Undergraduate English Language Proficiency Requirements

All admitted undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students on non-immigrant visas must satisfy the English language proficiency requirement before they can enroll in regular academic classes. Although Portland State University offers ESL restricted admission to applicants who have not submitted proof of English language proficiency, enrollment is restricted to English as a Second Language (ESL) courses through the Intensive English Language Program (IELP) until valid proof of English language proficiency is submitted. The following minimum requirements apply to undergraduate first time freshmen and transfer students. 

Valid Proof of English Language Proficiency

  • Minimum required official score, achieved within the last two years, on the International Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Portland State Institutional TOEFL, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam, or the Pearson Test of English-Academic (PTE) or
  • Test score more than two years old if the score exceeded the minimum requirement and you have maintained continuous residency in the United States since the exam date or
  • Completion of Level 5 of the Intensive English Language Program (IELP) with an average GPA of 2.7 or higher, and approval for release from the IELP student academic adviser or
  • Completion of a transferable Associate's degree from a U.S. institution, with a minimum GPA of 2.50 and 8 credits of college level writing—including the equivalent of WR 121 and an additional higher level college writing course—both courses must be completed with a grade of C- or better to qualify for a waiver.
  • Completion of a 4-year bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctoral degree at a college/university in the United States, English-speaking Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain or Ireland. 
  • Citizens of English-speaking Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain or Ireland may be waived from 
    ​Undergraduate ​English Language proficiency requirements if ​the applicant's entire academic history was in one of the aforementioned English-speaking countries.  ​
  • Completion of the English language program as articulated through one of Portland State University's ESL partnership agreement partners at the following institutions: University of California - Davis Extension and Pacific International Academy at Marylhurst University 
  • Completion of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program with final combined score of 30 or more points.

Minimum Test Score Requirements

TOEFL IELTS PTE SAT*
  • Paper-based: 527
  • Computer-based: 197
  • Internet-based: minimum overall score of 71; minimum subscore of 15 in reading and writing
  • 6.0 overall
  • minimum 6.0 in reading and writing
53 overall
  • 560 or above in the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section

*not required for admission; for use to prove English proficiency only

Invalid Proof of English Language Proficiency

  • Test score less than Portland State's minimum requirement
  • Test score more than two years old (unless you have lived in the United States since the exam date)
  • Institutional TOEFL score from any school except Portland State
  • Completion of an ESL program at any school except Portland State
  • Successful completion of English, Writing, or Literature classes
  • A diploma from a U.S. high school

If you have not met Portland State University's English Language Proficiency Requirement, your enrollment will be restricted to English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.

Enrollment at Portland State University: English Language Restriction

ESL Enrollment is offered to applicants who are academically admissible but who lack the required TOEFL/IELTS score or English language proficiency. In this status, you are restricted to ESL classes in the IELP until you demonstrate the required English proficiency (see above).

Higher level ESL classes may be eligible for general elective credit. Credits are applied to your university degree requirements as general elective credits and are included when calculating term and cumulative grade point averages. ESL courses are recorded on Portland State transcripts.

International TOEFL

Scores from the International TOEFL are valid worldwide. Visit the TOEFL web site for information about testing and ordering score reports. When ordering test score reports, please use Portland State's institutional code: 4610, department code 00.

Intensive English Language Program

If you seek English language training only and do not wish to pursue academic study, you may apply for admission to the Intensive English Language Program. To be eligible to apply, you must have earned the equivalent to a U.S. high school diploma.

For further information, please contact