English as a Second Language Institute (ESLI)

ESL Institute Curriculum

The English as a Second Language Institute (ESLI) helps improve reading, writing and oral English proficiency for international students through a specially designed curriculum that combines ESL and the arts. Undergraduate students who successfully complete ESLI and matriculate into an undergraduate degree program receive three UArts college credits toward graduation.

   The curriculum includes 

  •    Small classes and personal attention

  •    Creative and experienced instructors

  •    Studio art, design, and music lessons

  •    Classroom practice in oral communication strategies for art, design and performance studies

  •    College-level reading and writing assignments focusing on art, design and performance

  •    Field trips, social activities and participation in University of the Arts programs and events

ESL Institute Program Dates

Summer 2023 Session
July 6–Aug. 10 (5 weeks)
International Student Orientation begins in August. The dates are still to be determined.

Program Overview & Application

Classes in the English as a Second Language Institute (ESLI) are offered at University of the Arts campus in Philadelphia and meet five days per week for five hours daily. The program provides instruction in English grammar, conversation and college-level reading and writing, with a focus on art, design and the performing arts.

Weekly studio art and music classes will prepare students for their degree programs at UArts, including practice in communication strategies for studio and performance environments, critiques and juries.

Field trips, social activities and participation in UArts’ cultural events will immerse students in the contemporary arts culture at the university and in Philadelphia.

ESLI Placement 

If you have been admitted to University of the Arts conditionally, completing our ESL Institute will fulfill your UArts ESL requirement for matriculation as a degree candidate. Placement in the most appropriate English level is determined by the TOEFL or IELTS scores submitted with your UArts application and/or by placement testing and an interview. Contact Director of International Programs, Mara Flamm at at least 60 days prior to the ESLI start date to schedule interview and placement test. 

Graduate-level students in the ESL Institute do not earn U.S. college credits. Undergraduate students who successfully complete the UArts ESL Institute, earning a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA, and matriculate into a UArts undergraduate degree program will be awarded 3.0 UArts elective credits for their ESLI coursework. 

Students who successfully complete the UArts ESL Institute and enter University of the Arts as undergraduate degree candidates, will be required to complete the First-Year Writing course sequence like all other undergraduates at UArts. It might include an additional semester of academic ESL as part of their degree requirements.


Students who are conditionally accepted to UArts with a requirement of completing ESLI will receive in their acceptance packet an ESLI registration form, instructions for submitting a tuition deposit and a housing deposit (if on-campus housing is desired), and a list of documents required to issue an I-20. Submit your ESLI registration form, deposit(s) and all other required documents to UArts.

Email Director of International Programs Mara Flamm at to receive an ESLI application.

ESLI Housing Information

On-Campus Housing

The availability of on-campus housing is limited. Therefore, tuition and housing deposits for ESLI must be received by the appropriate housing deposit deadline (May 1) to guarantee on-campus housing reservations for the fall and spring semesters. On-campus housing for the summer semester is guaranteed if full payment is received by the billing deadline.

On-campus housing requests made after the deposit deadlines will be based upon on-campus housing availability.

More detailed information on ESLI tuition, fees and deadlines is available here.

On-Campus Housing Application

To apply for on-campus housing, contact the office of Campus Life.

Students are required to submit a nonrefundable $200 housing reservation deposit and a UArts tuition deposit which varies by program. Learn more about your program's tuition deposit.

Note: Your housing reservation deposit will not be processed unless a tuition deposit has also been received.

All on-campus housing consists of apartments (studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, or three-bedroom) with full kitchens (refrigerator, microwave, oven/stove). For more information about UArts on-campus housing, visit the Residential Life page.

Off-Campus Housing

Many UArts students live off campus. Contact the ESL Institute for more information if you are interested in off-campus housing.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is required for all students. Students who do not participate in the UArts health insurance plan must provide proof of health insurance in the form of an insurance card or letter from their insurance carrier and proof of immunizations. If you do not provide an immunization record, you may not be able to register for classes.

All admitted students will receive insurance and health forms from UArts Health Services. Complete and return the Health Services forms as soon as possible.

In the event of a minor illness or accident, the university has an on-campus registered nurse, as well as a contractual agreement with Jefferson Family Medicine Associates, located at 1100 Walnut St., a short walk from campus. Those doctors may be seen by appointment for a limited number of times at no charge; fees will be charged for any necessary X-rays or laboratory work.

For questions regarding health insurance, UArts Health Services and UArts required health forms, contact

Suzanne Scott
Director of Health Services

How to Apply for a Student Visa

How to Apply for a Student Visa for UArts’ ESL Institute

Apply for your F-1 student visa early. In some countries, it can take several weeks to obtain a visa from the U.S. embassy after you have received admission to UArts ESL Institute (ESLI).

The Form I-20 is used to apply for the F-1 student visa. University of the Arts issues the Form I-20 for study at ESLI.

To obtain the I-20

  1. Complete parts I and II of the ESLI application.

  2.  Send the completed ESLI application, original financial documents and a photocopy of the page in your passport that shows your name and date of birth to ESLI.

  3. Upon receipt of these documents, ESLI will process and send you an admission letter and the Form I-20 via courier service. Sign and date the Form I-20 when you receive it.

  4. Pay your SEVIS fee. For information about that fee, go to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website. Up-to-date information with new SEVIS regulations is located at

  5.  Submit the Form I-20, your admission letter, financial documents, passport, SEVIS receipt and any other required documentation (such as transcripts or academic records) to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in your country, and apply for an F-1 student visa. We recommend contacting the embassy before your application to verify the embassy’s specific policies and procedures. Find more information about a particular embassy.

  6. Present the Form I-20 and your passport to the immigration officer when you arrive in the U.S. The officer will return your copy of the I-20 to you and will staple the Form I-94 in your passport.

  7. Bring the Form I-20, the Form I-94 and your passport with you to ESLI on registration/orientation day.

  8.  If you have questions about your application, contact Mara Flamm, director for International Programs.

Note: If you enter the U.S. using an I-20 from University of the Arts’ ESLI program, you must complete the ESLI session to which you have been admitted before you are eligible to transfer to another school or university.

ESLI Tuition, Fees & Important Dates

Summer 2023 Semester
July 6–Aug. 10
International Student Orientation starts in August. Dates are still to be determined. 

Tuition, Fees & Important Dates

Tuition Deposit* $300 Undergraduate
$450 Graduate
ESLI Tuition $3,500 (approximate)
Student Services Fee $180
Health Insurance N/A
Books & Supplies $500 (approximate)
Room and Board $2,444 (approximate)
Transportation and Misc. Expenses $560 (approximate)
Tuition Due June 21, 2023

* The tuition deposit is a one-time fee charged only for the first semester you are enrolled at UArts.

Additional Costs

Students should plan for additional funds for food, transportation, and other personal expenses which will vary according to personal habits and lifestyle. All summer ESLI students are also required to obtain their own health insurance; see the Health Insurance link in the menu on the right for more details.

How To Pay Your ESLI Bill

Your bill for the ESL Institute (including tuition and fees) must be received in full by the registration deadline.

Additionally, you should plan for additional funds for food, transportation and other personal expenses, which will vary according to personal habits and lifestyle. Most students will require an additional $100–$150 per week for these living expenses.