English Language Proficiency Requirements

Proof of English proficiency is required of all applicants who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and who were educated in a country where the official national language is not English. Applicants can demonstrate English proficiency via standardized test score or by meeting the requirements for one of the waivers below. 

Please note that many 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

The following exams and minimum scores are accepted as proof of English proficiency:

  • TOEFL: minimum score of 80 iBT
    • In-person and at-home (online) exam scores accepted. TOEFL Essentials and My Best Test scores are not accepted. 
  • IELTS: minimum score of 6.5 overall band 
    • In-person and at-home (online) exam scores accepted
  • Duolingo (DET): minimum score of 110
  • PTE: minimum score of 54

UC only accepts official scores sent directly from the testing agency to UC, preferably via electronic sending methods. For TOEFL, please use school code 1833. IELTS scores must be sent directly from your testing center to UC.

Self-reported scores will not complete your application nor will scores that are below the minimum qualifying scores. 

For proper matching of your test score(s) to your application, please use the same email address for both your test registration and your admissions application. 

Automatic Waiver of English Language Testing

When completing the graduate application, international applicants will automatically be exempted from the English Proficiency testing requirement if they have received or will receive a bachelor's 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, Cameroon, Canada (except Quebec), Cayman Islands, Denmark, Dominica, Fiji, Finland, Gambia, Ghana, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Montserrat, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Scotland, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Sweden, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uganda, United States, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Virgin Islands, Wales, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Additional Waiver Options

Based on the criteria below, a request for a waiver of the English proficiency requirement may be made by the applicant to the graduate admissions office. After you submit your application, please contact and provide the appropriate documentation for waiver consideration. Please note that we will not be able to apply the waiver to your application until after the application has been submitted. 

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

  • Received or will receive a bachelor's 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. Please provide documentation stating that the entire university uses English as the medium of instruction. 
  • Passed a nationally administered professional test that requires evaluation of both oral and written English (e.g., USMLE, Cambridge CPE passed with a B). 
  • Completion of Level 112 of Intensive English instruction at an ELS Language Center. Please provide the completion certificate. 

Please note that US Permanent Residents do not need to provide proof of English proficiency. 

Oral English Proficiency Test (OEPT)

Non-native speakers of English who are awarded teaching assistantships at the University of Cincinnati are required to take the Oral English Proficiency Test (OEPT) before they are able to begin their instructional duties. 

The OEPT tests the spoken language skills of non-native speakers of English. An overall score of 3.0 is the minimum passing score for the test. If a score is less than 3.0, students are recommended to take ESL courses before retaking the test. 

Score requirements and information regarding waiver based on standardized test scores are detailed on the Graduate Assistantships: Teaching Assistant Requirements policy web page.