Proof of English Proficiency

Proof of English Proficiency for Undergraduate Students

Applicants for whom English is not a first/native language must demonstrate English Proficiency regardless of English language studies, academic history, residence in the United States or other English-speaking countries, or immigration status.

Seattle University maintains the right to require English Proficiency testing when deemed necessary. The most recent demonstration of English Proficiency (i.e. test scores or course work, as per the policies described below) will be counted toward the English Proficiency requirement, regardless of whether previous scores are higher. Following the submission of English Proficiency score reports, requests for testing waivers will not be considered.

Exam Options

English proficiency may be met with the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Duolingo (DET).

The chart below outlines the English proficiency requirements for general admission as well as admission to the ECLB program. The TOEFL exam has two different grading scales. For more information on what the TOEFL consists of and a list of official testing centers visit the ETS web site. Both score requirements are listed below.

  Required to Participate in
Exempt from English Language
and Culture Bridge
TOEFL 68 - 85 iBT 86 iBT
IELTS minimum 6.0 6.5
ELS Not applicable Complete Level 112 with 3.0 GPA
PTE 48 - 62 63
Duolingo 105-115 120
SAT (2016+)   500 in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
ACT Not applicable 20+ in both reading and English

College of Nursing and Business and Law applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate English proficiency at non-ELCB level (meaning 86 on the iBT or 6.5 on the IELTS). Exceptions below may apply.

Students with TOEFL scores in the ELCB range will take a placement essay test upon arrival at Seattle University. Some students may have their ELCB requirement waived based on the results of the placement essay test.

Applicants who require a TOEFL should plan to complete the exam at a local testing center.

Applicants Transferring from a Regionally Accredited College or University

Seattle University allows students to use college-level English composition I to satisfy English proficiency. To meet this requirement, students must meet the following criteria:

  • 45 quarter credits (or equivalent) from a regionally accredited US college or university complete at the time of application.
  • Complete college-level English composition with a 3.0 of higher grade (B)
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Seattle University reserves the ability to require English proficiency testing should it be deemed necessary.

The Seattle Central College Pathway Program

Seattle University will provide a letter of conditional admission to undergraduate students who apply and are admitted to Seattle University, subject to the student successfully completing Level 6 of Seattle Central College's Bridge program, as well as any other conditions that are required to be met.

Seattle University will also accept and transfer approved college-level courses that are taken as part of the Pathway Program and passed with the requisite GPA.

To learn more about this, send an email to

ELS Language Centers

ELS Language Center (US centers only) students who have completed level 112 with a 3.0-grade point average are considered to have the equivalent TOEFL score of 86 and will be exempt from the undergraduate English Language Learning Center. For more information on the ELS program, visit or call 1-866-748-9780.

Additional Options to Meet English Proficiency Requirements

  • First-year applicants who complete their entire high school curriculum in the United States, parts of Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Bahamas, Jamaica, Kenya, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria, Belize or at American schools abroad, may have the English Proficiency requirement waived if their transcript does not include any ESL course work and the high school cumulative grade point average and four years of English composition/literature average of 3.0 or higher.
  • Transfer applicants from U.S. colleges who meet the same criteria as first-year applicants above may have the English Proficiency requirement.
  • Post-baccalaureate applicants who have earned a bachelor's or advanced degree at Seattle University or at a recognized college or university in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, or Australia and who have continued to reside in countries where English is the primary language for at least two years prior to submission of the application, will be considered to have met the English Proficiency requirement.