Graduate Division

English Proficiency for Teaching Assistantships

Section 1


All international students, including those with Permanent Resident status, who wish to serve as a Teaching Assistant or Teaching Associate must pass an oral English proficiency exam approved by UCI. The only exemptions to this exam are given to students who have:

  1. U.S. citizenship
  2. Completed a four-year high school degree in the U.S.
  3. Citizenship in a country where English is either the primary or dominant language, as approved by UCI Graduate Council.  See list of approved countries here


In order to establish eligibility for appointment as a UCI Teaching Assistant (TA) or Teaching Associate, international students who are not citizens of countries where English is either the primary or dominant language are required to pass an oral English proficiency exam approved by the UCI campus.  

The oral English proficiency requirement also applies to international students who:

  1. Are permanent residents or hold other non-citizen status and are residing in the U.S.
  2. Have completed their undergraduate education (not high school) in the United States
  3. Have attended "American" schools abroad.

Students can fulfill this requirement by passing one of the following exams:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Testing (TOEFL iBT) is administered by ETS in U.S. centers and abroad;
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is available in over 140 countries including the U.S.;
  • Spoken Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) is available at UCI only after a student is admitted;
  • Test of Oral English Proficiency (TOEP) is administered at UCI and is only an option if a student fails to pass the TOEFL iBT, IELTS or SPEAK.

For more detailed information on these exams of spoken English proficiency, including the respective passing scores, please review the English Proficiency Summary Chart.

To help UCI graduate students strengthen their oral English proficiency, UCI offers a Program in Academic English/ESL.