The ESL Academy

Welcome to the ESL Academy at Northeastern State University!

Greetings from the Department of Languages and Literature at NSU, a historic regional university located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Tahlequah is the capitol of the Cherokee Nation, is rich in natural beauty, and provides excellent opportunities for outdoor activities. Tahlequah is also a growing city and is an easy one-hour drive to the Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas metropolitan areas.

Mission Statement

The ESL Academy provides instruction in English language and culture to non-native speakers to prepare them for admission at NSU or any other American institution of higher education and to help them achieve their academic and professional goals.

Vision Statement

The ESL Academy aims to prepare students for collegiate level instruction in a relatively short period of time. We will help students attain a high level of proficiency in academic English through courses in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and culture. We will help students become familiar with American academic processes and expectations. While language proficiency is the practical focus of our program, our largest goal is to produce students who have confidence and knowledge to be successful in their academic and professional goals.

Basic Information about the ESL Academy

The University recently restructured the program, and now the ESL Academy is housed in Seminary Hall on the main campus in Tahlequah in the Department of Languages and Literature. This move will strengthen the academic rigor of the program and help international students to become familiar with the academic culture at NSU. During this time of transition, contact Dr. Audell Shelburne ( for further information.

The ESL Academy offers courses on six levels (Beginner 1 and 2, Intermediate 1 and 2, and Advanced 1 and 2). Incoming students are placed in one of the six levels based on their performance on placement tests. Students will attend 24 hours of classroom activities and instruction each week in core subjects, developing their abilities in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and culture. Each level is designed to be a 14-week course of study, and students will be placed at an appropriate level to encourage their progress. Each 14-week period begins at the same time as the regular academic calendar (Fall and Spring). The length of time necessary to complete the entire program (all six levels from Beginner 1 through Advanced 2) would typically take one to two years. The actual time will vary, depending on the student's prior knowledge of English, diligence, motivation, and rate of progress. Students will be placed at the appropriate level based on accurate assessments of their language skills, and the TOEFL will be administered at the end of each semester.

The ESL Academy attends to the needs of individual students. In addition to the 24 hours of classroom instruction, the Academy will assist students who need academic support, such as tutoring, or other services. The Academy coordinates activities with the Office of International Students, providing cultural experiences and volunteer opportunities. All of the additional services are integral to a student's success in the program because we want students to be comfortable enough to become part of our community.

Admission to the ESL Academy

The ESL Academy helps students achieve success on the TOEFL so that they may gain regular admission to NSU or another university. Students should apply for the ESL Academy by following this link to Apply Now. For questions or comments about the application process, contact the Office of International Programs.

Admission to Northeastern State University is NOT required for admission to the ESL Academy. Applicants to Northeastern State University as a regular student will require a separate admission form and additional documentation. For questions or comments about the application process, contact the Office of International Programs.

The application deadline for Fall is July 1st.

The application deadline for Spring is November 1st.

Required Admission Documents

ESL Academy application with $25 non-refundable application fee (please call 918-444-2050 to pay with credit card)

A copy of high school transcripts with English translation

WES Credential Evaluation for transfer or graduate students who have earned college credit outside the U.S.

Bank document with a minimum balance of $19,745 (USD)

Copy of passport

Please understand that Northeastern State University may require further certification of finances or advance payment of tuition and fees from students whose funds originate in countries where severe currency restrictions exist.

Program Costs

One-Time Costs

International Student Application Fee $25 (non-refundable)

International Student Orientation $50


Subtotal $75

Estimated Costs (per semester)

Tuition $4280

Placement Testing $50

Books and Materials $560

Medical Insurance $550 (subject to change)


Subtotal $5440

Optional On-Campus Housing

Room $1450 (and up)

Meal Card $300


Subtotal $1750

Total Costs (per semester) $7265

Arrival Information

Students in the ESL Academy must arrive on campus a week before school start. The Office of International Students provides students a week of orientation before the semester begins, introducing students to NSU and assisting them with their entrance into the campus community. During this week of orientation, students will also take placement tests and be introduced to the ESL Academy.

Program Calendar

The 14-week sessions follow the standard academic calendar. During Fall 2017, classes begin on August 21. Students have a fall break for the week of October 16-20. End of Semester TOEFL exam is scheduled for December 8th.

Students will attend classes six hours per day, Monday thru Thursday (9:00-12:00 and 1:00-4:00).

Students will attend activities two hours each Friday (usually 9:00-11:00).

Student Progress

As a student completes each level, the student will receive a progress report. The progress report will show grades, attendance records, and performance evaluations. Institutional TOEFL exams are administered at the end of each 14-week session (Fall, Spring, and Summer). TOEFL scores will be recorded in progress reports. Students who leave the ESL Academy before achieving TOEFL scores of at least 500 (61 iBT) will receive Certificates of Attendance. Students who achieve TOEFL scores of 500 (61 iBT) or higher will receive Certificates of Proficiency. The ESL Academy administers an institutional TOEFL at the end of each semester (cost included in program fees). Any additional administrations of the TEOFL are at the student's expense.