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ELP Foundations

ELP Foundations is a hybrid orientation course for pre-matriculating international PhD and MFA students. This special non-degree program pairs a five-week online summer orientation course with in-person experiences in Evanston and Chicago in the Fall Quarter and beyond. 2024 marks the 25th year that Northwestern has offered specialized orientation programming for new international PhD students through this program and its predecessor, the International Summer Institute.

The noncredit summer course, TGS 509: Foundations of American English and Academic Culture, provides academic, emotional, and practical support to new students as they prepare for long term study abroad at Northwestern. Students build friendships as they explore topics related to graduate study in the US, including working with advisers and mentors, teaching, academic integrity, settling into the Evanston/Chicago area, and the cultural and emotional impact of living in the US. Our faculty will also identify individual communication strengths and areas for improvement for students of all levels of spoken English proficiency. Students who need additional linguistic support have the option to videoconference with our full-time staff, or use ELSA™ speech software to access thousands of online lessons on fluency, grammar, and vocabulary with AI-powered feedback. For more information, see our ELP Foundations Curriculum page.

The program is highly interactive. ELP Foundations students begin to build their new support network over the summer through online discussion with current international and domestic student leaders (Online Peer Mentors). Students also interact with ELP faculty who provide feedback and guidance throughout the course. Students who complete the online course will be able to meet their cohort in person, attending social events and exploring Evanston and Chicago together with English Language Programs staff and current students who will serve as Event Guides.  

Tuition for ELP Foundations is completely covered by The Graduate School: there are no fees for either students or their departments. Students who complete the course with a grade of 80% or higher also receive a small stipend award. Students are selected for ELP Foundations through nomination by their admitting department and the admissions process for ELP Foundations 2024 is now open. See our ELP Foundations Nomination Process and Eligibility page for deadlines and more details. Departments, download our 2024 nomination guidelines to learn more about how to nominate your PhD and MFA students to the program.