Intensive English Program

Join students from more than 20 countries who enroll in the UWM Intensive English Program (IEP) each semester! Choose the IEP to:

  • improve your English before beginning full time academic study at UWM or another U.S. college or university;
  • improve your English for professional advancement; and
  • achieve your personal goal of gaining greater proficiency in English.

The IEP is open to residents and visa holders. To Apply for the IEP, a prospective student must have completed high school and be at least 18 years of age.

Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)

The pre-academic IEP curriculum is based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). The CEFR is designed to allow language programs flexibility in meeting the individual or profiled group needs of their students. The UWM IEP divides into four CEFR macro-levels (A1, A2, B1, B2). A description of each course and the student learning outcomes can be found in the IEP Curriculum Guide.


Initial Placement Procedures

On arrival day, new students will take the proctored Michigan Placement Test online as well as complete a timed writing assessment. Both assessments provided the CEFR score necessary for initial placement in all classes. The IEP has four levels, A1, A2, B1 and B2. A1 is the beginning level and B2 is the advanced level.

Student Assessment and Placement

Student assessment is continuous, with instructors gathering evidence over the 16-week session. Evidence for movement includes but is not limited to assignments, projects, tests, quizzes, class discussions and group work. Decisions on advancement through the program take place at the end of each 16-week session.


Sessions are 16 weeks in length, although new students are also accepted at the 8-week point. For course start and end dates, see Session Dates.

During the 16-week session students take 4 core classes:

  • Reading & Writing (ESL 60)
  • Speaking & Listening (ESL 70)
  • Writing & Grammar (ESL 80)
  • Cooperative & Productive Skills (ESL 90)

Classes meet every day, Monday through Friday, for a total of 20 hours of instruction per week. Full time study is enrollment in all four classes. Part time study is 1-3 classes. Student visa holders must study full time.

Intensive English Program Outcomes

Students successfully completing the highest level (B2) of the IEP can:

  • read lengthy, complex texts with a large degree of independence, using a broad active reading vocabulary in all but low frequency words and idioms, adapting style and speed of reading to different texts and purposes, and using appropriate reference sources selectively;
  • use the language fluently, accurately and effectively on a wide range of general, academic, vocational or leisure topics, marking clearly the relationships between ideas;
  • communicate spontaneously with good grammatical control, minimally restricting what they want to say, and adopting a level of formality appropriate to the circumstances;
  • understand spoken language, live or broadcast, on both familiar and unfamiliar topics normally encountered in personal, social, academic or vocational life with comprehension difficulty arising only from extreme background noise, inadequate discourse structure and/or idiomatic usage;
  • write clear, detailed texts on a variety of subjects related to their fields of interest, synthesizing and evaluating information and arguments from a number of sources; and
  • give clear, systematically developed, detailed descriptions and presentations on complex subjects, while integrating sub-themes, developing particular points, adding relevant supporting detail and rounding off with an appropriate conclusion.

IEP Mission Statement

The mission of the Intensive English Program (IEP) at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee is to prepare students for university study in English by assisting students: 1) to improve English proficiency in listening, reading, writing and speaking skills; 2) to interact with English speakers in everyday and professional situations; and 3) to gain an awareness of the culture of American university life. The IEP also provides language instruction to students whose goal is to improve their English for other professional or personal endeavors.

The IEP is committed to maintaining a professional teaching and administrative staff and to following ethical standards in all areas of the profession. The IEP is also dedicated to establishing supportive teacher-student relationships, to fostering an atmosphere of openness among cultures, and to collaborating with the UWM community to serve international students.


More information can be found in the IEP Curriculum Guide.

I think this program is good because you meet a lot of different people from different countries and cultures, and this gives you more ideas about what is going on in the world. It makes you more open and mature, and also you have a lot of fun!”

Lettsy, Mexico