University of Minnesota

School of Statistics' home page.

International Students

The 2 major requirements that are unique to international students are:

  • Demonstrating English language proficiency
  • Securing a visa for study in the United States.

English Proficiency

Language proficiency is usually demonstrated by the TOEFL, although MELAB or IELTS scores can be substituted. The School of Statistics generally requires at least 600 (paper based) or 250 (computer based) or 100 (internet based) on the TOEFL for admission to the PhD program or to work as a TA; the 600/250/100 scores are considered to be roughly comparable. Corresponding minima are 80 on MELAB and 6.5 on IELTS.

If you have completed 16 semester credits (within the past 24 months) in an academic program in a recognized institution of higher learning in the U.S., you do not need to submit the TOEFL as part of the application. You should note in your application materials that you are exempt from TOEFL for that reason.

The SPEAK Test: a Minnesota State Law

By Minnesota State law, teaching assistants for whom English is a second language and who have not studied previously in the United States must pass a spoken English test, the SPEAK test, given by the University of Minnesota. If you do not pass the exam, you are required to take a remedial course in English. It is expected that all students who receive a teaching assistantship will have passed this exam by the end of their first year of graduate study.


The visa process has become more burdensome since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In particular, there are new or increased fees for various immigration steps, nearly every applicant is now required to have a personal interview at a US consulate, and there can be substantial delays along the way. The International Students and Scholars Service at the University of Minnesota has considerable useful information about obtaining the visa.

Here is a rough description of the steps.

      You are admitted to the Statistics Graduate Program; congratulations! The University of Minnesota Graduate School will send you an official notification of admission.
      You need a passport from your home country.
      You need to fill out the Financial Certification Form. This form documents that you have sufficient funding for your first year of study. You may use any support offered by the Statistics Graduate Program, funds from a sponsoring government or agency, personal/family funds, and so on to show that you have enough funds. Do not return the financial certification form until you can show adequate funds for your study. Most international students cannot afford graduate study in the US without some kind of financial support from the University
      You now have an admission to the University of Minnesota and the Schools of Statistics, a passport, financial certification, and an I-20. You can now schedule a visa interview appointment at the US consulate. Again, this can involve some waiting. At the interview, the consular officer can approve your visa, or not.
      To repeat: there are many potential delays in obtaining a visa, so begin the visa process as early as possible.