What do you mean when you say Macalester is a “liberal arts” college?

A liberal arts education provides students with a broad foundation of knowledge in the natural sciences, mathematics, the social sciences, the humanities and the fine arts. Students also focus on a field of study (a “major”) and demonstrate mastery of the intellectual building blocks and methodologies of that academic discipline. In contrast to an education that emphasizes narrow technical or vocation training, a liberal arts education will develop the critical thinking and communication skills that will equip graduates to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

What degrees does Macalester offer?

Macalester College offers programs leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in 38 areas of study as well as 35 minors. Students are not required to officially declare a major until the end of their second year. For detailed information on areas of study go to Academics at Macalester.

Is it possible to receive credit from Macalester for International Baccalaureate, A Level and/or Advanced Placement exams?

How does Macalester provide academic advising to its students?

Each student has one faculty member designated as his/her primary advisor. The advisor is responsible for monitoring the progress of the student through his/her career at Macalester. In a student’s first year, he or she will register for a First-Year Course as one of four first-semester classes. First-year courses are for first-year students only, are limited to sixteen students, and the instructor of each course is the academic advisor for the students in that course. Students are encouraged to change advisors to someone in their primary academic area of interest at the end of the second year.

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Application and Selection

What does Macalester look for in deciding which international students will be offered admission?

Does Macalester require that applicants submit SAT exam scores?

Applicants to Macalester must submit results from either the SAT or ACT exams. These standardized exams are often very different from the exams that international students have taken previously, so Macalester does not have a minimum score nor do we rank our applicants on the basis of their SAT or ACT scores. Register for the SAT on the College Board website. Macalester’s code for the SAT is 6390.

Are SAT Subject Exam (SAT2’s) required?

Macalester does not require that students submit results from SAT Subject exams (sometimes referred to as SAT2 exams). However, many international students choose to submit the results of SAT Subject exams because these results may demonstrate their knowledge and ability in those academic areas.

Are all international applicants required to submit TOEFL exam results?

International applicants are required to submit either TOEFL or IELTS results in order to demonstrate proficiency in English. International applicants whose first language is English and/or who attend secondary schools where the primary language of instruction is English may request that the TOEFL requirement be waived. To register for the TOEFL, visit Macalester’s code for the TOEFL is 6390.

What is the minimum TOEFL score required for admission?

Macalester does not have a minimum TOEFL or IELTS score requirement for admission. However, because Macalester’s classes are taught in English and we do not offer any English-as-a-second-language courses, only students who have a strong command of English language (reading, writing and speaking) will be offered admission. Most international students who are offered admission to Macalester have scored 100 or higher on the TOEFL iBT (600 or higher on the paper-based TOEFL) or 7.0 or higher on the IELTS.

What is Macalester’s minimum SAT score?

Macalester does not have a minimum score requirement for the SAT, nor does it rank applicants on the basis of SAT scores. The value of the SAT results varies significantly from case to case and it is always only one piece of information among many that we use in evaluating an applicant’s potential to thrive academically at Macalester.

If I take the SAT and/or TOEFL in December, will those results be considered as part of my Regular Decision application?

Any SAT and/or TOEFL exams results received by the third week in January will automatically be considered as a part of your Regular Decision application. We recommend that you request a “rush report” of the results if you take the exams in December.

Must I submit official SAT and TOEFL reports directly from the College Board or ETS?

We understand that it can be very expensive to have official score reports sent to all of the colleges to which you are applying. We will accept a photocopy of your exam results as long as it comes from an appropriate school official who verifies that the results are correct. If we have any questions about the legitimacy of the scores, we will contact the school official.

If I have been taking O Level / A Level type curriculum, are A Level results required?

Students who have only completed the O Levels will not be considered for admission to Macalester. A Level students must submit final O, AS and A Level results for evaluation. If final A Level results are not available by the application deadline, predicted scores must be submitted instead. This requirement also applies to students who have been educated in countries with similar educational systems.

Should my high school transcripts and letters of recommendation be submitted in the original language or translated into English?

Every applicant must submit official transcripts with the school seal stamp and official signature sent directly by a school official. If the transcript is not in English, the applicant must also submit English translation of the transcript with the name and position of the person who translated the document. If we have any concerns about any school documents, we will contact the school in order to verify the authenticity of the credentials.

My school does not have a “guidance counselor” so who should complete the Secondary School Report?

Your high school principal, head of school or other designated school official may complete this recommendation form. This individual should identify his or her official role at the school. The form should not be completed by an agent or anyone other than a school employee.

If I apply online, can I submit my academic credentials by mail? Must all application materials be submitted at the same time?

You have the option of applying online or downloading the application forms and mailing them in. If you apply online you may still submit other materials through the mail. You may submit all of your documents at once or as they become available. Make sure that each document includes your name as it appears on your application.

