International Students

The Laboratory Schools (“Lab”) welcome international applicants. Please review the information below. When finished, please follow Lab’s application procedures for the appropriate grade level.

Is Lab a Boarding School?

No. Lab is a day school and does not have boarding facilities. All students are expected to reside with one or both natural or adoptive parents, or with a legal guardian appointed by either an Illinois court or a court in another U.S. Jurisdiction whose guardianship orders are accepted by Illinois courts.

Does Lab Have an Entrance Exam?

Yes. All Middle School and High School applicants are required to take the Independent School Entrance Exam (“ISEE”). Lab does not accept the TOEFL, SSAT or other test in place of the ISEE.

If the ISEE is not offered in the applicant’s area, please contact the Admissions Office. In most cases, the ISEE can be administered anywhere in the world. 

How Old Are Lab Students?

Lab students range in age from three years old (Nursery 3) through eighteen years old (12th grade). The majority of international applicants apply at the high school level (grades 9-12). Most students enter Lab at Nursery 3 or 9th grade (the beginning of high school).  

How Many International Students Are Enrolled at Lab?

Lab does not provide specific data on the number of enrolled international students. However, Lab students are diverse: Lab families speak more than 40 languages at home and identify themselves as having 59 different nationalities. The Lab community has a rich array of cultures and is proud of its depth and breadth of diversity.   

Does Lab Provide Host Families?

No. The Laboratory Schools do not provide these services. In order to enroll in Lab, students must reside with one or both natural or adoptive parents, or with a legal guardian appointed by either an Illinois court or a court in another U.S. Jurisdiction whose guardianship orders are accepted by Illinois courts.

Does Lab Provide Assistance in Processing Student Visa Applications? 

After an applicant has been formally admitted to the Laboratory Schools, the University of Chicago may be of assistance in obtaining the Form I-20, which is required for an F-1 student visa.

When do Students Enroll?

Accepted students should plan to enroll in the Schools during the Fall of the year following their application. School usually begins in September, and students are expected to be present on the first day of school. Lab does not permit Winter or Spring enrollment. 

Does Lab Offer ESL (English as a Second Language)?

No. Lab’s curriculum includes intensive reading and writing and is designed for students who are fluent in English.  

Is There a Different Application Process for International Students?

No. International applicants should follow the same deadlines and procedures as all other applicants. All applicants, including members of the University of Chicago community, remain subject to classroom space constraints and stated application deadlines.

Does Lab Offer Document Translation Services?

No. International applicants must provide all application materials in English.

Please note: all documents must be translated by a third party professional translation company. All translations must be accompanied by a certificate/affidavit of accuracy. 

Does Lab Encourage Applications to Other Schools?

Yes. Lab strongly encourages all applicants to apply to a variety of schools. Applying to several schools is in the best interest of the applicant and his or her family.  Applicants are not “disadvantaged” if they apply to schools other than Lab. 

Does Lab Work With Educational Consultants? 

The Admissions Office prefers to work directly with applicants and their families. There is no advantage to working with an outside consultant. 

How Does Lab Interpret Foreign Grades?

The Admissions Committee will review all applicant grades as part of the admission   process.  International applicants should provide an English translation of all grades and explanatory information.  As with other documents, translations must be completed by a third party translation company, and must be accompanied by a certificate/affidavit of authenticity.   In addition, applicants are also encouraged to provide some explanation of any foreign grading scale, as well as any applicable comparisons to the U.S. secondary school grading system.

Does Lab Require Recommendations? 

Yes. All applicants must complete Lab’s recommendation forms, which are found on this website. Please note: generic letters of recommendation cannot be substituted for Lab School forms.

Teachers at the applicant’s current school should fill out the form and submit it directly to Lab. If necessary, please use a third party, professional translation service to translate the form as well as any teacher responses.  

Note: all recommendation forms must remain confidential.  Applicants and their families are not permitted to review or submit completed recommendation forms. Instead, the applicant’s current school should mail or fax the documents directly to Lab

Can Applicants Conduct Interviews via Phone or Skype? 

Yes. The Admissions Office can schedule phone or Skype interviews for out of state or country applicants and their families.

Please note: An in-person evaluation is required for children entering at the Nursery or Lower School level. Families who are not fluent in English should arrange to have a third party translator available for all interviews. Applicants are not permitted to translate on behalf of their parents.

Can the Requirement for World Language be Waived?

It is unlikely that students can waive out of the foreign language (World Language) requirement. Beginning in third grade, all Lab students must take a World Language.  Lab offers French, German, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese to Lower School and Middle School students. In High School, Latin is also offered. 

Applicants who speak any of the above-listed languages at a native or near-native level will be required to take another language while at Lab.  Final language placement is at Lab’s discretion, and will be made after an applicant has successfully completed the admission process. 

Can International Applicants Apply for a Lower Grade Level to “Catch Up” in English? 

No. All applicants will be evaluated at their age-appropriate grade level.  

How Are Admissions Decisions Made?

The Admissions Committee is composed of Laboratory Schools Faculty and Staff.  Every applicant will have an opportunity to interact with a member of the Admissions Committee. When an applicant’s file is complete, the entire committee reviews each file and makes an admission decision. Each application is reviewed in its entirety; there are no minimum grade or test requirements.

Additional Questions?

Applicants with additional questions should contact the Admissions Office at 773-702-9451 or via email at admissions@ucls.uchicago.edu. We look forward to working with you!