How to Study in USA Without IELTS?

How to Study in USA Without IELTS?

Updated on 18 January, 2022

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

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Most educational institutions insist on IELTS scores for admissions, although you can still study in the USA without IELTS. Wondering how? You can apply for a USA study visa without IELTS after meeting some terms and conditions. Here is a handy guide for you. 

Study in the USA without IELTS- How is it possible? 

IELTS sometimes becomes a barrier for international students willing to study in the USA. The examination may appear tough for non-native speakers of English while attempting it multiple times is not feasible due to the exam fee. If you are looking to apply to universities in the USA without IELTS, here are some of the conditions one need to meet: 

● Letter from your earlier university, confirming that you have pursued your course in English. 

● You should have English as a core subject in your high school. 

● IELTS might be unnecessary if English was the official language in the country where you completed your graduation. 

● Universities may insist on their preparatory courses, which are sometimes called IELP or Intensive English Language Program.

Here are some of the steps that you should follow: 

● Shortlist your chosen universities and check the eligibility criteria. 

● Apply directly online. 

● After submitting all documents, you may be called for a personal interview. 

● Once you receive your acceptance letter from the university, you will have to pay the initial tuition fees. 

● You have to submit your application for a study visa. It is possible to apply for the USA without an IELTS study visa if you have good educational grades and meet all other requirements. 



Best Universities for Studying without IELTS: 

Name of the Institution Alternative Examinations
Rice UniversityDuolingo
National Louis UniversityPTE
University of New Orleans (UNO)English Language for International or ELI
University of Colorado BoulderState University of New YorkDuolingo PTE, Cambridge English Scale or Duolingo
University of North AlabamaTOEIC
California State UniversityNorthwood UniversityPTEEIKEN, Cambridge English Test, IB, ELS or PTE Academic
University of ArkansasPTE, Duolingo or iTEP along with Cambridge Assessment English
University of DelawareUniversity of DaytonEnglish Language for International or ELIPTE or Duolingo

There are many PTE accepted universities in the USA, while some also take the TOEIC or the Cambridge English Test. 



USA Study Visa without IELTS: 

 The USA without an IELTS study visa process is not that complex. The student visa procedure is possible if you have previously studied English or possess the International Baccalaureate qualification. However, if you do not meet these criteria or hail from an English-speaking nation, then you will have to face several questions at your visa interview. The following documents are needed on your part: 

● DS-160 confirmation page. 

● Valid passport copy. 

● Recent photograph (passport-sized). 

● Proof of funds. 

● I-20 Form. 

● SEVIS application payment receipt. 

● Accommodation proof. 

● Confirmation and acceptance letter from the university. 

● Resume or CV. 

● Healthcare coverage. 

● Official academic transcripts. 

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Eligibility Criteria for Studying without IELTS: 

 Eligibility criteria vary across universities. Here’s taking a closer look: 

●      The University of New Orleans (UNO)- You will need to successfully obtain more than 63+ and 70+ in the LGVR and Writing sections of the UNO Intensive English Language Program. 

●      The University of Dayton- It is Ohio’s second-biggest university, and you can take the IELP for admission into the program. 

●      Rice University- Although English language proficiency is not mandatory, the admissions committee will analyze candidates’ communication skills before deciding. 

●      California State University-Los Angeles- You have to furnish proof of the undergraduate or secondary qualification in English as your instructional medium. 

●      Drexel University- Drexel University requires the Bridge Program or UPREP (University Preparation Summer Program) for its international students. 

●      The University of North Alabama- ESL (English as a Second Language) programs are available for international students without IELTS requirements. 

●      Northwood University- This institution will admit students without IELTS, provided they offer proof of English being their teaching medium during their senior secondary or undergraduate courses. 

●      National Louis University- You can apply with a certificate from your previous college or school, showing that you completed the degree with English as the instructional medium. 

●      University of Colorado Boulder- It mandates completing two years of study at a high school in an English-speaking country like the USA. Studying for a year at college in any such nation within these two years is also acceptable. The university also accepts Duolingo test scores. 

●      University of Arkansas- The University analyzes the English language abilities of students along with offering conditional admission if students agree to 1-6 English and cultural studies credit hours with their courses. There is an IELP (Intensive English Language Program) option as well. 

●      The University of Delaware- International students may apply for conditional admission without TOEFL/IELTS. They should choose AT (Academic Transition) at the English Language Institute. 

●      State University of New York- IELP and ESL programs are available for international students. 

There are summer courses in the USA that can make up for the proof of English proficiency. At the same time, bridge courses are also available at some USA universities. You should check the eligibility criteria and admission requirements carefully before applying. 

ESL Courses- Learning more about them: 

English as Second Language (ESL) courses are similar to IELP, and they are meant for non-native speakers of the language. The courses include aspects like pronunciation, grammar, spelling and vocabulary. They help students speed up with English language proficiency needs for their degrees and provide an alternative option to IELTS. However, you should verify whether ESL courses are acceptable at your preferred universities. 


Acceptable Alternatives to IELTS: 

Universities accept many examinations in the USA as alternatives to IELTS. They include: 

●      TOEFL- It is one of the most popular global examinations for international students. Universities usually require scores between 71 and 92, depending on the course that you choose. However, you will need even higher marks for getting admission into a Ph.D. program in the country. 

●      PTE- The PTE (Pearson English Test) is now accepted in the USA, with hundreds of universities recognizing the same. The minimum score should be at least 54, depending on the university in question. 

●      SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)- It is required only for those applying for undergraduate courses. The examination score should be at least 1000 for getting admission into colleges. 

●      ACT (American College Test)- Another examination for undergraduate students, the ACT score should be at least 25 for entry into most USA universities. 

●      GRE (Graduate Record Examination)- International students, especially those pursuing engineering, should sit for the GRE. There are seven subject-based examinations as well. The lowest acceptable GRE score is usually 170 in the USA. 

●      GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)- GMAT is a must for getting admission into a leading management or MBA institution. The average score required is usually 450 in the USA. Good scores in GMAT, coupled with the GPA, play a crucial role in helping students study at coveted institutions. It is not only about getting admissions into top MBA programs; many financial companies and entities in other sectors may also look for GMAT scores of job applicants. 

Learn More About IELTS

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I go to the USA without IELTS to study?

The IELTS is a compulsory requirement for studying at most USA universities. However, several institutions take alternative examination scores, including the TOEFL, PTE, GRE, GMAT, and even Duolingo scores! There are many ESL or other programs which help students apply without needing IELTS scores. Some of the top universities you can check for include Northwood University, California State University, and the University of Dayton. Of course, studying without IELTS means that you should have at least completed your undergraduate or senior secondary education with English as the primary medium of instruction. Those studying in an English-speaking nation will also be eligible. People choosing the IELP (Intensive English Language Program) option may study at universities offering the same, without needing IELTS scores.

Q. Is IELTS mandatory for the USA student visa?

IELTS is not a compulsory requirement for getting a USA student visa. However, this is only applicable for students who have done their International Baccalaureate or have studied earlier in any English-speaking country. The examination requirements for courses in the USA may vary, including options like GRE, GMAT, IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, and many more. It varies across universities.

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