study in usa without ielts

Study in USA Without IELTS: USA University Without IELTS

Updated on 27 December, 2022
Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Most educational institutions across the world consider IELTS scores for admissions; however, students can still take admission and study in the United States of America (USA) without IELTS. Wondering how? You can apply for a USA study visa without IELTS after fulfilling certain terms and conditions. To know more about the same, here is a handy guide for you:

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Study in USA Without IELTS - How is it possible? 

IELTS and IELTS scores could be a barrier for international students willing to study in the USA. The level of examination is not only tough for non-native speakers of English but attempting it multiple times is also not feasible due to the exam fee. If you are looking to apply to universities in the USA without IELTS, here are some conditions or documents that you need to meet: 

● A 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 last education. 

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

Here are some of the steps that you should follow to opt for a course in US without IELTS: 

● Shortlist the university of your choice and check their 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. Applying for the USA without an IELTS study visa is possible if you have good educational grades and meet all other requirements.  

Download E-Books for IELTS Preparation

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Best Universities for Studying Without IELTS:

Name of the InstitutionAlternative Examinations
Rice UniversityDuolingo
National Louis UniversityPTE
University of New Orleans (UNO)English Language for International or ELI
University of Colorado BoulderDuolingo PTE, Cambridge English Scale or the Duolingo
University of North AlabamaTOEIC

California State University

Northwood University

Cambridge English Test, IB, ELS or PTE Academic
University of ArkansasPTE, Duolingo or iTEP along with Cambridge Assessment English
University of DelawareEnglish Language for International or ELIPTE or Duolingo


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

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Download IELTS Preparation Guide For Free

Get to know about the latest updates on the IELTS Exam, Eligibility, Preparation Tips, Test procedure,  Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Registration Process, Important Exam Dates, and much more!! This guide is a one-stop solution for every IELTS Aspirant who aims to crack the exam with an impressive band score.

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 required to be submitted 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. 

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 your 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 you offer proof of English being your 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.

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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 your course. 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) - 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. 

Scholarships in USA without IELTS in 2022 

The fully-funded scholarships in the USA without IELTS for the class of 2022 to 2023 cover all degrees, majors, and some opportunities are also available for exchange program students. There are a lot of scholarships that offer without IELTS study in USA or require any alternative score, some of which are as follows.

  • Fulbright Foreign Student Program

This scholarship is fully funded by the Government of the USA and is offered to graduates, professionals, and artists. Around 4000 students receive the Fulbright scholarship every year and study in America without IELTS. 

  • Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program

This government-funded initiative is received by students who have demonstrated an interest in being future leaders and bringing changes to the world. 

  • Tortuga Study Abroad Scholarships

International students seeking admission to a US university for an undergraduate program and who possess a love for traveling are eligible to receive this scholarship without an IELTS score. 

  • Clark Merit Scholarships

International students studying in the first year of the undergraduate program with an excellent academic background are eligible for this scholarship and do not require an IELTS score. 

  • The NextGen Scholarships

This scholarship is initiated for international students by entrepreneur Andrena Sawyer given her struggles in the past. While an IELTS score is not mandatory, the primary requirement for students taking the test is a 3.0 GPA, and the scholarship has a value of $1,000.

  • Rotary Peace Scholarships

International students with a proven commitment to developing peace globally are particularly considered eligible for this scholarship program and do not require an IELTS score. 

  • American University Emerging Leaders Scholarship

This scholarship was introduced for students who have a good assessment of world trends, carry world-changing instincts, leadership instincts and have a proven record of academic excellence. 

  • Michigan State University Scholarships with IELTS Exemption

The Michigan State University Scholarships are awarded to students across all degree levels and they do not require an IELTS score. The university offers some scholarships on the basis of admission and needs of the students.

Important Resources to Read About IELTS Exam:

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IELTS Score for New Zealand PR

How to Make Complex Sentences in IELTS

Agree or Disagree Essay IELTS

Common Spelling Mistakes in IELTS

How Many Times IELTS Exam is Conducted in a Year

Important Vocabulary for IELTS

How to Crack IELTS in first Attempt

How Much Time is Required to Prepare for IELTS


Download IELTS Sample Papers

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Writing sample test

Learn More About IELTS

Documents Required to Study in USA Without IELTS

If you want to get admission to universities in USA without IELTS, there are a host of options to choose from - State University of New York, California State University, University of Colorado, University of Arkansas, University of New Orleans, and more. If you have completed your secondary school education or bachelor’s degree in English, you do not have to take a language proficiency test to study at these universities. Moreover, if you have undertaken a program in the USA for at least one year or enrolled in some Intensive English Learning Programs such as IELP, then you can get admission in USA without IELTS. 

After getting admission at a university in the USA, you need to apply for a student visa to migrate to the country. If you have an international baccalaureate degree or have previously studied English, you can apply for a USA study visa without IELTS. However, if you meet none of the criteria, you would have to clear a visa interview if you are selected for a highly ranked university. Listed below are the documents required to study in the USA without IELTS.

  • Form I-20
  • Payment of Application fees for SEVIS
  • Confirmation page of DS-160
  • Valid passport
  • Recent passport size photograph
  • Letter of acceptance from the university
  • CV
  • Academic Transcripts
  • Proof of Accommodation
  • Proof of Monetary Funds
  • Healthcare cover

Besides the above-mentioned documents which are common, if you will be required to submit some additional documents, you will be informed by the university.

Prepare for IELTS With upGrad Abroad 

Suppose you have been facing problems preparing for IELTS at home. In that case, you can enroll in upGrad Abroad's booster program that helps in preparation for IELTS, academic writing, profile building, university application, education loan, and visa support. 

The program costs INR 15,000 and is 100% refundable if a student starts their study abroad journey with us. 

  • It is a six-week-long course and offers the following for IELTS preparation
  • 25 hours of live online classes
  • Four one-to-one doubt clearing sessions (30 mins each)
  • Four one-to-one speaking practice sessions (30 mins each)
  • 15 writing assignments with correction and feedback 
  • Two full-length mock tests
  • One-to-one analysis of two full-length mock tests

Learn More about Study Abroad

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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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Q. What is an ESL (English as Second Language) Course?

An English as a Second Language or ESL course is offered to students who are non-native speakers of the English language. Whether you are in high school, college, or enrolled in any other degree programs, you can benefit from ESL courses, improve your writing skills, carry out effective conversations with others, have better translation frequency, and many more. This would also prepare you for improving your English for TOEFL and IELTS.

Q. Can I study in USA without IELTS?

Yes, you can study in USA without IELTS provided that you have completed your senior secondary education or graduated from a college or university where English was the primary medium of instruction. If you have pursued your degree in an English-speaking country, you can also study in USA without IELTS.

Q. Can you get a scholarship in the USA without IELTS?

There are a lot of fully-funded government and university scholarships in the USA that do not require students to furnish their IELTS scores. Some of these scholarships are the Fulbright Foreign Student Program, Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program, Tortuga Study Abroad Scholarships, Clark Merit Scholarships, The NextGen Scholarships, Michigan State University Scholarships with IELTS Exemption, etc.

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