Graduate Bulletin

Spring 2020

English Proficiency Requirements for Non-Native Speakers of English

English Language Requirements

All students who are not native or primary speakers of English must demonstrate proficiency in English to be admitted to the Graduate School. Stony Brook University has established overall minimum English language competency requirements for admission to graduate study and additional, more stringent speak competency requirements for PhD applicants as well as master’s students who serve as Teaching Assistants. Students may be conditionally admitted without meeting some admission requirements, but under no circumstances may students teach in a class or laboratory until they have met Stony Brook University’s speak competency requirements.

A native speaker of English is someone who learned English as a child and uses English as his or her primary language at home. A primary speaker of English may speak a language other than English at home but has developed native fluency as a result of using English exclusively in most social and educational contexts.

All students must declare their native language as part of the admission process. Intentional misrepresentation by a student of his or her native language is academic dishonesty and is grounds for dismissal from the graduate school.

English Proficiency Requirements for Admission:

To be considered for admission, an applicant who is not a native or primary speaker of English must present a minimum score for either the TOEFL or IELTS tests, as defined below. Students who fail to meet this requirement must enroll in a course at the Intensive English Center (IEC) and achieve satisfactory grades before admission to graduate study. At the request of the program, conditional admission may be offered to students who do not meet minimal language requirements for admission. Note: Students whose scores on either of these tests are more than two years old must retake the test.

  • IELTS: Overall score of 6.5, with no subsection recommended to be below 6
  • TOEFL iBT: Overall score of 90 for doctoral applicants and 80 for master’s applicants.

Note: Master's students who have earned a degree from an English language university or college, where all instruction is in English, may be admitted without taking the TOEFL or IELTS tests, but such students must still meet Stony Brook University’s English language competency requirements in order to be a Teaching Assistant.


English Speaking Proficiency Requirements to Serve as a Teaching Assistant:

Supervised college-level teaching is required for the award of any doctoral degree at Stony Brook, and occasionally master’s students serve as teaching assistants. Eligibility for any student serving as a Teaching Assistant is contingent upon the candidate’s ability to speak English proficiently. All prospective Teaching Assistants who are not native or primary speakers of English must achieve a minimum score on the Speaking subsection of the Internet-based TOEFL or IELTS. The TOEFL iBT is administered at centers throughout the world several times each year; applicants should forward their scores directly to the Graduate School (the Stony Brook code is 2548). Further information is available by contacting the Education Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey 08540, USA, or at . Information on the IELTS test can be found at .

All applicants who fail to achieve the minimum score on one of these tests will not be allowed to serve as a Teaching Assistant. This includes all doctoral students and all master’s students who will be assigned as a Teaching Assistant.

Students who will have a teaching role at the University and whose speaking test scores do not meet our minimum standards for teaching will be assigned to an Oral Academic English (OAE) course. NOTE: OAE courses are remedial and cannot be counted toward degree requirements or degree completion from any program.






Course Requirement



7 or Higher


Eligible to TA



OAE 594

Eligible to TA



OAE 592

Eligible to run recitation and lab sessions and/or grade



OAE 590

Not eligible to TA