English language competency

English is the primary language of instruction at UBC. All prospective students are required to demonstrate a minimum level of English before they’re admitted.

There are nine ways to meet UBC’s minimum English Language Admission Standard for an undergraduate program. If you do not meet this requirement, you may be interested in one of our academic English development programs on UBC’s Vancouver campus or our academic English development programs on UBC’s Okanagan campus.

There are nine ways to meet this requirement

  1. Complete three or more consecutive years of full-time education in English in a recognized Canadian provincial curriculum (within Canada or at an off-shore school) immediately prior to attending UBC.
  2. Complete four or more consecutive years of full-time education in English in a country other than Canada where English is the principal language. These four years must be immediately prior to attending UBC.
  3. Achieve a grade of 70% or better on the provincial examination portion of BC English 12 or the equivalent.
  4. Achieve a final grade of 4 or better on Advanced Placement (AP) English Language & Composition or AP Literature & Composition; or achieve a final grade of 5 or better on International Baccalaureate English A1 or A2 (higher-level or standard-level).
  5. Achieve the competence standard indicated by one of the tests of English language proficiency on UBC’s Vancouver campus or on UBC’s Okanagan campus that evaluates skills in listening, reading, speaking, and writing.
  6. Successfully complete six credits of post-secondary first-year English studies at a recognized university in an English-speaking country. A transcript showing completion of these courses is due March 15. For students at North American post-secondary institutions registered in English courses in the January to April term, a final transcript showing completion of these courses will be accepted until May 15 if there are spaces left in your program.
  7. Graduate from a recognized degree program at an accredited university at which English is the primary language of instruction in a country where English is the principal language.
  8. Attend four or more years at an eligible international secondary school (eligible curricula for the Vancouver campus and Okanagan campus) that uses English as the language of instruction but operates in a country where the primary language is not English. These four years must be immediately prior to attending UBC. You will need to submit a transcript as soon as possible to the Undergraduate Admissions office.
  9. Achieve a UBC Certificate in English Language or CEL by completing Level 600 of the UBC Continuing Studies English for Academic Purposes program on UBC’s Vancouver campus.

If you are fully proficient in English but do not meet any of the nine options listed above, you may request a waiver for the English Language Admission Standard.

Submitting documentation

You will receive an email if you are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. If you submit an application that does not have proof of English language proficiency, you will not be evaluated until we receive such proof or until a waiver is granted.

Before you can be admitted to UBC, you must meet our English Language Admission Standard. One of the ways you can do this is to achieve the minimum score on one of the tests listed below. If you do not meet this requirement, you may be interested in one of our academic English development programs on UBC’s Vancouver campus or on UBC’s Okanagan campus.

We will accept test results taken no more than two years before you apply to UBC. These test results need to be mailed to UBC, by your testing agency, before the document deadline to:

Enrolment Services
University of British Columbia
1874 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada

Tests that satisfy the English language admission standard on UBC’s Vancouver campus

Test Minimum score [1]
CAE Certificate in Advanced English B
CAEL Canadian Academic English Language assessment Overall score: 70
CAEL With the speaking sub-test 60
CELPIP Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Test – Academic (CELPIT-A) portion of this test satisfies the Language Proficiency Index (LPI) requirement for first-year English courses at UBC. You must achieve a score of at least 5 on the essay section.)
CELPIP CELPIT-A (Academic Reading and Writing) 4L
CELPIP CELL (Listening) 4L
CELPIP CELTOP (Speaking) 4L
CPE Certificate of Proficiency in English C
IELTS International English Language Testing System (Academic) 6.5 with no part less than 6.0
MELAB Michigan English Language Assessment Battery with the MELAB Oral Interview 85 final score with 3 in the speaking test
PTE Pearson Test of English (Academic) Overall score: 65
Reading: 60
Listening: 60
Writing: 60
Speaking: 60
TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language (UBC’s institution code for the Test of English as a Foreign Language is 0965.)
TOEFL TOEFL Internet-based test Overall score: 90
Reading: 22
Listening: 22
Writing: 21
Speaking: 21
TOEFL TOEFL Paper-based test with the TWE (Test of Written English) 55 each for Reading, Listening, and Writing (4.0 on TWE)
TOEFL TOEFL Computer-based test with the essay No longer accepted

[1] Unless otherwise stated, the score is the minimum on each part of the examination. Minimum scores must be achieved in a single sitting of the test (i.e., scores across multiple instances of a test may not be used to satisfy minimum component requirements). Tests taken more than two years prior to application for admission will not be considered.

