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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 courses (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

Students applying for admission as freshmen must submit scores on an approved test of mathematics, language arts and writing—either the ACT with Writing or the SAT with Essay examinations. These examinations must be taken no later than December of the last year of secondary school. If you are currently residing or attending school in a country where the ACT with Writing or the SAT with Essay examinations are offered, you are required to take one of the tests, self-report your scores on your application and submit official test results to the University of California by the stated deadlines. We are sympathetic that students living in certain countries where these tests are not offered (e.g., China, the Islamic Republic of Iran) are challenged to fulfill this requirement. However, given the large number of applications we receive from students throughout the world, we very rarely make exceptions to the requirement.


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 additional support with financial, personal and academic issues. At the beginning of the school year, SISS hosts an orientation for international students to help you get acquainted with the regulations for maintaining your visa status, information on work options with an F-1 or J-1 visa and academic resources. They also provide 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.

Learn more