Washington University is responsible for confirming that visitors and students possess the necessary level of English proficiency to succeed in their respective course of study and/or program. WashU requirements are below.

These requirements apply to non-immigrants who seek to study or pursue an exchange visitor (EV) program at the university, which includes, but is not limited to, individuals holding F or J immigration status. Solely for purposes of these requirements, the term “International Student or Scholar” means a non-immigrant degree-seeking student or EV approved to work, study, or engage in research in the U.S.

To comply with federal regulations and promote a successful academic experience at WashU, F-1 & J-1 international student applicants and J-1 EVs must demonstrate proficiency in the English language. The academic department admitting or hosting the student or scholar must inform the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) that the applicant has met the minimum English language proficiency standards before an immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019) can be issued.

Important Note

Some schools and programs may have higher minimum scores than the WashU minimum requirements based on the level of English proficiency needed for their respective program.

All international student applicants and J-1 EVs should consult with the school or program to which they are applying to confirm the required minimum test scores.

Admitted international students may be required by their academic program or school to complete English placement assessments and/or courses or programming for English communication support as recommended by the English language support contact for their school. 

Degree-seeking applicants

Official test scores must be received by WashU directly from the test administration agency. Scores must be less than two years old at the time of admissions application deadline. Admitted students who defer enrollment may need to submit new scores if their previously submitted score has expired. The following are WashU accepted tests and minimum score requirements.

Exchange program visitors

Prospective participants in a J-1 program (Research Scholar, Professor, Short-term Scholar, Student Intern, Non-degree Student) may satisfy WashU English language proficiency requirements through one of the following methods:

  • Submit test scores as set forth under the Degree-seeking applicants section above;
  • Achieve a score of at least 180 on specific Cambridge tests;
    • Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
    • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
    • Cambridge English: First (FCE)
  • Have partner universities confirm that visitor passed an English proficiency assessment that meets WashU’s English language proficiency requirements; or
  • Submit a passing J-1 English Proficiency Assessment (PDF) form, completed by the WashU Exchange Program (J-1 scholars – option only available if unable to provide a test score as listed in Degree-seeking applicants section)

Temporarily accepted tests

The university strongly prefers that applicants submit TOEFL iBT or IELTS tests to demonstrate English language proficiency. If the applicant is unable to take the TOEFL iBT or IELTS, they may document their efforts to take the tests and request the following tests as exceptions. These requests may be accepted as a last resort.

  • Duolingo English Test – minimum score of 115
  • TOEFL iTP Plus for China (for students in Mainland China who are unable to take the standard TOEFL iBT test due to testing suspensions) – 600 minimum score with Vericant video
  • TOEFL iBT Home Edition – 90 minimum score

In addition, students submitting scores from any of the temporarily accepted tests may be required to complete testing upon arrival within the school to determine if they need additional English courses. 


The English language proficiency test requirements may be waived for applicants who have:

  • Citizenship in one of the following countries: Australia, Cameroon, Canada, Commonwealth Caribbean nations, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Liberia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, or Zimbabwe; OR
  • Completed three or more years of study (before the applicant’s matriculation term) in an English-medium academic program at the a university in any of the above countries, Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa, or the United States.

Note: If a student has completed three or more years of study in an English-medium university-level academic program in a country other than the ones listed above, the admitting department may request a waiver. Exemption or waiver requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the Provost or the Provost’s designate in OISS.

Alternatively, departments may choose to require the TOEFL iBT or IELTS Academic for all applicants whose first language is not English.

WashU has the discretion to require an English language proficiency exam from any international student or J-1 EV at any time before or after admission or program acceptance if facts reasonably lead the University to believe additional testing is necessary to determine the student or EV’s actual level of English proficiency.