English as a Second Language (ESL) programs offer international students the chance to learn English or improve their English language skills. 

What are ESL Programs?
Hundreds of U.S. educational institutions have courses that range from academic English for university-bound students to language and culture courses for travelers. 

You may also hear English language programs in the United States called "ESOL Programs," or English for Speakers of Other Languages.

The most common types of ESL program offered in the United States are Intensive English Programs (IEP) or American Language and Culture Programs (ALCP). Since there are so many ESL programs available in the United States, do some research and make sure the program you are considering is accredited. See “Research and Narrow Your Options” page for more details.

Intensive English Programs (IEPs)

  • Can be taken for personal or professional reasons and not for academic credit.
  • May also be taken to prepare for U.S. college or university admission, and some IEPs offer “bridge programs” that help students transfer into an academic program.
  • May include classes designed for any level of English proficiency.
  • Usually require 20-30 hours per week of intensive English language study.
  • Are offered at U.S. colleges and universities and at independent English language institutions.

American Language and Culture Programs (ALCPs)

  • Are usually taken for academic credit to prepare for, or as part of, a U.S. college or university degree program.
  • Often require an intermediate or advanced level of English language proficiency before enrollment.
  • May be taken to improve a specific academic skill, such as reading, writing, or grammar. 
  • Will assist with adjustment to U.S. culture and campus life.