How To Study Without IELTS In The United States

Did you know that you can study without IELTS in the United States? While thousands of persons show interest in studying in the United States every year, a language proficiency test such as IELTS has been a discouraging factor for some persons as it is required by most schools in the country.

However, not all institutions of learning in the United States require IELTS or any other English Language proficiency exam from foreign students.

This offers a new wave of hope to all who wish to earn a degree in the country. Of course, it’s no news how the United States has an excellent educational system and houses a significant number of the best schools in the world.

In this article, you will find detailed information on what IELTS is, the schools that do not require it of international students and how to study in such schools.

IELTS And International Students

The standard test for assessing English proficiency among students is through the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). It is an intensive examination process that lasts a total of 3 hours.

IELTS is often required of students who wish to study in English-speaking countries. Most times as well, it is used as a prerequisite for migrating to, working in, or staying in these countries permanently.

Passing the language proficiency exam proves that you will be able to cope with learning and communicating in the English Language when you arrive in the United States.

There are also other English Language proficiency tests anyone can take to study or live in the USA asides from IELTS. They include:

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English) also known as C1 Advanced
  • CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English)

Other tests which a significant number of schools in the USA demand applicants to take include the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).

The GRE is a test of verbal aptitude and critical thinking skills. It covers areas in mathematics, analytical wiring, and vocabulary.

Studying in the United States without IELTS

It will not just be required of you to take IELTS exams, you must also be able to attain certain scores in the test.

This may be quite unnerving for certain persons who do not meet the cut-off scores.

More so, retaking IELTS exams can be cost-intensive time wasted during the process makes it a discouraging process for many.

Fortunately, not all higher institutions of learning in the United States require applicants to take IELTS or any other language proficiency exam.

Some universities that do not require IELTS in the US are:

  • California State University
  • Drexel University
  • Northwood University
  • Rice university
  • State University of New York
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of Colorado
  • University of Dayton
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Missouri
  • University of North Alabama
  • University of New Orleans
  • University of North Texas
  • University of Wisconsin

Other English Testing Exams

There also exist many other state universities asides from those listed above that do not require IELTS.

Some of these schools do not require you to take any English Language proficiency test while some allow you other alternatives to IELTS such as:

  • Duolingo
  • Cambridge English Scale
  • English Language for International Students (ELI or ELS)
  • EIKEN (Test in Practical English Proficiency in Japan)
  • iTEP (International Test of English Proficiency)
  • PTE Academic
  • TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication)

It is very important to check if the school of your choice holds the IELTS as a mandatory requirement.

For the schools mentioned, they do not give cognizance to IELTS in admission. It is not regarded as a necessity.

That is, if you are able to meet other important requirements, you will be offered admission.

However, before you apply for these schools, be sure to have understood their requirements and processes well.

Some universities will only require you to take certain courses or levels of certification without IELTS.

Some may require an interview with a panel to access your listening and communication skills in the English Language.

Some others may require you to take a mandatory course of theirs for some time before you can begin your program if you don’t have proof of proficiency in the English Language.

How to Study without IELTS in the USA

Institutions with IELTS exemptions have different criteria that must be met. Below are some common requirements that exclude international students to study in the USA without IELTS.

Students are advised to visit university websites to check the specific admission requirements for different universities.

  • English is your Native Language

One of the simplest ways to show your proficiency in English is if you have been living in, or are a citizen of an English-speaking country.

The primary language in many countries is English. Citizens in these areas adjust very quickly in other English-speaking countries because they are used to speaking English.

If English is your native language, you may be exempted from taking IELTS exams by some universities in the USA.

  • Attended a High School or University where English is the Primary Language of Instruction

The schools you have attended before now may be of great help in landing your dream university. Although each institution has a different standard, some universities will allow you the privilege of not taking the IELTS exam if the secondary school or other higher institution of learning that you have attended used English as their primary language of instruction.

This is more particularly relevant when applying for a postgraduate program in the US. You will need to provide a letter from the institution where you obtained your first degree to show that such degree program was taken in the English Language.

If you are applying for an undergraduate program, your High or Secondary school must have used English as the primary language of instruction. It may also be required of you that you must have taken English as a major subject while in school.

Other English Language Programs

There are other programs of similar nature available for those who may not be interested in taking IELTS. For example, there is an English Language course commonly referred to as English as a Second Language (ESL).

The class covers reading, writing, listening, and speaking in the English Language. It also covers proper grammar use in both written and oral English.

If your school of choice does not require you to take IELTS, you may be required to take a mandatory ESL course. If this is the case, you will have to take the class a year before you start your degree program.

In some schools, you will be offered admission without IELTS but only when you have agreed to take the school’s Intensive English Language Program (IELP).

The program is an essential one that will prepare you and train you in the necessary English Language skills to maximize your stay in the school.


It is important to know that tests to prove proficiency in the English Language are not to deter aspiring foreign students.

The tests were only created to determine how much you understand the language and also how much you will be able to cope with learning in the English Language. Even so, not all schools have made such exams a compulsory requirement, especially if you already have a background in an English-speaking country.

If you are considering living in the United States permanently, then IELTS exams can help get your foot in easily. This is because one of the requirements you cannot completely bypass in the immigration process is language competency.


Q. Is IELTS required in the USA?

There are several actions that could require you to take IELTS in the USA. Many schools in the US require you to take the IELTS exams and meet the cut-off score before granting you admission.

However, not all schools make IELTS a compulsory requirement for admission. This means that you will still be able to study in the USA without IELTS.

If you are seeking to immigrate to and live in the USA, it may become more important to take IELTS exams as it is usually a requirement during the immigration process.

Q. How can I get Admission in USA without IELTS?

You may be able to get admission without IELTS in the US if you meet one, some or all of these criteria:

  • Living in, or being a citizen of an English speaking country
  • Having a high school or previous degree education in a school where English Language is the primary language of instruction
  • Taking other English Proficiency Tests such as TOEFL, CAE or CPE
  • Agreeing to take an English Language preparatory program in your chosen school. Such program is known as the Intensive English Language Program (IELP).

Q. Do all US Universities Require IELTS?

Not all universities in the US require you to take the IELTS exams. If you have taken the exam, it may be an added advantage and make your admission easier in such schools.

However, you will still be able to get admission without IELTS when you meet the other important criteria in the schools.

Q. Can you get Student Visa without IELTS in the USA?

If a school has offered you admission without requiring you to take IELTS, you should be able to get a Student or Study Visa to come to the US and take the program.