English language proficiency

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.

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

  • You have completed three or more years of post-secondary education or completed a graduate degree at a Canadian institution or university
  • You 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*
  • You 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 Discover Graduate Studies 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)
MELAB CAEL PTE 
(Academic)
EFAS
90;
writing 25;
speaking 25
7.0;
writing 6.5;
speaking 6.5
85;
80 per section;
speaking 3
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)
MELAB CAEL PTE 
(Academic)
EFAS
80;
writing 22;
speaking 20;
reading 20;
listening 18
6.5;
writing 6.0;
speaking 6.0
80;
78 per section;
speaking 3
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: Accounting and Finance; Applied Mathematics; Anthropology; Architecture; Classical Studies; Climate Change; Computer Science; Digital Experience Innovation; Economic Development and Innovation; English Language and Literature; Environment and Business; Environment, Resources and Sustainability; Fine Arts; Geography and Environmental Management; Global Governance; History; Philosophy; Planning; Public Health and Health Systems; Public Service; Quantitative Finance; Recreation and Leisure Studies; Religious Studies; Sociology and Legal Studies; Sustainability Management.

Table of Graduate Studies accepted examinations and alternative higher scores
Internet-based 
TOEFL (iBT)
IELTS 
(Academic)
MELAB CAEL PTE 
(Academic)
EFAS
100;
writing 26;
speaking 26
7.5;
writing 7.0;
speaking 7.0
90;
80 per section;
speaking 3
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