English Proficiency - NIU - The Graduate School

Resources for International Students

English Proficiency

Non-native speakers of English must demonstrate that their command of the English language is adequate to engage in graduate coursework.

Demonstration of command of the language can be provided by submitting official IELTS or TOEFL exam scores.*
Information about IELTS and TOEFL is available online.

Use the following address to have official IELTS test scores sent to NIU:
The Graduate School
223 Adams Hall, NIU
DeKalb, IL 60115.

For the TOEFL, use the institution code 1559, and use ETS resources to determine the appropriate departmental code. NIU considers tests of English language to be valid for two years.

The Graduate School has established minimum scores on the IELTS and TOEFL for admission purposes. Some departments or programs may require higher scores on the examination. Other departments (for example, the Department of Communications) require the Test of Spoken English for admission purposes.

Non-native speakers of English, who are admitted on the basis of IELTS or TOEFL scores that do not meet established competency thresholds, may be required to take on campus one or more English as a Second Language courses, while pursuing their degree. Notification of the requirement will be mailed to applicants after their admission. Typically the letter is enclosed in the packet containing the I20. Upon arrival at NIU, admitted students, who are required to take such courses, may challenge the requirement by passing a series of examinations.

English Proficiency test score minimums for admission

TOEFL Computer based test
TOEFL Paper based test
TOEFL Internet based test

English Proficiency test score minimums for graduate assistants

TOEFL Internet based test (speech test)
IELTS (speech test)
Test of Spoken English
50 (new version) or 220 (old version)
Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit
50 (new version) or 220 (old version)

*NIU accepts either IELTS or TOEFL scores. Test-takers in India and China should be aware that Educational Testing Services (ETS) has lately begun routinely canceling TOEFL scores submitted by students in those countries because of widespread testing irregularities. Students admitted, in part, on the basis of canceled scores jeopardize their admission and non-immigrant status. Consequently, until ETS demonstrates better control over its test administration centers, test-takers in India and China may want to consider submitting IELTS scores.