Graduate Admissions Toolkit

English Language Proficiency (ESL) Information

Applicants whose native language is not English (regardless of citizenship status) must provide proof of English language proficiency as a condition of admission in the form of either a TOEFL, IELTS or MELAB exam.  The University maintains an "Operational Standard" for ESL tests; but individual programs may set higher requirements.

Operational Standard for ESL Exams
Test Type Operational Minimum Scores (individual programs may have different requirements) Test Date
TOEFL 79 total score with subscores of 21 for writing and 19 for reading. Within 2 years of program start
IELTS 6.5 total score with subscores of 6.5 for both writing and reading sections. Within 2 years of program start
MELAB 80 Within 2 years of program start
Standard Exceptions

The following exceptions to the exam requirement are accepted. Individual programs may set stricter requirements.  

English Speaking Countries:

Applicants from certain English-speaking countries and regions may not need to take a proficiency exam.   See the ESL Exam Exemption list PDF document for details.

Post-secondary education in the United States or other English-speaking country:

Applicants who have completed 16 semester (24 quarter) credits within the past 24 months in residence as a full-time student at a recognized or accredited post-secondary institution in the US (or other English-speaking country) may be exempted from the proficiency exam requirement. 


Programs may request a waiver of proof of English proficiency for an individual applicant.   Details are available here:  TOEFL waiver form  Waivers for Twin Cities students are submitted to the Minnesota English Language Program.  Waivers for Duluth campus students are submitted to the Duluth Graduate School Office.  

Official Test Scores
Other Resources
  • TOEFL Online Speech Sample Service now offers the ability to listen to a sample of spoken English online. For more information, read ETS' Speech Sample Frequently Asked Questions document; or contact Dean Tsantir (
  • Official TOEFL scores for current applicants:   This one-page tutorial briefly describes the ETS electronic score load process: