English Language Proficiency Tests (for International applicants)

Much of your success in graduate study in the United States will rest on your ability to understand, read, write, and speak English.  If English is not your native language, evidence of proficiency in its use will be decisive in the review for admission.

Duke University Graduate School requires that any applicant whose native language is not English submit scores from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the academic modules of the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS), regardless of whether or not you have attended another U.S. institution or participated in an ESL program.  The TOEFL is administered through the Educational Testing Service.  The TOEFL institution code number for Duke is 5156 (departmental code not needed).  The IELTS is administered by Cambridge ESOL, British Council, and IDP:IELTS Australia.  More information about the test is available at  Your score must not be more than two years old, and an official copy must be sent to the Graduate School directly from the testing agency.  Personal copies are not acceptable nor are "attested" or notarized copies.

It is the policy of the Graduate School to admit only those students with a minimum TOEFL score of 550 (paper-based test) or 90 (internet-based test), or a minimum IELTS score of 7.0.  In many departments a higher score may be required if the applicant is to succeed in the competition for limited new student openings.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Duke University Graduate School will accept either the IELTS or TOEFL.

English for International Students Program

The EIS program was created by the Graduate School specifically to help international students improve their academic speaking and writing skills and prepare for greater success in their academic work, allowing them to represent Duke University with excellence both domestically (on and off campus) and globally.

All international students whose first language is not English are required to take oral and written English placement exams administered by the English for International Students program during Fall Orientation.  Depending on their exam results, students are either exempted from or placed into one or more EIS courses.  For more information, see the English for International Students web site.

NOTE: These exams are independent of the TOEFL/IELTS score submission requirement.

The Graduate School supports two services for international graduate students beyond the course offerings of the English for International Student program. These are particularly important sources of support for later-year students, as the EIS courses are typically completed in the early years of study.

1. At Duke’s Writing Studio, international graduate students can work on any writing assignment or project, including proposals, journal articles, and the dissertation, with trained writing tutors. The Studio now has an ESL specialist and all tutors are trained to work specifically with non-native speakers. Students may request a specific tutor, if they wish, and can work with the same tutor over multiple appointments.

2. Analogous opportunities for speaking are provided through the EIS program’s Oral Skills Coaching service. Students can meet in one-on-one sessions with an experienced ESL speaking coach to develop and rehearse any type of oral presentation. Students use this service to rehearse and receive feedback on typical oral presentations such as departmental and conference presentations, poster sessions, interviews, job talks, proposal defenses, and qualifying and preliminary exams.

Information about these services can be found here.