Top Universities in Canada: TOEFL Requirements

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Are you planning to apply to universities in Canada, as well as the US? There are many world-renowned universities in Canada. In fact, the country boasts 3 of the top 100 universities in the world—the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, and McGill University.

You already know you need to take the TOEFL to be admitted to top US universities, but do Canada’s top universities require TOEFL scores too? Find out in this post.

Table of Contents

Overview of TOEFL Requirements at Canada’s Top Universities

In the table below, I’ve given an overview of the TOEFL requirements for the top eight universities in Canada. These numbers often include score ranges rather than exact requirements, and sometimes come with special notes. For more information, click the school names in the table, or simply scroll down for detailed descriptions of each school.

whole test
whole test
University of Toronto89-100 (discretionary range-minimum requirement)Writing 2293 (most programs)22 Writing, 22 Speaking (most programs)
University of British Columbia90Reading and Listening 22, Speaking and Writing 2190 (most programs)Reading and Listening 22, Speaking and Writing 21 (most programs)
McGill University79-100 (depends on major)Not applicable8620 in each section
McMaster University8620 in all sections92 (most programs)20 in all sections (most programs)
University of MontrealUnpublished (contact the school)Unpublished (contact the school)Unpublished (contact the school)Unpublished (contact the school)
University of Alberta9021 in all sections90 (most programs)21 in all sections (most programs)
University of Calgary80-108 (depending on major)0-27 (depending on major)Depends on majorDepends on major
University of Ottawa86-96 (depends on major)Writing 22-24, other sections 0-24 (depends on major)100 (most programs)Not applicable (most programs)

TOEFL Requirements at Canada’s Top 8 Universities: A Closer Look

University of Toronto

The University of Toronto is ranked #1 in Canada. It’s a huge public research university with a total enrollment of 74,502 students in the 2020-2021 school year… and it’s ranked in the top 20 worldwide (at number 17!).

University of toronto

Photo by Jphillips23

If English is not your first language and you have completed less than 4 years at an English-speaking school, you will need to prove your English proficiency to be admitted as an undergraduate. There are many ways to prove your English abilities, and the TOEFL is one of them.

Like many top schools in Canada, the University of Toronto has separate TOEFL requirements for undergraduate and graduate applicants. Let’s look at undergraduate reuirements first:

University of Toronto TOEFL requirements (undergraduate):

  • Minimum requirement: 100
  • Discretionary range: 89-99
    • (Note: In this score range, your application will be considered, but your score is not guaranteed to be acceptable.)
  • Minimum section scores: 22 in TOEFL Writing

Here are the full details on the undergraduate English testing requirements for the University of Toronto. Toronto is very competitive, so even if you feel like you’re already a proficient English speaker, you should still study for the TOEFL before you take it!

Graduate students are also required to prove their English proficiency if your primary language is not English and you graduated from a non-English speaking university. The TOEFL is one of four options you have to prove your language skills. Some graduate programs have slightly different requirements than the others, but if you are using the TOEFL, here are your likely requirements:

University of Toronto TOEFL requirements (most graduate programs)

  • Minimum requirement: 93
  • Minimum section scores:
    • 22 in TOEFL Writing
    • 22 in TOEFL Speaking

Generally, most programs require the minimum scores seen above. However, you should consult your graduate department’s site for the most accurate information.

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University of British Columbia

UBC is ranked #2 in Canada, and #31 in the world. It’s located in Vancouver.

UBC British Columbia

Photo by Leoboudv

Undergraduates whose first language is not English will need to prove their English language proficiency. There are nine ways to do this, and the TOEFL is one of them. Graduate student applicants from a university outside of Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide an English language proficiency exam as part of their application. You can take the TOEFL, IELTS, CAEL, PTE or choose from one of the alternative tests listed on this page. Ultimately, both graduate and undergraduate UBC applicants face similar TOEFL requirements, as follows:

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University of British Columbia TOEFL requirements (all undergraduate programs, most graduate programs)

  • Minimum requirement: 90
  • Minimum section scores:
    • 22 in TOEFL Reading and TOEFL Listening
    • 21 in TOEFL Speaking and TOEFL Writing

As you can see, most applicants, whether they are undergraduate or graduate, will need to meet the same TOEFL standards. However, some individual graduate schools have higher requirements. To check the TOEFL requirements for each graduate level major at UBC, go to UBC’s English language and GRE requirements page.

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McGill University

McGill is a public research university that is ranked #3 in Canada, and #51 in the world. It’s located in Montreal (which is a bilingual–French and English–city!)

McGill University

Photo by Laslovarga

McGill requires undergrads to prove their English language proficiency, however there are a lot of ways to exempt yourself from providing this proof. You can find all of those exemptions here. Essentially, if English is not your first language and you have not completed many courses in English, you will need to prove your skills. Like other Canadian universities, there are several ways you can provide proof, and the TOEFL is one of them. McGill’s TOEFL requirements vary depending on your intended field of study. Here are McGill’s undergraduate TOEFL requirements, by major:

McGill University undergraduate TOEFL Requirements (by major):

  • Education and Management: 100
  • Music: 79-80
  • All other majors: 90

Graduate students will have to prove English proficiency as well, if English is not your first language and you have not studied at an English-speaking university. McGill has some generla minimum TOEFL reuirements for all undergrad studies, while individual graduate programs may also have their own additional TOEFL requirements. Here are McGill’s graduate TOEFL standards, in a nutshell:

McGill University graduate TOEFL requirements (general rules):

  • Minimum requirement: 86
  • Minimum section scores: 20 in each section

The numbers above are just the general requirements for all graduate studies. To see if the program you’re interested in has additional requirements, look up your major on McGill University’s graduate programs page.

