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 have already been prearranged for new Nicholas School students. Language exams will occur during the Nicholas School’s Pre-Orientation. Students will receive their language exam group assignments by August 1.

All students whose first language is not English are required to take this exam unless they have been previously excused by Christian Gomez, English for International Students Program, Graduate School (christian.d.gomez@duke.edu).

Required Courses

Depending on your performance on the English proficiency tests, you may be required to take 1-2 classes to improve your English. At least one of those courses must be taken in the first semester and the second, if required, should be taken in the second semester. These classes will help you get the most out of your Nicholas School experience and better equip you for applying for internships and jobs in English-speaking countries. English speaking and writing classes are offered through the Duke Graduate School. If you are required to take two courses you may count one course (3 credits) as general elective credits towards your degree. Students required to take only one course may not count the credits towards their degree.  If you are required to take English courses, you must take one of them during your first fall semester; it is best to take the second one during the spring semester. All entering students whose first language is not English will be required to undergo written and oral English language testing in the week before orientation. Depending on the results of the test, incoming students may be required to take one or two English courses.

Students will be billed a separate charge (approximately $1225) per English course that they take. Charges for courses will likely appear on the mid-September bills, and be due in early October. Students required to take one course do not receive credit towards their degree for that course; students required to take two courses may count one course (3 credits) as a general elective towards their degree. Incoming students are strongly encouraged to study English over the summer in preparation for the testing in August.

Language Exams


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. Want to know whether or not you might qualify for an exemption? Learn more here.


Questions? Contact Christian Gomez, English for International Students (EIS) Program, at christian.d.gomez@duke.edu