English Proficiency Requirement

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), the Duolingo English Test, or the PEARSON Test of English (PTE). For IELTS, an overall band score of 6.5 is sufficient for graduate admission. For the Duolingo English Test (160-point scale), a score of 105 is sufficient. 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:

  • 80 (internet-based test, iBT) or
  • a score of 20 or higher on each of the three components of the new “paper-delivered test” (this test does not have a single composite score).

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. Visit the website for the ELS Language Center at UC for more information.
  • 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 the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH). Programs, and not students, must initiate the request for CESL testing.

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 universities only)
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Malawi
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Montserrat
  • Namibia
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Scotland
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • 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. 

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.