Courses in ESL in Boston with School and Degree Options

The Boston, MA, area has multiple colleges and universities that offer English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Get some information about the courses and some quick facts for two of these schools to make an informed education decision.

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Schools in Boston Offering Programs with ESL Courses

Bostonians, particularly students for whom English is not their native tongue, have a wealth of options for English instruction. ESL classes are available through colleges and universities located directly in or within the immediate vicinity of Boston. Students can take individual classes or enroll in a semester-long program.

Two Boston-area universities and their ESL classes are profiled here. Get details about course topics and length of studies for each program. Find helpful facts about each school in the table below.

  • At Boston University, students will find a variety of full- and part-time programs providing instruction to beginning and advanced English speakers alike. The university is found just a few miles west of the city's downtown area.
  • University of Massachusetts - Boston students can take classes to build their overall English skills or prepare for admission to an undergraduate degree program. The university is located just a few miles south of downtown Boston.

Comparison of Schools

To choose an ESL class or program, you might examine all aspects of a school before making your selection. Below are statistics regarding each university's tuition, acceptance rates, population, graduation rates and more.

Boston University The University of Massachusetts - Boston
School Type 4-year, private non-profit 4-year, public
Total Enrollment (2017)* 33,355 16,415
Campus Setting Large city Large city
Program Tuition (2018) $425 (per credit)** University preparation program: $410 (per credit)***
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017)* 55% 81%
Acceptance Rate (2017)* 25% 75%
Retention Rate (2017)* 93% for full-time students
50% for part-time students
78% for full-time students
63% for part-time students
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (2011)* 87% 48% (31% transfer-out rate)

Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **Boston University, ***University of Massachusetts - Boston.

Boston University

Boston University (BU) is an independent, private four-year university, the fourth-largest of its kind in the United States. BU offers several ESL options through its Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP), which is designed to assist international students with their transition to an English-speaking culture. Applicants do not have to be concurrently enrolled in a BU degree program to take CELOP classes.

12-week Semester Program

This full-time program offers eight levels of instruction ranging from elementary to advanced. All students take a series of core classes and electives designed to develop their fluency and pronunciation as well as their English vocabulary and grammar. Students can also select an area of concentration, including an English language and culture concentration for beginning English speakers. More advanced ESL students can opt for concentrations in English for science and technology, English for academics and English for international business.

Four- and Six-week Programs

These programs are available at the elementary, intermediate, high intermediate and advanced levels. Students in these programs take the same core classes as students in the 12-week semester program; however, they sometimes do not take electives. Instruction is designed to develop students' conversational English as well as their ability to read and write in English.

Part-Time Programs

These programs allow students to choose the intensity of their study: five, 10 or 15 hours a week over the course of 12 weeks or 15 hours a week for four weeks. Those in the 15-hour programs will take an integrated English skills course, whereas those in the less-intensive programs will take one or two electives, such as a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test-prep course.

Professional Programs

Students interested in summer classes can also enroll in a pre-MBA English program. This four- to six-week curriculum introduces students to key business vocabulary and concepts while also preparing them for success in the classroom. Similar instruction is available through the legal English programs designed for LL.M. (Master of Laws) students. Finally, a program for future entrepreneurs is available, which looks at business concepts and terminology, as well as communication skills.

The University of Massachusetts - Boston

This University of Massachusetts campus offers ESL programs through its College of Advancing and Professional Studies. Courses and programs are offered in the summer, fall and spring semesters and allow students to prepare for admission to the university's degree programs.

University Preparation Program

Students in this program hone their English language and study skills to prepare for the rigors of academic coursework. In addition to attending lectures, ESL students practice taking notes and conducting research. They also develop their presentation, computer and time-management skills. Prospective undergraduates who successfully complete the course can use it to exempt themselves from the school's TOEFL requirement.

Intensive ESL Course

This full-time course offers instruction to beginning and intermediate English speakers who want to develop their reading, writing and listening abilities as well as their grammar and vocabulary. More advanced ESL students will also find instruction designed to give them the research and communication skills needed to deliver an oral presentation. This option is for working professionals and community members as well as students.

Summer ESL in Boston

No matter the ESL level, this full-time program is prepared to strengthen students' current English skills. Prior to entry, there are orientation and placement activities to see which area each student is best suited for. Over the course of 20-24 hours each week, students will work to improve their English-speaking skills.

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