Duke University
Graduate School


Q. I want to apply to a graduate program at Duke. Can you help me?

A. The EIS program does not process applications directly, so you should apply directly to the department in which you want to pursue a graduate degree. The EIS program's relationship with you begins with your admission. For information on requirements for applying to a graduate program and a link to the electronic application, please go to the Graduate School Admissions Page. Please note that the Graduate School accepts only electronic applications.


Q. What are the English language requirements for international students? Do I need to submit TOEFL scores?

A. You may be required to submit TOEFL scores with your Graduate School application. This decision is made by Graduate School admissions. For specific information about this requirement, please see the Graduate School website.

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Q. I've been admitted to a graduate program. Do I need to take another test when I arrive at Duke?

A. Yes, the Graduate School requires you to take English writing and speaking exams administered by the EIS Program when you arrive. These tests are typically given during Orientation Week for fall matriculates and in the week before classes begin for spring matriculates. These tests are used to place students appropriately into our classes.


Q. Is everyone required to take these exams?

A. If your first language is not English and you are in one of the following programs, you are required to take the exams:

  • Graduate School MA, MS, MAT or PhD
  • Master of Environmental Management
  • Master of Biostatistics
  • Master of International Development Policy
  • Master of Public Policy

NOTE: Your citizenship has no bearing on your exam status. If your first language is not English, you are required to take the exams.

If you are a non-degree student or not pursuing one of these degrees, you can be exempted from the exams. However, if you are interested in taking EIS courses, you should take the exams so that we can advise you which classes would be best for you. Of course in this case, taking the exams does not obligate you to take classes.


Q. I have a very high TOEFL (or IELTS) score. Can I be exempted from the exams?

A. Your TOEFL score is independent of the EIS exam requirement. A high TOEFL or IELTS score does not exempt you from the exam. Students who submit TOEFL or IELTS scores are required to take the exam.


Q. I have an undergraduate or master’s degree from a US university. Can I be exempted from the exams?

A. Exemptions are not given for master’s degrees from universities in English-speaking countries.

You may be eligible for exemption if you have:

a) a TOEFL waiver from Graduate School Admissions
b) a four-year undergraduate degree from a university in the United States or another country in which English is the primary spoken language (e.g., US, UK, Ireland, Canada except Quebec, Australia, New Zealand), you may be eligible for exemption.

Applicants whose first language is not English, but who have been instructed in the English language (e.g., India, Singapore), are NOT exempt from the EIS test requirement. Your citizenship has no bearing on this requirement (i.e., being a US citizen does not automatically exempt you).

If you wish to apply for exemption, please contact us. All exemption requests are handled on a case-by-case basis. Additional factors such as academic program demands, GRE scores, undergraduate record, and recommendations are also considered.


Q. How do I find out when and where the exams are given?

A. You will receive this information from your department.


Q. Do I need to register for these exams?

A. Yes, you do need to pre-register for both the oral and written exams because the number of seats is limited. You will be able to register online approximately one month before the exams.


Q. What do I need to bring to the exams?

A. Bring picture ID (Duke ID or passport) and pens or pencils.


Q. How and when will I get the results of the exam?

A. Your exam results will be emailed to your Duke email address before classes begin.


Q. What happens if I am required to take EIS classes?

A. If you are placed into EIS courses, these courses are Graduate School requirements and you must complete them to receive your degree. Students with EIS course requirements are required to show satisfactory progress toward their completion during their first year of study. You can register for EIS classes in the same way you register for your other classes. The EIS classes carry three or four credits and are graded on the same basis as all Graduate School classes.


Q. How many classes will I have to take?

A. How many classes you will need to take depends on your exam results and your degree program. Your exam results will list your specific course requirements.