Study in Canada Without IELTS 2024: Alternative Exams & Top Universities

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Canada is noted for its breathtaking picturesqueness and high inclusiveness of international students. It offers a multitude of programs for foreign students, with some of the top-ranking universities. 

The global-level educational experience is one reason why many students look to study in Canada. However, one of the biggest requirements to pursue your study-abroad plans is cracking the IELTS. 

Here is a better alternative for you!

It is possible to study in Canada without IELTS. Here is a comprehensive guide to explore the top Canadian Universities that extend their programs for international students, without an IELTS. 

Can You Study in Canada Without IELTS?

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Study in Canada Without IELTS 2024: Alternative Exams & Top Universities

Canadian universities consider a number of factors while assessing the English language proficiency of their aspiring students. 

Although IELTS is considered one of the most opted language proficiency tests in the world, there are other options for students who opt to skip the IELTS. From alternative test scores to LORs issued by previous academic institutes, there are many possibilities to study in Canada without IELTS. 

Apart from these options, many universities in Canada also consider the need to exclude students from English-speaking countries from the IELTS rule. This is because, since English is their native language, it is possible to deduce their language proficiency through this. 

There are several other alternatives for students who aspire to study in Canada without IELTS. Let us filter the easier ones here. 

Best Alternatives to Study in Canada without IELTS

Canadian universities offer undergraduate, graduate, and even advanced diplomas for international students with different alternatives to IELTS. 

Submitting the following documents can help you to study in Canada without IELTS. You can choose the alternative that suits you the best, according to your eligibility and preferences. 

  • English-Medium Certificate: Proof of studying in an English-medium school for at least four years before applying for admission.
  • Exemption: If the candidate is from an English-speaking country like the US, UK, Australia, or others, they can be considered for admission without IELTS in Canada.
  • English Courses: Many universities offer an in-house English language program for those students who are unable to offer English proficiency scores.
  • Cambridge English C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency
  • Alternative English Proficiency Tests: Students can provide the scores of other English Language Proficiency tests, such as the Duolingo English Test, TOEFL, and PTE. 

Opting for alternative Language Proficiency Tests is highly recommended, for that allows you to apply to more universities without IELTS.

Study in Canada Without IELTS: Alternative English Proficiency Tests 

Canadian universities accept students from non-native English-speaking countries with language proficiency certificates. IELTS is one of the prominent English proficiency tests, but it’s not the only one. 

Many Canadian universities allow students with alternative English proficiency tests to pursue degree programs.  The following are the most recommended language proficiency tests, apart from the IELTS.

  • TOEFL: The TOEFL or Test of English as a Foreign Language is a better alternative to the IELTS, accepted by more than 11,000 universities in 190 countries. The sections remain the same for both tests: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing.
  • PTE: The Pearson English Language Test, or PTE is a single, two-hour test that examines your English language capacities in all the major four domains. 
  • DET: The Duolingo English Test became popular during the pandemic, and is now used by over 4000 universities across the world.
  • CAEL: For students who plan to pursue their studies in Canada, the Canadian Academic English Language Test is a better alternative to IELTS. It is specifically for post-secondary institutions. 

If you plan to study in Canada without IELTS, look for the most appropriate alternative for you. Check the exam pattern, question formats, and other criteria before opting for the test. 

Top 10 Universities to Study in Canada without IELTS

Now that we know there are different requirements for admission in Canada without IELTS, let’s discuss the top universities that offer them. Since Canada hosts numerous prestigious universities in the world, it also provides options for students who do not opt for IELTS.

Here is a list of the top universities that provide admissions for students who wish to study in Canada without IELTS: we have also included their average tuition fee for your reference. 

Name of the UniversityAnnual Tuition Fee in INR (Approx.)
Brock University₹9,74,148
Cambrian University₹15,00,000
Okanagan College₹11,00,000
Concordia University₹9,50,095
Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador₹16,63,462
Carleton University₹9,36,000
McGill University₹13,43,872
University of Regina₹9,50,095
University of Saskatchewan₹22,00,000
University of Winnipeg₹12,00,000

Although all the above universities provide the option to study in Canada without IELTS, their admission criteria vary from each other. Look for the eligibility requirements for the university and the program you are applying for. 

