We offer six courses for multilingual graduate students to fulfill the Graduate College English Proficiency requirement. Graduate students can select from two “tracks” to complete their ESL course requirement based on their writing needs and interests: the Academic track and the Business track.
Choosing a track
Graduate students should select the track that is best suited to the kind of writing that they need to be successful in the U.S. academic environment. Courses are designed to support students during the pursuit of their degree.
The Academic track provides instruction in essential skills in academic writing; skills for writing secondary and primary research papers, including developing research questions and design, evaluating and synthesizing scholarly sources, and producing well-reasoned and substantiated arguments.
Two-course sequence placement:
- ESL 511: Written and Oral Communication
- ESL 512: Introduction to Academic Writing
Note that ESL 511 and ESL 512 are sequential and may not be taken concurrently. ESL 511 must be completed successfully before starting ESL 512.
- ESL 515: Introduction to Academic Writing
Caption: Graduate Academic Track ESL courses to fulfill the Limited Status Writing Requirement
The Business track
The Business track provides instruction in essential skills in business communication both in academic and professional settings; skills covered include writing professional correspondence and business proposals, synthesizing sources, and participating in group discussions.
Two-course sequence placement:
- ESL 521: Written and Oral Business Communication
- ESL 522: Introduction to Business Writing
Note that ESL 521 and ESL 522 are sequential and may not be taken concurrently. ESL 521 must be completed successfully before starting ESL 522.
- ESL 525: Elements of Business Writing
Caption: Graduate Business Track ESL courses to fulfill the Limited Status Writing Requirement
We strongly encourage students to take their ESL course(s) during their first year of study because the courses are designed to help students participate successfully in the U.S. academic environment. Moreover, ESL classes often fill up, so students may not be able to get a seat if they wait until their last year of study. If you wait to fulfill an ESL course requirement and cannot fit it in your schedule or fail a course, you risk postponing your graduation.
Graduate-level ESL courses (511, 512, 515, 521, 522) are worth 0 credits and do not contribute to credit hours or GPA; courses will appear as "Satisfactory" (i.e., pass) or "Unsatisfactory" (i.e., fail) on transcripts. Students who are required to take ESL classes as a result of the English Placement Test (EPT) or because of teaching assistantship obligations, may reduce their course load by four credits for each ESL course taken (see more on reduced course enrollment related to visa status from ISSS's Full Course of Study page).
Based on the Graduate College English Proficiency requirement or a departmental requirement, international graduate students may be admitted on “limited status” and be required to take the English Placement Test (EPT).
The results of the EPT will determine which ESL course(s), if any, a student must take to fulfill the limited status requirement:
- Students who receive a Level 1 or 2 on the EPT must take the two-semester course sequence of ESL 511 and ESL 512 (Academic track) or ESL 521 and ESL 522 (Business track).
- Students who receive a Level 3 on the EPT must take ESL 515 (Academic track) or ESL 525 (Business track).
- Students who receive a Level 4 or 5 on the EPT are exempt from ESL courses but are recommended to take ESL 592 Advanced Academic Writing if interested (see ESL Advanced Elective Courses for more information).
Students are encouraged to take the EPT as soon as possible after accepting admission (online testing may be available). Testing seats may become limited as the semester approaches, and students may not register for an ESL course until they receive their EPT score. See EPT Registration & Information for more information on upcoming registration dates and process.
Multilingual students who are not required to take the EPT
Based on admissions criteria, many international students are not required to take the EPT. However, sometimes students are interested in taking ESL courses anyway because they are designed for and taught by instructors trained for the needs of multilingual writers.
Multilingual students who are not required to take the EPT are recommended to take ESL Advanced Elective Courses:
- ESL 592: Advanced Academic Writing
- ESL 593: Academic Presentation Skills
Students do not need to take the EPT to enroll in elective courses.
Students who wish to take one of the lower-level Academic or Business courses must take the EPT to determine correct course placement. EPT-exempted students are not required to take ESL courses no matter their EPT results, but students who wish to take ESL courses must adhere to EPT placement results.
Students must take the EPT and receive a score before registering for an ESL course. If a student is registered without an EPT score or for the incorrect course, they will be notified to drop the course.
Choosing Online vs. Face-to-Face course format
Students should select the course format that is best suited to their learning style and work schedule. Both the online and face-to-face (f2f) course formats fulfill the same course requirements, but there are key differences in course delivery. Watch this video to learn more:
If seats are full
- Check back regularly. Sometimes we add seats to sections throughout the registration period and sometimes students drop during the first ten days of classes. You can also Mark Sections as Favorites in Course Explorer to receive an automatic email when a seat becomes available—when the status changes from Closed to Open.
- You can take it next semester! We encourage students to take their ESL courses as early as possible because courses are designed to help students to be successful in their other courses. However, scheduling can sometimes prevent this the first semester.
If you are an international faculty or staff member, postdoc, or visiting scholar
Note that we do not allow auditors in the ESL courses because demand it too high. However, people who work for the University may be eligible to formally enroll in our elective courses. See ESL Courses for International Visiting Scholars, Faculty, and Staff for more information.
If you are not a student or employee of the University
Note that we do not allow auditors in the ESL courses because demand it too high. We recommend that you review the Local English Language Opportunities for a list of opportunities that are available to general community members.
If you are a student in a Self-Supporting or Cost-Recovery program
The Graduate College has a list of SSP/CR programs. If your program is not Self-Supporting (SSP) or Cost-Recovery (CR), please disregard the following information:
SSP and CR Programs are designed to generate their own costs through tuition and fees and receive no state money. This means that the cost of ESL courses is not paid by the state for students in these programs. Campus policy—approved by the Board of Trustees—maintains that students in these programs will be charged directly to recover costs for ESL instruction. SSP/CR graduate students in ESL are charged a per student fee for enrollment in each course. The amount of this charge is determined by campus and is not controlled by the Department of Linguistics or the ESL program; the current fee is approximately $515 per course and, if applicable, should appear in students’ campus statement.
If you receive an error when registering
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email, please provide your UIN, the course and section that you are trying to register for, the error message, and a screenshot.