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Planning to take an English test to study in Canada? Starting from 10 August 2023, you are now able to apply to Student Direct Stream (SDS) with a 6.0 overall band score on IELTS Academic with no minimum score requirement for individual bands. While academic institutions have different score requirements, there are many Canadian colleges and universities out there that accept an IELTS Academic band score of 6.0 or lower. Discover which ones are suitable for you to give you the best opportunity to study in Canada. 

What type of colleges and universities are available to SDS applicants?

To apply for a Canadian college or university, you would need an acceptance letter from a  designated learning institutionexternal icon (DLI). If you also are from an SDS country you could be eligible to apply to these institutions through the expedited stream that processes most applications within 20 calendar days. Visit the IRCC websiteexternal icon for the latest information.

SDS colleges and universities that accept an overall IELTS band score 6.0

With an overall IELTS Academic band score of 6.0, not only do test takers qualify for SDS, but there are many SDS-approved colleges and universities currently that accept this score. Below is a list of SDS-approved institutions and courses that accept lower than a 6.0 in Speaking, Reading, Writing and/or Listening. 

InstitutionStudy levelMinimum IELTS score required
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)Undergraduate6.0
St. Clair CollegePostgraduate5.5
Alexander CollegeUndergraduate6.0
Coast Mountain CollegeUndergraduate6.0
Farleigh Dickinson University, Vancouver CampusUndergraduate6.0
Royal Roads UniversityUndergraduate5.5
Carleton UniversityUndergraduate5.0
Sault CollegeUndergraduate6.0
University of LethbridgeUndergraduate6.0
Fleming CollegeUndergraduate6.0
North Island CollegeUndergraduate6.0
Fanshawe CollegeUndergraduate6.0
Loyalist CollegeUndergraduate6.0

*The above information is correct as of 25 August 2023. For the latest updates, please contact the institution directly.

As IELTS Academic scores are valid for two years from the date you sat the test, you can use your old test score before it expires to secure admission into a university that accepts your score after 10 August 2023.

Scenario: Jaspreet uses her old IELTS Academic score to get into her dream university 

Jaspreet sat the IELTS Academic test on 1 September 2021 with the aim to get the minimum score to apply to University of Windsor Centre for Executive Education. She managed to secure a 5.5 score in Listening and Reading, and a 6.5 in Writing and Speaking. Despite getting 5.5 in Listening and Reading which is lower than the previous requirement of 6.0 on all bands, she can use her IELTS test score before it expires on 31 August to apply to SDS and admission into her desired course after 10 August 2023. This is because her cumulative band score is 6.0, plus she meets the minimum band score required by the University of Windsor Centre for Executive Education (see above table).

Do IELTS score requirements change based on courses and degree levels at SDS colleges?

Yes, IELTS score requirements can vary based on the courses and degree levels at SDS colleges in Canada. While an overall IELTS Academic score of 6.0 is the only requirement for SDS applicants after 10 August 2023, specific courses or degree programs may have higher or lower score requirements. It is important to check the specific requirements with the college or university you're interested in and the program you wish to pursue.

What course can SDS applicants apply for with a 6.0 IELTS Academic score from 10 August?

While the above-listed colleges and universities accept a 6.0 IELTS Academic overall score, it is important to note that different courses within the same institutions may have different IELTS entry score requirements depending on how these programs have been designed.  

To explain this better, let’s look at the following example. 

Scenario: Hesham doesn’t meet the minimum IELTS score requirement but still manages to get into his dream university 

Hesham sat the IELTS Academic test with the aim to achieve a 6.5 score needed for general admission into the University of Calgary. He scored 4.5 each on Listening, Reading and Speaking, and 5.0 on Writing. Although he couldn’t get the desired score, he still managed to get into the university’s English Language program which had a lower score requirement (see above table). 

In conclusion, achieving an overall IELTS Academic band score of 6.0 can be a great first step for international students to pursue their study abroad goals in Canada. There are several Canadian colleges and universities that accept scores of 6.0 or lower. Take the time to research and find the right institution to shape your future and achieve your academic and career dreams. Start your journey nowexternal icon