International Students, Welcome!
AU's TESOL Program genuinely encourages the participation of international students. The TESOL faculty, composed of native and non native English speakers alike, are all professionals with extensive international experience who understand that the road to better language learning and cultural understanding is a two-way street.
International students (and the language teachers they become!) enrich our program, enhance its standing, and allow our domestic students to learn through their eyes.
To help international students feel more at home, and to better support their efforts, the AU TESOL Program supports its students through such services as:
- free tutoring for students taking TESL.500, Principles of Linguistics
- final proof reading: non-native students can have a native speaking Program Assistant look over their assignment drafts to do a final polishing (getting all those gerund or infinitive and article choices right is never easy!)
- a peer revision approach to class assignments where you work with fellow students as partners so that everyone's work improves
- personal introductions to the TESOL Program and the campus
- staff from the program will show you around, help get you settled in, and introduce you to "program culture."
- the one credit course "TESOL Research" will familiarize you with what's expected of you in TESOL Program reading and writing assignments, teach you how to participate in class and give effective presentations, introduce you to footnote and citation techniques, and help you learn how to have your work accepted in journals and at conferences.
- second chances on assignments: anyone can make a mistake, and making mistakes is a part of learning. Do you feel like you got "off track" on an assignment? Disappointed you didn't get a higher grade? You can always revise your assignment and earn a better grade for your effort.
- annual international student focus groups to get your feedback on how well we're serving your needs
- a Practicum/Student Teaching course explicitly designed with non-native English speaking students in mind. The current Practicum Seminar Instructor is a non-native English speaker with a highly successful TESOL career here in the States.
- help in finding observation sites, teaching placements, and campus jobs is available through the TESOL Program.
- International and multilingual students can find support for their studies through a variety of campus resources, ranging from academic tutoring to assistance with cultural adjustment. For more information, go to the Academic Support Center’s Web page.
Frequently Asked Questions
To learn more about applying to U.S. colleges in general and getting settled in at American University specifically, check our Office of International Student Services.
What are the academic admission requirements? A 3.0 GPA on all previous course work and a minimum of 600 on the paper based TOEFL, 250 on the computer based TOEFL, or 100 on the internet based TOEFL. The GRE is required for the MA in TESOL.
What if I don't have at least a 600 on the paper based TOEFL, 250 on the computer based TOEFL, or 100 on the internet based TOEFL? All students must demonstrate proficiency in English; therefore, the University holds to its standards that are stated above.
- Your completed AU application form with statement of purpose and two recommendation letters
- A completed Personal Immigration Information Request Form (PIIRF)
- Official copies of your college transcripts sent directly from your college or university
- Official copies of your TOEFL score
- Financial documents demonstrating availability of funds for at least one year
For the F-1 visa (NOTE: Please check with the US Embassy that services your country. Every embassy has different visa application procedures; many are now requiring appointments for visa processing. Please check the US Embassies website for complete information on obtaining a visa.)
- Valid I-20 or IAP-66
- ISS travel signature on your I-20 or IAP-66 that covers the period you will travel and return to the US
- Valid passport
- Financial documents for at least one academic year, date within the last three months
- Official university transcripts including pre-registration for the Fall semester
- Due to changes in INS policy, applicants to the TESOL Certificate Program, like students applying to Master's programs, must provide a statement of motivation. The statement of motivation should generally be two to three pages in length.
NOTE: We in the TESOL Program are not immigration specialists. Get the definitive information on this topic from our International Student Services Office.
What are the steps in the application process?
(1) Complete the application form, providing a statement of purpose and recommendation letters as required. The application fee must be paid before your application can be processed. (Note: in the past four years, the AU TESOL Program has never waived a tuition fee). Include the necessary immigration/visa documents (see above).
(2) Your application is scanned into the University computer systems, your GPA is evaluated by professionals, and your application is verified to ensure all necessary documentation is included.
(3) Once your application is verified complete, it is forwarded to the academic unit where faculty decide if they feel you should be admitted to their particular program. Typically, they make a decision in two to three days.
(4) Once the academic unit has made its decision, a letter is sent by mail informing you of that decision. You will either be offered or denied admission. If you are denied admission you cannot be reconsidered for one academic year.
(5) If an Offer of Admission letter is sent to you, you must respond by accepting the offer to receive your I-20.
(6) Once you have your I-20, you can make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country to be granted your F-1 visa.
When is the deadline for application? If you are interested in being considered for Merit Award financial aid you must apply by February 1st of your entry year to begin that Fall or by November 1st for Spring Admission. There is rarely financial aid for students who begin summer semester. If you are not interested in being considered for Merit Award financial aid, your application should be completed at least three months before you wish you begin classes.
How long does the application process take? This depends greatly on you. If your application is complete and all official documents have arrived, general processing takes perhaps two weeks. Academic evaluation at the Program level usually takes two to three days, and you will typically receive your application decision letter within two to three more weeks. It is recommended that international students planning to study in the U.S. allow 9 to 12 months for the process (to include taking the TOEFL, having transcripts sent, getting bank statements, having appointments at the consulate, etc.)
