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English Proficiency Requirements for Admission to Graduate Study

Policy
Purpose: 

To define the language proficiency requirements for incoming graduate students who are non-native speakers of English

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) have other requirements indicated in the policy on Spoken English Language Competency of Faculty and Graduate Teaching Assistants.

Applies to: 

Applicants to graduate study who are not native speakers of English

Campus: 
Edwards
Lawrence
Policy Statement: 

Graduate applicants who are non-native speakers of English must demonstrate English proficiency in the skill areas of reading, writing, and listening. All students who experience challenges doing graduate work in English after arrival are encouraged to seek assistance from the Applied English Center (AEC).

For information on the spoken English requirements for GTAs, please see the policy on Spoken English Language Competency of Faculty And Graduate Teaching Assistants.

Proficiency Bands

KU recognizes three proficiency categories for graduate students:

  • Full Proficiency
  • Admission Proficiency
  • Provisional Proficiency

Applicants may be admitted for graduate study in any of these three categories. By the time they complete their degree work, students are expected to reach Full Proficiency.

Full Proficiency

Students in this proficiency band do not require academic English support as provided by the AEC. Students may be categorized with Full Proficiency at the time of admission or later, after completing coursework at the AEC.

Students placed into the Full Proficiency band are fully admitted for graduate study at KU and no additional testing is required. These students will have "Proficiency Obtained" marked in their official KU academic records.

Admission Proficiency

Students in this band have the proficiency in reading, writing, and listening to English necessary to begin graduate study and to succeed in their classes with some academic English support as provided by the AEC.

Students placed in the Admission Proficiency band are fully admitted for graduate study at KU but they must complete testing at the AEC upon arrival at KU. Their needs for academic English support will be assessed in person and they may be placed in corresponding AEC classes or may be moved into the Full Proficiency band.

Provisional Proficiency

Students placed into this proficiency band are eligible for Provisional Admission. After arrival, these students work to clear the provisions placed on their admission with support from the AEC and, eventually, reach the level of Full Proficiency.

Proof of Proficiency

KU recognizes several mechanisms by which applicants may demonstrate their English proficiency. The following are acceptable means of demonstrating English proficiency for purposes of graduate admission:

  1. Graduation with a baccalaureate degree (or higher) earned in residence from a regionally accredited English-medium U.S. college or university or from a foreign university which conducts all instruction in English and which maintains substantially equivalent bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree requirements
    • Degrees earned online may not be used to demonstrate English proficiency.
    • Demonstrates Full Proficiency: applicants are not required to complete AEC testing
  2. Satisfactory completion of the entire AEC curriculum with a final university designation of "Proficiency Obtained"
    • Demonstrates Full Proficiency: no further English-language testing or coursework is required
  3. Employment 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)
    • Demonstrates Full Proficiency: applicants are not required to complete AEC testing
  4. 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 at the time that Graduate Admissions processes the application.
    • Scores demonstrate Provisional, Admission, or Full Proficiency in accordance with the table below
  5. 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.
    • Demonstrates Provisional, Admission, or Full Proficiency, depending on the documentation provided

Proficiency Band Criteria for Campus-Based Programs

Applicants who complete the AEC curriculum or provide official scores from a TOEFL, IELTS-Academic, or PTE test will be placed into a proficiency band according to this chart. Applicants whose documentation falls below these standards will be denied graduate admission and advised to apply directly for full-time study at the AEC.

Applicants to online-only programs must demonstrate Full Proficiency for admission.

Documentation Type

Full Proficiency

Admission Proficiency

Provisional Proficiency

TOEFL (paper)

All part scores at least 57, TWE 5.0

All part scores at least 53

All part scores 51-52

TOEFL (iBT)

Reading, Listening, and Writing part scores at least 23

Reading, Listening, and Writing part scores at least 20

Reading, Listening, and Writing part scores 18-19

IELTS-Academic

Minimum overall score 6.5, at least 6.0 in Listening, Reading, and Writing

Minimum overall score 6.0 with no part score below 5.5

Minimum overall score 5.5 with no part score below 5.0

PTE

Minimum overall score 58 with no part score below 53 in Listening, Reading, and Writing

Minimum overall score 55 with no part score below 50

Minimum overall score 45 with no part score below 40

AEC Coursework

Completion of all AEC coursework and designation as "Proficiency Obtained"

N/A

N/A

AEC Testing Required?

No

Yes

Yes

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 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 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 upon arrival on campus.
Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 

Provisional admission is not available to students who are applying to online-only programs and are not native speakers of English.

Contact: 

Graduate Studies
785-864-8040
graduate@ku.edu

Approved by: 
Provost
Approved on: 
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Effective on: 
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Keywords: 
English proficiency, Admission, International students, Non-native English speakers, TOEFL score
Change History: 

04/25/2020: Updated policy statement: developed by the Executive Council of Graduate Faculty in collaboration with International Affairs; approved by Provost Bichelmeyer on 20 April 2020. -- ARG
06/20/2018: Technical edit: clarify names of several TOEFL exams -- ARG
06/08/2018: Updated policy statement: new policy language approved by Executive Council of Graduate Faculty on 11 May and by the Provost's Office on 8 June. -- ARG
08/30/2017: Updated policy statement.
01/25/2017: Minor copy edits - removed repeated word and updated plural agreements
07/06/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.
04/28/2016: Revised score tables to clarify acceptance of IELTS-Academic and PTE tests, as well as acceptable score ranges for the PTE. Revised Exclusions and Special circumstances to clarify relationship of this policy to federal immigration regulations.
03/31/2016: Revised acceptable means for verifying English proficiency and clarified the AEC check in requirement
01/28/2015: Revised policy language to clarify that test scores are required for international students and domestic non-native English speakers
11/26/2014: Policy formatting cleanup (table display)
10/15/2014: Policy formatting cleanup (e.g., bolding, spacing)
This policy pre-dates the KU online Policy Library. The dates listed in the approval and effective date fields reflect the date it was moved into the Policy Library.

Academic Categories: 
Admission to KU

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