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Santa Clara University

English Proficiency

Santa Clara University requires a minimum level of English language proficiency of all our applicants.  This includes Undergraduate, Graduate, and Non-degree Visiting and Exchange Applicants.  The level of English proficiency required may differ by academic program.  


Proficiency Requirements

Applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.  The only exemption for the English Proficiency Requirement is for applicants who native language is not English but who earn, or will earn prior to enrollment at SCU, a bachelor's degree or a Ph.D. in its entirety in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Anglophone Canada.  Receiving a bachelor's degree in a country that lists English as an official language such as India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Nigeria or Singapore does not exempt applicants from he English Language proficiency requirement.

Scores must be submitted as follows:

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores must be sent directly from the testing agency to SCU, institution codes listed below.  

TOEFL scores expire after two years from the original test date and are no longer available from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) after that time.  If students have questions about the validity of their TOEFL scores they should contact ETS.  If ETS is able to send an applicant's valid scores, SCU will accept them.  SCU will not accept expired or self-reported test scores nor copies of test reports.  

TOEFL or IELTS scores should be submitted from:
  • Applicants whose native language is not English.  Native language is defined as the language an applicant grew up speaking in family, community and nation.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English and who have earned an undergraduate degree from a college/university in a country where the native language is not English.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English and who have earned a master's degree in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Anglophone Canada.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English but transferred to a college/university in the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Anglophone Canada.


Non-Degree International Visiting and Exchange students are required to demonstrate the same English proficiency as degree-seeking Undergraduate and Graduate students.


  See more requirements and advice on demonstrating English proficiency: TOEFL revised PBT TOEFL iBT Duolingo English Test IELTS Other proficiency exams accepted? Interview recommended or required? SCU Institutional Code for Submitting Test Scores
All International Students (ISS) See programs below. 79   6.5 Sometimes, contact department None N/A
Undergraduate 575 90 *SCU does not use MyBest™ test in our review process.  115 6.5   Recommended 4851
Graduate Business   100   7   Required for some 4851, Dept. 02
Graduate Engineering   79   6.5   None 4851
Graduate Education & Counseling Psychology   90   6.5   None 4851
Graduate Jesuit School of Theology   79 105      None SCU Institutional Code (4851)
Graduate Law - JD            None  
Graduate Law - LLM            None  
Graduate Arts & Sciences - Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries   90   6.5   None 4851

Non-degree Exchange and Visiting Students - see requirements for academic program

English Proficiency for J-1 International Scholars


The US Department of State J-1 regulations require English proficiency of Scholars and all J-1 scholars at SCU must provide proof of sufficient English language proficiency prior to receiving the DS-2019 form from SCU. Certification of the scholar's appropriate English language knowledge is the responsibility of the SCU department hosting the scholar. The academic department must certify English language ability meets the following requirements:
  • The prospective exchange visitor has the English language skills sufficient to function on a day-to-day basis in the United States.
    Functioning on a day-to-day basis may be defined as being able to successfully communicate with the local community, such as negotiating with a landlord, explaining symptoms to a physician, understanding emergency instructions by police and/or fire departments, etc.
  • The prospective exchange visitor has the English language skills sufficient to conduct his/her proposed academic activities, i.e., research, teaching, in the exchange activity environment.
    The prospective visitor must be able to efficiently communicate and understand the academic concepts in English, including understanding of safety issues/instructions in a lab context.
Documentation of English Proficiency for J-1 Scholars
English proficiency may be demonstrated in one of three ways:
  • Through a documented interview conducted by the SCU faculty host in English
  • By valid test score meeting the following minimum standards: TOEFL 80 or IELTS 6.5; SCU academic department hosts may require higher scores
  • By documentation such as transcript from an English-speaking university, a letter of certification from an academic institution or English language school

More on English Proficiency for Scholars and Hosts