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McMaster University

Located in Hamilton, Ontario, McMaster University is ranked at number 4 among Canadian universities, and is number 133 in U.S. News and World Report’s global rankings.

McMaster University

Photo by Matthew Ingram

For all international applicants, McMaster University accepts scores from seven different English proficiency exams: IELTS, CAE, PTE, CAEL, Duolingo and TOEFL. For more info on the English proficiency exams accepted by this school, see McMaster’s English proficiency requirements page.

McMaster has general English proficiency requirements that apply to all applicants, undergraduate or graduate. However, individual graduate programs also set their own individual TOEFL score requirements or preferences, so be sure to check the website of any graduate program you’re interested in. Below, I’ve outlined McMaster’s requirements in brief:

McMaster University TOEFL requirements

  • Minimum requirements (undergraduate and graduate): 86
  • Minimum section scores (undergraduate and graduate): 20 in each section
  • Individual graduate program requirements: 92 for most programs

Note that as of April 2021, McMaster is not accepting scores from the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition.

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University of Alberta

In U.S. News and World Report’s Canadian university rankings, University of Alberta is currently in 5th place among Canada’s best universities. It also ranks as the 140th best university worldwide.

University of Alberta

Photo by WinterE229

So what does your TOEFL score need to look like if you want to go to Edmonton and study at U Alberta? The good news is that the University of Alberta keeps things simple: they have the exact same minimum TOEFL scores for both undergraduate and graduate applicants. You can see those requirements below.

University of Alberta TOEFL requirements

  • Minimum requirements (undergraduate and graduate): 90
  • Minimum section scores (undergraduate and graduate): 21 in each section

Like the other universities on this list, the University of Alberta has some individual graduate programs that set higher standards than the usual minimum scores. As always, double-check with the graduate program you’re interested in.

Also, like other universities, Alberta accepts other tests in addition to the TOEFL. The University of Alberta accepts eight different exams from undergrad applicants and five different tests at the grad school level. See those links for more information about English requirements and international admissions for this school.

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University of Montreal

The University of Montreal is also located in the city of Montreal, and is ranked #6 in Canada, and #140 worldwide.


Photo by Colocho

Despite its close proximity to McGill, the language of instruction at the University of Montreal–or, more accurately, Université de Montréal–is primarily in French. So you don’t need to prove English proficiency to study here, but French proficiency, which is definitely not in our realm of expertise.

With that said, the official University of Montreal website does say: “Students who are proficient in English are therefore welcome and accepted into some graduate-level programs,” even if those students don’t have the level of French proficiency normally required by the university. And Montreal does accept TOEFL as proof of English proficiency. Since Université de Montréal’s TOEFL requirements are secondary to their French requirements and do not apply to all students, their preferred scores are not published to their website. Instead, you can contact their admissions department directly to ask about their TOEFL standards.

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University of Calgary

At number 7 on the list of the best schools in Canada, the University of Calgary sits in… well… Calgary, modern Canada’s “Wild West” boomtown. Let’s take a look at the TOEFL scores that will get you there!

University of Calgary

Photo by Thivierr

Unlike U Alberta in the section immediately above, U Calgary really does make its TOEFL requirements complicated. The have three separate undergraduate TOEFL requirements: one for Nursing, one for Education, and one for all other majors. Furthermore, they have an entirely different TOEFL requirement for their Continuing Education programs, which are short-term learning programs that do not lead to a full degree. Finally, for graduate-level programs, each individual program sets its own TOEFL standards. Fortunately, I can outline the basic TOEFL requirements you can rely on when applying to Calgary. Read on!

University of Calgary TOEFL requirements (by major and level of education)

  • Undergrad Nursing: 92 (23 minimum in each section)
  • Education: 108 (27 minimum in each section)
  • All other undergrad majors: 86 (no section minimums)
  • Continuing education: 80 (no section minimums)
  • Graduate: varies by major

For more details on the University of Calgary’s English proficiency requirements (which include alternatives to the TOEFL), see their undergrad English Language proficiency page, their continuing education requirements, and their graduate programs portal.

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University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa is ranked #8 in Canada and impressively is still within the top 200 universities worldwide, sitting at number 192. Let’s look at the TOEFL scores you need to study in Canada’s capital city.

University of Ottawa

Photo by RobCA

The University of Ottawa has some broad TOEFL requirements that apply to most undergraduate and graduate applicants. They also have a few additional rules for specific majors and specific types of study (for example, education majors all need to meet the same standards, whether they are undergrad or grad students). Here are the expectations you’ll need to meet when you apply:

University of Ottawa TOEFL requirements (by major and level of education)

  • Undergraduate (except education): 86 (22 minimum in Writing)
  • Education (undergraduate and graduate): 96 (24 minimum in each section)
  • Graduate: 100 in most programs (can vary by program)

For undergraduate admissions, the University of Ottawa also accepts the IELTS, CanTest, CAEL, PTE and CAE. And most graduate applicants have the choice of submitting TOEFL, IELTS, or CanTest scores. For more details on admissions requirements, see this undergraduate admissions page, or search the University’s grad school requirements portal.

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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