Study in Canada without IELTS



Updated On 15 November 2023


Read Time 9 minutes


Canada is known for its exceptional educational system, research-oriented, and welcoming environment for international students. However, one of the standard requirements for international students to study in Canada is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam score, which assesses English language proficiency.


Although IELTS is a widely accepted test, some students are able to take it. Then, what can you do if you want to avoid taking the IELTS Exam but have a dream of studying in Canada? This question must have come to your mind. The good news is that there are alternatives and exceptions that allow you to study in Canada without IELTS.


In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various avenues for pursuing higher education in Canada without IELTS. So, let’s get started and read further.


Study in Canada without IELTS

Studying in Canada without IELTS is possible, but it's essential to understand the alternative pathways and exceptions that can make this dream a reality. Further, we will discuss the steps and options available to prospective international students.


How to Apply for Canadian Universities without IELTS?

If you are interested in studying in Canada without IELTS, follow the steps below to apply to Canadian universities.


Research Universities and Programs - Start by researching Canadian universities and programs that offer exemptions from the IELTS requirement. Not all universities provide this option, so it's essential to find the right fit.


Meet Language Proficiency Requirements - Some universities may require you to meet language proficiency requirements through other means, such as completing a language program in Canada. Ensure you understand and fulfil these prerequisites.


Gather Required Documents - Prepare all necessary application documents, including transcripts, recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose. Each university may have specific requirements, so check their websites for details.


Apply Online - Complete the online application for the university and program of your choice. Be sure to submit all required documents.


Interview or Language Test - Some universities may conduct interviews or have their language proficiency tests as part of the admission process. Be prepared for these steps if required.


Apply for a Study Permit - Once you receive your admission letter, apply for a study permit from the Government of Canada. It is a crucial step to study in Canada legally.


Requirements to Study in Canada without IELTS

Although the IELTS Exam may not be mandatory to apply to the universities in Canada, but there are other requirements that international students need to fulfil to study there. These requirements are given below.


English Language Proficiency

To study in Canada without IELTS, you still need to demonstrate English language proficiency, either through an alternative IELTS test or through a language program in Canada. To fulfil the exact language proficiency requirement, you must check the university website.


Academic Requirements

You must meet the academic requirements of the university and the chosen program. It typically includes a certain GPA and specific prerequisites for your desired course of study.


If you are going to study in an undergraduate program, then you have to submit your 12th-class mark sheet along with the transcripts. For the postgraduate program, submit the graduation degree with all semester mark sheets. Some students also have gaps after graduation. In this condition, they must justify their gap by submitting work experience, etc.


Proof of Funds

You will need to demonstrate that you have enough funds to cover your tuition fees and living expenses in Canada. It is a vital part of the study permit application.


Health Insurance

You should make sure that you have appropriate health insurance coverage while studying in Canada. Many provinces require you to have health insurance during your stay.


Universities in Canada without IELTS Exam

Several Canadian universities offer exemptions from the IELTS requirement or provide alternative methods for assessing English language proficiency. Here are some notable institutions where you can study without IELTS:


University Canada West - It is a private university in British Columbia with a 5-star rating. If you're a business enthusiast, this university should be your choice.


Conestoga College - The college is a leader in polytechnic education and provides admissions without IELTS. One can choose to study at Conestoga College if one wants to pursue engineering in Canada.


University of Winnipeg - It is a renowned public university known for its business and economics courses. This university doesn't require IELTS, but one has to prove their English proficiency in one of the following ways -

  • Duolingo Test

  • C1 advanced C2 proficiency, these are Cambridge English assessments.

  • CanTest

  • Canadian Academic English Language Test

  • Pearson Test of English

  • English Language Program at Winnipeg


St Lawrence College - It is a private institution of applied arts and technology in Ontario. The college accepts applications without IELTS; however, one can prove one's English proficiency through academics. The college tops the list of research-oriented institutes in Canada.


