English Language Program

The graduate program(s) attracts a substantial number of international students. In addition to the usual problems of adjusting to the graduate program, international students may face special problems of adjusting to language. Most international students enter with TOEFL scores in the 600 range. Our experience is that these students' spoken and written English, speed of reading English, and ability to take lecture notes in English are often below the level that would permit them to compete on equal terms with students whose native language is English.

In such cases, it is the responsibility of international students to improve their English. The English Language Program (ELP) offers intensive English instruction. Some of the courses are available over the summer, and international students having difficulty with English are urged to participate in the English program during the summer preceding and possibly following their first year. It may be possible that tuition for these courses will be subsidized by the department.

Currently, all students whose native language is not English must take an exam for both listening and speaking, and a written exam. This exam usually takes place soon after the student arrives on campus, in the summer before the first year of classes. Recommendations from ELP, derived from the results of these exams, must be followed. If the recommendation requires additional ELP courses, the Graduate School pays for the tuition. Recommended courses must be taken the first year of the program. Students may write to the Director of Graduate Studies requesting permission to take ELP courses at a later time with a reasonable explanation. 

The department expects that students should have sufficient facility with English to serve as Department Assistants in Instruction during their second year in residence and to teach competently in University College by their third year in residence. Failure to develop proficiency in English sufficient to perform the duties of an Assistant in Instruction will jeopardize continued financial support as well as progress toward completion of the degree.

An Assistant in Instruction assessment ("Instructional Readiness Assessment" or IRA), jointly administered by ELP and the economics department, is given in the spring of the first year. Students whose native language is not English are encouraged to explore course options in the English Language Programs (ELP) department, and some coursework may be prescribed by the IRA. Information about the IRA may be found here: students are completing the mini-lecture.

The Teaching Center is a useful resource for students who need advice on approaches to teaching undergraduates – in discussion sections or in stand-alone courses.

Office for International Students and Scholars

Washington University's Office for International Students and Scholars offers support for students coming from countries outside of the United States, including English language support.

visit OISS