English Language Competency

All international applicants and applicants whose first language is not English must be able to be proficient in English as a condition for regular admission to Michigan State University. Such applicants will be required to demonstrate their proficiency by meeting certain minimum standards.

The English competency tests (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE A, etc.) are designed to give graduate program admissions committees some information to judge potential for success. A reasonable level of English competency (reading, listening, speaking, and writing) are important skills for student success in the nationally- competitive MSU graduate education environment. It is our collective responsibility to ensure, as best we can, the potential for success, by using these standard test scores, which are backed up with considerable research on reliability, in the admissions process.

Applicants should have all test scores sent from the testing agency directly to Michigan State University; Office of Admissions; Hannah Administration Building; 426 Auditorium Road, Room 250; East Lansing, Michigan 48824-2604.

Provisional admission status will continue until university minimum language proficiency requirements for English (regular admission proficiency) are attained. Provisionally admitted students are required to take the MSU English Language Test (MSUELT) upon arrival at MSU. The results of the MSU English Language Test determine whether students will:

  • Enroll in full-time academic courses.
  • Enroll in full-time English Language courses through the English Language Center.
  • Enroll in a combination of both academic courses and English Language courses.

You may not enroll in full-time academic courses until you meet the university's minimum language proficiency requirement for English. Enrollment in English Language Center courses is NOT negotiable. Any questions regarding the university's minimum language proficiency requirements for English can be answered by the English Language Center; elc@msu.edu; 517-353-0800; https://elc.msu.edu/

English language tests for international students
Due to cancellations of TOEFL and IELTS tests, MSU will be temporarily accepting the Duolingo English Test, the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition and the IELTS Indicator tests from applicants affected by these closures who are applying to begin their studies in fall semester 2021.

Regular Admission

Provisional Admission

Proficiency is determined by ONE of the tests below: You must demonstrate proficiency as follows: Students with acceptable academic credentials may be admitted to some academic programs on a provisional basis. If admitted provisionally, the deficiency must be corrected within two consecutive semesters. Provisional status is granted if:
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Educational Testing Service Princeton, NJ 08541 USA https://www.ets.org/toefl MSU Code: 1465 Internet-based test (iBT): no subscore below 19 for reading, listening, and speaking; no writing subscore below 22; with a minimum average score of 80.** Internet-based test (iBT): average score is at least 70.
Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) Testing and Certification Division The English Language Institute Ann Arbor, MI 48109 USA https://lsa.umich.edu/eli Minimum average score of 83, no subscore below 80.**
MELAB speaking test is required (minimum score of 3).
Average score is between 72 and 83.
MSU English Language Test (MSUELT) English Language Center Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824-1035 USA https://elc.msu.edu/ Minimum average score of 80 to 84, no subscore below 80;
OR Minimum average score of 85, no subscore below 78.**
Average score is at least 72.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
https://www.ielts.org/
Minimum average score of 6.5. No subscore below 6.0. Average score is 6.
Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE A) https://pearsonpte.com/ Minimum Overall Score of 53; no subscore below 51 for reading, listening, and speaking; no writing subscore below 59. Average Overall score is at least 48.
Duolingo English Test https://englishtest.duolingo.com/ 105 or higher 95 to 100

** Some graduate departments require higher English Language Proficiency scores than the University minimum. Please contact the department for further information.

Procedure to Request a Waiver for English Language Competency (waiver requests must be submitted by the department, not the applicant)