International Admission > Resources > ELA > Frequently Asked Questions

ELA Frequently Asked Questions

For more information, download the English Language Academy (ELA) Student Handbook​. ​

How do I apply to the English Language Academy?

See our How to Apply page for application information.​

Do I need a student visa? Do I need an I-20 form? How do I get a student visa?

Yes, if you are overseas and planning to study in the ELA Intensive English Program, you will need an F-1 student visa.

Using the SEVIS ID number from your I-20, you will make an appointment with the U.S. Consulate in your country and take these documents with you to apply for your visa. You will also need to pay a SEVIS I-901 fee, which you can do online. Your I-20 is for a specific start date when you must report to the ELA to begin your program. If you delay or defer your enrollment, you will need a new DePaul I-20.

More about information about visas can be found here. ​​

US Citizens, Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders), holders of Religious Worker Visas and certain other visa types may study at ELA without needing an I-20.

What other things do I need?

All students are required to show proof of immunization for measles, rubella, mumps and tetanus/diphtheria. No student will be allowed to enroll in courses without complying with this requirement. Please view DePaul's Immunization Information webpage ​​to learn more about completing the immunization requirement.

All ELA students are required to have major medical coverage that is valid in the United States. Students with F-1 visas will automatically be enrolled in the ISO Student Health Plan. Find more information on DePaul's ISO Student Insurance Plan​ on the Health Insurance page​

Where and when are ELA classes offered?

Our programs take place on DePaul University’s Loop Campus in a building at the corner of Jackson and Wabash, conveniently located near all transit lines in the heart of downtown Chicago. All classes are during the day​ between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Some extra elective classes are occasionally scheduled between 3 to 5 p.m. We do not offer classes in the evenings.

Check out the calendar for more information.​

How are students placed in ELA classes?

At the beginning of the term, we place students based on a 35-minute writing sample, similar to the TOEFL essay, and an Institutional TOEFL. This test is the traditional paper-based test (PBT), which tests listening, structure and written expression, and reading.

During the first few days of class, new students work closely with their teachers to make sure they have been placed in the correct level. Occasionally, additional diagnostic testing of students is required. Teachers will sometimes recommend class changes and students then move to new classes. All of these class changes are usually made during the first five days of class. ​​

Do I have access to DePaul University’s degree programs? Will I be able to visit or attend university classes?

DePaul University is very interested in receiving applications from qualified ELA students, both graduate and undergraduate, and we assist these students with their applications to academic programs. 

Normally, ELA students are not allowed to visit DePaul’s academic classes unless arranged by an ELA instructor or the ELA associate director as part of an ELA class assignment. Additional information is available from International Admission and the ELA associate director. 

How long will I need to study at ELA before I am able to demonstrate an acceptable level of English language proficiency?

The answer to this question depends on your initial placement. Most ELA students take one to two terms (10-week quarters) or longer before they reach the level of proficiency required for admission to a degree program. ​ Many admitting units at DePaul University now accept the ELA University Bridge completion certificate as evidence of English proficiency. A number of students have moved through the complete ELA program of five levels (five quarters), from Foundations through University Bridge.

How much progress can I expect to make on the TOEFL?

The average gain on the TOEFL PBT during one term of study is around +30 points, often higher in the Foundations and Intermediate levels. The higher you move up on the TOEFL scale, the harder it is to make a 30-point gain score during one term. ​

How do I pass from level to level?

You pass to the next higher level based on your teachers’ evaluations of your work during a term. You will receive a "passing" or "non-passing" grade in each of your courses: Writing, Reading, Grammar and Spoken English. 

Sometimes students pass in some classes and not in others—they then have what we call a "split schedule." (For instance, two classes in Intermediate, two classes in High Intermediate.) Passing courses is independent of progress on the TOEFL test.

For more information, view ELA Student Handbook.

Will I receive a certificate of study?

Yes, a completion certificate is awarded to those students who pass all four of their classes at the University Bridge level. ​​  ELA will also issue certficates to document the highest level of study attained at ELA.

Does ELA have an attendance policy?

Yes, attendance and participation in our program is required. Students who do not maintain their attendance at the 85 percent level are administratively dropped from the program. Active participation in all courses is expected and students must maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined in ELA Student Handbook. Being dropped is especially serious for students who hold an F-1 visa.

Learn more about Maintaining & Changing Status on the Global Engagement website. ​

Is it possible to study part-time at ELA?

ELA's curriculum is designed primarily as academic preparation for full-time students seeking enrollment in degree programs. Limited numbers of placements are available for applicants who wish to study part-time (less than four classes) or whose status limits enrollment (principally F-2 visa holders). Applicants with little or no English language who are limited to part-time study should plan to develop their basic English skills before applying to ELA.

Part-time study curriculum requires approval of ELA Administration .  Please discuss your plans with ELA Administrtion if you wish to study part time.

How do I find housing?

DePaul offers limited on-campus housing for ELA students on our Loop or Lincoln Park campuses. Please view the Department of Housing website for more information. Other options include homestay, apartments or private dormitories. ​Find more information about how to look for housing here​

How do I get an ID card?

ELA students receive DePaul University student ID cards. DePaul ID cards give students access to all university facilities such as libraries, computer labs and public access printers. Many optional services such as meal plans are also accessed using the ID cards. Students should carry their IDs with them at all times when on the DePaul campuses. ​​

What are the dining services at DePaul like?

DePaul's Dining Services operates full-service, food-court style dining facilities on the Lincoln Park and Loop campuses. The types of food available range from pizza and sandwiches to salad bars and full meals…even sushi! Optional meal plans are available at a variety of pricing levels. 

To see the selection of meal plans, visit the Dining Plans and Services website​.

Is there a place on campus for fitness and working out?

A very nice, FREE fitness room is located on the lower level of DePaul's CDM Building, across Wabash Avenue from ELA.  Ask ELA Reception for details.

ELA students are eligible to join the Ray Meyer Fitness Center. “The Ray” is a four-story, state-of-the-art fitness facility that is comparable to the best health clubs in the city. Amenities include an indoor pool, gymnasium, modern cardio machines, weight room, sauna and more.  For more information on current pricing, please see the Ray Meyer Fitness Center  Membership Page.

What is orientation like?

New ELA students participate in Orientation and level-placement evaluation during the first week of each term.  Please refer to your letter of admssion for details of time and place. ELA Orientaion helps students find campus resources, navigate life at DePaul and in Chicago. ELA Orientation also covers information necessary to maintain lawaful F-1 visa status.

What academic services are available for ELA students?

ELA students receive a professional language placement exam as part of the orientation process for new students. Other ELA academic services include:

  • Peer tutoring and conversation partners through the University Writing Center
  • Undergraduate programs advising through the Office of International Admissions
  • Personal advising for all ELA students
  • Graduate programs advising by appointment with the ELA associate director
  • Pronunciation workshop (fee applies)

Are counseling services available for ELA students?

Yes. ELA supports the Vincentian mission of DePaul University by creating a nurturing and supportive environment that respects the dignity of all members of our learning community. Our staff works closely and confidentially with University Ministries and the professional psychologists at DePaul University Counseling to address the emotional and mental health needs of ELA students. ​

What is conditional admission?

Conditional admission may be offered to students who have been educated in a language other than English and whose academic record qualifies them for admission, but whose level of English proficiency as measured by the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is lower than admission requirements.

Learn more about conditional admission here​