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English Language Proficiency

Demonstrating Proficiency

Demonstrated proficiency in the English language is required for all international applicants whose native language is not English. Non-native English language speakers may be exempt from this requirement if they have studied full-time for one uninterrupted academic year at a university-level institution in which English is the language of instruction and in a country in which English is a dominant language.

UC San Diego accepts the following English proficiency exams listed below. Please note that some departments will only accept TOEFL scores, therefore applicants are strongly encouraged to check for specific departmental requirements.

Please note: International graduate students who are nonnative speakers of English must be certified as having requisite language skills before they can serve as teaching assistants (TAs; UC San Diego Graduate Division policy in compliance with Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 41). More information is below.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) -- When ordering your TOEFL score reports, use UCSD's institution code 4836 and the department code that most closely resembles the department to which you are applying. The department codes are located at the back of the TOEFL bulletin. TOEFL score reports are sent to the university four to six weeks after the test is administered. ETS will report scores no more than 2 years after the test date. At this time, we are unable to accept TOEFL MyBest Scores offered through ETS. 

Arrangements for taking the TOEFL may be made through the nearest United States Embassy or the Educational Testing Service. Consult the TOEFL website for further information.

The university-wide minimum TOEFL score required for consideration for graduate admission is 64 for the Paper-delivered Test, and 85 for the internet based test (iBT). Department/Programs may require a higher minimum score, so please check your department requirements. Applicants with marginal scores on the TOEFL exam may be required to pass an English proficiency test upon arrival at UCSD or enroll in an English course until the required proficiency is attained.


International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

IELTS is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. Arrangements for taking the IELTS Academic Training exam may be made through the website.

The university-wide minimum IELTS Academic Training exam score required for consideration for graduate admission is Band Score 7. Department/Program minimums may vary, so please check your department requirements. Applicants with marginal scores on the IELTS exam may be required to pass an English proficiency test upon arrival at UCSD or enroll in an English course until the required proficiency is attained.

To submit official test scores to UC San Diego Graduate Division, applicants must contact the IELTS test center where they took the test to request their official test results to be sent to the address below. UC San Diego does not accept unofficial copies of IELTS Test Report Forms from students. An institution code is not required.

UC San Diego Graduate Admissions is registered to receive IELTS scores using the IELTS Results Service E-Delivery. Please type in the exact information below to send your scores to our office using IELTS E-Delivery on the IELTS website:

University of California, San Diego Graduate Admissions
9500 Gilman Drive #0003
La Jolla, CA 92093-0003

*Not accepted by some departments. Please check department directory for specific requirements.


English Language Requirement for International Teaching Assistants (TA)

Evidence of English Language Proficiency : Certification as Teaching Assistant Cut Off Scores

Students may be certified either on the basis of their score on one of the following:

  • have a TOEFL iBT Speaking subscore of 28-30
  • have an IELTS Speaking subscore of 8.5-9.0
  • have a PTE Speaking sub-score of 83-90, and 2
  • be an international graduate students who serve as language assistants in courses conducted in their native language.

Those students with TOEFL speaking scores of 23 – 27, IELTS speaking scores of 7-8, or PTE speaking scores of 65-82 are required to take the English Language Certification Exam

Students who do not pass the English Language Certification Exam are given the opportunity to improve their language skills.

Those students who are admitted but have a speaking TOEFL score below 23 will not be allowed to take the certification test. Students who fall into this category may acquire the required English language proficiency skills via courses offered in the English Language Institute  and the English for Academic and Professional Development Program.


TOEFL iBT Home Edition and IELTS Indicator

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, UC San Diego will be accepting the TOEFL iBT Home Edition test scores and IELTS Indicator test scores for the 2021-2022 academic cycle. Applicants that do not have in-person testing options may submit the home edition scores as an alternative. 

The university-wide minimum score for the TOEFL iBT Home Edition is the same as the in-person TOEFL iBT minimum. Information regarding the TOFEL iBT Special Home Edition can be found on the ETS Website.

The university-wide minimum score for the IELTS Indicator is the same as the in-person IELTS minimum. Information regarding the IELTS Indicator can be found on the IELTS website.

*Note: IELTS scores may not be accepted by some departments. We recommend referring to the department directory for specific requirements. 


The Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)

PTE Academic is a computer-based academic English language test benchmarked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF). For registration and test information consult the PTE website.

The minimum PTE Academic score required for graduate admission is Overall Score: 65. Department/Program minimums may vary.

*Not accepted by some departments. Please check department directory for specific requirements.