International Applicants

Picture of Signs with Countries on Them

The Pardee School is proud of the multinational composition of our student body. Although exact figures vary from year to year, international students normally comprise about 20% of our student body. Our international students come from across the globe, but the areas best represented are India, East Asia, Latin America, and Western Europe. The diversity of experience and background among our students contributes an important element to the classroom experience.

International Applications

Please go here to see general information on applying to the IR Department. In most respects, applications by international students are no different than applications by domestic students. International students follow the same application deadlines, submit all of the application materials a domestic student submits, and are considered for merit-based aid in the same manner as, and on an equal footing with, domestic students.  Additional information for international applicants can be found on the website for GRS Admissions.

The main differences from domestic applications are outlined below:

  1. We prefer that international students apply for admission to the Fall Semester only. Visa processing often requires a considerable amount of time to complete. Because of the relatively brief amount of time between the Spring Semester application deadline (October 15) and the start of Spring Semester classes (mid-January), it is often difficult to complete the visa application process in time for the start of classes.
  2. If recommended for admission, international students need to submit additional documentation necessary for the student visa. For more information on this, see the GRS Admissions website. Be sure to submit this documentation promptly, in order to be certain that there is sufficient time for the student visa to be processed. Visa processing sometimes requires two months or more. It is not the policy of Boston University to send visa documents via express mail.  Make certain to submit all required documentation for your visa as soon as reasonably possible so that there is sufficient time for your visa documents to reach you through the regular mail.  Students may contact the ISSO to request that the visa documents be sent through express mail, but they must pay the cost of postage.
  3. Due to US visa regulations, international students may not enroll in our programs as part-time students. They must maintain full-time student status for the entire duration of their program in order to comply with the conditions of their visa status.
  4. International Applicants must demonstrate English Language proficiency. See below for more details.
  5. International students who earned their Bachelor’s degree in a three-year program, such as those common in India and Pakistan, may need to complete a master’s degree program in their home country before being eligible for admission to Boston University. Please contact the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Admissions Office at for more details.
  6. International students interested in our dual-degree IRJD or IR/MBA program should contact the Law School or the Graduate School of Management, respectively, to inquire about any special policies regarding international applicants.

English Language Proficiency

The language of instruction at BU is English. International students need to demonstrate proficiency in the English language in order to be admitted to our programs. Applicants who received a Bachelor’s or higher degree from a university in the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom are assumed to be fluent in English and need not submit documentation of English language skills. All other international students must demonstrate proficiency in English by submitting a TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) score report. A degree from an English language university located in a country other than those listed above does not exempt an applicant from the TOEFL requirement.

Information about taking the TOEFL can be obtained by contacting:

TOEFL TSC Services
P.O. Box 6151
Princeton, NJ 08541-6151
Phone: 609-951-1100

An excellent facility with the English language is necessary in order to be successful in our program, and as a result we do have high admission standards for our applicants. We require the following minimum component scores on the TOEFL Internet Based Test (IBT) in order to gain admission to any of our programs:

  • Reading – 21
  • Listening – 18
  • Speaking – 23
  • Writing – 22

In addition, the student’s total score must be at least 94.

The IR Department does not permit conditional admissions. Applicants must obtain a sufficiently high score on the TOEFL or they will not be admitted.

Applicants from countries where the IBT version of the TOEFL is not available may submit scores from the PBT version of the TOEFL. Our minimum score requirement for the PBT TOEFL is 600.

International Students must also take the GRE exam (or LSAT or GMAT, if applying to the IRJD or IR/MBA programs, respectively), as per our general application requirements described in the How To Apply section of this website. The TOEFL exam is required in addition to, not in place of, the GRE.

Applicants should not submit scores from the IELTS exam. We require the TOEFL and will accept the IELTS in lieu of it only in exceptional circumstances and with prior permission from the department.


Students with insufficiently strong English skills who are interested in pursuing a degree at BU may wish to contact Boston University’s Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP). CELOP offers English language instruction and cultural orientation programs for students at a variety of different skill levels. For more information about CELOP, see their website.

Please note that completion of an English language training program at CELOP does not guarantee admission into an IR degree program.

International Students and Scholars Office

The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) at BU assists international students with visa issues and related matters. During the application process, however, please contact GRS Admissions at for assistance with these matters.

Puerto Rico

Applicants from Puerto Rico are considered to be domestic students, not international students, and should apply as domestic students. Applicants from Puerto Rico are not required to submit a TOEFL score report.