English Language Proficiency

Responsible Office
Graduate School - Academic Affairs
Rodney D. Priestley, Dean of the Graduate School
  1. Policy Statement

    The English Language Proficiency Policy addresses the Graduate School requirement that all incoming students must have a base level of English language proficiency.

    In order to take full advantage of the education that Princeton University affords them, graduate students must demonstrate a level of oral proficiency in the English language sufficient to participate successfully in all the various activities that comprise a graduate education, including classwork, research, research presentations, group meetings, project teamwork, and the teaching of undergraduates. The English Language Program (ELP) was created to determine students’ English language needs and to provide instruction and support to non-native speakers of English.

  2. Who is Affected by this Policy

    This policy applies to all incoming graduate students who were notified at the time of admission that they require English language testing.

  3. Definitions


  4. Policy

    All incoming graduate students who were notified at the time of admission that they require English language testing must have their oral English proficiency evaluated by the ELP staff at the start of the fall term. Such students will be given placement tests to evaluate their oral English proficiency by the ELP staff. The Graduate School has established that passing either the placement test or the Princeton Oral Proficiency Test (POPT) qualifies a graduate student to be appointed as an assistant in instruction (AI) and attests to the student’s basic proficiency in spoken English. Successful completion of the POPT test is required for all students who place into the ELP program. Students who do not pass the POPT following the first semester of ELP participation will be required to participate in the ELP program for an additional semester.

    The Proficiency levels on the placement test are as follows:

    Students who test at the advanced level will be eligible to teach whenever they are appointed as AIs and will not have to participate in ELP classes. 
    Students who test at the high-intermediate or intermediate level are required to participate in ELP oral communication classes during their first semester of study.  This will include four hours of coursework. 
    Students who test at the low-intermediate level are required to participate in 5 hours of coursework, plus one tutorial hour during their first two semesters at Princeton.
  5. Procedures (if applicable)


  6. Related Documents/Pages/Forms (if applicable)

    See above.

  7. Roles and Responsibilities

    Dean of the Graduate School
    Oversees Graduate School policies and associated procedures.

    Academic Affairs
    Administers ELP policy and makes recommendations as to which students will need to participate.

    McGraw Center
    Oversees the ELP program.

    Graduate Student
    Attends ELP courses and completes all requirements to comply with program..