University Preparatory Program for English Language Learners

The University Preparatory Program teaches you English and so much more.

You’ll develop the skills that will equip you to succeed in U.S. university study—and in life. 

The one-semester University Preparatory Program, offered on campus or online, provides international students with the necessary skills and strategies needed to effectively transition and succeed in college. UPP lets you expand and refine your language and academic skills while fostering the appreciation of educational growth and diversity necessary to contribute to the global learning community.

With the UPP, you will:

  • attend the 15-week program on campus or online;
  • earn 12 credits toward your bachelor’s degree;
  • learn the English language and advance your written and oral communication skills;
  • prepare for American university study, including critical thinking, writing and study skills;
  • immerse yourself in the culture of an American university.

Choose either online or on-campus learning options:

  • on campus as part of the traditional academic path, or
  • an online option that lets you save money on living expenses while still providing the excellent faculty, resources and coursework as the on-campus program.

Wilkes University, located in an historic small town with a safe campus, offers the educational opportunities of a large university but the close faculty mentorship of a small college. Its Intensive English Program has been recognized by the UCIEP as one of the finest institutions in the country for intensive English Instruction. 

UPP also utilizes a holistic approach to teaching, addressing five key dimensions of the international student’s needs:

  1. Linguistic: students will participate in the accredited and nationally-recognized Intensive English Program at Wilkes, reinforced by weekly tutorial sessions.
  2. Academic: credit-bearing courses in a classroom setting with content-based courses based on your field of study.
  3. Cultural: seminars, lectures, workshops, site visits and excursions to help prepare you for everyday life in the United States; includes personal finance, etiquette, leadership and diversity
  4. Social: campuswide events and activities, conversational student partners, community service, faith-based activities, and athletic, artistic and other personal interests
  5. Health support: stress management sessions offered by Wilkes University’s Health and Wellness Program, and psychological support as well. 

"The University Preparatory Program helped me to be an outstanding student in all subjects, and prepared me for the challenges of university work. The UPP also helped me to take steps to tackle difficult subjects, learn study skills and become a better student before my university classes began." —Maria Valasquez Nunez, Panama

“I am very happy that I had the chance to take University Preparatory Program classes with the consideration and helpfulness of the wonderful professors who supported me. They gave me a lot of good advice to prepare for going to university. And they were always available to spend time to listen and help me, as well as my friends, if we had difficulties. I feel more confident because of the experiences I had in the Wilkes UPP." —Tram Thi Thao Vo, Vietnam

“When I was in the University Preparatory Program I learned a lot, but mainly the program prepared me to understand how the university works. Instead of going to university with five or six subjects for the first time, in UPP I took two college subjects that helped me adapt to the new transition. Moreover, professors are very supportive, and they teach the content of their classes but also help you in other subjects and explain in detail things that you could misunderstand or not get " —Arlyn Rivera Rios, Panama 

The one-semester University Preparatory Program courses take a cohesive, integrated and structured approach to teach you reading, writing, listening, speaking, and comprehensive test preparation skills: 

ESL 100 Reading and Writing (3 Credits)

This course focuses on the connection between critical thinking and academic reading and writing skills necessary to analyze academic texts and produce collegiate level compositions. It emphasizes the utilization of reading comprehension strategies and writing process skills to respond to various readings and to develop vocabulary expansion. This course also requires a research paper which utilizes the basic formatting and referencing of sources using MLA style documentation.

ESL 102 Listening and Speaking (3 Credits)

This course is a cohesive, integrated, and structured approach, to developing and expanding upon key listening and speaking skills of transitioning, English language learners (ELLs), as to ensure successful matriculation to a collegiate, academic environment. Therein, students will address defined, critical abilities, as a way in which to increase their capacities to engage in academic processes that include and demand superior listening and speaking skills within higher educational institutions and curricula.

ESL 103 Test Prep (3 Credits)

This course has been designed to serve as an integrated and structured approach to providing and expanding upon critical test preparation strategies and study skills for transitioning, English language learners (ELLs), as to ensure successful matriculation to a collegiate, academic environment. Utilizing a multifaceted configuration of classroom instruction and independent, online study, students will be provided with extensive practice of the most key academic skills and methodologies, as a way in which to increase their capacities to engage in academic processes that include and demand a superior skill set within higher educational institutions and curricula.

FYF 101 First-Year Foundations (3 Credits) on-campus only

The mission of the First-Year Foundations Program is to provide rigorous learning experiences that challenge first-year students to develop the strategies essential for a successful transition into the Wilkes campus community. Each section of FYF is unique in content and constitutes a special topics course in which faculty members are encouraged to explore topics that are of special interest to them. All sections of FYF, regardless of specific topic, share a common core of objectives that facilitate significant learning experiences (inside and beyond the classroom) by which first-year students develop self-knowledge as learners and members of an academic community, intellectual curiosity, openness to diversity, and a capacity for lifelong learning and civic responsibility. Activities designed to foster and develop effective writing, critical thinking, and information literacy skills are integral components of all FYF courses. In addition, the FYF Program connects students to a wide variety of University resources, including the advising and tutoring services of University College, the extensive holdings and services of the Farley Library, and the rich array of cultural events sponsored by the University.

The UPP equips all of its students with the:

ability to transition into academic programs and become independent and self-sufficient as quickly as possible;
linguistic and academic knowledge to maneuver successfully on an American campus;
ability to persist and succeed in your academic program of choice.

Admission Requirements

The English proficiency scores for admission to the University Preparatory Program require one of the following:

Please visit the page below to see additional UPP admission requirements:

Visit this page for the admission requirements for international students.

Tuition and Scholarships

Visit this page for more information about tuition, financial aid and scholarships.


For more information, please contact:

Dr. Kimberly Niezgoda
Program Director

Abby Love 
Associate Director of International Admissions