The University of Alabama (UA) English Language Institute (ELI), part of the UA Capstone International Center, offers a variety of English language programs that are designed to help non-native speakers improve their proficiency in English.

ELI programs of study include the following:

  1. Intensive English Program – a year-round, multi-level, intensive English-language program for degree-seeking students, professionals, or others who need to improve their English skills
  2. Pathway to UA – an undergraduate pathway program that allows students to meet UA English proficiency requirements for full admission and earn academic credit at the same time
  3. Semester Abroad at UA – a short-term study-abroad program that allows students to earn academic credit, improve their English, and transfer the credit to their home university
  4. Academic Support Program – support courses for undergraduate and graduate students at UA who are non-native speakers of English
  5. International Teaching Assistant Program – a support program for students who are non-native speakers of English and serve as graduate teaching assistants at UA
  6. Customized Group Programs – custom-designed short-term programs, such as teacher training or culture tours, for groups of students from international universities, companies, or other organizations

For more information about any of the ELI programs, contact The University of Alabama, English Language Institute, Box 870250, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0250; Web – international.ua.edu/eli,  205 348-7413; Fax 205-348-9266; Email info@eli.ua.edu.

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Intensive English Program

The ELI Intensive English Program (IEP) is designed for individuals who need to learn English as a second language. The program focuses on preparing students for academic success, both in English-language proficiency and cultural awareness, for undergraduate and graduate study at The University of Alabama.

Five levels of study, from high beginning to advanced, are available. Each level consists of a minimum of 20 hours of class per week. Sessions lasting six to eight weeks are available six times per year in January, March, May, June, August, and October. Students may begin their English study at the beginning of any one of these sessions.

An ELI student wishing to enter an undergraduate degree program at The University of Alabama may meet UA's English proficiency requirements either by obtaining the required TOEFL or IELTS score or by completing Level 6 with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in Levels 4, 5, and 6. Conditionally admitted students who meet certain conditions may become eligible to enroll in credit-bearing courses while completing their ELI program of study. In such cases, the number of UA courses that an eligible student may take is determined by the ELI.

Students who apply for admission to UA and meet the academic and financial qualifications to enter the University but do not meet the English proficiency requirements may be admitted conditionally. Such students will not be eligible to begin an academic program and will be required to register for full-time or part-time study in ELI until they meet the English proficiency requirement as outlined above.

For more information, visit http://international.ua.edu/eli.

Pathway to UA

Pathway to UA is an undergraduate conditional-admission program for students who:

  • Want to earn a bachelor’s degree at UA
  • Meet the academic qualifications for undergraduate admission at UA
  • Are non-native English speakers who do not have the required minimum proficiency in English
  • Want to take courses for academic credit while completing the English requirement

For more information, visit http://international.ua.edu/eli.

Semester Abroad at UA

Semester Abroad at UA is a one semester (or longer) undergraduate study-abroad program for students who:

  • Are enrolled in a university outside the USA
  • Want to study abroad and earn academic credit at The University of Alabama
  • Are non-native speakers of English who want to earn academic credit, improve their English, and experience living and studying on the UA campus

For more information, visit http://international.ua.edu/eli.

Academic Support Program

The ELI Academic Support Program provides opportunities for UA undergraduate and graduate students who may want or need additional English-language instruction. At the graduate level, ESL support courses in written and spoken English are available free of charge to full-time international graduate students each fall and spring semester. In addition, the ELI Study Center and the UA Language Resource Center are available for individualized language assistance.

Fully admitted undergraduate students who are non-native speakers of English may be required to enroll in supplemental support classes at the ELI during their first semester at UA.  There are two such semester-long support classes offered during each Fall and Spring semester—Undergraduate Academic Speaking (ELC 110) and Undergraduate Academic Writing (ELC 111). Both courses carry 3 hours of undergraduate academic credit at UA. Students who are required to enroll in one or both of these classes take them concurrently with an appropriate class load of other undergraduate courses. Students in the ELI’s Pathway to UA program also take these classes during their final semester.

For more information, visit http://international.ua.edu/eli.

International Teaching Assistant Program

The International Teaching Assistant Program (ITAP) provides training and evaluation for international students with graduate teaching assistantships. Participation in the ITAP program is mandatory for all non-native English-speaking GTAs and graduate assistants who have instructional responsibilities at the University.

For more information, visit http://international.ua.edu/eli.

Customized Group Programs

ELI Special Programs consist of a variety of programs designed for groups of participants with mutual goals and concerns who desire highly specialized, intensive curricula. Such programs are typically designed for international English teachers, students whose international universities have approved given curricula for credit, international graduate students preparing to enter universities throughout the United States, and business professionals who wish to improve their overall effectiveness in English or to concentrate on specific skills such as written communication.

An organization wishing to participate in such a program should clearly define the goals of its group and keep in mind that program enrollments typically require a minimum of 10 participants. Financial sponsorship for the above programs may come from ministries of education, embassies, corporations, private philanthropic organizations, U.S. or other government sponsoring agencies or the individual participants themselves. Programs may be offered at any time of the year and typically range in length from two to six weeks.

For more information, visit http://international.ua.edu/eli.