My mid-year grades will not be available by the Regular Decision application deadline – will that be an obstacle to my admission?

Secondary schools around the world run on a wide range of academic calendars and in many cases the mid-year grades may not be available by the application deadline. Students should submit the mid-year grades as soon as they become available, preferably by the end of February. If that is not possible, email us at and explain when they will be available.

May I submit supplementary materials with my Macalester application?

In most case the required application materials are sufficient for an applicant to convey the information we need in order to evaluate their candidacy. However, we welcome additional writing samples, recommendations and other items if you feel they will supplement the information in your application in any important way.

Is it possible to pay the Macalester application fee by credit card?

Yes. When you submit your application to Macalester online, The Common Application will prompt you to pay the $40 fee, which you can do with a credit card. If you are unable to pay the fee, click “Request a Fee Waiver.” You will need to ask your school counselor to submit a waiver request. For more information, see next question.

Will Macalester waive the application fee?

Macalester automatically waives the $40 application fee for students who submit Part 1 of the application online by November 15. In all other cases a student who wishes to have the application fee waived should write a letter or send an email to explaining why the application fee would present a financial hardship for you and your family. Waiver requests that are endorsed by an appropriate school official are most likely to be approved.

Are admissions interviews required? What is the purpose of an interview?

Admissions interviews are not required. Many of our international applicants do not have an opportunity to have an interview, so we do not penalize applicants who have not interviewed. At Macalester the interview is a brief and relatively casual conversation which is intended to help us begin to get to know you as a person. It is not an exam or audition, and you will not be given a grade or score at the end of the interview.

How do I decide whether to apply Early Decision or Regular Decision?

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Financial Aid

I will need financial assistance in order to be able to attend Macalester – does that hurt my chances of admission?

Macalester’s broad international representation is made possible in great measure by a significant institutional commitment to providing financial assistance to international students. Approximately 80% of the international students who enroll at Macalester received financial aid awards. We are committed to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of every student we admit. Unfortunately, our financial aid budget is not unlimited, so the amount of financial aid an applicant requires is a factor as we decide which students will be offered admission, and students requiring large scholarships will face greater competition in the selection process.

How much financial aid does Macalester offer?

Macalester is committed to meeting the full demonstrated need of every enrolling student. In 2012-2013 Macalester provided $9.1 million in financial aid for international students.

Does Macalester offer “merit scholarships” to international students?

The Charles J. Turck Presidential Honor Scholarship is awarded to a limited number of international students who demonstrate special potential to excel academically and contribute significantly to the Macalester community. The scholarships range from $10,000 to $15,000 per year. Every international applicant is automatically considered for the Turck Scholarship – no special application is required.

When will I hear if I will receive financial aid from Macalester?

Students who are offered admission to Macalester will receive information about any financial aid they have been awarded at the same time they are notified of the admissions decision.

What are the components of a financial aid package?

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If I have questions that are not answered by the Macalester website, who should I contact?

We strongly encourage prospective international students to complete our online Information Form. This will make it easier for us to share information with you quickly and efficiently. If, however, you have a question that has not been answered on our website or by the communications we send you once you have filled out the online inquiry form, please email us at Include your full name, country of citizenship and your high school in your email.

If I don’t have any additional questions, why should I get on the Macalester mailing list?

Getting on our mailing list not only makes it easier for us to provide you with important information about Macalester, it will make it possible for us to notify you if an admissions officer or other member of the Macalester community will be in your area.

If I do get on the Macalester mailing list, how will you communicate with me?

Our experience is that the most efficient and reliable means of communicating with international students is through email. If you prefer to receive hard copies of some of materials, you may request them by emailing

Is it possible for me to contact a current Macalester student?

On the Admissions & Financial Aid page of the Macalester website there is a section called “ASK A STUDENT” which you may use to communicate directly with a current Macalester student. If you would like to communicate with a current student from your country, please email

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How “international” is Macalester?

Macalester is one of the most culturally diverse communities you will find at any undergraduate college in the United States. In each entering class approximately 12% of the students are international and the student body includes citizens of more than 90 countries. Macalester’s American students are often bi-cultural or have spent a significant amount of time living in a country other than the U.S. The academic program also is infused with many opportunities to study other languages, literatures, histories, religions and political systems.

How do international students adapt to being part of the Macalester community?

Macalester’s international students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and each student’s transition is unique. The College has a strong support system in place to help students as they adjust to life in the U.S. and at college. Key among these support systems is the department of International Student Programs. It is worth noting that 95% of the international students who enroll at Macalester complete their degree.

Do all Macalester students live on campus?

All first- and second-year students are required to live on campus. Students have the option of moving off-campus for junior and/or senior year.

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