Brock University

Founded in 1964 in Saint Catharines, Ontario, Brock University had massive public support from the Niagara region establishment. It is affiliated with the International Association of Universities, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, and the Canadian University Press.

Brock University has a ranking between 1201 to 1400 in the QS Global World University Ranking of 2024. 

Admission requirements in the university are:

  • High school or senior secondary education proof for admission eligibility
  • 12 years of rigorous grades in academics
  • A minimum grade of B
  • TOEFL with an overall score of 88 with no band having a score below 21
  • IELTS score of 6.5 with no band below 6
  • Duolingo test score of a minimum of 100
  • CAEL score of 70 with no band having scored less than 60
  • PTE score of 58

Considering the cut-off for each test, you can opt for the language proficiency test that suits you the best. 

Cambrian University

Cambrian University was founded in 1967 in northern Ontario and provides more than 80 full-time bachelor’s and master’s programs. 

It also provides more than 900 part-time courses that cover topics like Accommodation and Human Rights, Business Analytics, Cybersecurity, Human Resources Management, International Business Management, IT Business Analysis, Mobile Application Development, etc. 

Admission requirements of Cambrian University are:

  • Academic certificates/transcripts translated by organisations in Ontario
  • TOEFL/PTE/ IELTS scores based on the college under Cambrian University

You can avoid attempting IELTS and instead choose either TOEFL or PTE on applying for Cambrian University.

Okanagan College

Okanagan College is one of the top Canadian colleges, with campuses across Penticton, Kelowna, and Vernon. Especially for students looking to study in Canada without IELTS, this university is a good option. 

It caters to more than 15,900 students, with each class having 18 seats. So, you get quality education, with more individual attention, for your degree and master’s program. 

Admission requirements include:

  • Secondary or high school transcripts
  • English language proficiency test scores of TOEFL, Duolingo, and others
  • Copy of valid passport and visa
  • Application form with all documents and fees

In addition to the general admission requirements, check the eligibility requirements of the course you opt for. 

Concordia University

Found in 1974, Concordia University is set in Montreal, Quebec. Formed by merging Loyola College, and Sir George Williams University, Concordia University is one of the three universities in Quebec where English is the primary language of instruction.

The university ranks 387th position in the QS World University Rankings 2024. 

The admission criteria are:

  • Students must provide proof of finishing four years of study at an English medium secondary or post-secondary institution.
  • Alternative test proofs such as TOEFL, DET, CAEL, CAE, CPE, and PTE are accepted
  • An intensive English Language program is present at the university on conditional admission.

Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador

More than 19,000 students from over 115 countries get the benefit of studying at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

The university boasts more than 1,00,000 alumni across the world. With more than 450 scholarships awarded annually, it is a good option.

Admission requirements include:

  • Minimum of 3 years of study in the English Medium school
  • 30 credit hours for English at a secondary institution
  • Successful completion of an in-house intensive English program
  • CAE with a minimum of 176 scores
  • CAEL score of 50-60
  • TOEFL with a minimum score of 79

There are numerous other prestigious Canadian universities that allow students to study in Canada without IELTS, this includes Seneca College, the University of Guelph, Algoma University, Brandon University, and the University of Prince Edward Island.  

Top Scholarships in Canada

The average cost of studying in Canada for a diploma course is anywhere between ~₹1,21,264 to ~₹11,52,015. Similarly, for a bachelor’s degree, it can go up to ~₹12,12,648, and for an MBA, it can go up to ~₹24,25,296. 

However, Canadian Universities provide numerous scholarship programs for international students, to help them fund their studies.  

Here are some of the best scholarship programs in Canada:

  • Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships
  • Canadian Francophonie Scholarship Program (CFSP)
  • The CIFAR Global Scholars program
  • Mitacs Elevate
  • McCall MacBain Scholarship
  • Jeanne Sauvé Public Leadership Program
  • Trudeau doctoral scholarship
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (Vanier CGS)
  • Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) scholarships
  • Canada-ASEAN Scholarships
  • How does LeapScholar

Check out the eligibility criteria for each scholarship, and also consider the scholarship schemes available for your university, and specified program. 

