FAQ: Attending ESL (English as a Second Language) and/ or Graduate Preparation English at VIU

Coming to Canada can be challenging for international students whose first language is not English.

A conditional offer means that you have met the admission requirements for your undergraduate or graduate program, and are being offered admission if you successfully meet the conditions outlined on your letter.   For example, if your English Proficiency test scores do not meet the program admission requirements at the time of application, you may receive a conditional offer to your academic program.  This means that you will need to successfully complete VIU’s ESL program (for undergraduate programs) or Graduate Preparation English Program (for graduate level programs) prior to pursuing your academic studies.  A conditional letter of acceptance means you have accepted your conditional offer and agree to upgrade your English at VIU.

Yes (please however make sure it is the conditional letter of acceptance not a conditional letter of offer).

No, you may apply to an academic program without the required English proficiency test scores. If you meet all other admission requirements, with the exception of English, you will be given a conditional letter of acceptance. You may send your updated English proficiency test results for consideration up to one month before the start of the semester. 

No, we do not update letters of offer or acceptance when you meet the conditions outlined on your letter. You may apply for your Study Permit with a conditional letter of acceptance.  However, if you prefer to have an “unconditional” acceptance, we would encourage you to wait to apply until you have attained the English proficiency test score needed for admission – as long as it’s before the application deadline.

We can only refer to a single test result.
If you have taken the test multiple times, choose the one with the highest scores (as long as it is within the last 2 years), and send that to us.

Once you have received your final grade for English 12, please send the official results to study@viu.ca, (or have your final transcripts sent to us electronically through the BC Ministry of Education website). If your final grade is “C” or above, we will remove the ESL requirement so that you can go directly into your academic program.

If you are a citizen of a country where English is not an official language (not first language) but:

  • you are applying to a Master's program at Vancouver Island University, and
  • you have attended 4 years and you have successfully completed an undergraduate degree in a country where English is the first language,

you may be exempted from providing an English assessment score to Vancouver Island University.

All other students who are citizens of countries where English is not an official language are required to  provide a valid (taken within the previous two years) English proficiency score.

See the full list of assessment tests we accept here.

Yes, it does. The date of expiry is indicated on the letter. 
If, for whatever reason, you need an extension, please email study@viu.ca.


New applicants may request to defer their studies only once and for up to a maximum of one calendar year from the original start date. Not all programs allow deferrals. If you are approved to defer your start date, VIU will hold your first payment in trust as payment for the new start date.

Please review the university's deferral policy here.

To receive a Letter of Acceptance, please pay the tuition deposit indicated on your Letter of Offer and sign the policy agreements.  Once we receive the funds, and signed policy agreements, we would be happy to issue you a Letter of Acceptance.

Our English Language Center offers six levels of ESL.  The first 5 levels are for students who need to improve their English skills for communication purposes or for academic purposes.  Each level runs 13-weeks (1 semester).

After you complete level 5, you may continue on to Graduate Preparation English which prepares you for success at the Graduate program level at VIU. 

If you are planning to attend Vancouver Island University as a student who will attend ESL classes and continue to an academic program with us, you are eligible for Entrance Scholarships available to international students. See the full list here.

If you are planning to attend VIU as a short term ESL student only, you are not eligible for the academic program scholarships. However you may be eligible for two Continuing Student Scholarships: the VIU English Language Program - Academic Awards and the VIU English Language Program - Community Engagement Awards. More details are available here

Yes, you can.
Go ahead and submit an application to our university using this link. When you arrive in Nanaimo, we will give you an English assessment and the results will determine the level of ESL class you will enter. 

Do you have a question that isn’t answered here? Please email us at worldviu@viu.ca.