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English language requirements

How to demonstrate your proficiency in English
Depending on your educational background and country of origin, you may need to provide evidence of your English proficiency to be able to study with us.

Our courses require proficiency in English so that you can cope with lectures, tutorials, assignments and examinations.

Your first language is English

If English is your first language, you need to have citizenship or permanent long-term residency (minimum ten years) and completed secondary or higher education (tertiary) studies in an English-speaking country as listed below. Some variations apply to specific degrees which have external accreditation requirements.

Your first language is not English

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide proof of your English proficiency before you can commence your studies at the University.

You can do this by demonstrating that you have completed specific secondary or tertiary qualifications, by taking an English language skills test, or by completing a relevant English language course at the University’s Centre for English Teaching.

English language skills tests we accept:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language: internet-based (TOEFL iBT)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
  • Cambridge English C1 Advanced (formerly CAE) and Cambridge English C2 Proficiency (formerly CPE)*

To convert scores between these tests, use our concordance table (pdf, 44KB).

*Not accepted for nursing pre-registration degrees due to specific registration requirements.

If English is not your first language, you need to provide evidence of English language proficiency through one of the following:

1. Undertake higher education (tertiary) studies in English

You can demonstrate the above requirement through a record of satisfactory achievement in:

  • at least one year of full-time (or equivalent part-time) tertiary study in a recognised bachelor’s degree or other approved tertiary qualifications, within five years of the date on which you will commence your course, in one of the following English-speaking countries:
    • American Samoa, Australia, Botswana, Canada (excluding Quebec), Fiji, Ghana, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland), United States of America, Zambia or Zimbabwe.
  • If you completed studies in a different country, you can prove your proficiency through satisfactory achievement in:
    • a three-year undergraduate degree, or
    • one-year of a postgraduate degree conducted entirely in English, including all teaching, assessments and examinations.
  • Your studies must be undertaken in English within five years of the date you will commence your course. Note that some faculties/schools have additional requirements as detailed below.
Sydney School or Architecture, Design and Planning

You need to have successfully completed one of the following within five years of course commencement:

  • a minimum of two years of full-time study (or part-time equivalent) in a bachelor’s degree in an English-speaking country (as listed) or
  • a completed minimum three year undergraduate degree in a non-English speaking country, conducted entirely in English and in which the language of instruction (teaching, assessment and examination) and the institution was English or
  • a completed minimum two year postgraduate degree in a non-English speaking country conducted entirely in English and in which the language of instruction (teaching, assessment and examination) and the institution was English.
Sydney Nursing School

For the Master of Nursing pre-registration degree, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council has set specific English language criteria to meet registration requirements. Applicants are required to meet either of the below and complete the declaration form as part of their application for admission.

  • Attend and successfully complete at least six years of primary and secondary education taught and assessed solely in English – including at least two years in secondary school (between Year 7 and 12) – in either Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United States of America, Canada, Republic of Ireland or the United Kingdom.
  • Complete one of the following English language tests within two years of the course commencement date:
    • IELTS (Academic) – overall score of 7.0 with no individual band below 7.0
    • TOEFL iBT – overall score of  96 with 27 for Writing, 24 for listening, reading, and 23 for speaking
    • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic – overall score of 68 with no individual band below 68

For post-registration nursing degrees, you need to have a record of satisfactory achievement in:

  • a three-year undergraduate degree, completed within five years of course commencement in which the language of instruction (teaching, assessment and examination) and the institution was English or 
  • a two-year postgraduate degree completed within three years of course commencement in which the language of instruction (teaching, assessment and examination) and the institution was English. 
2. Take an English language skills test

The University's standard English language proficiency requirement is set at an overall IELTS score of 6.5 with no band below 6.0, however some faculties and courses have different requirements. Find out the requirements specific to your course on our Find a Course website.

For other English tests accepted by the University, please refer to the concordance table (pdf, 96.30KB) to convert the IELTS requirement to TOEFL iBT, PTE, Cambridge C1 Advanced or Cambridge C2 Proficiency scores. Pre-registration nursing degrees requirements can be found above.

All IELTS and PTE requirements refer to the academic test. Non-academic tests are not accepted. All English tests need to be no more than two years old at the date of course commencement.

International students applying for a student visa are advised to check with the Department of Home Affairs on separate English requirements that may apply to your student visa application.

3. Be eligible for assessment of English proficiency based on work experience

If English is not your first language and you have lived and worked in an English-speaking country (as listed above) continuously for at least five years prior to the date on which you will commence your course, we may be able to assess your English proficiency based on the relevance of your work experience. You will need to provide a work reference letter on a company letterhead with clear information on the nature of work, dates of employment and contact details of a supervisor.

Note: Courses with additional or specific English requirements, such as the Master of Nursing or other nursing (pre-registration) courses are excluded from assessment based on work experience.

Sydney Nursing School – Post-registration postgraduate courses only

An applicant  may provide a record of current registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as a (Division 1) Registered Nurse and proof of current employment in this capacity at an appropriate health facility.

If English is not your first language, you need to provide evidence of English language proficiency through one of these three methods:

1. Undertake secondary or higher education (tertiary) studies in English

You can demonstrate the above requirement through a record of satisfactory achievement in:

  • a completed and recognised secondary education (high school) qualification, or
  • a completed and recognised foundation/preparation program with the required grades in relevant English subjects or,
  • a completed AQF diploma/advanced diploma (or equivalent) from a recognised institution, or
  • at least one year of full-time study (or part-time equivalent) in a recognised bachelor’s degree or other approved higher education qualifications.

