ESL Institute/Department of Linguistics

O'Dowd Hall, Room 326
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester , MI 48309-4482
(location map)
Phone: (248) 364-8803
Fax: (248) 370-3587

Policies and Procedures

English Proficiency

Please, consult the most recent Oakland University catalog for the current English Proficiency Policy.

International applicants, other visa holders, and permanent residents, whose native language* is not  English  must provide proof of  English   proficiency


One of the following constitutes proof:

  • 550 minimum on paper-based TOEFL**
  • 213 minimum on computer-based TOEFL**
  • 79 minimum on Internet-based TOEFL**
  • 77 minimum
  • 6.5 minimum
4. 24 transferable credits, excluding ESL coursework, from a U.S. community college or baccalaureate institution
5. A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university
6. One year of study at and a diploma from a U.S. high school.
** Some programs at Oakland University may require a higher level of  proficiency  than listed above. Applicants should examine the program description for their field of study for information about additional English proficiency requirements and furnish proof as part of the admission process (

Admission with ESL course work (excluding those seeking an F-1 visa)
Oakland University offers admission to non-native English speakers in a number of  undergraduate programs for those students who are academically qualified, but who have not met the English language proficiency requirement. These students may be conditionally admitted and are required to enroll in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes until proficiency is met.

One of the following constitutes proof:
  • 520-549 on paper-based TOEFL
  • 190-212 on computer-based TOEFL
  • 69-78 on internet-based TOEFL
  • 73-76
  • 6

Students must register for ESL courses as part of their course work starting in their first semester of registration. ESL placement is done by the English as a Second Language Center (ESL Institute) using the ESL Online Placement Test and other assessment tools. During students’ ESL instruction sequence, students’ English Proficiency will be evaluated  to determine whether adequate progress is being made and if additional ESL coursework is necessary to achieve English Proficiency. The ESL instruction sequence designed by the ESL Institute is not negotiable.

Satisfactory completion of the ESL instruction sequence is expected within one year, but ESL coursework is required until minimum proficiency is demonstrated.

Admission to the Intensive English program (ESL Institute)

Prospective students who do not have adequate English Proficiency for admission or admission with ESL coursework to the university can be admitted to the Intensive English Program. ESL placement is done by the English as a Second Language Center (ESL Institute) using the ESL Online Placement Test and other assessment tools. During the students’ ESL instruction sequence, students’ English Proficiency will be evaluated to determine whether adequate progress is being made and if additional ESL coursework is necessary to achieve English Proficiency. The ESL instruction sequence designed by the ESL Institute is not negotiable.

Upon completion of the Intensive English Program, students may (re)apply for admission to Oakland University; applicants are evaluated using the admission criteria described above.

*A native language is a language that is acquired naturally during childhood and is usually spoken at home, as opposed to a language that is learned later in life, for example, as part of a person's formal education. Students whose native language is not English are encouraged to visit the ESL Institute to discuss any language difficulties they may have while attending Oakland University.

Attendance &
Academic Progress

Attendance will be taken from the first day of the semester following the Oakland University academic calendar.  If you register after the first day of class, you will be counted as absent for any class session that you have missed due to late enrollment.  

ESL Attendance Policy

You must participate in at least 85% of classes.  You will fail your ESL course if you do not. For all ESL courses, students are considered absent if they are late more than 10 minutes. In addition, three (3) tardies (coming to class late but 10 minutes or less) will count as one absence. Students must attend the entire class session to receive credit for the day.  No early departures are allowed.  Students will not receive credit for any homework or in-class assignments during their absence unless they have made arrangements in advance. If students are absent from class, it is their responsibility to contact the instructor or a classmate to find out what they missed. They will be expected to be prepared for class when they return.  If students must miss a class due to illness or an unexpected emergency, they must notify the instructor as soon as possible and provide official documentation so that an evaluation of the situation can be made on a case-by-case basis.  

The ESL Institute follows the Oakland University Academic Calendar.  Some religious and national holidays of our international students are not recognized by this calendar and classes may be scheduled.  If a student wants to celebrate a holiday and chooses to miss a regularly scheduled day of class, they must notify their instructor in advance in order to make arrangements to complete missed assignments and class work.  This will count as an excused absence and will be counted as one absences allowed for the semester.  Please, plan ahead if needing to miss class because of a holiday!

Note:  Just because you tell the instructor you are going to be absent does not mean that it is an excused absence.

Absences affect academic progress.  Unsatisfactory academic progress may effect your visa status.

Academic Progress

Academic progress in all classes is expected. For each class, academic progress includes an overall grade of 2.5 in all work, attention and participation in class, and completion of all tests and homework assignments on time.  Students who do not show academic progress are subject to probation and/or dismissal.   

For further information about policies and penalties, students should consult the syllabuses for their classes and also the sections on Academic Policies in the Undergraduate Catalogue.

Click to download:

Department of Linguistics
Civility Policy
The faculty of the Linguistics Department regards classroom civility as crucial to a beneficial learning environment. The conduct of both students and professors should contribute to a respectful, engaged, and productive classroom culture. All class members are responsible for maintaining and protecting an ethic of civility. Accordingly, the following guidelines for appropriate conduct have been established for all Department classes.Once class has begun, turn off cell phone and pagers, and refrain from side conversations and interpersonal remarks. Address personal and/or other non-course related problems to your professor before or after class or during office hours. Avoid noisy rustling of snack food containers. Casual comings and goings are not acceptable; if you need to miss a class, come late or leave early, inform your professor in advance. In any case, if you arrive late or must leave early, do so as unobtrusively as possible, e.g., sit near a door to the room. Familiarize yourself with the course syllabus and requirements, due dates for assignments, and test dates. It is your responsibility to complete requirements on time.Your cooperation in maintaining and protecting an ethic of civility is appreciated.
Student Grievance
Policy for Responding to Student Grievance/Problems
If you have any problems or concerns, you are asked to follow the guidelines below:
1. Problems with instructor/coursework/program or other issues, you are advised to address the problem directly to the instructor for a resolution.

2. If #1 does not resolve the issue, you are advised to address the problem directly with Melissa Vervinck, Director of the ESL Institute.   Please contact her by email for an appointment:

3.  If #2 does not resolve the issue, you are advised to contact the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for an appointment, 248.370.2140.


ESL students who receive notification for permission to register for an academic course for which they are wait listed must forward the notification email to The ESL hold will be removed to allow the student to register only for the wait listed course; no additional changes can be made to the student's schedule.

Once the student has registered for that 
course (or until the time limit for doing so has expired), the ESL hold will be reinstated. The student will be removed from any additional academic classes the student has added. Furthermore, no changes are permitted to the student's ESL coursework.