English Proficiency Requirement

See Graduate School Handbook Addendum, 2017-18 for additional information and instructions. To view this document, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free download.
 

English proficiency is required of all applicants whose native language is not English. Students can demonstrate proficiency in a number of ways at the graduate level. Please note, many colleges and programs have higher requirements than those listed below. Applicants should contact the programs to which they are applying for details.
 

Standardized Tests of English Proficiency

Most students fulfill the English requirement by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Testing System (IELTS), or the PEARSON Test of English (PTE). For IELTS an overall band score of 6.5 is sufficient for graduate admission. For PEARSON a score of 47 is sufficient. TOEFL requirements vary based on the type of TOEFL test taken and scores are valid for up to two years. The minimum university requirement is:

  • 520 (paper-based test), or
  • 190 (computer-based test), or
  • 80 (internet-based test)

For applicants or students who are on campus, there are two other tests that can satisfy the English proficiency requirement.

  • For students who have joined UC as conditional admits, satisfactory completion of level 112 of Intensive English instruction at ELS Language Centers. More information on the ELS Language Center at UC can be found at their website.
  • For exchange students or visiting scholars on campus, achieving a score of 3 or better on the Graduate Placement Test (GPT-VS) administered on campus by the Center for English as  a Second Language (CESL) in CECH. Programs, and not students, must initiate the request for CESL testing (view addendum for instructions).
     

Automatic Waiver of English Language Testing

When completing a graduate school application, international students will automatically be exempted from the English Proficiency testing requirement if they have received a baccalaureate or higher degree from one of the following countries where English is the official language:

  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Botswana
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cameroon
  • Canada (except Quebec)
  • Cayman Islands
  • Dominica
  • England
  • Fiji
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Gibraltar
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Hong Kong (public university)
  • Ireland, Northern
  • Ireland, Republic of
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Malawi
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Montserrat
  • Namibia
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Papua New Guinea
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Scotland
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom
  • Vanuatu
  • Wales
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
     

Conditions for Programs to Request a Waiver of English Proficiency Tests

Based on the criteria below, request for a waiver of the English proficiency requirement may be made by the applicant’s Program Director (with appropriate documentation) to the Director of the Graduate School. The Director will approve or deny the language-proficiency waiver requests submitted by the program.

Waivers will be considered if the applicant has fulfilled one of the following:

  • received a baccalaureate or higher degree from an entirely English-instructing institution. This requires that all programs at the institution are taught in English, not just the program in which the applicant earned their degree.
  • passed a nationally administered professional test that requires evaluation of both oral and written English (e.g. USMLE, Cambridge CPE passed with a B).
  • holds a US immigrant visa for permanent residency (also known as green card) and has been a full-time resident of the United States for at least 3 years.
  • the applicant has taken the TOEFL (or PEARSON, or IELTS) in order to enter another institution in an exempt English-speaking country, is currently actively enrolled in that institution, and can document achieving our minimum standardized test scores.