International Students


Undergraduate Applicants Top

Northwestern University has adopted a SAT or ACT test-optional policy for the 2021-22 admission cycle. Learn more about this year's test-optional policy.

Applicants for whom English is not a first nor primary language, or whose schooling has been in a language other than English, must submit results from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT or TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Duolingo English Test (DET). 

International applicants must demonstrate a high level of English proficiency. An evaluation of English proficiency includes reviewing all test scores, grades in classes taught in English, writing samples, and comments by recommenders.

Learn More about Undergraduate International Requirements


Graduate Applicants Top

English Proficiency Requirements

Please note that we cannot release prescreening results or schedule an audition until we have received your English language exam score. All scores are due by December 1. 

All graduate applicants to the Bienen School of Music whose native language is not English, regardless of citizenship, are required to submit proof of English proficiency.  The Bienen School accepts the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT or TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Duolingo English Test (DET). 

To be considered official, a score report must be delivered to our office directly from the test provider, and cannot be more than two years old. For example, if your application is submitted on December 1, 2021, then your English proficiency test score cannot be older than December 1, 2019. It is recommended that you take an English proficiency 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.

TOEFL: Please send electronic scores to ETS code 1565 (Northwestern University). 
Duolingo English Test: Send test results to the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music. 
IELTS: Send electronic scores to the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music. 

Required Minimum Scores

Master of Music Applicants

Required minimum TOEFL score for admission:

85 iBT

Required minimum IELTS score for admission:

6.5

Required minimum Duolingo English Test score for admission:

115

Doctor of Musical Arts Applicants

Required minimum TOEFL score for admission:

95 iBT

Required minimum IELTS score for admission:

7.0

Required minimum Duolingo English Test score for admission:

120

Master and Doctor of Musical Arts applicants:

August 1
Graduate Application available online
December 1
Graduate Application due
December 1
TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test score due


IMPORTANT: A request for an English proficiency 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, you should find another recommender.

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


MM/DMA English Proficiency Waiver Policy Top

The Bienen School of Music does not offer ESL coursework and so must evaluate English proficiency either through an English language exam score or documentation provided in a request for an English proficiency waiver. Applicants who have substantial training or education in English may request this waiver in the Graduate Application. Do not request a waiver if you are sending recent English proficiency 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, 2021 in order to evaluate an English proficiency waiver. If the requirements listed below are not received by December 1, your request for a waiver will be denied.

Applicants requesting an English proficiency waiver must do the following:


Financial Aid Top

There is no difference in the merit-based scholarship process for international applicants. International students are not eligible to apply for federal student loans through FAFSA. There are some options for international students to receive a private loan, however, many require a U.S. citizen to act as a co-signer.

Undergraduate Financial Aid
MM & DMA Financial Aid
PhD Financial Aid