Study Visa in Canada without IELTS

Being an international student in Canada, attaining your student visa is the primary step for your study-abroad dream. One of the essential documents for your visa application will be your test scores for different English proficiency tests. It is not necessary to attempt the IELTS as your language proficiency test. 

You will have to submit the following documents to the immigration authority of Canada for a student visa without IELTS:

  • A valid passport and visa
  • Letter of acceptance from the college for which a student is applying
  • Proof of financial backing (Enough funding to support your study)
  • Documents for a Canadian bank account in your name
  • Acknowledgement letter for student loan
  • Bank statements
  • Draft for convertible money from the bank
  • Proof of payment for tuition and accommodation fees
  • Letter of acknowledgment from the scholarship organisation
  • A medical certificate or police verification based on the home country

Students can provide the scores of their TOEFL, Duolingo, or PTE, instead of IELTS for a Canada study visa. Moreover, from August 10, 2023, onwards, PTE Academic will be accepted in Canada for all Canada SDS (Student Direct Stream) applications.

Working in Canada without IELTS

Due to the inclusive immigration policies, and the multi-cultural environment of Canada, it is one of the top destinations for international students, and those looking for a job abroad. Foreign nationals looking to work in Canada require a work visa or work permit. 

There are two main types of work permits that you can apply for:

  • Employer-specific work permit
  • Openwork permit

With an Employer-specific Work Permit, you can work in Canada within the purview of that organisation. However, with an Open Work Permit, you can work with any organisation or company in Canada. 

However, if you are to avoid IELTS, there are some workarounds. The first is to be highly skilled and gain express entry into Canada with a work permit. The second is to choose a university that waives the requirement for IELTS. Further, you will get a window of 180 days on completion of the university program for application for a work permit. The university option can be more efficient, as it will allow you to study and also have a chance at a work permit. 

Why is it Better to Take the IELTS Exam?

Although the Canadian government allows you to study in Canada without IELTS, it is still recommended to attempt the test for various reasons. 

Here are some reasons why attending the IELTS is better and how it can benefit you in various aspects of your academic and professional life.

  • Simplifying the Transition: One of the most important advantages of taking the IELTS exam is that it helps ease the transition from your current educational level, to the higher. For example, from school to college or undergraduate to postgraduate studies abroad. This helps you to achieve the basic requirements for a university space. 
  • Mastering English: We all know that English is a global language and the possibilities it opens are plenty. By taking the IELTS exam, you can familiarise yourself with English language, and this can help you with your further studies abroad. It also helps you in adapting to the new sociocultural space and enhances your overall experience of studying abroad. 
  • More Scholarship Opportunities: Taking the IELTS exam can help you access more scholarships. Many universities in Canada offer scholarships to international students based on their academic merit and English language proficiency. By obtaining a high score on the IELTS exam, you can increase your chances of being eligible for scholarships, which can significantly reduce your financial burden and make your education in Canada more affordable.
  • Increased Employability: In addition to the academic benefits, taking the IELTS exam can enhance your employment opportunities in Canada. Many employers, especially in fields such as commerce, medicine, law, and professional writing, often require English language proficiency as a job requirement. It is also a necessity for communication in the workspace. By obtaining a good score in the IELTS exam, you can demonstrate to your potential employers that you have the necessary language skills to communicate effectively in a professional setting. 
  • Regional Necessities: In some states, such as Tamil Nadu, Haryana, and Punjab in India, taking the IELTS exam has become a requirement due to the increasing scrutiny of admission processes. Educational institutions and immigration authorities in these regions consider IELTS a trusted parameter for English language proficiency to ensure the integrity of admissions. Taking the IELTS exam shows that your application is genuine, reliable, and eligible for the program. 

Final Thoughts

IELTS is an important exam to study in Canada. However, it is not mandatory, and there are ways to work and study in Canada without IELTS. 

