English Language Proficiency
If your native language is not English, you may have concerns about taking courses and perhaps teaching courses in a language you’re not accustomed to using daily. The University of Alabama provides resources to help non-native English speakers develop and demonstrate a high level of proficiency in spoken and written English.
The UA Graduate School has established minimum requirements on language exam scores for admission. These requirements are not intended as roadblocks or filters for graduate students, but are primarily to protect prospective students. Graduate study in mathematics is challenging enough without the added problems of trying to cope with an unfamiliar language!
English Language Institute
The English Language Institute (ELI) was established at UA to help international students master English, and to certify their proficiency in the language. The ELI offers a number of short courses that help international students improve their spoken English, writing skills, and cultural knowledge. Learn more about the ELI on their website.
International Teaching Assistant Program
Before being permitted to teach, every non-native English speaker must take and complete the International Teaching Assistant Program (ITAP) and pass its final exam. The ITAP and exam are administered by the ELI.
The course usually begins during the last week of August and the first week of January. International students should arrive in Tuscaloosa well before that time.
The Department of Mathematics expects international students to pass the ITAP by the end of their second semester so that they can perform their expected teaching duties. Otherwise, financial support may be reduced.
Students who fail or receive a conditional pass on the ITAP are required by this department to take courses at ELI and retake the ITAP examination at the next opportunity. Failure to do so will result in the loss of the assistantship.
Visa difficulties sometimes arise. There are many different ways that this problem can occur, and you should always speak immediately to the math department’s graduate program director if there is any question about your visa.
Arrival & Orientation
Before you arrive in the U.S., please review this page from the Capstone International Center, which will help you get situated upon your arrival. It includes items like Pre-Arrival Checklist, Getting Here, and Initial Expenses (things you will need to budget for up front), among other things.
The following document prepared by the English Department provides a lot more information about daily life in Tuscaloosa and UA.