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Can I study in the USA without IELTS?

Sean Campbell
Last Updated: 16 August 2021 • 5 min read

Getting a good score in the IELTS test (at least 5.5, though it depends on each college’s own requirements) will allow you to study at most universities in the USA. 

However, IELTS is not the be all and end all of English Language Assessment Tests for studying in the US. The long story, short: Yes, you can study in the USA without IELTS

There are plenty of alternative tests, which we’ll go into in more detail below. If you’re interested, we’ve written a pretty comprehensive guide on entrance exams to study abroad, as well as the last guide you’ll ever need to ace your English language assessment test. Both are articles you should check out when you’re done with this one!

Now, let’s get into some more detail on studying in the USA without IELTS, how you can do it, and which universities are happy to accept other English language certificates. 

Can I study in the USA without IELTS?

  1. What is IELTS?
  2. How to study in the USA without IELTS
  3. English Language Assessments
  4. 10 colleges offering admission without IELTS
  5. Summary

1. In case you missed it… what is IELTS?

You probably already know, but just in case... IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System.

And it’s exactly what it says it is - a test of your English level! It’s the most well known, and arguably the most universally respected assessment, accepted by pretty much all universities and employers around the world. Here’s a quick guide to IELTS scores

While it’s accepted by US colleges and immigration authorities, it is still possible to study in the USA without IELTS in 2021.

2. How to study in the USA without IELTS?

To study abroad in the US, you have to meet both federal study visa requirements for immigration purposes, and university admissions requirements. That’s normal for studying anywhere overseas. 

Here’s what’s important to know though: there is no federal requirement for people studying in the USA to have IELTS. 

This means that your required English language certification is decided by your university (or college, since we’re talking about the USA here). 

So that’s the first step. When considering any college, simply check which English language assessment they need, and who might be exempt from having to provide any English certificate at all. 

For example, there are also plenty of schools which will allow you to study without IELTS (or an equivalent assessment) if you've studied at an English language medium school, and there are many which employ a Conditional Admissions Programme (CAP).

A CAP is a university-specific initiative which allows eligible international students to enrol on the condition that they will attend that college’s own English language programme, or another Intensive English Language Programme (IELP).

3. English Language Assessments to study in the USA

So we know that IELTS is accepted by most universities in the USA, but here is a list of alternative English Language Assessment which may be accepted to allow you to study in the USA. 

But remember to always check with your university first, as the entry requirements for international students change from one university to the next:

  • TOEFL
  • Cambridge Test (CAE / CPE)
  • Duolingo English Test
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE)
  • ACT (American College Test)
  • SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test)
  • iTEP (International Test of English Proficiency)

4. 10 colleges in USA offering admission without IELTS

We’d love to list every single college in the US at which you could study without IELTS, but there are nearly 4,000 colleges across the country, and English language assessment requirements can change from year to year, and from degree to degree!

However, here are 10 colleges we really like that can accept students without IELTS. We’ve also listed the alternative English language proficiency assessments accepted at each college.

However it’s worth noting that some have a list of their own exemptions from any English language assessments at all, so check their own websites out too!

TOEFL, PTE, Duolingo English Test

  • State University of New York

Conditional (IELP), ACT, SAT

TOEFL, PTE

           TOEFL

  • University of New Orleans

Conditional (IELP), TOEFL, Duolingo English Test

  • University of Colorado

TOEFL, Duolingo English Test

TOEFL, SAT, ACT, Duolingo English Test

TOEFL, Duolingo English Test, ACT, SAT

Conditional (IELP), TOEFL, iTEP, PTE, SAT, ACT, Duolingo English Test

TOEFL, Conditional (IELP)

5. In summary: Studying in the USA without IELTS

It’s more than possible to study abroad in the USA without an IELTS certificate, it just depends on the university’s own requirements. Almost 100% of the time, some demonstration of English proficiency is needed, which makes sense, since you’ll be studying in English! 

So now that you know more about your options for studying in the USA, maybe it’s time to start preparing for life there in the future? We’ve written a handy article on the 10 highest paying part-time jobs for international students in the USA, in case you need to work while you study!

But before looking for work, you should look to find the best course and college for you! Click here to get started with Edvoy, or follow the button below to begin your study abroad adventure!

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Sean Campbell
Written By
Sean Campbell

Sean is a writer, copywriter & editor from Ireland.

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