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Understanding exam and visa requirements for international applicants

International students must meet the following exam and visa requirements to be eligible for admission to UC Davis.

English Exam Requirements

A strong understanding of the English language is important to your success at UC Davis. If you have been studying in the United States for fewer than three (3) years and your native language and school language of instruction prior to your study in the United States was not English, you must demonstrate English proficiency. You may do so in one of the following ways:

  • Achieve a minimum score of 550 on the paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), 213 on the computer-based TOEFL or 80 on the Internet-based TOEFL.
  • Achieve a minimum score of 6.5  (academic module) on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
  • Achieve a score of 3, 4 or 5 on the AP Exam in English Language and Composition or English Literature and Composition.*
  • Achieve a score of 5, 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate (IB), Higher Level examination in English (Language A).*
  • Achieve a score of 6 or higher on the International Baccalaureate (IB), Standard Level examination in English (Language A).*
  • Score 560 or higher on the Writing section of the SAT Reasoning test (old SAT) or a score of 31 or higher on Writing and Language in the SAT with Essay (the new SAT, taken March 2016 or later)
  • Complete one transferable college course (3 semester or 4-5 quarter units each) in English composition with letter grades of C or better at an accredited U.S. college or university.*

*Meeting these standards also satisfies the UC Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR).


SAT and ACT Requirements

UC temporarily suspended the current standardized test requirement for fall 2021 applicants to mitigate impacts of COVID-19 on students and schools, effectively making UC “test-optional.” UC will remain test-optional for fall 2022 applicants. For 2023 and 2024 applicants, UC will be test-blind, meaning that students will have the option of submitting a test score, but that score can only be considered for purposes such as course placement, certain scholarships and eligibility for the statewide admission guarantee.


Visa Requirements

As an international student, you will need a passport and temporary visa as well as the appropriate forms and documentation in order to attend school in the United States. All international students must obtain a valid passport and F-1 or J-1 visa. The process to apply for a visa for the United States can be confusing, and it is very important you follow the necessary steps to obtain the correct status to enter the country. To help you navigate the process, the UC Davis Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) office is available to assist you with visa and immigration issues.

SISS also provides support with financial, personal, and academic issues. At the beginning of the school year, SISS hosts an orientation for international students to help acquaint you with regulations for maintaining your visa status, information on work options with an F-1 or J-1 visa, and academic resources. SISS also provides valuable tips on living in the United States and life as a UC Davis student.



three international students playing billiards - international resources

International Resources

Explore resources designed specifically for our international community members.

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