US Universities Accepting 5.5 IELTS Band Scores


Aarushi Jain
Updated on Mar 06, 2023 04:09 PM IST

Planning to study in the USA but worried about your low IELTS scores? Worry not as here you will find out the top IELTS 5.5 band colleges in USA to your rescue! 

US Universities Accepting 5.5 IELTS Band Scores

IELTS 5.5 Band Colleges in USA: Every student who wants to study in the United States works for a high IELTS score. However, due to the exam's complexity, some students may find it difficult to earn the desired score. On the IELTS exam, several aspirants do not earn a score of greater than 5.5.

The IELTS band score is likely to be the most troublesome element for such students, as it has a significant impact on their chances of studying abroad. However, many US universities, to their surprise, accept international students with low IELTS scores.

If you are among the thousands of students who wish to study in USA but get disheartened because of their low IELTS scores, then here is a list of IELTS 5.5 band colleges in USA that will surely help you out.

How is the IELTS Scored?

Before highlighting the options of universities that international students may get with a 5.5 IELTS band score, let us go into the basics of the IELTS scoring system. Each of the four sections of the exam will be graded on a scale of 1-9. The overall IELTS score is calculated by the average score of the four sections and is delivered in half or full bands.

The IELTS TRF consists of the score of each component which is reading, writing, listening and speaking and the overall score. Each of the IELTS bands is given a particular score descriptor where Band 1 is non-user and Band 9 is an expert user. 

IELTS Band Score

Score Descriptor

Band 9

Expert user

Band 8

Very good user

Band 7

Good user

Band 6

Competent user

Band 5

Modest user

Band 4

Limited user

Band 3

Extremely limited user

Band 2

Intermittent user

Band 1


Band 0

Did not attempt the test

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IELTS Band Requirements to Study in USA

During the academic session 2021-22, around 199,182 Indian students studied in different US colleges and universities. The country is an abode of some of the world’s top-ranking educational institutes that offer an academic infrastructure found nowhere in the world. However, as the USA is an English-speaking country, students must have a working knowledge of the language that will enable them to perform well in their academic pursuits.

The acceptance of an Indian student in a US university depends on their English language proficiency. The IELTS exam is the most common and widely used test that more than 3,400 institutes recognise. Depending upon their score, students can get admission to their chosen course at the university. 

The average IELTS band requirement in the USA is from 6 to 6.5. The elite schools even require a 7 band in the IELTS exam. The band score stands valid for two years post which one might need to re-take the test.

What to Do if Your IELTS Scores are Insufficient?

It might be possible that your IELTS score does not meet the average band requirement for the US university. In such cases, you can fix an appointment with the admission officer of your university and get more information on the same. Find out if there are any exemptions or alternatives available that will help you study the course.

Otherwise, you can apply to those colleges that accept the band score you received. You might find out about any alternative course that does not have a high IELTS score requirement. If your scores are unsatisfactory, you may re-take the IELTS exam or go for some other English language proficiency test like the TOEFL exam, Duolingo test or PTE.

Should I Retake the IELTS Exam?

Though there are US universities that grant admission to students with a score of 5.5, you may consider re-taking the exam to increase your scores. This will put you in a position to apply to more universities that getting restricted by the list of universities accepting 5.5 bands.

Also, you must consider re-taking the IELTS exam only after a month of dedicated practice and training in the English language. Taking the test immediately may not benefit you as your knowledge base has not improved to that level, which will enable you to score a higher band score. Therefore, you should improve your skills in all four key areas and then take the exam again.

Besides, taking the IELTS exam for the second time puts a lot of mental pressure. You must overcome your nervousness regarding the IELTS exam and then resit for it. Practice IELTS question papers and mock tests to gain confidence.

Furthermore, there are a bunch of universities in the USA that accept students with low IELTS scores or that do not require an IELTS score as an admission requirement at all. These universities are enlisted below.

List of IELTS 5.5 Band Colleges in USA

Let us now look at some of the IELTS 5.5 band colleges in USA for international students:


Average Accepted IELTS Scores

Arkansas State University


California University of Pennsylvania


Cambridge College


Concordia College, Minnesota


Drury University


Friends University


National University


University of Evansville


University of Hawaii, Hilo


University of Missouri

5.5 (or TOEFL 61)

Ohio University (Conditional Admission)

5.5 (or TOEFL 61)

North Dakota State University

5.5 (or TOEFL iBT-71; PBT-525)

Central Michigan University (Conditional Admission)

5.5 (or TOEFL iBT 61 to 78; PBT 500 to 549)

Southern New Hampshire University

5.5 (or TOEFL iBT-71; PBT-530)

New Mexico State University

5.5 (or TOEFL score CBT-197; iBT-71; PBT-530)

Kent State University

5.5 (or TOEFL score PBT-525; CBT-197; iBT-71)

Murray State University


Washington State University


Oklahoma City University


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How to Study in USA Without IELTS?

If you think that your IELTS scores are not the best to get admission to a US university or above mentioned IELTS 5.5 band colleges in USA, then certain colleges and universities do not have IELTS band requirements. Having said that, students must check whatever English language assessment they require and who may be excluded from providing any English certificate at all before selecting any college.

Numerous institutions will enable you to study in the US without IELTS (or a comparable evaluation) if you have previously attended an English language medium school and many use a Conditional Admissions Programme (CAP).