Tests that satisfy the English language admission standard on UBC’s Okanagan campus

Test Minimum score [2]
CAE Certificate in Advanced English (Administered by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations organization.) B
CAEL Canadian Academic English Language assessment Overall score: 70
CAEL With the speaking sub-test 60
CELPIP Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Test – Academic (CELPIT-A) portion of this test satisfies the Language Proficiency Index (LPI) requirement for first-year English courses at UBC with a score of at least 5 on the essay section.)
CELPIP CELPIT-A (Academic Reading and Writing) (The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Test – Academic (CELPIT-A) portion of this test satisfies the Language Proficiency Index (LPI) requirement for first-year English courses at UBC with a score of at least 5 on the essay section.) 4L or 4H
CELPIP CELL (Listening) 4L or 4H
CELPIP CELTOP (Speaking) 4L or 4H
CPE Certificate of Proficiency in English (The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Test – Academic (CELPIT-A) portion of this test satisfies the Language Proficiency Index (LPI) requirement for first-year English courses at UBC with a score of at least 5 on the essay section.) C
IELTS International English Language Testing System (Academic) 6.5 with no part less than 6.0
MELAB Michigan English Language Assessment Battery with the MELAB Oral Interview 85
OC EAP Okanagan College English for Academic Purposes Completion of level 4 (Level 4 requires completion of Okanagan College EAPD 040, EAPW 040, and EAPR 040. UBC requires a grade of 70% or higher in each course to satisfy the English Language Admission Standard.)
PTE Pearson Test of English (Academic) Overall score: 65
Reading: 60 (minimum score)
Listening: 60 (minimum score)
Writing: 60 (minimum score)
Speaking: 60 (minimum score)
TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language (UBC’s institution code for the Test of English as a Foreign Language is 0965.)
TOEFL Internet-based test Overall score: 90
Reading: 22 (minimum score)
Listening: 22 (minimum score)
Writing: 21 (minimum score)
Speaking: 21 (minimum score)
TOEFL Paper-based test with the TWE (Test of Written English) 55 each of Reading, Listening, and Writing (4.0 on TWE)
TOEFL Computer-based test with the essay No longer accepted

[2] Unless otherwise stated, the score is the minimum on each part of the examination. Minimum scores must be achieved in a single sitting of the test (i.e., scores across multiple instances of a test may not be used to satisfy minimum component requirements). Tests taken more than two years prior to application for admission will not be considered.

International curricula that satisfy the English language admission standard on UBC’s Vancouver campus

You may meet the English Language Admission Standard if:

  • You attend(ed) a school outside Canada that uses English as the language of instruction, and
  • Your program falls into one of the following categories.

If you attend a bilingual school, you will need to complete an English waiver request.

1. International Baccalaureate diploma program

  • You must be completing the IB diploma program.
  • You must have studied at a school that meets the above criteria for four years and be completing IB higher-level or standard-level English A1 or A2.
  • If you’ve studied fewer than four years, your final grade in IB English A1 or A2 must be 5 or higher.

2. Council of international schools

  • Your school must be an accredited member of the Council of International Schools.
  • You must have studied at a school that meets the above criteria for four years and be completing the senior or Grade 12 level (non-ESL).

3. Schools that offer regionally accredited US curricula

  • Your school must have appropriate US regional accreditation.
  • You must have studied at a school that meets the above criteria for four years and be completing the senior or Grade 12 level (non-ESL).
  • If you’ve studied fewer than four years, your exam grade in Advanced Placement English Language & Composition or Literature & Composition must 4 or higher, or your final grade in IB English A1 and A2, higher-level or standard-level, must be 5 or higher.

4. Schools that offer full Canadian curricula (Vancouver campus only)

  • Your school must be provincially authorized to offer the Canadian high school curricula.
  • You must have studied at a school that meets the above criteria for four years and be completing the senior or Grade 12 level (non-ESL).
  • If you’ve studied fewer than four years, your exam grade in Advanced Placement English Language & Composition or Literature & Composition must of 4 or higher, or your final grade in IB English A1 or A2, higher-level or standard-level, must be 5 or higher.

5. British curriculum (A Levels & GCSEs)

  • You must achieve a final grade of A or B in A Level English (non-ESL).

6. Indian secondary school curricula

  • Your school must be affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education or the Council for the Indian School Certificate.
  • You must be pursuing or have completed the curriculum leading to either the Indian Senior School Certificate (SSC) or the Indian School Certificate (ISC).
  • You must achieve a minimum grade of 75% (Indian grading scale) on your senior English subject. UBC will use interim grades (e.g., pre-board exam results) if you are currently attending secondary school. UBC will use final Class XII grades if you’ve graduated from secondary school.

UBC reserves the right to exclude schools from exemption.

International curricula that satisfy the English language admission standard on UBC’s Okanagan campus

You may meet the English Language Admission Standard if:

  • You attend(ed) a school outside Canada that uses English as the language of instruction, and
  • Your program falls into one of the following categories.

If you attend a bilingual school, you will need to complete an English waiver request.