The above studies must be undertaken in English within five years of the date on which you will commence your course, in an English-speaking country as listed below:

  • American Samoa
  • Australia
  • Botswana
  • Canada (excluding Quebec)
  • Fiji
  • Ghana
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland)
  • United States of America
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

If your studies were not undertaken in one of the English-speaking countries listed above, you can demonstrate proficiency through a record of satisfactory achievement in:

  • a completed and recognised secondary education (high school) qualification undertaken in English, such as the Cambridge GCE Advanced Levels and International Baccalaureate diploma, or
  • a completed and recognised foundation/preparation program with the required grades in relevant English subjects or
  • at least one year of full-time study (or part-time equivalent) in a recognised bachelor’s degree or other approved higher education qualifications, where the instruction for your studies (teaching, assessment and examination) was entirely in English in approved countries and/or institutions, assessed on a case-by-case basis by the University.

The above studies must be undertaken in English within five years of the date on which you will commence your course. Some faculties/schools have additional requirements for students applying on the basis of secondary or tertiary studies completed in English, as detailed below:

Sydney Nursing School

For the following Nursing pre-registration degrees, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council has set specific English language criteria to meet registration requirements.

  • Bachelor of Nursing (Advanced Studies)
  • Bachelor of Arts/Master of Nursing
  • Bachelor of Science/Master of Nursing
  • Bachelor of Science (Health)/Master of Nursing

Applicants to these degrees are required to meet either of the below English language requirements and complete the English language declaration form (pdf, 59.5KB) as part of the application for admission.

  • Attend and successfully complete at least six years of primary and secondary education taught and assessed solely in English – including at least two years in secondary school (between Year 7 and 12) – in either Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United States of America, Canada, Republic of Ireland or the United Kingdom. Or,
  • Complete one of the following English language tests within two years of the course commencement date:
    • IELTS (Academic) – overall score of 7.0 with no individual band below 7.0
    • TOEFL iBT – overall score of  96 with 27 for Writing, 24 for listening, reading, and 23 for speaking
    • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic – overall score of 68 with no individual band below 68
2. Complete a specific subject in a recognised secondary education qualification

If your qualification was not conducted entirely in English, you may still be eligible if you have completed a particular subject (usually English or a humanities subject) in a recognised qualification such as those listed below, within two years of the date on which you will commence your course.

  • Denmark Studentereksamen
  • Finland Upper Secondary School Certificate
  • Germany Abitur
  • Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma (not undertaken in English)
  • Netherlands VWO
  • Norway Vitnemal
  • Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia
  • Sweden Avgangsbetyg/Slutbetyg.

Please refer to the concordance table (pdf, 96.30KB) to see the subject and grade required for your course.

Note: Pre-registration nursing degrees are excluded from assessment based on subject completion due to specific registration requirements.

3. Take an English language skills test

The University's standard English language proficiency requirement is set at an IELTS overall score of 6.5 with no band below 6.0, however some faculties and courses have different requirements. Find out the requirements specific to your course.

For other English tests accepted by the University, please refer to the concordance table (pdf, 96.30KB) to convert the IELTS requirements to TOEFL iBT, PTE, Cambridge C1 Advanced or Cambridge C2 Proficiency scores. Pre-registration nursing degrees requirements can be found above.

All IELTS and PTE requirements refer to the academic test. Non-academic tests are not accepted. All English tests need to be no more than two years old at the date of course commencement.

International students applying for a student visa are advised to check with the Department of Home Affairs on separate English requirements that may apply to your student visa application.

If English is not your first language, you need to provide evidence of English language proficiency through one of the following:

1. Undertake secondary or higher education (tertiary) studies in English

You can demonstrate the above requirement through a record of satisfactory achievement in:

  • a completed and recognised secondary education (high school) qualification, or
  • a completed AQF diploma/advanced diploma (or equivalent) from a recognised institution, or
  • at least one year of full-time study (or part-time equivalent) in a recognised bachelor’s degree or other approved higher education qualifications.

Your secondary or higher education studies must be undertaken in English within five years of the date you will commence your course, in either:

  • a recognised institution where the instruction for your studies (teaching, assessment and examination) was entirely in English, or
  • one of the following English-speaking countries: American Samoa, Australia, Botswana, Canada (excluding Quebec), Fiji, Ghana, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland), United States of America, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
2. Complete a specific subject in a recognised secondary education qualification

If your qualification was not conducted entirely in English, you may be eligible if you have completed a specific subject (usually English or humanities) in a recognised qualification, such as:

  • Denmark Studentereksamen
  • Finland Upper Secondary School Certificate
  • Germany Abitur
  • Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education
  • Hong Kong A Levels
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma (not undertaken in English)
  • Netherlands VWO
  • Norway Vitnemal
  • Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia
  • Sweden Avgangsbetyg/Slutbetyg

Please refer to the concordance table (pdf, 96.30KB) to see the subject and grade required for your course.

3. Take an English language skills test

The University's standard English language proficiency requirement is set at an IELTS overall score of 6.5 with no band below 6.0, some faculties and courses have different requirements, check the requirements specific to your course.

For other English tests accepted by the University, refer to the concordance table (pdf, 96.30KB) to convert the IELTS requirements to TOEFL iBT, PTE, Cambridge C1 Advanced or Cambridge C2 Proficiency scores.

All IELTS and PTE requirements refer to the academic test non-academic tests won't be accepted.

All English tests need to be completed in less than two years at the date of course commencement.

International students applying for a student visa are advised to check with the Department of Home Affairs on separate English requirements that may apply to your student visa application.

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