A CAP is a university-specific initiative that allows qualified international students to enrol on the condition that they attend the college's own English language programme or another Intensive English Language Program (IELP).

As highlighted before also, there are approximately 4,000 universities in the US, and English language assessment criteria vary from year to year and degree to degree. However, here is a short list of the top 10 US colleges that admit students without IELTS. We have also included a list of the alternative English language proficiency tests recognised at each college.


Alternate for IELTS Exam

American University, Washington DC

TOEFL, PTE, Duolingo English Test

State University of New York

Conditional (IELP), ACT, SAT

University of Dayton, Ohio

Conditional (IELP), TOEFL, iTEP, PTE, SAT, ACT, Duolingo English Test

University of Illinois at Chicago


University of Central Florida


University of Massachusetts, Boston

TOEFL, SAT, ACT, Duolingo

The University of Utah

TOEFL, Duolingo, ACT, SAT

Auburn University, Alabama

TOEFL, Conditional (IELP)

University of New Orleans

Conditional (IELP), TOEFL, Duolingo

University of Colorado

TOEFL, Duolingo

Documents Required for Applying to IELTS 5.5 Band Colleges in USA

If you aspire to study in one of the IELTS 5.5 band colleges in USA, then here is a list of all the important and necessary documents that you will be needing during your application process to study in USA:

US Student Visa Process with IELTS 5.5 Band Score

The IELTS is valid for two years in the US. Candidates, however, do not need to meet any US Study Visa IELTS band requirements. In other words, there is no federal requirement for students in the United States to have IELTS. However, one of the particular student visas would be necessary, which candidates must apply for at the US embassy in their home country.

  • The F-1 Student Visa is for those who desire to study at an accredited university in the US. This also applies to candidates interested in studying in an English language institute.

  • J Exchange visas are issued to students who take part in exchange programmes.

  • M Student Visas are issued to students who wish to study or train in the United States.

Before applying to any US university, it is generally a good idea to look into the IELTS score requirements. This will assist you in finalising universities based on your eligibility. At the same time, those taking the IELTS exam will soon know the ideal target score for admission to top universities.

If you have any further questions regarding the IELTS 5.5 band colleges in USA, then reach out to our experts via

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Can I study in USA with a 5.5 band in the IELTS?

Yes, you can study in USA with a 5.5 band in the IELTS. In general, US universities require a minimum IELTS score of roughly 6.5. However, few universities accept students with GPAs lower than 6.5. Admission will be granted to candidates with IELTS band scores of 6.0 and 5.5. Some US universities that accept IELTS 5.5 band students are California University of Pennsylvania, Ohio University, North Dakota State University and more.

What is the minimum IELTS score requirements for US universities?

There is no such minimum IELTS score requirements for US university, but each university has its own eligibility score for the English proficiency test. Most universities in the US accept an IELTS score of 6 to 6.5. However, in order to gain admission to a top-tier US university, the student must score at least 7. There are a number of US universities too that are accepting international students with IELTS 5.5 band. 

How much IELTS score is required for a scholarship in the USA?

A solid IELTS/TOEFL/GRE/GMAT score is one of the requirements for obtaining a scholarship in the US. Though the minimum score required to qualify for a scholarship in the US varies per institution, a minimum IELTS score of 6 is regarded as enough for a scholarship in the USA.

What IELTS score is required for a USA student visa?

The IELTS score required for a student visa to the USA is 6.5, as most educational institutions require a minimum band score of the same. The US government allows all international students to study in the country, providing they first get a student visa. To obtain a student visa in the USA, you must demonstrate English proficiency by completing an English language test.

Which country apart from USA accepts the IELTS 5.5 band for study?

If you have scored IELTS 5.5 band, then apart from the USA, you can apply to European nations such as Malta, Poland, Greece, and the United Kingdom, where you can acquire an IELTS waiver. Furthermore, colleges in New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, and Dubai accept an IELTS 5.5 band score.

Does State University of New York accept the IELTS 5.5 band score?

Yes, the IELTS 5.5 band scores are accepted by the State University of New York (SUNY) for admission to specific programmes at its various institutions, including the State University of New York York College at Buffalo, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and the SUNY Maritime College in Albany.

Does the University of Washington accept IELTS 5.5 band score?

Yes, the University of Washington Seattle Campus accepts IELTS 5.5 band scores or higher for admission to the graduate programme in Computer Engineering, the Graduate Nursing Program, the MBA Program, and all Master's Programs in the Foster School of Business.

Does the University of Houston accept IELTS 5.5 band score?

Yes, IELTS 5.5 band scores are accepted for admission to the University of Houston's College of Nursing and Health Professions, College of Technology and Innovation, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and other open programmes, including one for doctoral students interested in pursuing a joint programme with The George Bush School of Government and Public Service.

What kind of programs are offered at US universities that accept 5.5 IELTS?

The IELTS 5.5 band scores or higher are accepted by US universities in a variety of fields of study or areas. However, the list is not exhaustive, as more than one programme may accept IELTS scores of 5.5 or higher. Some programmes may require more than one test to be considered for admission, therefore it is important to be aware of all entrance requirements before completing your application.

Is 5.5 a good score in IELTS for US immigration?

Yes, a 5.5 score in IELTS is a good score for US immigration. To study in the USA, you must first complete federal study visa criteria for immigration purposes, as well as university admissions standards. However, there is no federal requirement for international students studying in the United States to have IELTS. This means that your university determines your required English language certification.

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