English Proficiency

If English is not your native language, you will be required to demonstrate your ability to undertake advanced academic work in an English-speaking institution.

Exemptions for the English proficiency requirement are granted for non-native speakers who have received a bachelor's or more advanced degree either from an accredited U.S. institution or from a university outside the U.S. at which English is the official language of instruction.


English Proficiency Exams

TOEFL, IELTS, and Duolingo scores are valid for two years. Some departments require scores higher than Graduate Studies minimums; refer to your department's academic program page or website for details.

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
    Score of at least 79 (iBT). The University of Nebraska–Lincoln institution code is 6877. Send your TOEFL score report via the TOEFL website.
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
    An overall band score of at least 6.5 on the academic test. The general training exam is not accepted. No institutional code is needed.
  • Duolingo English Test (accepted for test dates Feb. 3, 2020 – December 31, 2024)
    Graduate minimum score of 120.


Required English Course

To see whether you are required to take English 887 (ENGL 887) upon your arrival, check your Letter of Admission or contact Graduate Studies. This requirement is based on TOEFL and IELTS scores, or Duolingo sub-scores.

  • TOEFL iBT: writing score below 25 or total below 100
  • IELTS: writing score below 7.0 or total below 7.0
  • Duolingo: production and literacy scores below 130

English 887 (ENGL 887): This 3-credit hour course is designed to build English communication skills, emphasizing writing essay, and research papers. This course can count towards your plan of study.

Further assistance if needed:  Intensive English Program

The university's Intensive English Program (IEP) welcomes students from all over the world who want to devote themselves full time to learning English — especially those who are seeking admission to a degree program at Nebraska and feel that they are not yet ready for coursework with English as the medium of instruction. The IEP offers instruction at several levels of language proficiency, in three sessions during the academic year (25 hours per week). Students may need more than one session to meet TOEFL requirements for an advanced academic program.