English Language Requirements

Outlook for the fall 2020 term

Dalhousie University is committed to the safety of our students, faculty and staff, and community. Learn about how Dalhousie will operate this fall.


Ensure you have the language skills to succeed

If your first language is not English, you may be required to provide proof of English language proficiency.

You may not be required to give proof of English language proficiency if:

  • you studied at an English language institution for at least three years at the secondary level, or
  • you studied at an English language institution for at least one year at the post-secondary level.

When proof of English language proficiency is necessary, you must achieve the following minimum score or above on a recognized English language proficiency test:

Please note: Students applying to the Faculty of Graduate Studies should view the graduate English language requirements.

Recognized tests for undergraduate admissions

Test Minimum score- Admission
Duolingo English Test* Minimum score of 115

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)**

237 (computer-based)
90 (iBT) and no lower than 20 in each band

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

6.5 overall and no lower than 6.0 in each band

Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) ***

81

Canadian Academic English Assessment (CAEL)*
In person or online

70

Canadian Test of English for Scholars and Trainees (CanTEST)

4.5

Pearson Test of English – Academic 61 overall and no lower than 50 in each skill
Cambridge English: Advanced 180 overall and no lower than 170 in each band 

*To meet the needs of applicants during this challenging time, we are temporarily allowing students to complete the Duolingo English Test online, CAEL online, TOEFL at Home or IELTS Indicator online tests in place of in-person English proficiency exams. The tests are taken using a computer with a camera and includes a proficiency score, video interview, and writing samples which are shared with the university. 

**Students must achieve 4.0 or better on the essay or TOEFL Writing Test.

**The MELAB is no longer offered by the Michigan Language Assessment.

Submitting test scores

For students who are unable to obtain required documentation (official transcripts, English proficiency test scores) due to closures of schools and test centers, unofficial copies of current test score reports (IELTS, TOEFL) will be accepted by email only on a temporary basis.

Please note:
We are not able to accept documents of any kind by mail or courier until further notice.

Applicants should email their English language proficiency test score(s) to international.admissions@dal.ca

English language programs

If your test scores are lower than our stated minimum but you otherwise meet admission requirements, you may be offered conditional admission provided you complete an ESL program. You have two options for language upgrading:

Option 1

The English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program is offered at 3 levels: Foundation English, EAP 1 and EAP 2. Minimum entrance test scores depend on the course level and range between 3.5-6.0 IELTS / 30-84 TOEFL iBT. Placement testing can be done at Dalhousie. Courses range from 2 to 3 months up to 1 year. Each level includes speaking, listening, reading, writing, pronunciation and vocabulary development.

Successful completion of EAP Level 2 with a 3.0 GPA for undergraduate programs and 3.7 GPA for most graduate programs meets the English proficiency requirements at Dalhousie University.

Option 2

Students may choose to study English full-time at one of our partner ESL schools. Once a student reaches the top-level class, they are allowed to register in part-time study at Dal, as long as they complete the ESL program.

If you enroll through an approved partner ESL school, we anticipate that you will have completed the ESL program prior to the start term listed in your letter of acceptance. If you need to delay your degree program start date, either to begin or continue in your ESL program, you must request a deferral.