Procedure to Request a Waiver for English Language Competency

October 2021

This procedure needs to be completed by the department, not the applicant.

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.

The policy of requiring English language test scores, and the minimum University scores for each kind of test (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE A, etc.) acceptable to MSU are established by the University Committee on Graduate Studies. The policy and scores are in the Academic Programs catalog: Many programs establish score minimums higher than the MSU standard. The MSU English Language Center provides the necessary expertise for interpretation of the scores and is the Grad School’s partner for this activity.

There is a process for automatic waivers and for non-automatic waivers of the requirement of test scores for applicants “whose first language is not English”.

AUTOMATIC waivers by the Office of Admissions:

  • Bachelor’s degree earned in the U.S. (or other English-speaking country). If a copy of the (old) English language competency scores is available, please send to Admissions. The BA or BS program should be a regular 4-year degree the majority of credits earned in the U.S. (or other English-speaking country), not 100% online, not an “experiential” degree that is based on credit for life experiences and/or not earned at a branch campus in a non-English-speaking country.

  • Bachelor’s degree earned at MSU, the majority of credits earned while on our campus.

  • Master’s degree earned at an AAU institution (see on a U.S. campus. Helpful if English language competency scores are included (even if old) for the student’s admission into the master’s program

NON-AUTOMATIC waivers process:

To request a non-automatic waiver of these requirements, a graduate program administrator (academic program coordinator, coordinator, director) must submit this form. The form contains a link to preview the information required.


We have a collective responsibility to help students succeed.

Required Information

Below is the information you will need to complete the non-automatic waiver form. Please gather this information beforehand to prepare to complete the request.

Applicant’s Information

  • Name & last 4 Digits of Applicant's Application ID
  • Matriculation Semester and Year
  • College & degree program
  • Provisional or regular admission

Primary reason justifying your waiver request.

Other Information

  • Any additional comments
  • Email for Graduate Program Director (GPD)
  • By default, the form submitter and GPD will receive notifications whenever the status of the request changes. Enter the emails for anyone else who needs intermediate updates along the way (e.g., program assistant), except the student.