English Proficiency Requirement

English is the language of instruction at Harvard Summer School. If your native language is not English, you must provide proof of English proficiency, unless you are enrolled only in Institute for English Language Programs (IEL) courses (for which basic English literacy is required).

How to meet the requirement

Secondary School Program applicants

See Secondary School Program Admission for instructions on meeting this requirement.

General program students

Meet the requirement in one of these three ways:

  • Submit the minimum required score on a test of English proficiency.

    Earn the minimum required score on the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic, or Harvard English language placement test.

    Take one of the tests of English proficiency before registration begins to meet the requirement by the appropriate deadline for you. 

    Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

    You must earn one of these minimum scores:

    • 100 on the Internet-based TOEFL (iBT)
    • 250 on the computer-based TOEFL
    • 600 on the paper-based TOEFL

    Have your score sent directly from the Educational Testing Service to the Harvard Summer School Registrar’s Office: institution code 8578.

    International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

    You must earn a minimum score of band 7.0 on the Academic IELTS.

    Have your score sent electronically to the Harvard Summer School Registrar’s Office.

    Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic

    You must earn a minimum score of 68 on the PTE Academic.

    Have your score sent electronically to the Harvard Summer School Registrar’s Office.

    Harvard University English language placement test (HELPT) for local students

    If you live in the area but cannot provide results from the above tests, take the HELPT by May 14. You must earn a minimum score of 76 on this test. Online reservations are required. Space is limited. Please note: this test does not meet the English proficiency requirement for Harvard Extension School degree program admission.

    Test dates:

    • Saturday, April 12, 10:00 am
    • Wednesday, May 14, 6:30 pm (last test before May 19 registration deadline)
  • Submit a four-year undergraduate degree transcript from listed countries.

    Submit an official transcript showing completion of a four-year undergraduate degree at a college or university located in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland or the United Kingdom, at which English is the sole language of instruction.

    Transcripts showing more than one year of transfer credit from a school in another country will not meet this requirement.

    Have your official transcript sent to:

    Registrar’s Office
    Attn: English Proficiency
    Harvard Summer School
    51 Brattle Street
    Cambridge, MA 02138

  • Submit a four-year high school transcript from listed countries.

    Submit an official transcript showing your graduation from a four-year high school located in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, or the United Kingdom, at which English is the sole language of instruction.

    Transcripts showing more than one year of transfer credit from a school in another country will not meet this requirement.

    Have your official transcript sent to:

    Registrar’s Office
    Attn: English Proficiency
    Harvard Summer School
    51 Brattle Street
    Cambridge, MA 02138

Registration

You can register for courses before meeting the English proficiency requirement. Your registration or waitlist status will remain conditional until your test scores or transcripts are reviewed and a decision regarding your proficiency is made. If you meet the requirement, you will be registered or waitlisted in your courses. If you do not, you will be dropped from your courses for a full-tuition refund.

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 5. If you do not meet the requirement by May 5, an I-20 will not be issued to you.
  • All other students: Meet the requirement by Monday, May 19.

Tips for meeting this requirement

  • Take the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, or HELPT if you do not have a four-year undergraduate degree or a four-year high school diploma from a school in one of the listed countries. Earning the listed minimum test score is the only way to meet this requirement if you cannot provide official transcripts as described.
  • If you are considering a Harvard Extension degree program, take the TOEFL or IELTS, as the PTE and HELPT do not meet the English proficiency requirement for degree program admission.
  • Take the test well in advance of the start of registration to ensure your score is received by the appropriate deadline.
  • Register as soon as possible after registration opens. Your test score or transcript will not be reviewed until after you register.
  • Check your English proficiency status online.
  • Be sure to meet the English proficiency requirement well before the I-20 or registration deadline that applies to you.

What if the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic, or HELPT is not available in my location?

If these tests are not available in your area and you have not earned a four-year undergraduate degree or four-year high school diploma at a school in one of the countries listed above, you may submit an appeal to have alternate test scores or transcripts accepted.

Only documentation listed on the English proficiency appeal form will be considered.

Appeals will be considered on a case-by-case basis and may not be approved. If your appeal is approved, it is generally for one semester only and minimum test scores are required for future enrollment.

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.  

Questions?

Please contact the Registrar’s Office at (617) 495-4024 or e-mail proficiency@dcemail.harvard.edu. You may also reach us by fax at (617) 998-8479.