Contact the ELI

To obtain more information about any of the above ELI programs, contact The University of Alabama English Language Institute, visit the ELI website (eli.ua.edu) or contact the ELI at Box 870250, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0250; Telephone 205-348-7413; Fax 205-348-9266; or Email info@eli.ua.edu.

IEP Policies

Intensive English Program (IEP) Testing and Academic Policies


The Placement Exam is given to new students on Day 1 of each session; students who arrive late are tested on Day 2 or later as they arrive.  The Replacement Exam is offered near the end of the first day of classes and is available to new students who believe they may have been misplaced.


On the 1st or 2nd class day, students will receive from their teachers a written course policy statement listing learning outcomes, class requirements, and grading procedures.


Teachers will inform their students of the required textbooks for each of their ELI classes on the 1st day of class, and students must bring their own copies of the textbooks with them to class by the 3rd day of classes.  Students who do not bring their textbooks with them by the 3rd day of classes will be counted absent.


Students are expected to make “normal/satisfactory progress” in their classes in each session of enrollment. This means that a student who begins in Level 2 should be able to complete the entire program (Levels 2-6) in one year (5-6 sessions).

While normal/satisfactory progress is generally defined as passing each class each session with a grade of C- or higher, the ELI recognizes that the rate of progress can be different from student to student and that some students may need more time to complete the program. For example, some students will find that they need to take some classes twice before they can pass.


Students are expected to show strong effort and do their best in ELI classes each session.


Students who do not have a passing grade (C- or higher) at midterm are required to meet with their teacher to discuss their lack of progress.

When students do not earn a passing final grade and therefore must repeat one or more classes, their teachers provide the ELI office with a “Lack of Progress” report on these students to indicate why they did not pass the class.

Students who receive failing grades because they do not attend class regularly or do not complete class assignments, or because they intend to fail in order to prolong their stay at the ELI, may be placed on Academic Probation or dismissed from the ELI.  Students who do not pass or make good progress, but who do show good effort, are sometimes assigned “Targeted Tutoring.”  Students who are assigned Targeted Tutoring meet with their tutor regularly during the following session for instructional tutoring.


Students may be placed on Academic Probation at the beginning of an IEP session if, during their most recent session, they (a) earned grades of F in all classes in which they were enrolled, or (b) are required to repeat a single class more than one time.

In order to help students on Academic Probation succeed in their classes, the ELI may provide them with special tutoring assignments. Academic Probation students are expected to take advantage of these assignments and work hard to pass their classes.

Students are typically removed from Academic Probation when they are not required to repeat any classes for the second time (i.e., they are not required to take a class for the third time).


Students may receive Academic Dismissal from the ELI if they (a) are on Academic Probation, and (b) do not pass a class after repeating it for the second time (i.e., taking it three times), or (c) earn grades of F in all three classes for the second consecutive session.

Important: Being dismissed can negatively affect a student’s visa status.


a) Students who initially earn a final grade of A or B may not retake the class, whereas students who initially earn a final grade of D or F must repeat the class.

b) Students who initially earn a final grade of C may request permission to retake the class once. This request must be made prior to the designated deadline at the end of that same session. Students who voluntarily repeat a class may not repeat the class again, no matter what grade they earn.

Students who earn an ELI Certificate of Completion but who want to repeat eligible courses in Level 6 must do so during the very next ELI session.

Due to student-visa regulations, in some cases it may not be possible for students to repeat a class that they have passed with a C. Please check with the ELI office.

c) Continuing students may not repeat lower level classes. For example, once students have passed Structure 4 and take Structure 5, they may not retake Structure 4.


Except in rare circumstances, students cannot take their final exams early or late; final exams can only be taken on the designated final-exam days as scheduled on the IEP Session Calendar.  Students who have a compelling reason to be absent during the designated final-exam days may request permission from the ELI Office to take their final exams late. (Late final exams can only be taken during the administration of the Placement Exam on the first day of the student’s next session of enrollment.)

To request permission to be absent during the designated final-exam days and to take final exams late (i.e., on the first day of the next session), students must complete and submit a form entitled, “Request to Take Late Final Exams,” which is available on the ELI website. After receiving a student’s request, the ELI administration will decide whether or not to grant permission and will inform the student of the decision in writing.


Students who receive permission from the ELI administration to take their final exams late will receive a temporary grade of “Incomplete” in each of their classes.  These students must then take their missed final exams on the first day of the next session when new students are taking the ELI Placement Exam, which is typically at 8:30 am.  The student’s final exams will be scored so that final grades can be calculated and substituted for the previous temporary grades of  “Incomplete.”  (Students who have permission to take their final exams late but who do not come on the designated day and time to take their exams late will receive a grade of 0 on each of their exams, and their final grades will be calculated accordingly.)


Students are expected to be honest and do their own work in all matters that pertain to their academic work and grades.  This means that students must not cheat on tests or copy ideas or sentences from other individuals.  Attitudes and policies regarding academic misconduct vary from culture to culture, and it is important for students to be aware of the attitudes toward and consequences of academic misconduct in the US.  Instances of academic misconduct at the ELI are initially handled by the student’s instructor, with the ELI administration assisting as needed.