensure that the registration number, name, birth date, and social security number (if applicable) on your online application match the information you provided to ETS.  This information allows your test scores to be matched to you as an applicant even if you accidentally select an institution code within BU other than 3087.  Please note that if you select an institution code for an institution outside of BU (ex: code 3083 for Boston College), you will need to contact ETS and have your scores re-issued to institution code 3087.  We will not accept a copy of any test score as a substitute for an original report.

If the information provided to ETS does not match the information on your application (alternate names, former names, transposed names, incorrect birthdates, etc), please contact the Admissions Office at grs@bu.edu after you have submitted your application.  Include your registration number(s) in your email along with your BU ID number.

I already took the test but did not send my scores to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. What do I do?

If you did not request that your test scores be sent to GRS at institution code 3087 when you took the test, you can always order additional score reports.  Visit the ETS website for more information on ordering GRE or TOEFL reports.  Please remember that photocopies of test score reports are not considered official.

For how long are my test scores valid?

The GRE program will not send official score reports for tests taken more than five years previously. Some departments prefer GRE scores that are less than two years old (please contact your department for more information). The TOEFL program will not send official score reports for tests taken more than two years previously.

I sent my test scores with a previous application. Do you still have them on file?

All applications are held on file for one year. If you submitted your test results with an application within the past year, we can retrieve them from your file. You must submit a written request via email to grs@bu.edu, stating which specific materials you would like pulled out of your previous file.  Please note only the materials you list in your request will be pulled out of your previous file, and GRS will not automatically pull all materials unless specifically requested.  Please remember that all submitted materials become the property of GRS and will not be returned to the applicant. They can only be taken out of your previous file if you intend to use the materials in an application to GRS.

What are your minimum test score requirements?

GRE Requirements

Many factors influence the admission decision and the Graduate School does not set minimum test score requirements for the GRE. Since individual departments may have a minimum score, you should consult the home page of the department to which you are applying for more information (click here to link to department website information).

English Language Proficiency Requirements

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.

Minimum TOEFL requirements

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 – 18
    • Speaking section – 23
    • Writing section – 22
Minimum IELTS requirements

In addition to the TOEFL, the IELTS is also accepted as proof of English proficiency. The 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 GRS Admissions Office before the application deadline.

Applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements of English proficiency are not eligible for admission.

Can I apply if my TOEFL scores do not meet the minimum requirements?

Applicants are strongly discouraged from applying if they have not met the minimum requirements at the time of the application deadline.

I met the minimum TOEFL requirements for some or all sections on a prior test – can I submit those scores or combine test scores to satisfy the English proficiency requirement?

No.  Your most recent TOEFL test scores will be used to determine if you have met the English proficiency requirements.   You may not combine sections from different test dates.  You must meet the minimum score set forth for every section of the test.