Admission for International Students

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The University of Nebraska-Lincoln welcomes students from all countries as part of the student body and the Office of Graduate Studies encourages applications from qualified students throughout the world.


It is recognized that educational systems in other countries differ from that of the United States. Comparability of international course work and degrees will be determined by departmental Graduate Committees and by the Office of Graduate Studies. Generally, a four-year first university degree from an academic institution outside the U.S. will be accepted as comparable to the U.S. bachelors degree if the degree grants eligibility for graduate study at institutions within the same country.

How and When to Apply

Application materials from international students must include uploaded copies of all college- or university-level transcripts or mark sheets (records of courses and marks earned), with certificates, diplomas, and degrees plus certified English translations. These unofficial documents will be used for application review. Official documents are required from all students who are admitted and enroll. Photocopies of certified records cannot be used. Students enrolled in other U.S. institutions may have certified copies of all foreign records sent directly to the Office of Graduate Studies.

It is recommended that applicants outside the U.S. begin applying approximately one year in advance of the desired first enrollment. The following dates are suggested to have all materials on file: March 1 for first semester (beginning in August); September 1 for second semester (beginning in January); and February 1 for summer (beginning in June).

All international applicants seeking F-1 student visas must apply for degree programs rather than non-degree, post-baccalaureate status.

Funding Requirements

Evidence of adequate financial resources for tuition and living expenses is required of all international students seeking F-1 or J-1 visas, including those who received their baccalaureate degrees at UNL. Students should not assume funds or work opportunities will be available at a later date, and should be prepared to have their living and educational expenses increase annually. University-wide fellowships may be sought after one year of graduate study in the U.S. More information is available to eligible candidates from the Office of Graduate Studies.

English Proficiency

When Applying:  TOEFL or IELTS

Applicants to the Graduate College whose native language is not English are required to submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of at least 550 on the paper-based TOEFL; 79 on the Internet-based TOEFL or an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) overall band score of at least 6.5. Some departments require higher scores for admission.

Upon Arrival:  English Language Test (ELT)

As a new international student, you may be required to take the English Language Test upon your arrival in Lincoln. Check your Certificate of Admission from the Office of Graduate Studies to confirm whether you are required to sit for this exam.  Typically all new students are required to take the ELT if the score is:

  • A TOEFL iBT writing score below 25 or a TOEFL below 100
  • An IELTS writing score OR total IELTS score below 7.0

Exemptions from the ELT requirement may be granted based on sufficiently high TOEFL or IELTS writing scores, or for non-native speakers who have received a bachelor's or more advanced degree from a U.S. university or a university outside the U.S. at which English is the official language of instruction.

International Teaching Assistant Institute

New holders of teaching assistantships who are non-native speakers of English must attend the International Teaching Assistant Institute. The summer Institute, a concentrated 90-hour program, is held the last week of July and the first week of August. For more information about the availability of assistantships and the Institute, contact your program’s Graduate Committee chair.

Intensive English Program

UNL’s Intensive English Program (IEP) welcomes graduate students who wish to study English intensively prior to enrolling in a graduate program.

For information and applications, contact:
Mr. Christy Dunsmore, Director
Program in English as a Second Language
Department of English
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
513 East Nebraska Hall
901 N 17th Street
PO Box 880507
Lincoln, NE 68588-0507
(402) 472-1884
(402) 472-4636 Fax