All you need is good test scores in alternative tests like TOEFL, PTE, or Duolingo or qualify for other eligibility criteria to substitute for the IELTS. It is important to understand the program requirements and start your preparation accordingly. 

Most language proficiency tests follow the same test pattern and assess your capacity for Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. Ensure you are completely aware of the test you are opting for and prepare well for the exam. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I study in Canada without IELTS?

A. Yes, IELTS can be exempted on the grounds of your English marks obtained in classes 10 and 12. Some universities let you study in Canada without IELTS, if you have studied in English-medium schools or institutions for a certain number of years. Check the eligibility criteria of the universities for the programs you are applying for.

Q. Which country is the best to get admission to without IELTS?

A. Canada is a good option for studying without IELTS. This is because a huge number of top Canadian universities let you study in Canada without IELTS. You can replace the IELTS with other language proficiency tests such as TOEFL, PET, or Dulingo. For Canada, you can also attempt the CAEL or Canadian Academic English Language Test.

Q. Is it necessary to appear in IELTS while applying for a master’s degree in Canada?

A. The IELTS is important when applying for a Master’s in Canadian Universities. However, there are few universities that admit foreign students without an IELTS. Some of the prestigious universities that allow students to get admission without an IELTS include Brock University, Cambrian University, Okanagan College, Concordia University, and Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Q. Does Canada accept a study gap?

A. Yes, study gaps are accepted in Canada. It is common for students to have a gap of a few years due to various reasons. For example, you might work in between your studies, taking some time to prepare for IELTS or other entry requirements. Canada accepts such study gaps, but the reason has to be valid. 

Q. Can I apply for a Canadian visa without IELTS?

A. Yes, you can apply for a work or student visa without IELTS. The visa requirements do not specify whether to take the IELTS as the language proficiency exam. You can opt out of any test to satisfy the eligibility criteria. However, you need to submit all the essential documents for the same.

Q. Which universities allow students to study in Canada without IELTS?

A. There are numerous age-old universities in Canada that allow students without IELTS. If you wish to study in Canada without IELTS, you can choose Brock University, Cambrian University, Okanagan College, Concordia University, and Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.


Q. What are some top cities for students in Canada?

A. Some of the top cities in Canada for international students include Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Toronto, Quebec City, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Saskatoon. Being students, it is better to opt for cities that have good educational institutions, more part-time opportunities, and a lower cost of living. 

Q. Is it possible to work in Canada with a student visa?

A. Yes, it is possible for students to work in Canada. You can either work on or off campus. In order to work outside the campus, you need a work permit. During the semesters you can only work 20 hours a week. However, during breaks, you can work more.

Q. Why is Canada a good study-abroad destination?

A. Canada is a good study-abroad destination, for its higher quality of education. Canada hosts some of the most prestigious universities in the world, with a multicultural study environment. The availability of part-time jobs, inclusive immigration policies, and the ready availability of work permits make it a better and easier choice for international students.

Q. Which are the top Canadian Universities that give admission without an IELTS?

A. Although IELTS is a prominent admission criterion in several countries including Canada, there are numerous Canadian universities that provide admission for international students, even without an IELTS. Some of the top institutions include Brock University, Cambrian University, Okanagan College, Concordia University, and Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Q. What are the document requirements for studying in Canada without IELTS?

A. While applying for a student visa without IELTS, you need to submit the following documents.

– A valid passport and visa
– Letter of acceptance from the college for which a student is applying
– Proof of financial backing 
– Documents for a Canadian bank account in your name
– Acknowledgement letter for student loan
– Bank statements
– Draft for convertible money from the bank
– Proof of payment for tuition and accommodation fees
– Letter of acknowledgment from the scholarship organisation
– Medical certificate or police verification based on your home country

Q. Can I work in Canada without IELTS?

A. Yes, you can work in Canada without IELTS. Although the IELTS is considered a major entry requirement to most foreign countries, Canada accepts a work visa if you have completed other language proficiency tests. This includes PET, TOEFL, Duolingo, or CAEL.

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Saket Kohli

An International Higher Ed professional with 7+ years of experience studying, working, and living across three geographies, currently on a mission to share his journey as an International Student.

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