A pile of handwritten notes
Index cards from the archives of the Oxford English Dictionary
(Image credit: Yin Yin Lu / Graduate Photography Competition)

English language requirements

Oxford’s graduate courses are demanding, and you will need to demonstrate that you have a high level of proficiency in English to take up a place here. 

If your first language is English and you have always been a resident and citizen of a majority English-speaking country recognised by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), or you are a current Oxford student applying for readmission, you do not need to demonstrate your level of English.

It is not essential to provide evidence at the time of applying, but you may need to demonstrate that you meet the language requirement for your course in order to take up a place at Oxford. Your course page will show the level of English language proficiency required for the course: ‘Standard’ or ‘Higher’.

English language tests

Your course page will show the required language level and the scores you must achieve in one of the English test formats accepted by the University (IELTS, TOEFL and Cambridge English). To meet the requirement, you must achieve at least the minimum score in each component and overall.

If you already have language test scores that meet the required level for your course, please include them in your application. You can also upload test scores to your application after you have submitted it, using Graduate Applicant Self Service

Visit our Application Guide for more information about English language requirements and providing language test scores with your application.

Can I apply for graduate study at Oxford before I've taken a language test?

Yes, you can submit your application without English language test scores. If you don't submit scores, or the scores you submit don't meet the required level for your course, your application will still be assessed by the academic department as normal. 

However, if the department later makes you an offer, you may be required to submit scores that meet your course's requirement in order to take up your place. It can take a long time to secure a language test place, so you should arrange to sit a test as soon as possible. 

English language test waivers

You may be able to request a waiver of the requirement to provide English language test scores.

To request a language test waiver, you must have studied a degree-level course that is:
  • at least nine months in duration
  • full-time
  • undertaken at a recognised institution where teaching and assessment throughout the course is entirely in English
  • has been completed within 2 years of the start date of the course to which you are applying.

You may also apply for a waiver based on substantial professional experience if:

  • you have worked for a minimum of two years in a majority English speaking country where the main language for the role was English;
  • your role involved daily professional use of each of the four language components (reading, writing, listening and speaking);
  • you worked in an appropriately technical context to demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively in an academic environment; and
  • your role has ended no more than two years before the start date of the course to which you are applying.

If you believe that you meet the eligibility criteria, you can request a waiver in the application form.

For more information and instructions on how to request a waiver, consult the Application Guide.

English language courses

The Oxford University Language Centre is the University’s central hub for language learning. The centre offers courses specifically for non-native English speakers to help them improve their academic English in preparation for studying here. 

Oxford online pre-sessional English course

The University offers an online pre-sessional English course which is open to all international students preparing for graduate study at Oxford. You can use the English language pre-sessional Course to meet your English language condition provided you have an English language test result within the past two years, which is no more than 0.5 IELTS or 2 TOEFL points lower overall than the Standard or Higher level, as required for your academic course (further information about equivalencies for other tests can be found in this Application Guide). Dates and costs for the 2022 course will be published in due course. Further details about the pre-sessional English course are available on the Language Centre's website.

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