University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) - It is a public and research-intensive university in British Columbia with a 70% - 75% high acceptance rate. UNBC accepts applications without IELTS, too. However, students have to show English proficiency through exams like Duolingo and TOEFL or get a waiver if they have more than 70% marks in English subjects.


Top Courses without IELTS

There are many courses in Canada that also allow you to study without IELTS. These courses are designed to develop language skills alongside academic proficiency. 

  • English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs - ESL programs are designed for international students who want to improve their English language skills while studying academic subjects.

  • Pathway Programs - Pathway programs, like the ones offered at many universities, allow students to enter a degree program after completing an English language program.

  • Foundation Programs - Foundation programs bridge the gap between your current language proficiency and the requirements for your desired degree.

  • Bridge Programs - Bridge programs combine language training with academic courses and transition students into degree programs without needing IELTS.


Canadian Visa Without IELTS

To study in Canada, you typically need a study permit (student visa). While IELTS scores are not mandatory for the study permit application, you must meet the language proficiency requirements outlined by your chosen university or program. Here's how to apply for a study permit:

  • First, you must be accepted by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada.

  • If you get an offer letter, collect all necessary documents, including a valid passport, proof of sufficient funds, and other specific requirements based on your home country.

  • Now, you can apply for a study permit online through the Government of Canada's official website or a Visa Application Centre (VAC) in your country.

  • Next, you may be required to provide biometrics (fingerprints and photographs) and attend an interview at your local VAC. However, it will depend on your country of residence.

  • Before submitting your application, you will need to pay the study permit processing fee, which is non-refundable.

  • Now, you may need to undergo a medical examination to ensure you meet Canada's health standards.

  • Once you receive your study permit, you can travel to Canada and begin your studies.


Alternative Exams of IELTS

If you are exploring options to study in Canada without IELTS, then consider these alternatives to study in Canada without IELTS. 

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

  • PTE (Pearson Test of English)

  • Duolingo English Test

  • Cambridge English Qualifications



Studying in Canada is a dream for many international students, and IELTS is a common requirement for English language proficiency, but if you don’t want to appear in IELTS, then you have an opportunity to appear in alternative exams to study in the country. Numerous universities and programs in Canada offer exceptions and alternatives. By researching and carefully following the specific admission requirements of your chosen institution, you can achieve your goal of studying in Canada without IELTS.


We hope you got a clear understanding of how to study in Canada without IELTS. Still, if you want a deeper understanding or have questions, we encourage you to speak with our expert counsellors at Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC).


Visit our website for free online counselling, or contact us at or 1800-1230-00011 for personalised support.  



Q1. Is it possible to study in Canada without IELTS?

Ans. Yes, it is possible to study in Canada without IELTS. Some universities offer exemptions or accept alternative English language proficiency tests.


Q2. What are the alternatives to IELTS for studying in Canada?

Ans. Alternative tests include TOEFL, PTE, Duolingo English Test, and Cambridge English Qualifications, among others. The acceptance of these tests may vary by institution.


Q3. Can I study in Canada with only an English language program without IELTS?

Ans. Yes, many students begin their Canadian education journey by enrolling in English language programs offered by universities. Successful completion of such programs can lead to conditional admission to degree programs without IELTS.


Q4. Do I still need a study permit to study in Canada without IELTS?

Ans. Yes, you need a study permit (student visa) to legally study in Canada. Meeting language proficiency requirements is essential, but you must also fulfil all other study permit application criteria.


Q5. What are the key requirements for a study permit application for Canada?

Ans. Key requirements include an offer of admission from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI), sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses, a clean criminal record, and a medical examination (if required). Specific requirements may vary by country of residence.


Q6. Are there universities in Canada that do not require English language proficiency tests at all?

Ans. Yes, some universities offer exemptions in English language proficiency tests. However, it is crucial to check with the specific institution and program you're interested in. Many programs require some form of language proficiency assessment, whether through IELTS or alternative tests. 

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