general admission requirements for college 

The entrance requirements for a 4-year college or university are fairly consistent and typically include a high school diploma and acceptable standardized test scores. Read on to learn more about entering college.

Overview of Admission Requirements

Admission to a college or university typically entails a high school diploma or GED, certain coursework completed at the high school level and minimum aptitude test scores. The exact courses and test score minimums vary between schools. Entrance requirements also include the ability to pay the costs of college, although student loans and financial aid make that possible for many applicants.

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Diploma Requirement

The 4-year college to which you apply will want official transcripts from your high school and from any other college you have attended. Home-schooled students are increasingly welcomed by 4-year colleges. They may find the diploma part easiest if they were registered with an accredited school that monitors curriculum and provides a diploma, or if they can provide a portfolio of high school work. Proof of a GED credential is acceptable as well. If you have an associate’s degree or at least 60 college credits, many colleges will waive the high school diploma requirement.

Prerequisite Coursework

Almost all 4-year colleges specify certain educational background requirements. You should have passed the following courses at the high school level:

  • Four years of English
  • Three years of mathematics (specifically algebra I, geometry, and algebra II)
  • Three years of a foreign language, unless you can show fluency
  • Three years of science, including at least one laboratory science course
  • Some social sciences or history

These are only minimum requirements. If your intended major is in science or engineering, for example, the school may expect you to have taken calculus or pre-calculus and one or more additional laboratory science courses.

Standardized Aptitude Tests

The SAT or ACT examinations are traditional entrance requirements for 4-year colleges and universities. School descriptions in books like Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges note the entering class’ average score or suggested minimum scores for applying to each college. Some colleges weigh standardized test scores more lightly than the rigor of applicants’ high school coursework and their grade point averages.

Unique College Entrance Requirements

An alternative 4-year college like Goddard College in Vermont, which uses an education model similar to independent study programs, focuses more on an applicants essay, recommendations, and optional interviews to determine student fit. A school of music or fine arts will ask for a portfolio or audition. For example, applicants to the Berklee College of Music in Boston are required to audition and complete an interview. Alternative format schools do, however, usually require transcripts from all previous schools just as mainstream schools do.


Applicants to the College must meet the one of the General Admission criteria and the English Language Proficiency requirements of the College for admission to most programs.  Limited Enrolment and Open plus additional requirement programs may have additional program-specific admission requirements.  


All applicants for admission to the College must satisfy at least ONE of the following criteria:

  • British Columbia secondary school graduation or equivalent;
  • One course short of British Columbia secondary school graduation, or equivalent;
  • Nineteen (19) years of age or older on the first day of the first semester of attendance;
  • Seventeen (17) years of age on the first day of the first semester of attendance, and has not been enrolled at a school for a minimum of one year;
  • Completion of a certificate or equivalent from a special needs program and has been in school for 12 years, or has received an Evergreen or Leaving School Certificate


All applicants to the College must demonstrate proficiency in English by providing proof of completing one of the English proficiency requirements.


All applicants to the College must demonstrate proficiency in English by providing proof of ONE of the following:


  • English Studies 12 – minimum final grade “C”, or equivalent
  • English First Peoples 12 – minimum final grade “C”
  • English 12 – minimum final grade “C” *
  • Communications 12 – minimum final grade “B” *
  • AP English Language or Literature – minimum grade 3
  • IB English Language (SL or HL) – minimum grade 3

   * based on both the course and provincial exam grades


  • Douglas College English Assessment
  • TOEFL iBT (in-person or online) – minimum score 83
  • TOEFL Essentials – minimum score of 9 (no score below 8 on any individual section)
  • IELTS – minimum overall band test score 6.5 (academic module only)
  • EIKEN Practical English – minimum placement of Grade 1
  • CAEL – minimum overall and essay score of 60 (computer or paper based)
  • Cambridge English CAE – minimum score 75 or “B”
  • Cambridge English CPE – minimum score 60 or “C”
  • Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) Level 8 in each of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing
  • Duolingo English Test Minimum overall score of 110.  Official test scores must be sent directly to Douglas College.
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic – minimum score of 56


  • ENGU 0350 and 0360 – Mastery
  • ENGU 0355 – Mastery
  • ENGU 0356 – Mastery
  • ENGU 0390 – Mastery
  • ENGU 0450 – minimum grade “P” and 0460 – Mastery
  • ENGU 0455 – minimum grade “P”
  • ENGU 0480 – minimum grade “P”
  • ENGU 0490 – minimum grade “P”
  • ELLA 0360 – minimum grade “C”
  • ELLA 0460 – minimum grade “P”
  • Assessed at ENGU 0455
  • Assessed at ENGU 0480
  • Assessed at ENGU 0490
  • Assessed at ELLA 0460
  • Mastery or assessment exemption in any three of the following courses:
    • ELLA 0310
    • ELLA 0320
    • ELLA 0330
    • ELLA 0340


  • Completion of the Advanced Level of the University Preparation program at EC English Language Centers (ECAD)
  • Completion of highest level course ELS level 112 with ELS Language School
  • Global Village English Centres Level 7 – minimum score of C
  • Completion of Level 16 (Pathway 3.3) of the Academic pathway program at Int’l Language Academy of Canada (ILAC)
  • Completion of Level A2 of the University Pathway program at Int’l Language School of Canada (ILSC)
  • Completion of Kaplan International Centres Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) Level C1
  • Completion of Tamwood University Pathway Level 4 (EAP 194)
  • Completion of VGC International College Advanced University Preparation course level 7 with 75% or higher

Other options

  • Currently enrolled or successful completion in a college-level English, Written Communications, Creative Writing or Literature course from an English speaking post-secondary institution. Note: If the course has been completed, a minimum grade of “P” is required.
  • Enrolment in the BC Adult Graduation program including English 12 with a minimum grade of C (provincial exam is optional)
  • Undergraduate Bachelor degree (or higher-level credential) from an English-speaking post-secondary institution
  • GED (Fourth Test Series) Language Arts Writing & Reading – minimum score 450
  • ABE English course equivalent to ENGU 0355

Students without this level of English-language proficiency are not admissible to College-level courses and programs but can register in Douglas College upgrading courses.

Note: For certain limited-enrolment programs and for certain individual courses, the English-language proficiency requirement may be different (refer to the particular Program section or the Course prerequisite information for further details).

Note: Students who do not meet any of the above requirements may apply for admission as a “special student”. Students are urged to discuss their situation with the Registrar and/or a College counselor.

BC Secondary School Students

BC secondary school students must write provincial exams in any subject where it is mandatory in order to meet graduation requirements. The provincial exam for English 12 (or equivalent) is required for all students except for those who are completing the Adult Graduation program.

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