Skip to main content Skip to footer

The language of instruction at Carleton University is English. In their own interest, students whose first language is not English must demonstrate that they can cope with the language demands of an English language university. Students can demonstrate their English language proficiency by presenting official transcripts to indicate that they have studied for the last three years (full-time) in a high school, college or university in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or any other country in which the primary language is English and where the language of instruction in the relevant educational institution was exclusively English. Students choosing this option should note the following:

  • Time spent in ESL courses will not be counted towards meeting these requirements
  • Language requirements will not be waived based on letters written by students or as a result of completing senior-level high-school English courses
  • If in addition to evidence of three years of study a student also provides a failing English language test score, the University reserves the right to review the admission decision
  • The University reserves the right to request an English Language Proficiency test from any applicant regardless of their academic background

Students who cannot demonstrate three-full time years in an English medium school as outlined above must submit an English Language test.

Admission with no further ESL requirement

Students who submit any of the scores shown in Table 1 below may be eligible for an offer with no further ESL requirement and may begin full time degree studies.

English Language Tests Score Type of Offer
Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL) 70 Offer to Undergraduate Degree Program with no ESL requirement: may begin full-time studies
Paper Based TOEFL (PBT) 580
Internet Based TOEFL (IBT) 86 (22 in writing and speaking, 20 reading and listening)
IELTS (Academic) 6.5 IELTS (min 6.0 each band)
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic 60 (min 60 in each Communicative Skill)
Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) 85 (min. score of 80 on each section)

Table 1

Applicants whose first language is French must present transcripts to indicate that they have taken four years of anglais (English) in a Canadian secondary school to be admitted without an English as a Second Language Requirement.

Admission with an ESL requirement (Foundation Program required)

Students with scores shown in Table 2 below may be admitted with an English as a Second Language Requirement (ESLR).  When they first start in their program, these students will be required to take our ESL Foundation courses along with a limited number of courses from their degree program. This admission with an ESLR allows students to earn academic credits from degree courses taken while completing the English requirements.


English Language Tests Score Type of Offer
Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL) Overall CAEL 30* – 69 (with no band score lower than 30)*An overall score of 30 must also have:

  • 40 in Writing OR
  • 50 in Reading or Listening OR
  • 50 in Speaking and 40 in Reading or Listening
Offer to Degree Program with ESL requirement.
Must complete Foundation Program.
Paper Based TOEFL 500-579
Internet Based TOEFL 61-85
(min 15 each section)
IELTS (Academic) 5.0 – 6.4 (min 4.5 each band and the average of writing+reading+listening divided by 3 must be a min. of 5)
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic N/A
Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) N/A

Table 2

Please note that students beginning their studies with an English language requirement are not eligible for admission to the following programs:

  • Architectural Studies
  • Health Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Information Technology
  • Industrial Design
  • International Business
  • Journalism
  • Journalism and Humanities
  • Public Affairs and Policy Management

The Foundation Program

The Foundation program allows students to begin their degree and study academic courses while completing the English as a Second Language Requirement (ESLR). The Foundation program can take up to three terms to complete and is made up of three levels of English as a Second Language courses (ESLA) which focus on the academic skills needed for university study.  ESLA course(s) are taken concurrently with a limited number of degree courses.

Students admitted to the Foundation Program (admitted with an ESLR) will have their level of English language proficiency reviewed and assessed by the School of Linguistics and Language Studies (SLaLS). Students will receive an ESLA placement indicating the ESLA course level they have been placed into and how many additional credits they are permitted to register in at the same time as their ESLA course.  Students admitted to the Foundation Program should check Carleton Central to see their ESLA placement (see VIEW or DISPLAY HOLDS). During the registration period, students must register in the appropriate ESLA course in order to be permitted to register in any other degree program credits they may be entitled to.

Courses for Foundation Program:

Course Number Course Name Description Additional degree credits permitted
ESLA 1300 Introductory ESL for Academic Purposes This level introduces students to the skills and strategies they need for academic success at university including basic research methods. 0.5 credit
ESLA 1500 Intermediate ESL for Academic Purposes This level further develops the skills and strategies required for academic success, and adds to basic research skills. Up to 1.0 credit
ESLA 1900 Advanced ESL for Academic Purposes This level develops students’ research and analytic skills, primarily through reading and writing of academically oriented texts. Up to 1.5 credits

Note: As students progress through the Foundation Program their ESLA placements and course credit limits will be adjusted based on previous ESLA final grades (see Course Loads and Advancing Through ESLA Courses for details).

For more information on the Foundation Program please contact the School of Linguistics and Language Studies (SLaLS).


In partnership with Carleton University, the CultureWorks program allows academically qualified applicants to be offered conditional acceptance to the university. Successful completion of the CultureWorks program gives students direct entrance to Carleton upon achieving a satisfactory score on an approved English language test, as stated in Option 1 of the English as a Second Language Requirements section of the Carleton Undergraduate Calendar. Preparation for the IELTS test will be part of the CultureWorks curriculum. Studying on-campus in a safe and fun post-secondary environment helps students make an easy and more successful transition into university studies. As members of the university community, CultureWorks students have access to facilities and services on campus.

For more information, check out the brochure or visit the CultureWorks website.

To apply for EAP studies, complete the application and contact the CultureWorks Registrar at

Subscribe to Insight, our electronic newsletter.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required