TOEFL Requirements

Download TOEFL Requirements Info PDF

All graduate applicants to the Bienen School of Music whose native language is not English, regardless of citizenship, are required to submit a TOEFL score. To be considered official, a TOEFL score report must be delivered to our office directly from ETS, and cannot be more than two years old. For example, if your application is submitted on December 1, 2014, then your TOEFL report cannot be older than December 1, 2012. It is recommended that you take the TOEFL exam at least two months before the application is due, to ensure that your scores arrive by the deadline.

Photocopies, student copies, faxes, and email attachments will not be accepted. Test scores arriving after the deadlines listed below will not be accepted. PhD applicants should visit the PhD application page for TOEFL requirements.

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Deadlines and Required Minimum Scores

Doctor of Musical Arts

Graduate Application and prescreening due: December 1, 2014
TOEFL score due: December 1, 2014
Required minimum score for admission: 90 iBT
Use TOEFL School Code: 1565 (Northwestern University)

NOTE: TOEFL scores received after December 1 will not be accepted for the DMA.

Master of Music applicants who wish to audition on campus:

Graduate Application due: December 1, 2014
Prescreening (if applicable): December 1, 2014
TOEFL score due: December 1, 2014
Required minimum score for admission: 80 iBT
Use TOEFL School Code: 1565 (Northwestern University)

NOTE:  Applicants whose TOEFL scores are not received by December 1 will not be able to audition on-campus. Jazz Studies applicants are required to have an on-campus audition, so be sure to send your TOEFL score before December 1.

Master of Music applicants who cannot visit campus and will upload a recording to the application:

Graduate Application and Audition Recording due: December 1, 2014
TOEFL score due: February 1, 2015
Required minimum score for admission: 80 iBT
Use TOEFL School Code: 1565 (Northwestern University)

NOTE:  You must upload your recording at the same time that you submit your online application to Northwestern University. If your audition is not uploaded with the application by December 1, then we will not accept a late TOEFL score. Faculty will not review your recording until your TOEFL score has been received. Applicants who choose this option will not be able to request an audition on campus for NU faculty.

TOEFL Waiver Policy

The Bienen School of Music does not offer ESL coursework and so must evaluate English proficiency either through the TOEFL exam or through documentation provided in a request for a TOEFL waiver. Applicants who have substantial training or education in English may request a TOEFL waiver on the Graduate Application. Do not request a waiver if you are sending recent TOEFL scores with your application. We do not grant waivers based upon citizenship. All application materials, including transcripts and letters of recommendation, must be submitted by the application deadline of December 1 in order to evaluate a TOEFL waiver. If the requirements listed below are not received by December 1, your request for a TOEFL waiver will be denied.

Applicants requesting a TOEFL waiver must submit the following:

  1. Check the box in the Graduate Application for "TOEFL Waiver."
  2. Submit a letter explaining your request for a TOEFL waiver, and listing your experience writing in English. This letter should be uploaded to the "Portfolio" section of the Graduate Application.
  3. Upload copies of transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended (these should be uploaded into the Graduate Application). If your transcripts are not in English, they must be translated into English and evaluated for U.S. grade equivalency by an approved educational credentialing service. We recommend World Education Services or Educational Perspectives. Do not translate them yourself. The evaluation report must be delivered to our office by the December 1 deadline. Typically, you must have at least four (4) years of documented study from an institution whose language of instruction is English in order to be considered for a TOEFL waiver.
  4. Submit the Graduate Application online, including the non-refundable application fee of $75. 
  5. Submit a letter of recommendation from an academic (non-performance) teacher. The teacher must have supervised a course taught in English, and the course should have required you to submit at least a 10-page paper in English. In this recommendation letter, the teacher should speak to your ability to write in English at the graduate level. You can add the name of this recommender to the Graduate Application, in addition to the two required for admission.

IMPORTANT: A request for a TOEFL waiver must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from an academic (non-performance) teacher. This person ideally will have taught you in at least one course and should have experience grading your written work in English. If the academic course did not require at least a 10-page paper, then you should find another person to recommend you.

You will be contacted by the Office of Music Admission, Financial Aid, and Enrollment if your request for a TOEFL waiver has been approved. DMA applicants whose request for a TOEFL waiver is denied will not be invited to campus for an audition, and the application will not receive further review. MM applicants whose request for a TOEFL waiver is denied will not be able to audition on campus.

Request information from the Bienen School of Music.