What kind of financial aid is offered? Student loans offered by the US Department of Education are unfortunately not available to international students. American University does, however, have Merit Awards that include all the types of financial aid awards possible: research assistantships, teaching assistantships, grants, and scholarships. Therefore, if you are not selected as a merit award recipient for the semester you wish to begin, there are effectively no other sources of financial aid available from the university at that time. Merit Awards are usually only available to degree candidates, therefore there is rarely financial aid available for the non-degree TESOL Certificate Program.
International Students are eligible for all awards that domestic students compete for, as well as the Hall of Nations Award, which is awarded only to international students.
What are my chances of getting financial aid? In the past four years, 1-3 students per year in the AU TESOL Program have received significant Merit Awards. The primary criterion for Merit Award selection is a candidate's GPA. Clearly, these awards are highly competitive.
How much financial aid should I expect to get? The largest merit awards that students in the TESOL Program have received in the past four years have covered all tuition. Thus, no merit award grant to anyone in our program has been sufficient to cover all a student's expenses. Therefore you will need supplemental resources to attend AU - to pay for books, food, housing, travel, and other incidental expenses.
Major financial awards are typically distributed for students starting fall semester. Occasionally, smaller awards of three, six or nine credits may be available for those entering Spring semester. American University typically reserves merit awards for new students, so once you begin a program of study at AU it is unlikely that you will be considered again for merit awards.
I plan to return to my country and teach Kindergarten through 12th grade students. Do I need to enroll in the MAT:ESOL Program? No. The MAT:ESOL Program is designed to meet particular standards required to teach in public schools in the United States. The TESOL course work for the MA in TESOL and the MAT:ESOL program is essentially the same and our courses are intentionally designed so that you can tailor your learning to best prepare you for the students you intend to teach. Our faculty does its best to keep abreast of curricular developments in K-12 programs throughout the world, and we work with you to make sure that what you learn in the AU TESOL Program will prepare you for where you will be teaching when you leave our program.
I'm an international student - can I enroll in the Master's International Program (MIP)? No, the Master's International Program is a joint program with Peace Corps, a U.S. government agency. Therefore, all Master's International students must be U.S. citizens (sorry!).
After I finish my program, can I stay and teach in the United States? It is possible to apply for "Practical Training", which under certain circumstances allows you to stay in the U.S. for up to one year after your graduation date to gain non-academic professional experience. Again, for the official details on Practical Training, go to the International Student Services Web site.
What are some common problems that International Students have when applying? The biggest problem is probably changing addresses. When you apply, you should be sure that the address you put on the application will be one where you can easily receive mail for at least one year. Another problem is missing official documents (transcripts, TOEFL scores, financial documents). Also, sometimes students don't have a good idea of how much an education in a private U.S. university costs. Some students go through the whole application process, receive admission, and then discover that they don't have the financial means to come. One final tip: a dependable email address that you can check regularly can smooth the admission process a great deal.
What will I need to do to be successful in my courses?
- You need to be able to read several lengthy articles or chapters on a topic, be able to synthesize what you've read, and be able to say what it means to you.
- You need to participate in class, both to show your professor what you've learned and to help your fellow students - especially if you're working in groups.
- You need to know your way around a university library, to be able to do on-line searches, and find articles on your topics of interest by authors recognized in your field.
- You need to be able to write in an academic style, use appropriate citation techniques, collect and analyze data (whether if be literary or linguistic) and interpret it in a persuasive manner. Being able to write well is part of being a TESOL professional. To assist in this, the AU TESOL Program offers an AU TESOL Style Sheet, available in McKinley 156, which details how to cite references for all graduate student research papers.
-You need to be able to interact regularly with fellow students and professors. You may find you have to learn to become a little more direct. Americans, tending to be explicit about things, often fail to anticipate your difficulties if you don't tell them. Remember, there's far less shame in admitting you need help than in having someone discover that you needed help but didn't ask for it.
- You need to have a sense of humor, and like yourself well enough that you can forgive yourself your mistakes - you're going to make them.
- Finally, as an international student competing with domestic students while working through the "veil" of a second language, you will probably often have to devote a little more time to your assignments than your domestic counterparts. On one hand that might seem unfair; on another, a double standard where we would expect less from international students because they're "foreign" would be even more unfair.
Other Links of Interest
Interested in housing resources? Viist the Housing and Dining Web site.
International Student House* is a non-profit organization that operates a residence near Dupont Circle (ten minutes from the AU campus; Metro accessible) for international students, scholars, and interns. ISH provides students with short or long-term accommodation, and also plans various social and cultural events. For more information and fees, visit the ISH website at www.ishdc.org.
*NOT AFFILIATED WITH AMERICAN UNIVERSITY
International and Multilingual Students: Academic Support Resources. International and multilingual students can find support for their
studies through a variety of campus resources, ranging from academic tutoring to assistance with cultural adjustment. For more information, visit the Academic Support Center’s Web page.