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Study in Canada Without IELTS Universities: Complete Guide

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Canada saw a record-breaking 550,000 international students in 2022. As you embark on your academic journey, you must have heard about IELTS (International English Language Testing System), a language proficiency test often required for admission to Canadian universities. However, what if we told you that you could study in Canada without IELTS?

In this comprehensive guide, we will unravel the secrets to studying in Canada without the IELTS burden. From understanding the essence of IELTS to exploring alternative pathways, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s embark on this transformative journey together.

What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) stands as a globally recognized benchmark for assessing English language proficiency among non-native speakers. Established in 1989, IELTS is jointly managed by esteemed organizations such as the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. This comprehensive test has garnered international acclaim for its rigorous evaluation of language skills.

Types of IELTS

IELTS comes in two distinct variants, each tailored to specific objectives:

  1. IELTS Academic: This version caters to students aspiring to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate studies in an English-speaking academic environment. It evaluates your readiness for the academic challenges that lie ahead.
  2. IELTS General Training: Designed for individuals seeking opportunities to migrate to an English-speaking country or those aiming to validate their English language proficiency for work-related purposes. It assesses practical language skills applicable in everyday life and the workplace.

IELTS Sections

The IELTS examination encompasses four core sections, each meticulously crafted to measure diverse language competencies:

  1. Listening: This section evaluates your capacity to comprehend spoken English. It comprises four audio recordings that present various accents and contexts. After listening to each recording, you’ll answer questions to gauge your understanding.
  2. Reading: The reading section assesses your ability to comprehend written English. You will be presented with three diverse passages, each followed by a set of questions. Your responses demonstrate your aptitude for extracting information from written materials.
  3. Writing: Demonstrating your prowess in written communication, the writing section comprises two distinct tasks. The first task requires you to respond to a given prompt by crafting a well-structured essay. The second task entails interpreting and providing insights into visual data, often in the form of diagrams or graphs. Both tasks assess your capacity to convey information clearly and concisely.
  4. Speaking: In the speaking section, your ability to engage in fluent and coherent spoken English is scrutinized. You’ll engage in a one-on-one conversation with an examiner, covering a range of topics. This section evaluates your articulation, vocabulary, and fluency in spoken English.

IELTS has emerged as one of the most widely accepted English language tests worldwide, with recognition from over 10,000 institutions across more than 140 countries, including prestigious Canadian universities.

New English Language Testing Rules for SDS Applicants in Canada

On August 10, 2023, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) implemented new English language testing rules for Student Direct Stream (SDS) applicants.

Previously, SDS applicants were required to have a minimum overall band score of 6.0 on the IELTS Academic test, with a minimum score of 6.0 in each individual skill (listening, reading, writing, and speaking). The new rules allow SDS applicants to meet the English language requirement with an overall band score of 6.0 on the IELTS Academic test without the need to meet a minimum score in each individual skill.

The new rules apply to all SDS applications received on or after August 10, 2023. Applicants who submitted their applications before August 10, 2023, will still be subject to the old rules.

It is important to note that individual colleges and universities may have their own English language requirements for admission. Applicants should check with the institutions they are interested in to confirm the English language requirements.

Read here in detail: IRCC Updates: New English Language Testing Rules for SDS Applicants in Canada

Is IELTS mandatory for a Canadian student visa?

The short answer is no; IELTS is not mandatory for a Canada student visa. In fact, many international students successfully obtain their Canadian student visas without the need for an IELTS score. However, it’s important to note that while IELTS is not an absolute requirement, other language proficiency tests are often needed during the application process.

These language proficiency tests serve a vital purpose: to ensure that students can effectively communicate in either English or French, as these are the primary languages of instruction in most Canadian universities and colleges. While IELTS is one of the most recognized tests in this regard, some institutions may also accept alternative tests such as TOEFL, CAEL, CELPIP, and Duolingo English Test, among others.

So, while IELTS may not be cast in stone, demonstrating your language proficiency remains a crucial step in your journey to studying in Canada. It’s always a good practice to check the specific requirements of your chosen institution and the latest updates on language proficiency tests before you embark on your Canadian adventure.

Requirements to Study in Canada without IELTS

To study in Canada without IELTS, there are essential requirements you must meet. These requirements are in place to ensure that students who are applying for Canadian visas without IELTS scores are genuinely committed to pursuing their education in Canada. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Before you begin studying in Canada without IELTS, it’s crucial to contact your nearest Canadian Embassy. Inquire whether they accept your Canada Study Permit application without an IELTS score.
  2. To support your visa application, you may need a letter from the Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada where you have been accepted. This letter should clearly state that you are exempt from taking the IELTS examination to participate in your chosen program.
  3. Without an IELTS score, you’ll need an alternative document to demonstrate your English proficiency. This document, known as a proficiency letter, is typically issued by your previous school. It serves as evidence that your English language skills are adequate for university-level studies. 

