English Language Proficiency

Since English is the primary language of instruction and communication at the U of A, all applicants must be proficient in English prior to admission.

Note: Applicants with qualifications from certain countries and international universities are exempt from the English language requirements. See our exemptions list.


Proficiency is demonstrated by:

  • possession of a degree or its academic equivalent from an institution recognized by the University of Alberta and where the language of instruction is English. Proof that the instruction for the degree was in English will be required;


  • demonstration of sufficient English language coursework at the secondary school level from select countries (ie. Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden & Switzerland). See English Language Proficiency: Secondary School Coursework;


  • a satisfactory score on one of the following approved English language examinations


  • For admission to FGSR, our TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test) total score requirement is as follows:  a minimum total of 88, with no scale score less than 20. In those cases where a student presents a score report that meets or exceeds FGSR’s total score requirements, but where the Speaking or Listening scores are 18 or 19, departments can contact the student by phone or Skype to determine the student’s level of speaking and listening comprehension. If the student is able to carry on a conversation, and if the listening skills meet your expectations, please send a supporting letter addressing the low TOEFL score along with the application for admission and other admission documents.
  Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) minimum score of 550 (paper-based), or a total score of 88 with a score of at least 20 on each of the individual skill areas (internet-based)
  Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) minimum score of 85
  International English Language Testing System (IELTS) minimum overall band score of 6.5, with at least 5 on each band (Academic)
  Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL) overall minimum score of 60, with at least 60 on each subtest
  Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) overall minimum score of 59

Note: These are minimum scores required by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Some departments require higher scores.

If you need to complete one of these English language examinations, you should do so as soon as possible and arrange for the results to be sent to the department to which you are applying.

Scores more than two years old cannot be verified; therefore the applicant normally would be required to re-take the test.

ESL 550

Departments may also recommend applicants to ESL 550 an alternate method of satisfying the existing English language admission requirement.

For more information about English Language Proficiency, see the Graduate Program Manual--Section 5: Admissions