English as a Second Language

The ESL @ WPI Program offers English language courses to help students, scholars, and their partners brush up on and learn English for academic and non-academic purposes. The aim of the program is to assist students in developing their communicative abilities and skills to the point of proficiency through various courses offered throughout the year.

  • English for International Teaching Assistants is designed to help international teaching assistants learn and practice speaking English, paying special attention to the vocabulary of their majors while presenting information, learning classroom management practices, and understanding the academic culture and behavior in the U.S.
  • ESL Seminar is a tutorial offering ongoing support to address the linguistic needs of students and scholars in the major skills areas, along with practice giving oral presentations and studying aspects of U.S. culture and history. The course also includes field trips to museums, concerts, and other cultural activities.
  • ESL for Spouses teaches the legal partners of students and scholars the English language needed to establish themselves and meet their needs in U.S. culture. Course focuses on listening, speaking, and vocabulary development. The course also includes field trips to museums, concerts, and other cultural activities.

In addition, the ESL @ WPI Program offers oral proficiency testing in English for international teaching assistants and other WPI students and scholars who may require it and, time permitting, international students might also find resources for help with writing (IQP/MQP Reports, Theses, and Dissertations).

ESL Summer Institute I and II

The ESL Summer Institute is an intensive summer program for students planning to study engineering, technology, and science at U.S. colleges and universities. Classroom instruction integrates reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills and pays special attention to the use of spoken English in a technological academic setting. The Institute is broken into two programs—I begins on July 10, lasts for five weeks, and is designed for (but not limited to) conditionally admitted international students; II begins on July 24, lasts for three weeks, and is designed for international students.

Institute II is especially designed for students looking for a 3-week head start to the fall semester (undergraduate Terms A and B). International graduate students who will become TAs are especially encouraged to enroll in Institute II.

In addition to classroom lessons with small classes and individual, computer-assisted instruction, the Summer Institute offers:

  • Tutorials in technical writing
  • Oral presentation workshops
  • Computer workshops
  • World Wide Web instruction
  • Note-taking strategies
  • On-site visits to local high-tech companies
  • Cultural excursions to Cambridge and Boston
  • Discussions on U.S. culture
  • Cross-cultural dialogues


ESL Summer Institute students have the opportunity to participate in social and cultural activities both on and off campus, including meetings with American students and members of the community, tours of Cambridge and Boston, visits to museums, galleries, and exhibitions, and attendance at lectures, concerts, and American cinemas, in addition to our area's many other attractions.

Every week, students make one mandatory visit to an area high-tech firm or exhibition for a tour and talk. Students are expected to participate in all activities. Written reports are mandatory after each visit.


State-of-the-art computer equipment and classroom facilities are available for ESL Summer Institute students at WPI through the university's Computing & Communications Center. Extensive library resources and services are available to students through WPI's Gordon Library. Impressive athletic and recreational facilities are all located on WPI's 80-acre residential campus. Students live in one of WPI's newly refurbished residence halls in double occupancy rooms, and the university provides as many as 19 meals per week through WPI's Dining Service. Special attention is paid to the cultural and religious dietary restrictions of international students.


The 5-week cost is $4,610, which includes program and activities fees, room and board, insurance (where applicable, for ESL Summer Institute only), and application fee. The 3-week cost is $3,000, which includes program and activities fees, room and board, insurance (where applicable, for ESL Summer Institute only), and application fee.

  • All figures are in U.S. dollars
  • Class time is approximately 7 hours a day, 5 days a week
  • Fees do not include the cost of books and materials
  • Health insurance is required for all students without private health insurance
  • Student Accident and Health Insurance, designed for WPI students, can be waived if evidence of an equivalent policy is approved by WPI (evidence must be submitted with an official/officially certified English translation)

Admissions & Visas

Previous study of English is required since the ESL Summer Institute is a program that focuses on the English language at the high intermediate to advanced levels. In order to be admitted into the ESL Summer Institute program, applicants must present proof of graduation (or expected graduation) from a secondary school program equivalent to a U.S. high school diploma and an acceptable score on a TOEFL or equivalent test of English proficiency. Advanced-level students should show a previous TOEFL iBT score of 197 (527) or above, and intermediate-level students should show a previous score of 173-193 (523).

Acceptance to the program and a completed Declaration of Finances and/or proof of ability to pay is required before the university can issue an I-20 Form (Certificate of Eligibility) to obtain an F1 student visa at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in the student's home nation.

If students are already in the U.S., an International Student Advisor at the International House will assist with the transfer of F-1/J-1 visa status.

Conditional Admission into a WPI degree program may be granted to academically qualified students, with the requirement of successful competition of the ESL Summer Institute prior to entering the university as a degree candidate.

Demonstration of a 213 (550) or better on the TOEFL or completion of the ESL Summer Institute is required for admission. Students must also complete a WPI Application for Admission and submit the required credentials as listed on the Application for Admission to be considered for Conditional Admission. The WPI admissions staff is available to advise students on the necessary procedures—feel free to email them with any questions.


We have compiled a list of useful forms with tips and advice to help make your experience at ESL @ WPI or Summer Institute as enjoyable and educational as possible.