These requirements ensure that the Canadian government attracts sincere international students who genuinely wish to pursue higher education at top-notch Canadian universities, all without the need for IELTS scores.

Document Checklist for Study in Canada

The following is a document checklist for study in Canada:

  1. Letter of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada.
  2. Passport or travel document and two recent passport-size photos.
  3. Proof of financial support
  4. Immigration Medical Examination (IME)
  5. English Language Proficiency Exam Result
  6. SOP (Statement of Purpose)
  7. LOR (Letter of Recommendation)
  8. Credit Card for payment

It is important to note that the specific documents required for study in Canada may vary depending on the program & universities you are applying to. You can contact us for free study abroad counselling for more information. We will guide you in the complete Canadian journey from program selection to visa approval.

How to study in Canada without IELTS?

When the dream of studying in Canada beckons, and the IELTS exam poses a hurdle, remember that there are alternative paths to tread. Canadian universities, recognizing the diversity of their international applicants, have prescribed alternative routes for those eager to study in Canada without IELTS. Here are some of the best alternatives they offer:

  1. Alternative English Proficiency Tests: Canadian universities often accept scores from other English proficiency tests like TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), Duolingo English Test, and PTE (Pearson Test of English). Achieving the required score in one of these tests can open the doors to your Canadian education.
  2. Proof of English Medium Education: If you have studied in an English medium school for a minimum of four years, many universities consider this as a replacement for formal English proficiency scores. Your educational journey in an English-speaking environment can speak volumes about your language skills.
  3. Candidates from English-Speaking Countries: Applicants hailing from countries where English is the primary language might find themselves exempted from providing IELTS scores. Your passport or nationality could be your ticket to studying in Canada without the IELTS hassle.
  4. English Language Courses: Some universities offer specialized English language courses tailored for students who are unable to provide formal English proficiency scores. These courses not only improve your language skills but also prepare you for the academic challenges that lie ahead.

Alternative English Language Proficiency Tests

There are several alternative English language proficiency tests available for those looking to study in Canada. Let’s explore some of these options:

  1. TOEFL: Generally, a competitive TOEFL score falls within the range of 80 to 100 for undergraduate admissions and 90 to 110 for graduate admissions.
  2. CAEL (Canadian Academic English Language): Minimum score requirements vary by university or program, with a competitive score typically hovering around 70.
  3. Cambridge Test (CAE / CPE): A robust level of proficiency is generally indicated by a CAE score ranging from 180 to 200 and a CPE score ranging from 200 to 230.
  4. CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program): Specifically employed for Canadian immigration and citizenship purposes. Minimum score requirements fluctuate depending on the test’s intended purpose, such as immigration or academic admission.
  5. Duolingo English Test: One notable advantage is its flexibility, as it can be taken from the comfort of one’s own home. Minimum score prerequisites for the Duolingo English Test may vary but typically range between 85 and 120.
  6. CanTEST: Widely adopted by Canadian educational institutions, the CanTEST is employed to gauge English language proficiency for academic admissions. Minimum score requirements hinge on the specific institution or program, with a competitive score usually hovering around 4.
  7. Pearson Test of English (PTE): Administered in a computer-based format, PTE Academic evaluates English language proficiency through an integrated skills assessment. Minimum PTE Academic score prerequisites can range from 50 to 79, contingent upon the university or visa requirements.

Top universities to study in Canada without IELTS

These are the top universities to study in Canada without IELTS: 

1. University of Winnipeg

The University of Winnipeg, a prominent Canadian public university, offers courses without mandatory IELTS scores. However, if English isn’t your first language and you’re not from an English-speaking country, you must demonstrate your language skills. Here are the English language requirement options for undergraduate programs at this university:

  1. Duolingo English Test: Minimum score of 120
  2. TOEFL iBT Test: Minimum score of 86 with no less than 20 in each section
  3. Cambridge Assessment English (CAE) C1 Advanced: Minimum score of 180
  4. Cambridge Assessment English (CAE) C2 Proficiency: Minimum score of 180
  5. Cambridge Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL): Minimum score of 60
  6. CAEL CE: Minimum score of 60
  7. CAEL Online: Minimum score of 70
  8. Pearson Test of English (Academic): Minimum score of 58

