English proficiency requirements
Options for Demonstrating English Proficiency
Non-native and non-native-like English speakers must demonstrate English proficiency to gain admission to a graduate program. They may do so in one of the following ways:
Satisfactory scores on the standardized tests like the TOEFL, IELTS-Academic, or PTE may demonstrate varying levels of English proficiency. Depending on your level, Applied English Center (AEC) coursework may be required as part of your admission to KU. Applicants to online degree and certificate programs must achieve Full Proficiency to be eligible for admission. See the following table for further details.
Official scores must be sent to KU Graduate Admissions by the testing agency and must be less than two years old at the time that Graduate Admissions processes the application. Test scores require several days to be processed by the testing organizations and KU Graduate Admissions. Applications are automatically updated with official test scores once complete.
TOEFL scores should be sent by ETS to KU institution code 6871. IELTS should be sent to KU Graduate Admissions via the e-delivery service. PTE score sheets containing the Score Report Code and Registration ID should be emailed to email@example.com. Self-reported or unofficial English proficiency test scores are not accepted and cannot be uploaded to the application.
The online Duolingo English Test may be considered as a form of alternative documentation of English proficiency. In consultation with the Executive Council of Graduate Faculty and the Director of the Applied English Center (AEC), the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies will determine whether the alternative documentation demonstrates English proficiency at the level expected for admission proficiency to graduate study at KU. See the table below for more details about proficiency levels and their requirements.
Applicants should work with the graduate admissions contact in their program of application if they are requesting use of the Duolingo exam as alternative documentation of English proficiency. Applicants are highly encouraged to take the practice test, as the Duolingo test is somewhat different from other English proficiency exams. Test takers should ask that their results be made visible on KU’s Duolingo dashboard. There will be an administrative review process that could take several weeks; this review process is separate from the departmental review of the overall graduate application.
You will be considered fully proficient and will not be required to complete AEC testing or coursework if you have earned:
- A baccalaureate degree (or higher) in residence from an accredited US university.
- A baccalaureate degree (or higher) in residence from a foreign university that conducts all instruction in English and maintains substantially equivalent bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree requirements.
Whether an institution’s medium of instruction was in English will be confirmed by your transcripts. A Medium-of-Instruction letter may be required if English instruction cannot be confirmed.
Degrees earned online and English language programs may not be used to verify English proficiency.
If you are employed as an officer in the U.S. military with documentation of selection or promotion to the rank of Major or higher (or the equivalent U.S. Navy or Coast Guard rank), then you will be considered fully proficient and will not be required to complete AEC testing.
In exceptional cases, a department, with written support from the appropriate school or college, may petition the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies to consider alternative documentation of English proficiency. In consultation with the Executive Council of Graduate Faculty and the Director of the AEC, the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies will determine whether the alternative documentation demonstrates English proficiency at the level expected for regular admission to graduate study at KU. See the following table for more details about proficiency levels and their requirements.
Proficiency Bands and Score Requirements*
|Documentation Type||Full Proficiency||Admission Proficiency|
TOEFL (iBT) (test center and online/at home)
Total score of 80 with no part score below 20
Total score of 55 with no part score below 13
IELTS-Academic (test center and online/at home)
Total score of 6.5 with no part score below 6.0
Total score of 5.5 with no part score below 5.0
PTE Academic (test center and online/at home)
Total score of 60 with no part score below 55
Total score of 42 with no part score below 35
Completion of all AEC coursework and designation as "Proficiency Obtained"
Eligibility to begin Level 3 or higher
AEC Testing Required?
*MyBest scores are not accepted.
Applied English Center Testing
The Applied English Center (AEC) maintains a testing process for non-native speakers of English. This process serves to confirm each student's level of English proficiency and determines whether English courses will be included as a requirement of the student’s graduate studies. In order to graduate, students who are required to complete AEC courses must meet KU’s Full Proficiency standard, as demonstrated by their performance in AEC coursework and/or testing.
- Students who are admitted in the Full Proficiency band are not required to complete AEC testing.
- All other non-native speakers of English who gain admission to campus-based programs are required to complete AEC testing prior to enrollment.
English proficiency requirements for GTAs are governed by the Kansas Board of Regents and are separate from the English proficiency requirement for admission to a KU graduate program. Detailed information on English proficiency requirements for GTAs may be found on Graduate Studies’ website.
For additional information about eligibility for employment in Graduate Assistantships, contact your program or see the GRA, GTA, and GA Appointments: General Guidelines and Eligibility policy.