KU Procedures for GTA Spoken English Competency

Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) policy requires all students who have self-identified as a non-native speaker of English to demonstrate spoken English competency before an offer of employment as a GTA may be made. This page outlines KU's procedures for implementation of this policy on the University of Kansas Lawrence & Edwards campuses. 

Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) policy

Assessing Native Speaker Status

Only students who self-report being non-native speakers of English are required to demonstrate English competency for employment as a GTA.

The University of Kansas uses the student’s response to the native speaker question on the Graduate Application for Graduate Study to determine native speaker status. If a student responds "yes, native or native-like speaker" for that question, they are not required to provide proof of English proficiency for employment, regardless of nationality.  

Hiring units who do not have access to the student’s application should contact the home academic unit/academic program on the application to verify the student's response.  Departments should not ask students about their native-speaker status separately for GTA employment because of the potential for confusion with varied wording of the question.

    Assessing Spoken Competency

    For students who are non-native speakers of English, per the KBOR policy, spoken English competency for employment eligibility as a GTA is measured by successful completion of both of the following requirements.  

    Prospective GTAs must achieve the minimum score listed on one of the following tests:

    TestMinimum Score
    TOEFL (iBT)22 on the Speaking section
    IELTS7 on the Speaking section
    KU SPEAK test*50


    *The KU Applied English Center administers the SPEAK test free of charge to non-native speakers of English who have already been successfully interviewed by their hiring unit according to the interview guidelines in #2 below and have confirmation from the hiring unit that they will be offered a GTA appointment upon successful completion of the exam. For all other students who do not meet these criteria, the test may be taken for a fee. See the AEC’s SPEAK test guidelines for more information.


    Scores that meet the required minimum may be used regardless of when the exam was completed. There is no expiration date for test scores for the purposes of employment.


    KBOR policy requires that all non-native speakers of English be interviewed by a minimum of three institutional representatives, at least one of whom is a student, before an offer of employment is made. This requirement may be met through a formal interview or separate (spoken) conversations with each of the institutional representatives.  The institutional representatives are typically from the student's hiring unit or academic program, if separate from the hiring unit. The student representative must be an active student, but there are no other requirements related to student status.

    Because this is an assessment of spoken competency, written communication is not accepted to fulfill the interview requirement.

    Documentation verifying the date of the interview(s) and names of the three institutional representatives must be saved in the GTA's personnel file in the hiring unit.

    Any prospective GTA who does not meet both of the above requirements shall not be assigned teaching responsibilities nor other tasks requiring direct instructional contact with students

    Employment vs. Admission Requirements

    The English proficiency requirements for admission to a graduate program are separate from spoken requirements for employment as a GTA:

    1. KBOR requires prospective GTAs to demonstrate spoken English competency only. Listening, Reading, and Writing are not assessed for the purposes of employment. 
    2. The spoken English requirement for a GTA must be met through a qualifying score on one of the tests above. A completed degree from an institution that conducts all instruction in English does not meet the eligibility requirements for a GTA, as it does for admission.
    3. Scores that meet the required minimum may be used regardless of when the exam was completed. Unlike KU’s requirements for admission to graduate study, there is no expiration date for test scores for the purposes of employment.