2. University of Saskatchewan

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) offers master’s and doctoral degree programs to international students without requiring IELTS scores. However, applicants whose first language isn’t English must provide proof of English proficiency. If you’re unable to demonstrate proficiency, you can opt for the U-PREP program at the University of Saskatchewan Language Centre (USLC) before starting your course. The following are the minimum score requirements for various English language tests:

  1. TOEFL iBT (Internet-Based): Overall score of 86 with minimum scores of 19 in each section
  2. Cambridge C1 Advanced: Overall score of 176
  3. Duolingo English Test (DET): Overall score of 110 with minimum scores of 95 in each area
  4. PTE Academic: Overall score of 63 with minimum scores of 59 in each area
  5. CAEL: Minimum score of 70% with minimum individual scores of 60 or MELAB

3. Cambrian College

As a leading post-secondary institution in Northern Ontario, Cambrian College offers a range of courses to international students without the requirement of IELTS scores. Instead, they accept TOEFL, PTE, or Duolingo (temporarily) English test scores to assess language proficiency. Additionally, students can enroll in the English for Academic Purposes Program (EAPP). Here are the minimum English requirements at Cambrian College:

  1. TOEFL (Internet-based test):
    80 score for Diploma/Certificate
    84 score for Grad Certificate

  2. TOEFL (Paper-based test):
    550 score for Diploma/Certificate
    570 score for Grad Certificate
  3. PTE:
    58 score for Diploma Certificate
    61 score for Grad Certificate

  4. CAECL:
    60 (no band below 50) for Diploma/Certificate
    70 (no band below 60) for Grad Certificate

4. Seneca College

International students applying to Seneca College need to be well-prepared to study in English. Seneca College accepts alternative English proficiency test scores from various English language testing bodies. These scores must be obtained within the last two years. The accepted tests and their minimum scores include

Certificate Programs

  1. CAEL CE and CAEL Online: Minimum score of 60 
  2. Cambridge English Exams (B2 First/FCE, C1 Advanced/CAE, or C2 Proficiency/CPE): Minimum score of 169 with no skill below 162
  3. Duolingo: Minimum score 105 to 110
  4. PTE Academic: Minimum score of 58
  5. TOEFL iBT (including MyBest TOEFL and Home Edition): Minimum score of 80 with no section below 20

5. Brock University

At Brock University, English is the primary language of instruction. If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to provide proof of English language proficiency through English proficiency tests (EPT). They accept several other tests. The tests and minimum scores are listed below: 

  1. TOEFL iBT: overall 88, no band below 21
  2. Duolingo: minimum score of 110
  3. CAEL: overall 70, no band below 60
  4. PTE: 58
  5. CAE (C1 Advanced): 176 minimum score
  6. CPE (C2 Proficiency): 176 minimum score

6. Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador

If you aspire to study at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, you have several alternative options to demonstrate your English proficiency:

  1. TOEFL: An aggregate score of 80 (92 for graduate programs that need higher English proficiency requirements)
  2. CAEL: A score between 50 and 60 in each of four bands (but 2 band scores of 60 marks)
  3. Duolingo English Test: An aggregate score of 115 (125 for graduate programs that need higher English proficiency requirements)
  4. CanTEST: Band Level 4.5 in the listening comprehension and reading comprehension sub-tests and a score of 4 in writing. 
  5. PTE Academic: Minimum scores of 58 in each section

7. Okanagan College

Okanagan College provides flexibility in English language proficiency testing. You can submit the following alternative standardized test results:

  1. Duolingo English Test (DET).
  2. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).

8. University of Guelph

The University of Guelph accepts various alternative tests to showcase your English proficiency:

  1. CAEL (Canadian Academic English Language): Minimum score of 70.
  2. Duolingo: Minimum score of 120.
  3. PTE (Pearson Test of English): Minimum score of 60.
  4. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): Internet-based – 89 minimum

9. McGill University

McGill University requires international candidates who do not possess a degree from a recognized English-medium university to demonstrate their English proficiency. The accepted English proficiency test is: 

  1. TOEFL iBT (internet-based) with a minimum score of 100, including a minimum score of 20 in each section.
  2. PTE Academic: Overall score of 65 or better
  3. Duolingo English Test (DET): Score of 125 or better 
  4. Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL): Overall band score of 70 or better; individual component scores of 60 or better.

10. Algoma University

At Algoma University, you can enroll in various programs without IELTS by meeting the following English language score requirements:

  1. CAEL (Canadian Academic English Language): Minimum score of 60.
  2. Cambridge English Qualifications: Overall 176 with no band less than 169.
  3. Duolingo: Overall 110 (no individual band below 90).
  4. TOEFL: 550 (paper-based) or 79 (Computer or Home Edition).
  5. PTE (Pearson Test of English): Minimum score of 60.

