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.

Part 1: TOEFL or IELTS when you apply

Demonstrate your English proficiency by providing your TOEFL or IELTS scores. Your scores must meet minimum requirements for both Graduate Studies and your academic department.

  1. Required by Graduate Studies:
    • 79 on TOEFL iBT
    • 550 on TOEFL PBT
    • 6.5 on IELTS
  2. Required by your academic department:  Minimums vary by department; refer to your department's program summary or website for details.  Some departments require scores higher than Graduate Studies minimums.

Send your official TOEFL scores to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by going to the TOEFL website and following the instructions for score reporting. The institution code for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is 6877.

TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years, so if your scores are more than two years old you may be required to retake the test.

Part 2: ELT when you arrive

To see whether you are required to sit for the English Language Test (ELT) upon your arrival in Lincoln, check your Certificate of Admission or ask Graduate Studies. This ELT requirement is generally based on TOEFL or IELTS scores:

  • TOEFL iBT: writing score below 25 or total below 100
  • IELTS: writing score below 7.0 or total below 7.0

When you Register for the English Language Test, we encourage you to sit for the earliest test date that fits your schedule. (The sooner you complete the exam, the sooner you can finalize your course registration.) Graduate students take only the writing portion of the ELT, which can be completed in one hour.

  • If your ELT score is below 85, you will be placed in ENGL 887, a 3 credit hour course to build English communication skills, emphasizing writing essays and research papers.
  • If your ELT score is 85 or higher, you are exempt from any further English language courses unless required by your program.

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.