Department of Linguistics University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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English as a Second Language (ESL) and Service Programs

Service Links
English Language Opportunities
Grammar Workshop Series
ESL Tutors

General Enrollment Guidelines for ESL Classes at Illinois

If a student is mandated to take the EPT (as stated in the letter of admission), then the results of the EPT determine mandatory courses as part of the student’s course of study. Until the student completes those courses, s/he is on limited admission status. The requirement to take the EPT is made by the Office of Admissions and Records, based on the student's pre-matriculation test scores (e.g., TOEFL, IELTS) and other application information.  For graduate students, a department may require the EPT even if the campus admissions office does not.

Information on the specific types of classes is contained within the links for each focus
111, 112, 115 511, 512, 515, 521, 522, 592
110 510
International Teaching Assistants
- 504, 506, 508

592, 593

SSP/CR Billing for Graduate Students in ESL courses:
If your program is not Self-Supporting or Cost-Recovery, please disregard the following information:

SSP and CR Programs are designed to generate their own costs through tuition and fees and receive no state money.  This means that the cost of ESL courses is not paid by the state for students in these programs. Campus policy—approved by the Board of Trustees—maintains that students in these programs will be charged directly to recover costs for ESL instruction. SSP/CR graduate students in ESL are charged a per student fee for enrollment in each course. The amount of this charge is determined by campus and is not controlled by the Department of Linguistics or the ESL program, but the current fee is approximately $500 per course and, if applicable, should appear in students’ campus statement.

 List of SSP/CR programs:

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Can students who take their EPT after the first day of classes register for ESL that term?
    Generally, the answer is no since classes are usually full by then. However, students can enroll during the first 10 days of classes if there is an open seat as long as they already have taken the EPT.
  • Can I register or change sections via email?
    No, but you can register and/or change sections online via  UI Enterprise services.
  • What happens if I enroll in the wrong level or have not taken the EPT and attempt to register?
    In this case you will be told to drop the course and must change to the correct level.  You may not register if you have not taken the EPT.
  • What if I don't get a seat!?
    Don't panic.
    • Check back regularly. Remember that we sometimes add seats to sections throughout the registration period.
    • You can take it next semester! We encourage students to take their ESL courses as early as possible because it helps you be successful in your other academic medium courses. However, we understand that scheduling might prevent this your first semester. DO NOT WAIT TOO LONG! You risk delaying your graduation should you not get into ESL early enough or if you don't pass the class.
  • Can I audit an ESL writing course?
    NO. You can enroll in the course, but no one is allowed to audit ESL writing service courses. If your status does not allow enrollment, please go to the "English Language Opportunities" page to see what is available for you. Visiting Scholars may be eligible for ESL 592/593 (read more about 592/593).
  • If I take ESL 115, will it fulfill my freshman composition requirement?
    YES. ESL 115 or the completion of the ESL 111/112 sequence is the equivalent of RHET 105. You will, however, need to take the EPT and place into 115 or 111/112.
  • What if I have questions about my EPT score?
    Much more information about the EPT may be found here
  • I heard that if I do well on the diagnostic, I won't have to take the class. What's that about?
    During the first week of ESL, there is an in-class diagnostic test. The diagnostic is NOT a pass/fail test. The diagnostic is also NOT a placment test. The primary purpose of the diagnostic for teachers to get a general idea of the students' strengths and weaknesses so that they can shape the curriculum based on students' needs. Occasionally...rarely, A student's diagnostic exceeds the benchmarks and goals for that course and will earn them a proficiency (with the exception of ESL 112 and 115). This is VERY rare, however (about 0.05%). You should NOT count on being proficiencied via the diagnostic. The instructor does not make the final decision about proficiencies, and students may not request to be proficiencied.
  • What ESL courses are typically offered in the summer?
    There is no guarantee of summer course offerings, but you can look at past summer offerings in the course schedule to see what might be available.
  • May I take two ESL courses in the same semester?
    NO. Our courses are sequential. You must complete any prerequisite courses.
  • Do I have to take my ESL graduation requirement during my first year at UIUC?
    We strongly encourage students to take their ESL requirements as EARLY as possible in their course-work. The courses are designed to help the student function successfully in an English-medium academic environment and to train students how to communicate in spoken and written English in a way that conforms to the conventions of academic discourse. Moreover, our classes often fill up, so students may not be able to get a seat if they wait until their last semester or two! If you wait to fulfill this requirement and cannot fit it in your schedule, you risk postponing your graduation.
  • Do the ESL courses count for credit?
    If you are an undergrad, the ESL courses (111, 112) are worth 3 hours each. ESL 115 is worth 4 hours. If you are a graduate student, ESL classes (511, 512, 515, 521, 522) are worth 4 contact hours each. This means that while you are enrolled in the class, it's like being enrolled for credit hours for your visa status or enrolled hours. At the end of the semester, you will not earn any credit hours for the course. Instead you will receive a pass or fail grade. Therefore, graduate courses are 0 credit; 4 contact hours.

For questions about ESL coursework, contact
For information on the EPT, please visit or contact the EPT staff (