11. Brandon University

At Brandon University, all applicants, regardless of their citizenship or country of origin, are required to demonstrate their English language proficiency for university admission. The university accepts a range of internationally recognized tests, including: 

  1. C1 & C2 (minimum 176)
  2. CAEL/CAEL CE (minimum 60)
  3. CanTEST (minimum 4.5 for reading and listening, 4.0 for speaking and writing)
  4.  PTE (minimum 58), and 
  5. TOEFL (minimum 80). 

It’s important to note that the university’s admission committee only accepts documents directly from the issuing authority; emailed, photocopied, notarized, or attested documents are not considered.

12. Carleton University

Carleton University has established minimum English language requirements for graduate studies. They accept 

  1. CAEL (overall band score of 70 or higher) and 
  2. TOEFL iBT (total score of 86 iBT or above with a minimum of 22 in writing and speaking and 20 in reading and listening)). 
  3. PTE 60 (min. 60 in each Communicative Skill)

If you’ve completed an undergraduate or master’s degree in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, or any country where English is the primary language, you only need to complete the Confirmation of Language Proficiency Form.

13. University of Regina

To pursue your studies at the University of Regina without the need for an IELTS score, you can opt for one of several alternative standardized tests. These include:

  1. CAEL (70)
  2. TOEFL (20 in each band)
  3. PTE (59), 
  4. CanTEST (4.5 overall, 4.0 in each component), 

It’s important to note that aspiring candidates must provide official transcripts for the last three years of high school, diploma, college, or university.

14. Concordia University

Ranked as the best university in North America in The Young University Rankings 2021, Concordia University extends its welcome to international students without the mandatory requirement of IELTS. However, students are expected to meet specific English language proficiency test requirements. Options include 

  1. TOEFL: 90 or higher and no part under 20 in each of the four components.
  2. PTE: 61 or higher and no part under 53
  3. Duolingo: Score above 120
  4. CAEL: The minimum acceptable score for the CAEL is 70
  5. CAE (A1 Advanced): The minimum acceptable score for the CAE is 180
  6. CPE (C2 Proficiency): The minimum acceptable score for the CPE is 180

15. University of Prince Edward Island

At the University of Prince Edward Island, English serves as the primary language of instruction. Besides IELTS scores, students have the flexibility to submit scores from alternative language proficiency tests, such as 

  1. TOEFL: 550 (paper-based), 80 (internet-based)
  2. CAEL: 60
  3. PTE: 58

It’s worth noting that the minimum score requirements may vary depending on the specific program, whether it’s in Arts, Science, or Business Engineering.

These universities and colleges offer a myriad of opportunities to study in Canada without IELTS. Remember that admission requirements vary, so it’s crucial to check each institution’s website or contact their admissions department for the most up-to-date information. Now that you know where to look, your dream of studying in Canada is closer than ever.

Partnered universities to study in Canada without IELTS

Let’s explore some of the esteemed universities in Canada that offer admission without the IELTS requirement. Each of these universities has its unique admission criteria, including alternative language proficiency tests. Here are some of them:

  1. Simon Fraser University (SFU): SFU is known for its academic excellence and innovative programs. To gain admission, you can present a minimum score of 60 on the Pearson Test of English (PTE) or achieve a minimum score of 88 on the TOEFL iBT.
  2. Fairleigh Dickinson University: Located in British Columbia, Fairleigh Dickinson University welcomes international students without the mandatory IELTS. You can demonstrate your English proficiency through the PTE with a minimum score of 53 or achieve a minimum score of 70 in the TOEFL iBT.
  3. Royal Roads University: This renowned university in British Columbia offers unique programs for aspiring students. You can showcase your English language skills by obtaining a minimum score of 60 overall in the PTE or achieving a minimum score of 88 in the TOEFL iBT.
  4. Lakehead University: Situated in the picturesque region of Thunder Bay, Lakehead University opens its doors to international students without the IELTS requirement. You can alternatively provide a minimum score of 58 in the PTE or achieve a minimum score of 80 in the TOEFL iBT.
  5. Thompson Rivers University: This institution in British Columbia offers diverse academic programs. To secure admission, you can submit a minimum score of 58 in the PTE or achieve a minimum score of 88 in the TOEFL iBT.
  6. Dalhousie University: Located in Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University offers a wide range of programs for international students. You can showcase your English language proficiency by obtaining a minimum score of 90 on the TOEFL iBT or an overall score of 61 on PTE.

Can I get a Canada study visa without IELTS?

