English Language Proficiency

Responsible Office
Graduate School - Academic Affairs
Executive
Rodney D. Priestley, Dean of the Graduate School
Policy
  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 international graduate students who are non-native English speakers who have not earned their undergraduate degree in the United States and who scored below a 27 on the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT or below an 8.0 on the speaking subsection of the IELTS.

  3. Definitions

    N/A

  4. Policy

    The Graduate School requires that all non-native speakers of English who have not earned their undergraduate degree in a U.S. college or university and who scored below a 27 on the Speaking sub-section of the TOEFL iBT or below an 8.0 on the Speaking sub-section of the IELTS 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. 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 be required to participate in ELP classes.
    • Students who test at the high-intermediate level are required to participate in the ELP oral communication classes during their first semester of study. This will include four hours of coursework. These students are eligible to take the POPT upon successful completion of their first term in ELP classes.
    • Students who test at the intermediate level are required to participate in the ELP oral communication classes during their first semester of study. This will include four hours of coursework. These students are eligible to take the POPT upon successful completion of their first term in ELP classes.

    • Students who test in the low-intermediate level are required to participate in 5 hours of coursework, plus one tutorial hour during their first two semesters at Princeton, and will only be eligible to take the POPT after successful completion of two semesters in ELP classes.
  5. Procedures (if applicable)

    N/A

  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..