1. International Baccalaureate diploma program

  • You must be completing the IB diploma program.
  • You must have studied at a school that meets the above criteria for four years and be completing IB higher-level or standard-level English A1 or A2.
  • If you’ve studied for fewer than four years, your final grade in IB English A1 or A2 must be 5 or higher.

2. Council of international schools

  • Your school must be an accredited member of the Council of International Schools.
  • You must have studied at a school that meets the above criteria for four years and be completing the senior or Grade 12 level (non-ESL).

3. Schools that offer regionally accredited US curricula

  • Your school must have appropriate US regional accreditation.
  • You must have studied at a school that meets the above criteria for four years and be completing the senior or Grade 12 level (non-ESL).
  • If you’ve studied for fewer than four years, your exam grade in Advanced Placement English Language & Composition or Literature & Composition must be 4 or higher, or your final grade in IB English A1 and A2, higher-level or standard-level, must be 5 or higher.

4. British curriculum (A Levels & GCSEs)

  • You must achieve a final grade of A or B in A Level English (non-ESL).

5. Indian secondary school curricula

  • Your school must be affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education or the Council for the Indian School Certificate.
  • You must be pursuing or have completed the curriculum leading to either the Indian Senior School Certificate (SSC) or the Indian School Certificate (ISC).
  • You must achieve a minimum grade of 75% (Indian grading scale) on your senior English subject. UBC Okanagan will use interim grades (e.g., pre-board exam results) if you are currently attending secondary school. UBC Okanagan will use final Class XII grades if you’ve graduated from secondary school.

UBC Okanagan reserves the right to exclude schools from exemption.

Academic English development programs on UBC’s Vancouver campus

For academically outstanding degree-seeking students who do not yet meet UBC’s English Language Admission Standard

If you meet the general admission and program-specific requirements for a UBC degree program but you do not meet UBC’s English Language Admission Standard, you should still apply to UBC! You may be eligible for admission through one of UBC’s academic English development programs.

How to apply

  1. Apply to your degree program and campus of choice.
  2. Based on your English language test score and academic record, UBC’s admissions professionals will determine if you are a candidate for one of the following academic English development programs.

Conditional Admission Program

The Conditional Admission Program offers English-language preparation leading to an undergraduate degree program on UBC’s Vancouver campus for bachelor degree programs in all faculties.

If you are admitted through the Conditional Admission Program, you will be accepted into your undergraduate program on the condition that you successfully complete the UBC Continuing Studies English for Academic Purposes program.

Learn more about the Conditional Admission Program.

Vantage One program at UBC Vantage College

Vantage One is an innovative, integrated program for first-year international students. The eleven-month program on UBC’s Vancouver campus combines intensive English-language instruction, first-year university academic coursework, and additional transition support. Following successful completion, you’ll transition into your second year at UBC for the following degree programs:

  • Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Science
  • Bachelor of Management

Learn more about the Vantage One program.

Academic English development programs on UBC’s Okanagan campus

For academically outstanding degree-seeking students who do not yet meet UBC’s English Language Admission Standard

If you meet the general admission and program-specific requirements for a UBC degree program but you do not meet UBC’s English Language Admission Standard, you should still apply to UBC! You may be eligible for admission through one of UBC’s academic English development programs.

How to apply

  1. Apply to your degree program and campus of choice.
  2. Based on your English language test score and academic record, UBC’s admissions professionals will determine if you are a candidate for one of the following academic English development programs.

English Foundation Program

The English Foundation Program offers English language preparation leading to an undergraduate degree program on UBC’s Okanagan campus for the following degree programs:

  • Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts
  • Bachelor of Human Kinetics
  • Bachelor of Management
  • Bachelor of Science

Learn more about the English Foundation Program.

Waiver request process

If you do not meet UBC’s English Language Admission Standard but believe that you have the proficiency of a native English speaker, you may request to have the requirement waived.

Your waiver request must include:

  1. A brief letter explaining why you believe the requirement should be waived.
  2. An official letter of recommendation from your school’s English teacher, guidance counsellor, principal, or headmaster, which attests that your level of English proficiency is close to or equal to that of a native speaker.The recommendation should be submitted via email and include the writer’s contact information (phone number and email address preferred).
  3. An official transcript of grades, including courses in progress and anticipated grades. In order for the transcript to be official, it must be submitted in a sealed school envelope and mailed directly from your school to UBC.

You may also include any additional evidence demonstrating your English competence, such as achievement test scores (e.g., Scholastic Aptitude Test [SAT] scores).

Please include all required documents as well as your student number when sending your waiver request. Waiver requests can be emailed to elas.waivers@ubc.ca.

Please note: We strongly suggest that you try to meet the requirement through one of the specified means, in case your waiver request cannot be granted.