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International Admissions: English Proficiency Policy
English proficiency policy information, including minimum required scores on the TOEFL, MELAB and IELTS tests
This guide has been created for use by University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate programs. Applicants with specific questions should contact international evaluators at the Graduate School.
Every applicant whose native language is not English is required to present an official English proficiency test score. English proficiency is a skill or competence acquired through practice and use. Country of citizenship does not exempt applicants from this requirement. Language of instruction at the college or university level, and how recent it has been, are the determining factors in meeting this requirement.
Applicants are exempt if:
- English is the exclusive language of instruction at the undergraduate institution; or
- they have earned a degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university not more than 5 years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment; or
- they have completed at least two full-time semesters of graded course work, exclusive of ESL courses, in a U.S. college or university, or at an institution outside the U.S. where English is the exclusive language of instruction, not more than 5 years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment. See the individual school profiles for the language of instruction information as stated in the Wisconsin Directory of International Institutions
- they have completed their undergraduate education in Puerto Rico.
Scores must be less than two years old, as of the start of the admission term.
The Graduate School's required minimum scores are:
|Paper Based TOEFL||Internet Based TOEFL||IELTS||MELAB|
|Maximum possible score||677||120||9||99|
|A. No ESLAT required||580-677||92-120||7-9||82-99|
|B. ESLAT1 required||550-579||80-91||6.5||77-81|
|C. Pro sheet2 and Dean's approval required||<=549||<=79||<=6.0||<=76|
Note that the Paper Based TOEFL test does not have a speaking component.
Only programs, not applicants, may request a waiver. A written waiver may be requested by the program providing documentation and justification regarding the applicant's English proficiency. Any applicant receiving a waiver may be required to take the English as a Second Language Assessment Test upon arrival. Depending on placement test results, students may be required to take an ESL class or classes. Please call the Office of Graduate Admissions with any questions regarding this policy.
We require TOEFL scores to be sent to UW–Madison electronically. Any paper TOEFL scores must be verified by departments. To verify a TOEFL score with ETS call 1-800-257-9547. Sign and date a legible copy of the verified score report and send it to the Graduate School Admissions office.
MELAB and IELTS scores only arrive in paper format. Because English Proficiency is Graduate School's requirement, departments should send these scores to GS evaluators.
1 Applicants admitted with scores in this range (row B above) are required to take the English as a Second Language Assessment Test. This test is administered by the Program in English as a Second Language here on campus. Students are placed in ESL courses on the basis of the results of this test.
2 Programs wishing to recommend admission for an applicant whose score is lower than that in row C above will be required to submit a Graduate School Admissions Pro-Sheet complete with ample explanation and justification.