Graduate School

Language Proficiency: TOEFL or IELTS

All international applicants whose native language is not English must submit an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score.

These tests measure the ability of non-native speakers of English to use and understand North American English as it is used in college and university settings. The tests are offered throughout most regions of the world. The TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition and the IELTS Indicator tests are accepted.

Learn more About TOEFL

  • For TOEFL  the recommended minimum score for admission consideration is 577 on the paper-based test and 90 on the Internet-based test.
  • For IELTS, the recommended minimum overall band score is 7.

Some programs may have more rigorous language proficiency standards; applicants with questions should contact programs directly. These exams should be taken early enough to allow the scores to reach the Graduate School by your program's deadline. Performance on the tests is one of many factors considered in making admission decisions. 

Students with Degrees Where the Primary Language of Instruction is English

Language proficiency exams are not required of those students who have earned a degree from a non-U.S. university where the primary language of instruction is English, or from a college or university in the United States*, or in any of the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Botswana
  • Cameroon
  • Canada (except Quebec)
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Ireland
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Malawi
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Zimbabwe
  • South Africa
  • Sierra Leone
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Gambia
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales)
  • West Indies
  • Zambia


Students must email after they have submitted their application in order to receive the waiver (for applications completed in CollegeNET only).

Students from Other Countries

Students with degrees from universities in countries not on this list should have their university Registrar or Dean send a letter to the Graduate School, referencing the applicant's name and proposed area of study, stating that English is the primary language of instruction for that institution. 

Reporting Codes

  • Official TOEFL scores should be sent to Brown University Graduate School (reporting code 3094). Those applying to School of Public Health programs should have the scores sent to both the Graduate School and SOPHAS (reporting code  5688).
  • Official IELTS scores should be sent electronically by choosing "Brown University Graduate School" in the IELTS portal. We do not accept unofficial Test Report Forms from students. An institutional code is NOT required.

*If the studies leading to an advanced degree from a U.S. institution were conducted primarily or wholly in a language other than English, the TOEFL must be taken.

Teaching Assistantships

Students who have been awarded teaching assistantships and whose native language is not English will be tested upon their arrival for English proficiency before they begin teaching. If a student's English language skills do not meet the minimum standards of certification, provisional approval of the appointment may be made on the condition that the student enroll in an English-language training course during the first semester of the appointment and be assigned to other duties that will prepare them for teaching. 

Teaching is an integral part of the graduate experience at Brown, and most students are expected to teach as part of their professional training and scholarly apprenticeship.
English language training is available to new international students during the academic year, through a collaborative effort of the Center for Language Studies (CLS) and the Graduate School.

NOTE: Students who have not been certified at the appropriate level for the classroom or laboratory will not be supported as teaching assistants past the first year.