Certainly, obtaining a Canada study visa without IELTS is indeed possible. It’s important to note that Canada doesn’t issue study visas per se; instead, they grant study permits that inherently include a temporary resident’s visa. These study permits allow you to study in Canada legally. While IELTS is a common means to demonstrate your English proficiency, there are alternatives, as discussed earlier, to meet this requirement and secure your study permit.

How can transglobal overseas help you?

Transglobal Overseas is your trusted partner in realizing your Canadian education dreams without the IELTS hassle. Our expert services include:

  1. Study Visa Services: Our experienced team specializes in the nuances of Canadian student visa applications. We’ve assisted countless students in obtaining their visas without IELTS.
  2. PTE Coaching in Delhi: If you choose the PTE route to prove your English proficiency, we offer top-notch coaching (online coaching also). Our comprehensive PTE coaching programs will prepare you to excel in the exam, ensuring you meet university requirements. 
  3. English Speaking Courses: Demonstrating your English-speaking ability is crucial, and we’ve got you covered. Our tailored English-speaking courses will sharpen your conversational skills, making you proficient and confident in English eliminating the need for IELTS.

With Transglobal Overseas by your side, you have a dedicated partner committed to simplifying the process and ensuring your success in studying in Canada without IELTS. Your aspirations are within reach, and we’re here to help you grasp them. Contact us today and embark on your IELTS-free academic journey to Canada!


What are the most popular intakes for international students in Canada?

The most popular intakes in Canada is the Fall Intake. Additionally, the winter intake, starting in January, and the summer intake, which begins in May, are also quite popular choices.

Which is the cheapest university in Canada for international students without IELTS?

The cheapest university in Canada for international students without IELTS is the University of Manitoba. The average tuition fee for international students at the University of Manitoba is CAD$15,000 per year.

Other affordable universities in Canada for international students without IELTS include:

  1. University of Saskatchewan
  2. Memorial University of Newfoundland
  3. Brock University
  4. University of Winnipeg
  5. Carleton University
  6. Concordia University
  7. Canadian Mennonite University
  8. Université de Saint-Boniface
  9. Saint Paul University

Are there community colleges in Canada that accept international students without IELTS?

Yes, several Canadian community colleges admit international students without an IELTS score. Some of these institutions include Centennial College, Conestoga College, George Brown College, Humber College, and Sheridan College.

Can international students pursue master's programs in Canada without IELTS?

Yes, there are numerous Canadian universities that admit international students to master’s programs without requiring an IELTS score. Some of these institutions include Brandon University, Brock University, Carleton University, Dalhousie University, University of Guelph, and many others.

Is it possible to obtain a scholarship in Canada without IELTS?

Yes, it is possible to obtain a scholarship in Canada without IELTS. There are a number of scholarships that do not require English language test scores. Some of these scholarships are funded by the Canadian government, while others are funded by universities and colleges. For example:

  1. Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships
  2. Canadian Graduate Scholarships

You should check the eligibility requirements carefully. Some scholarships may have other requirements, such as a minimum GPA or academic record. Or, you can consult with our Canada Study Visa Consultants in Delhi; they will guide you in the complete process.

Can international students pursue a Ph.D. in Canada without IELTS?

Many Canadian universities offer Ph.D. admissions to international students without an IELTS score. Some of these institutions include Brock University, Carleton University, Dalhousie University, Lakehead University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and York University.

Are there diploma courses in Canada that do not require IELTS?

Absolutely, there are numerous diploma courses in Canada that do not necessitate an IELTS score. Some of the diploma programs available without IELTS include Accounting, Business Administration, Computer Science, and more.

Explore more: Best Courses to study in Canada for Indian students

Can I pursue an MBA in Canada without IELTS and GMAT?

Yes, there are MBA programs in Canada that do not mandate an IELTS or GMAT score for admission. You may get waivers for IELTS and GMAT requirements for students with certain qualifications, such as a strong academic record, relevant work experience, or a degree from a recognized university. Some of these universities offering IELTS and GMAT waiver options for their MBA programs include Athabasca University MBA, Lakehead University MBA, Memorial University of Newfoundland MBA, etc.

It is important to note that the admission requirements for MBA programs in Canada may vary depending on the university or college. You can contact our counsellor for this; they will guide you.

Published by Bhupinder

Bhupinder is a compassionate and skilled counselor who has been helping students from the UK, Canada, and Australia for 10 years. With her extensive experience and deep understanding of the challenges faced by students, she is able to offer personalized and effective support to her clients. Bhupinder is dedicated to helping her students navigate the complex and often overwhelming process of pursuing higher education abroad. She is a trusted resource for those seeking guidance on everything from academic and career planning to personal growth and well-being. With Bhupinder's help, you can confidently take the next step towards achieving your goals and realizing your full potential.

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