English Proficiency Requirements

Non-native English speakers must demonstrate proof of English proficiency before gaining admission to a graduate program.

View a chart with the English proficiency scores and corresponding admission status below.


Proof of Proficiency

Non-native English speakers may demonstrate proficiency in one of the following ways:

  • Graduation with a baccalaureate degree (or higher) earned in residence from an accredited English-medium U.S. college or university or a college or university in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, English-speaking province of Canada, or an English-speaking Caribbean country, with instruction conducted in English. Degrees earned online may not be used to verify English proficiency.
  • Official scores from an English proficiency standardized test (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS-Academic, or PTE), sent by the testing agency to the University of Kansas. Official scores must be less than two years old.  Please see the table below for specific score requirements.
  • In exceptional cases, a department, with written support from the appropriate school or College, may petition the Dean of Graduate Studies to consider alternative documentation of English proficiency. In consultation with the Director of the Applied English Center (AEC), the Dean of Graduate Studies will determine whether the alternative documentation demonstrates English proficiency at the level expected for regular admission to graduate study at KU.

AEC Check-In Process

The Applied English Center (AEC) maintains a check-in process for non-native speakers of English. This process serves to confirm each student's level of English proficiency and determine whether English courses will be included as a requirement of the student’s academic program. In order to graduate, students who are required to complete AEC courses must meet KU’s English proficiency standards as demonstrated by their performance in AEC coursework and evaluations.

  • Students who demonstrate English proficiency at the waiver level or who have earned a degree from one of the specified English-speaking countries listed above are not required to check in at the AEC.
  • All other non-native speakers of English who gain admission to campus-based programs are required to check in at the AEC upon arrival on campus

Visit the full English Proficiency Requirements for Admission to Graduate Study

Exclusions/Special Circumstances:

  • Provisional admission is not available to applicants who are applying to online programs in the School of Education and are not native English speakers. 
  • International students seeking F-1 status must meet the standards of Regular Admission. Provisional admission is not sufficient to issue the Form I-20. 

Admissions categories and score requirements

TOEFL (iBT) IELTS (Academic) PTE Result
Regular Admission and obtain waiver from AEC
Regular Admission to Online and Distance Learning programs
Reading, Listening, and Writing part scores at least 23 Minimum overall score 6.5, at least 6.0 in Listening, Reading, and Writing Minimum overall score 58 with no part score below 53 in Listening, Reading, and Writing Student will obtain a waiver from the AEC and be able to begin course work immediately
Regular Admission
Reading, Listening, and Writing part scores at least 20 Minimum overall score 6.0 with no part score below 5.5 Minimum overall score 55 with no part score below 50 Student will require AEC testing
Provisional Admission (see also exclusions/special circumstances section below)
Reading, Listening, and Writing part scores 18-19 Minimum overall score 5.5 with no part score below 5.0 Minimum overall score 45 with no part score below 40 Student will require AEC testing
Deny Admission
Reading, Listening, or Writing score below 18 Overall score below 5.5 or one or more part scores below 5.0 Overall score below 43 or one or more part scores below 36 Applicant encouraged to apply directly to the AEC or retake TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE


GTA and GRA eligibility:

Graduate teaching and research assistant eligibility requirements are distinct from admission requirements. In other words, GTA and GRA positions are governed by separate policies and have different English proficiency requirements than graduate admission. Additional information on eligibility for graduate teaching assistants and graduate research assistants may be found in the GTA/GRA/GA Eligibility Guidelines.

The Board of Regents policy on spoken English competency for graduate teaching assistants requires that non-native speakers of English demonstrate English proficiency by obtaining a minimum score of 50 on the SPEAK or TSE, a 22 on the speaking portion of the iBT, or an 8 on the IELTS and that the student must be interviewed by three institutional representatives to determine sufficient English proficiency. More information may be found in the Kansas Board of Regents Policy on Spoken English Language Competency of Faculty and Graduate Teaching Assistants.

TOEFL (iBT) IELTS (Academic) SPEAK Test (AEC) Result
Reading, Listening, and Writing part scores at least 20, Speaking 22 Minimum overall score 6.0 with no part score below 5.5, Speaking 8


English proficiency sufficient for GTA or GRA offer
Reading, Listening, and Writing part scores at least 20 Minimum overall score 6.0 with no part score below 5.5


English proficiency sufficient for GRA offer

Find a Graduate Program

Request more information

Search for a Graduate Program

Apply Now

Donate to the Graduate Student Emergency Fund
COVID-19 Updates and Information

Find up-to-date resources and important information for Graduate Students at REMOTE.KU.EDU.