English language requirement

Whether you’re applying as a freshman or transfer student, you must demonstrate proficiency in English to be considered for admission to any of our campuses.

Applying as a freshman?

If you’ve completed all your secondary school/high school in a country where English is not the language of instruction, you can demonstrate proficiency by taking one of these exams and earning the required scores:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination: Accepted with an 80 or better for the Internet-based test and 550 or better for the paper-based test
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination (academic modules): Accepted with a 6.5 or better band score (academic modules)

Keep in mind: A UC campus may require a score higher than the minimum for admission selection.

How do I send my scores to UC?

For TOEFL, you can send your scores to one UC campus, and all campuses you apply to will receive it. For IELTS, be sure to arrange to have your scores reported to each campus to which you apply.

These scores must be received no later than January if you're applying for the fall term. We strongly recommend that you take the test as early as possible, because your score may be a factor in whether or not we're able to admit you.

Information about these exams is available at most U.S. consulates and overseas U.S. educational advising offices, as well as by mail and online:

TOEFL Services
P. O. Box 6151
Princeton, NJ 08541-6151 USA
E-mail: toefl@ets.org
Web: www.toefl.org

IELTS International
E-mail: ielts@ieltsintl.org
Web: www.ielts.org

Applying as a transfer student?

You can demonstrate English proficiency by completing the two UC-transferable English composition courses required for transfer admission and receiving at least a “C” or “B” grade/mark, depending on the campuses you’re applying to. If you do so, you are not required to submit IELTS/TOEFL exam scores.

You are considered proficient if:

  • You’re applying to Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside or Santa Barbara and received grades/marks of “C” or higher in the English composition courses. 
  • You’re applying to UCLA, San Diego or Santa Cruz and received grades/marks of “B” or higher in the English composition courses.

Berkeley may require an interview to determine English language skills during the application review process. Davis, UCLA and Santa Barbara may require additional English proficiency testing for applicants admitted to their campuses. 

Keep in mind: UC does not accept English composition courses from international universities where English is not the language of instruction.

What if I didn’t earn the grades/marks the campuses require for English proficiency?

Depending on the campuses you’re applying to, you may need to take an English as a Second Language (ESL) class or an exam.

Each campus is different, so make sure to contact the campus admissions office for more information.

Freshman applicants: Have you had some secondary school in the U.S.?

You may need to demonstrate English proficiency in a different way.

See if you need to meet this requirement »