The official language of instruction at the University of Waterloo is English. It is the responsibility of the University to ensure that its graduate students have sufficient English language skills to be successful with the demands of the academic environment.

Applicants are exempt from submitting an English language proficiency (ELP) examination score if any one of the following conditions is true: 

  • Applicants have completed three or more years of post-secondary education or completed a graduate degree at a Canadian institution or university
  • Applicants have completed three or more years of post-secondary education or completed a graduate degree at a university at which English was the primary language of instruction, as indicated on our ELP exemption list*
  • Applicants have been employed for at least three years in a position in which English was the language of business in a country listed on our ELP exemption list* 

*Information on approved ELP exempted countries and institutions is available on the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs website.

Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time the application is submitted. Tests that do not appear on this chart are not accepted for admission consideration. The University of Waterloo reserves the right to request an English language test result from any applicant.

Graduate Studies accepted examinations and required scores

Table of Graduate Studies accepted examinations and required scores
Internet-based 
TOEFL (iBT)
IELTS 
(Academic)
Cambridge English test
(C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency)
CAEL PTE 
(Academic)
EFAS
90;
writing 25;
speaking 25
7.0;
writing 6.5;
speaking 6.5
185;
minimum 176 in each area
70;
60 per band;
70 writing;
70 speaking
63;
writing 65;
speaking 65
75%
overall in level 400 with at least 75% in writing, oral and academic skills

Graduate Studies accepted examinations and alternative minimum scores

Departments accepting the alternative minimum scores are: Chemical Engineering; Civil and Environmental Engineering; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering; and Systems Design Engineering.

Table of Graduate Studies accepted examinations and alternative minimum scores
Internet-based 
TOEFL (iBT)
IELTS 
(Academic)
Cambridge English test
(C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency)
CAEL PTE 
(Academic)
EFAS
80;
writing 22;
speaking 20;
reading 20;
listening 18
6.5;
writing 6.0;
speaking 6.0
176;
minimum 169 in each area
60;
60 per band
60;
writing 60;
speaking 60
75%
overall in level 300 with at least 75% in writing, oral and academic skills or 70% in level 400 with at least 70% in writing, oral and academic skills

Graduate Studies accepted examinations and alternative higher scores

Departments/Schools/programs requiring higher scores are:

  • Faculty of Arts: Accounting and Finance; Anthropology; Classical Studies; Digital Experience Innovation; English Language and Literature; Fine Arts; History; Philosophy; Public Service; Religious Studies; Sociology and Legal Studies
  • Faculty of Engineering: Architecture, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Entrepreneurship and Organization
  • Faculty of Environment: Climate Change; Climate Risk Management; Development Practice; Economic Development and Innovation; Environment and Business; Environment, Resources and Sustainability; Geography and Environmental Management; Global Governance; Planning; Sustainability Management
  • Faculty of Health: Public Health Sciences; Recreation and Leisure Studies
  • Faculty of Mathematics: Computer Science; Data Science and Artificial Intelligence; Quantitative Finance
Table of Graduate Studies accepted examinations and alternative higher scores
Internet-based 
TOEFL (iBT)
IELTS 
(Academic)
Cambridge English test
(C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency)
CAEL PTE 
(Academic)
EFAS
100;
writing 26;
speaking 26
7.5;
writing 7.0;
speaking 7.0
191;
minimum 185 in each area
70;
60 per band;
70 writing;
70 speaking
68;
writing 65;
speaking 65
80%
overall in level 400 with at least 75% in writing, oral and academic skills