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English Proficiency Requirements

Duquesne University is committed to providing international students and teaching assistants with opportunities to achieve maximum academic success. Since English is the language of instruction at Duquesne University, all accepted undergraduate and graduate students whose first language is other than English are required to take English Placement Tests.

If you take an IELTS or TOEFL exam, please send us your scores in order to be exempt from some, but not all, placement tests. The Duquesne University TOEFL Institution code is 2196. 

Please read the policies below carefully in order to understand our testing requirements.

English Language Proficiency Tests:

Accuplacer (Grammar, Vocabulary, Reading and Listening - 90 minutes): New undergraduate students without a documented TOEFL score of iBT 90 or higher must take this test upon arrival.
Duquesne University ESL Program Writing Test (45 minutes): All new students are required to take this test.
SPEAK Test (Test of Spoken English) (30 minutes): New graduate students and all new students in Health Sciences and Nursing must take this test.

Test Fees

Speaking Test $30.00
Writing Test $25.00
General Proficiency+Writing $50.00
Proficiency Test TOEFL ITP* No charge

* This test is required each semester for all students enrolled in ESL Program courses. Students entering an undergraduate program at Duquesne University are expected to attain a score of 525 before being given a full academic schedule. No fee is applied for students currently enrolled in Duquesne University ESL courses. The cost of the TOEFL ITP for non-registered students is $50.

Undergraduate English Proficiency Guidelines

Taking the TOEFL and/or IELTS test is not required for admission for most undergraduate programs. Your application is evaluated on how well you have performed academically in your educational system at home, not on English proficiency. This system allows you to receive full acceptance to a degree program at Duquesne University even if you need support in English before beginning full-time academic study. Upon arrival at Duquesne, you will be required to take English Language Placement Tests. All international students, including transfer students from American universities, must be cleared by the ESL Program before registering for classes.


Please find below the testing criteria for all incoming international undergraduate students.


1. Writing + Accuplacer:
• All new international students except those noted below in numbers 2 and 3
• Transfer students from partner institutions must take both tests unless they have a score 90 TOEFL (iBT) or 6.5 (IELTS).

2. Writing Test only:
• 90+ TOEFL or 6.5 IELTS
• Transfer students from a strong English medium 4-year university or college with transcript showing strong grades (including Freshman Writing)
• A Writing Test score of 4.5 or lower (out of 6 total) indicates a possible need for further testing with Accuplacer to determine readiness for academic courses.

3. Exempt from all testing:
• Exchange students are exempt from all testing. Those who wish to take English can be tested by choice.


If Placement Test results indicate a need for English instruction, you will be enrolled in appropriate courses with the on-campus ESL Program. The number of semesters required and the combination of academic courses with assigned ESL courses depends upon placement test results. Students should be prepared to take a full schedule of ESL classes for one semester or more if necessary. The cost of ESL coursework is in addition to tuition for academic coursework.


All academic students enrolled in the ESL Program are expected to attain a score of 525 on the Institutional TOEFL (ITP) before entering full-time academic coursework. Students who perform successfully in ESL courses and make appropriate progress in proficiency test scores may take part-time academic courses while completing their ESL requirements, at the discretion of the ESL Program Advisors.

If you are interested in studying ESL without applying to a degree program, please visit our ESL website.

Graduate English Proficiency Guidelines
Duquesne University requires submission of TOEFL or IELTS scores for all applicants whose home language is not English. Additionally, the English as a Second Language Program conducts a review of all international students upon arrival to determine individual needs for English Language instruction to support success in the chosen degree program.

The University requires minimum scores in each area to be considered for admission. Please note that certain academic programs may require higher scores. Prospective students should consult their program of choice for more information about specific degree requirements (www.duq.edu/admissions-and-aid/graduate-admissions).

TOEFL: a minimum of total score of 80 (may be higher depending on your academic program) on the Internet-based Test (iBT), with no single sub-score less than 17, or 550 on the paper-based test
• IELTS: a minimum total score of 6.5, with no single sub-score less than those listed for each area.

Test Section   TOEFL   IELTS
Reading            17           6.5
Writing              17           5.5
Speaking          17           5.5
Listening           17           6.0

If your test results indicate a need for English instruction, you will be enrolled in appropriate courses with the on-campus ESL Program at an additional cost. The number of academic courses taken together with any assigned ESL classes depends upon placement test results. 

Please find below the testing criteria for all incoming international graduate students.

1. Writing + Speaking + Accuplacer:
• Conditionally admitted graduate students

2. Writing & Speaking tests only:
• 90+ TOEFL (iBT) or 6.5 IELTS
• BA degree from a strong English medium 4-year university or college
• A Writing test score of 4.5 or lower (out of 6 total) indicates a possible need for further testing with Accuplacer to determine readiness for academic courses.

3. Writing Test only:
• iBT Speaking sub-score 22 or above or a strong 4-year record in an American BA or BS program exempts students from the Speaking test, except International Teaching Assistants (ITAs).

4. Exempt from all testing
• Artist Diploma students (School of Music)
• Exchange students

International Teaching Assistants: Pennsylvania state law and Duquesne University policies require certification of sufficient English language fluency for all faculty and teaching assistants. The same requirements and policies apply as above for all graduate students, except:
• iBT Speaking sub-score 26 or above exempts students from the Speaking test
• Teaching test is required in collaboration with CTE and student's program.