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Athabasca University

English Language Proficiency Requirements

Students should be aware that these are the minimum English Language Proficiency requirements allowed for admission to a graduate program at Athabasca University. Each centre and faculty may have additional requirements. It is the student's responsibility to ensure they meet the requirements for the centre or faculty to which they are applying.

Graduate education involves advanced scholarly inquiry and research to enable students to master a specialized field. Graduate education at Athabasca University requires students to develop advanced communication, interaction, and collaboration skills, using a range of communication technologies.

English is the language of interaction and instruction in Athabasca University’s graduate programs. Proficiency in English consists of a broad, complex set of skills in the areas of reading, speaking, and writing. It is the student’s responsibility to be proficient in both written and spoken English at the graduate level. Potential applicants to the University’s graduate programs should note that, just as advanced programs and courses may have certain academic prerequisites; graduate faculties apply entrance criteria that also include English Language Proficiency screening through diagnostic tests and standard test scores.

Prospective Visa students or foreign applicants* applying for admission to an AU graduate program (as a program student) are expected to provide documentation of completion of at least one of the following English Language Proficiency assessments at the time of application for admission:

  • Successful completion of a degree program at an accredited post-secondary institution where English is the primary language of instruction; proof that the instruction for the degree was in English may be required;
  • A grade of 70% or higher in an Athabasca University undergraduate or equivalent level English course that is recognized by the faculty/centre;
  • Successful completion as a non-program student of a number of Athabasca University courses as determined by the faculty/centre;
  • Most recent official score, taken within the last two years, of any of the following:
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and obtain a minimum score of 550 (on the written test) or 80 (on the Internet-based test);
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and obtain a minimum score of 6.0;
    • Michigan English Language Battery (MELAB) test and obtain a score of 80;
    • Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL) and obtain a minimum score of 60.

    * Note: Foreign Applicant, in this sense, refers to a student who is applying to a graduate program who has obtained a degree in a language other than English.

Fulfillment of one or more of the above requirements does not guarantee admission. Even if one (or more) of the listed English standards is met, Athabasca University reserves the right to use discretion in determining language proficiency and may require the student to seek various resources or enroll in courses in addition to the degree requirements prior to admission or after admission. Students should check the program they are applying to for English Language Proficiency supplemental regulations that are specific to that academic unit.

Athabasca University recognizes that regardless of English being the primary language, graduate students may need help with the English language requirements at the start of or during their program. The university makes available to all students a number of flexible services designed to improve English Language Proficiency. These include individualized Write Site coaching, writing assessments and resources, as well as credit and non-credit undergraduate level English courses. Students are encouraged to become familiar with these services, take the initiative to complete the self assessments, and to access the services and/or courses, independently and upon the guidance and/or direction of a faculty member. Students may, of course, on their own initiative, add other forms of self study in addition to those mentioned above.

Information effective September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017.

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