English Language Proficiency Test Scores

Much of your success in graduate study in the United States will rest on your ability to understand, read, write, and speak English. If English is not your first language, evidence of proficiency in its use will be a decisive factor in the application review process.

The Master of Biostatistics Program requires that any* applicant whose first language is not English must submit scores from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the academic modules of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or DUOLINGO. Your score must not be more than two years old from July 1 of the application year. For example, if you application is submitted between August 2020 and January 2021, your score report must be dated July 1, 2018 or later. An official copy of your English language proficiency test scores must be sent to the Master of Biostatistics Program directly from the testing agency. Please note that expired scores and personal copies are not acceptable, nor are “attested” or notarized copies.

The TOEFL is administered through Educational Testing Service (ETS). Please note that ETS reports TOEFL scores for only up to two years after the test date. If you are required to submit a TOEFL score and ETS refuses to report your score, you should take the TOEFL prior to submitting your application. More information about the TOEFL is available on the ETS website. The TOEFL institution code number for Duke University is 5156. ETS will also require you to select a departmental code, although the university does not require it. Regardless of the department code entered, the scores will come to the Master of Biostatistics Program as long as you use institution code 5156.

The IELTS is administered by Cambridge ESOL, British Council, and IDP: IELTS Australia. More information about the IELTS is available on the IELTS website. Official IELTS scores should be mailed to the program using the appropriate mailing address listed on the Mailing Adresses sub-section.

It is the policy of the Master of Biostatistics Program to admit only those applicants with a minimum TOEFL score of 83 (internet-based test) or 550 (paper-based test) or an IELTS score of 7.0.

NOTE:  If recommended by the admissions committee, an interview may be requested prior to a final admissions decision. This interview may be in-person through video conference or an internet video communication platform such as Skype.


We want all our students to have every opportunity to excel in the Master of Biostatistics Program and in the field of biostatistics. Therefore, any student whose first language is not English will be asked to take an English assessment exam upon arrival at Duke University. We strongly believe that proficiency with English will not only enhance your time at Duke University but will greatly assist your work in biostatistics, searching successfully for a job, and networking.

Though some students place out of the English courses, based on the results of the assessment, you may be required to take up to two English courses as part of your degree requirements. These courses are provided by the English for International Students (EIS) program and are independent of the TOEFL score submission requirement. EIS was created specifically to help international students improve their academic speaking and writing skills and prepare for greater success in their academic work, allowing them to represent Duke University with excellence both domestically (on and off campus) and globally.


To be eligible for a TOEFL/IELTS waiver, you must have studied fulltime for two years or more at a college or university where the sole language of instruction is English and in a country where English is the primary spoken language. The two years of study must be completed prior to the start of the program.

If you qualify for a TOEFL/IELTS waiver based on the above criteria, mention where you completed the two-year study requirement in your personal statement. 

NOTE: We strongly encourage all applicants whose first language is not English to take either the TOEFL or the IELTS test before applying, even if they meet the TOEFL/IELTS waiver criteria. The exam results can provide vital information regarding the strength of an applicant’s academic English skills. In addition, many graduate departments and programs consider TOEFL and IELTS scores a critical factor during the application review process. Contact your department or program of interest to determine how or whether TOEFL and IELTS scores factor into their application review.