English is the language of instruction at Harvard Extension School. You must be proficient in English, unless you are enrolled only in courses through the Institute for English Language (IEL) Program courses. In all Extension School courses except IEL:

  • Your oral comprehension and expression must be sufficient for effective class participation.
  • Your reading 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.

Courses that require proof of English proficiency

If your native language is not English, you must provide proof of English proficiency to be enrolled in courses in the subjects listed below. Your registration or waitlist status will be conditional until you meet this requirement.

If you do not meet the requirement you will be dropped from courses in the following subjects:

How to meet this requirement

You can meet the requirement in one of three ways:

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

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

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

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 Extension School Registrar’s Office: institution code 3458, department code 02. Select undergraduate or graduate based on the courses you plan to take.

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 Extension School Registrar’s Office.

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

You must earn a minimum score of 76 on this test. The in-person test is given on the Harvard campus several times during each registration period. You may take the test only once each term. Online reservations are required. Space is limited. See Harvard English placement test for test times and additional instructions. Please note: this test does not meet the English proficiency requirement for degree program admission.

2. Submit 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, Republic of Ireland or United Kingdom, at which English is the sole language of instruction. 

Transcripts showing more than one year of transfer credit from a school in a country not listed will not meet this requirement. Have your official transcript sent to Registrar’s Office, Attn:  English Proficiency, Harvard Extension School, 51 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138.

3. Submit 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, Republic of Ireland, or United Kingdom, at which English is the sole language of instruction. Have your official transcript sent to Registrar’s Office, Attn:  English Proficiency, Harvard Extension School, 51 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

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, 51 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138.

Tips for meeting this requirement

  • Take the TOEFL, IELTS, 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 an Extension degree program, take the TOEFL or IELTS, as the HELPT does 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 registration 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 registration deadline. If you do not meet the requirement, you will be dropped for a full-tuition refund from courses in subjects listed above. Registration fees are nonrefundable.

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

If the TOEFL, IELTS, and HELPT are not available in your location 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 proof of English proficiency accepted for one term only of enrollment.

Only documentation listed on the English proficiency appeal form will be considered. It must be submitted with the appeal form.

Appeals will be considered on a case-by-case basis and may not be approved. Do not submit an appeal if the TOEFL, IELTS, or HELPT is administered in your location at any time. If an appeal is approved, it is for one semester only and minimum test scores are required for future enrollment.

English proficiency requirement for degree program admission

The English proficiency requirement for degree program admission is different from the requirement for course registration. Please see the admission section of the degree program that interests you and contact the program office directly with questions about this requirement.