English language requirements

You need to provide an English language test score if

  1. your first language is not English AND
  2. your four most recent years of full-time education have not been in an English-language school system.

Exception A

You are not required to provide an English language test score if

  • you have been educated in Canada and your first language is English,
  • you are a bilingual Francophone Canadian, OR
  • your first language is French and you have completed four or more years of full-time studies in a high school in Canada.

Exception B

You are not required to provide an English proficiency test score if your first language is not English AND your four most recent years of full-time education were taught in an entirely English-language school system either in Canada or in another country.

If your four most recent years of full-time education have been in a country other than Canada, the following conditions apply.

  • Official transcripts indicating subjects taught, grades achieved, and language of instruction must be provided by your high school and/or post-secondary institution(s) to support your claim.
  • We will also consider official letters, sent directly from your school’s principal or head of guidance, verifying that all subjects (excluding language courses) are taught in English.
  • These documents must arrive by Waterloo's document deadline.

English as a Second Language (ESL) programs do not qualify you for this exemption and cannot be included in the number of years of full-time education in an English-language school system.

IB and/or AP English courses also do not qualify for an exemption from the English language requirements.

Required English language scores

The following English language scores are in addition to Grade 12 English (or equivalent) if that is required for the program you're applying to.

Test Minimum score
Internet-based TOEFL (iBT) or Special Home Edition TOEFL (iBT) - Test of English as a Foreign Language

TOEFL MyBest Scores results will not be used to meet our English language requirements. If you have taken multiple tests you will need to submit results for each test.
90 overall
25 writing, 25 speaking
IELTS Academic - International English Language Testing System 6.5 overall
6.5 writing, 6.5 speaking, 6.0 reading, 6.0 listening
CAEL or CAEL online - Canadian Academic English Language Assessment 70 overall
60 per band
70 writing, 70 speaking
PTE Academic - Pearson Test of English 63 overall
65 writing, 65 speaking
EFAS - English for Academic Success 75% overall in 400 levels
75% in each of academic, oral, and writing

Tests that do not appear on this chart are not accepted for admission consideration. Choose one of the test options and complete your test at least two months before Waterloo's document deadlines to ensure your scores reach us in time. It will take 4-6 weeks for your official test score to reach Waterloo.

Exemptions will not be granted because test dates have become full.

If a TOEFL test date is full, you’re encouraged to register for CAEL or IELTS.

How recent do your test scores need to be?

English language scores are valid if completed within two years of when we review your application. Because applications are evaluated at different times throughout the admissions process, we strongly recommend that your test be completed on or after September 1, 2019 to guarantee that your test will be eligible for September 2021 admission.

Important notes

  • Your four most recent years of full-time education must be immediately before the beginning of the month you start your studies at Waterloo.
  • The English language requirements stated above are minimum required scores. If you have a higher score, you may be given preference in some programs.
  • We will consider paper-based TOEFL on an individual case-by-case basis.
  • If you're applying to a program in the Faculty of Mathematics and achieve an overall IELTS score of 7.0 (with no band score below 6.0), you meet the Faculty of Mathematics English language requirements needed for admission.
  • We reserve the right to withdraw an offer of admission if you fail to meet the minimum English language requirements for the program to which you have applied.
  • If you have completed your four most recent years of full-time education in an English-language school system and you also provide a failing English language test score, we reserve the right to withdraw your Offer of Admission or place you in BASE.
  • We reserve the right to request an English language test result from any applicant.

How to submit your English language test scores

We require official test scores sent by the testing agency directly to Waterloo's Office of the Registrar. Faxes and student copies of test scores are NOT accepted for admission.

Request that the test centre forward your test scores directly to the University of Waterloo. When we receive your official language test score from the testing centre, you'll see this reflected in the Test Summary section of your Quest account.


  • Waterloo's institution code is 0996 and our department code is 00
  • We do not accept electronic TOEFL scores for undergraduate admissions. Hardcopy tests must be sent by the testing centre.


  • We accept the electronic Test Report Form (TRF)*
  • Waterloo's e-transfer institution name is University of Waterloo – Admissions
  • Due to the volume of applications for admission we receive, we cannot individually review scores on the IELTS website. However, we download results on a regular basis for students who have requested that their results be sent to us electronically.

Do you meet Waterloo's academic requirements but fall below our English language requirements?

You may receive a conditional offer of admission to Bridge to Academic Success in English (BASE) or to Math/Bridge to Academic Success in English (Math/BASE) (previously named Math/English Language for Academic Studies, or Math/ELAS). You don't apply directly to these programs; you will receive an offer of admission if you qualify.

If you receive an offer of admission to iBASE/BASE or Math/BASE, you can submit a new English Language score for consideration. We will accept new test results as they become available. BASE and Math/BASE results must be received in our office by August 15. For iBASE, results must arrive by the posted deadline.

You can apply to English for Academic Success (EFAS), an intensive full-term English language program offered by Waterloo's English Language Institute. EFAS is designed to help students meet Waterloo's English language requirements or to prepare for university where English is the language of instruction.

Waterloo's mailing address

ELR requirements
Office of the Registrar
University of Waterloo
200 University Ave W
Waterloo ON N2L 3G1 CANADA

Questions can be sent to myapplication@uwaterloo.ca.

Improving your English

Visit the Waterloo International website to learn about ways to improve your English before attending Waterloo or while you're a student here.