English as a Second Language (ESL)

The language of instruction at Carleton University is English. For admission, students will need to demonstrate that their knowledge and use of English are strong enough for studies in an English language university.

Students can do this by:

  • Demonstrating 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 an English language test score, the University reserves the right to review or change the admission decision
    • The University reserves the right to request an English Language Proficiency test from any applicant regardless of their academic background

OR by

  • Submitting an English Language (ESL) test result

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) Minimum score of 70 overall with a minimum score of 60 in each band Offer to Undergraduate Degree Program with no ESL requirement.

May begin full-time studies.

Internet Based (iBT) TOEFL 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)
Duolingo English Test (DET)
(Fall 2024)
120 (with no subtest score below 95)
Cambridge English Language test 176 or above on C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency – min 169 in each component

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 (Academic ESL courses required)

Students with scores shown in Table 2 below may be admitted with an English as a Second Language Requirement (ESLR). In the first term(s) of study, students will be required to take Academic ESL 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 score between 40 and 69 (with a minimum score in each band of 30 and a minimum average of 40 over writing, reading, and listening) Offer to Degree Program with ESL requirement.
Must complete Academic ESL courses.
Internet Based (iBT) 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
Duolingo English Test (DET) 85-115 (with no subtest score below 65)

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
  • Industrial Design
  • Information Technology
  • International Business
  • Journalism
  • Journalism and Humanities
  • Media Production and Design
  • Public Affairs and Policy Management
  • All Post Baccalaureate Diplomas

Academic ESL

Academic ESL courses allow students to begin their degree and study academic courses while completing the English as a Second Language Requirement (ESLR). This can take up to three terms to complete and consists 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 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 with this requirement should check Carleton 360 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.

Academic ESL courses:

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 ESL courses, their ESLA placements and course credit limits will be adjusted based on previous ESLA final grades (see the ‘What you need to know about ESLA‘ page for details).

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

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