Exams & Courses


Any student whose first language is not English is required to take both written and spoken English placement tests to make sure they are ready to do well in graduate classes at Duke.  You will receive more information about the language exams over the summer. You do not need to pre-register for the English language exams. Examination times will not conflict with the Nicholas School’s Orientation schedule.  All students whose first language is not English are required to take this exam unless they have been previously excused by the English for International Students Program, Graduate School. Incoming students are strongly encouraged to study English over the summer in preparation for the testing.

English for International Students (EIS) exams measure language proficiency (skills), not content knowledge and there is not really a way to study or prepare. Students are simply expected to demonstrate what they can do based on the skills they have developed over time. Students do not need outside resources to perform better. That being said, like with any exam, students should be familiar with the format and follow the other general testing tips such as: getting good rest the night before, starting on time, and being in an area free of distractions can help to ensure a positive experience. See additional testing tips at the FAQ link below.


All testing will take place in an online format to accommodate students who will not be in Durham. The tentative dates and times of the exams are listed on our testing website. We invite new students to watch this EIS video so that they can learn more about who EIS is and what they do. Students will receive specific information about the exams, including a sign-up link for the oral interview, later this summer.

Required Courses

The English for International Students (EIS) program offers courses in academic writing and academic speaking, all of which have been carefully designed with input from Duke departments to meet the specific communication needs of graduate students.

Master’s students may be required to take up to two EIS courses (one writing, one speaking). If you are required to take two language courses, you may count one course (up to 3 credits) as general elective credits towards your MEM or MF degree. EIS courses are typically completed in the first year of your program. The earlier you take them, the more you will be able to apply the language skills you learn to other Duke courses and activities for greater benefit.

Cost for Courses

Students will be billed a separate and additional charge (approximately $1300) per English course that they take in the 2022-2023 school year. Charges for courses will likely appear on the mid-September bills, and be due in early October. The cost for these courses is not included in the student’s regular tuition and fees. 


The English for International Students Program staff will review the records of incoming students to determine whether or not they are eligible for exemption. Students will be notified over the summer of required testing. Learn more about the exemption criteria



Questions? Contact the English for International Students (EIS) Program