English Proficiency Requirements

All international applicants must provide evidence of English proficiency, with the exception of applicants from countries where English is the native language. Here is the list of exceptions.  Applicants who have a prior degree from a college or university in the US may be exempt, based on English courses taken and grades received in those courses.

South Dakota Mines has determined minimum English proficiency scores for admission (see table below).   We will consider a variety of valid English proficiency tests, which will be evaluated on an individual basis.  Results should be sent to the International Admissions office (for undergraduate applicants) or the Graduate Education office (for graduate applicants).

Test   Minimum Score*   Upper Level Score**
Duolingo   105   110
IELTS   6.0   6.5
Pearson Test of English–Academic (PTE)
  46   56
TOEFL – iBT (internet based test) 79 83

*Minimum scores require English proficiency testing upon arrival at the university.

**Upper level scores indicate that no additional proficiency testing is required by the university.  However, additional testing and instruction may be required based on a student’s performance on other placement exams, in the classroom, or by the academic department. 

Required ESL Courses and Completion Times

Scores on the evaluation will determine whether or not the student will be required to take English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.  ESL course requirements must be met in the first semester (or first year if more than two courses are required) of an international student’s attendance at South Dakota Mines.  Students must take courses in the first semester of attendance, unless those courses are not available.  ESL courses will count toward the total number of credits required for minimum full time enrollment for both graduate and undergraduate students.  These courses will not count toward degree requirements.  ESL courses are not eligible for tuition remission for graduate students with graduate assistantships.

Consequences for Non-Compliance

Graduate students who fail to comply will be placed on academic probation and a hold will be placed on the student’s record, which will prevent registration for the following semester.  Undergraduate students who fail to comply will be subject to the Board of Regents policy (2:7-5) addressing completion of pre general education requirements.


The cost for each ESL course is determined by the institution providing the program.

Conditional Admission

Applicants who are planning to attend an intensive English as a Second Language (ESL) program in the US prior to attending South Dakota Mines may be eligible for conditional admission.  An intensive ESL program is not offered on our campus.  Conditional admission may be granted if the applicant meets admission requirements with the exception of the minimum English score as indicated above. 

South Dakota Mines also recognizes the difficulty for ESL students in taking standardized exams that are offered only in English, such as the SAT, ACT and GRE.  Students in ESL programs may be required to take such tests after they have advanced to a certain level in ESL. 

Requirements will be specified in the conditional admission letter for both undergraduate and graduate applicants. Once the student has completed the ESL program with satisfactory grades and meets any additional requirements, the student may be eligible for unconditional admission. 

Conditionally admitted students are not considered fully admitted to the University and will not be issued the SEVIS I-20 form (the form needed to obtain the F-1 Student Visa) until the University receives the necessary English proficiency credentials and/or the necessary proof of sufficient funding. A student will remain conditionally admitted until these terms have been satisfied. 

Standardized agreements are in place with the intensive ESL programs indicated below.

  • ELS Language Centers — Undergraduate students and graduate students must complete Level 112.

South Dakota Mines accepts credentials from a variety of intensive ESL programs across the United States.  These programs are reviewed on an individual basis.  Please provide contact information for the program.

There are a number of ways to locate ESL programs. You may perform a simple Google search for ESL programs in the United States, or you may use a variety of online search tools, such as:  


ESL Directory

How to Study in the USA

English, baby!


Contact Us:

Ivanhoe International Center
South Dakota Mines
501 E Saint Joseph Street
Rapid City, SD  57701-3995
Email: International@sdsmt.edu
Phone: 1.605.394.6884
FAX: 1.605.394.6883
WhatsApp and Google: 1.605.388.2003
Skype: sdsmt.international

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