English Proficiency Requirement
English is the language of instruction at Harvard Summer School. You must be proficient in English, unless you are enrolled only in Institute for English Language Programs (IEL) courses (for which basic English literacy is required).
In all Summer School courses except IEL:
- Your oral comprehension and expression must be sufficient for effective class participation.
- Your reading comprehension and writing skills must be sufficient for responding clearly and accurately to course assignments.
- Your comprehension and communication skills must be sufficient for completing examinations without the use of dictionaries or other exam aids, except those authorized by the instructor for all students taking the exam.
- You may be dropped from a course for a full-tuition refund if the instructor determines before the full-tuition refund deadline that you lack the English proficiency required for the course. After the full-tuition refund deadline, you may be excluded from a course for no refund if the instructor determines that your lack of English proficiency is disruptive to the progress of instruction.
How to meet the requirement
Secondary School Program applicants: See Secondary School Program Admission for instructions on meeting this requirement.
If your native language is not English, you must provide one of the minimum test scores listed below to demonstrate English proficiency. Your course registration is conditional until you meet this requirement. If you do not meet it by the appropriate deadline for you, you will be dropped from your courses after May 20.
Earn the minimum score on any of the following tests.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
Earn one of the following scores on the TOEFL.
- A minimum score of 250 on the computer-based TOEFL
- A minimum score of 100 on the Internet-based TOEFL
- A minimum score of 600 on the paper-based TOEFL
Have your scores sent directly from the Educational Testing Service to the Harvard Summer School Registrar’s Office, institution code 8578.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
Earn a minimum score of band 7.0 on the IELTS.
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
Earn a minimum score of 68 on the PTE Academic.
Harvard University English language placement test for local students
If you live in the area but cannot provide results from the above tests, take the Harvard University English language placement test by May 15 and earn a score of 76 or higher.
Test dates: April 6, April 18, May 4, May 15, June 13, and June 23.
Online reservations are required. Space is limited.
- Log in or create an account.
- Select "Placement Tests" from the menu.
- Select "Make English Placement Test Reservation" from the menu.
If you have earned a passing score on the test in a prior term, you do not need to take the test again.
Deadlines for meeting the requirement
- If you request an I-20: You must meet the requirement before an I-20 can be issued and no later than Monday, May 6. If you do not meet the requirement by May 6, an I-20 will not be issued to you.
- All other students: Meet the requirement by Monday, May 20, or you will be dropped from courses.
Alternate proof of proficiency appeal
If you are not local and cannot take the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic, you may appeal to submit alternate proof of proficiency.
Appeals are considered case-by-case until the deadline that applies to you. Materials must be accompanied by the English proficiency appeal form. Submitting an appeal does not guarantee that you will meet the requirement.
Appeals may be submitted as follows:
- If you have taken the Institutional TOEFL, University of Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE), Certificate in Advanced English (CAE), Business English Certificate Higher (BEC Higher), or the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC, 800 or higher), you may submit official score reports for these tests.
- If you have taken or are currently taking courses other than English language skills courses at a college or university located in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom, or the United States at which English is the sole language of instruction, you may submit an official transcript.
No letters of reference, résumés, or certificates of English language study will be considered.
Most appeals are approved for one semester only, and minimum test scores are required for future enrollment.
How to appeal
First, register for courses, then submit the English proficiency appeal form with your supporting documents so they are received in the Registrar’s Office by the following dates:
- May 6 for students who are requesting I-20s
- May 20 for other students
Appeals will not be considered if they are received after the applicable deadline or if you are registered for IEL courses only.
Submit materials for appeal
Harvard Summer School Registrar’s Office
51 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
English proficiency for other Harvard schools
Meeting the Summer School English proficiency requirement does not meet the requirement for other Harvard schools or programs, including Harvard Extension School degree programs.