English Language Academy

Learn English with University of San Diego’s English Language Academy

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Learning English opens up a world of opportunity — in business, education, arts, culture, professional settings and more. Where you learn English can also shape this experience in important ways.

That’s why the English Language Academy (ELA), located on the beautiful campus of the University of San Diego, takes great care to create a supportive, family-like atmosphere that helps students thrive and that has been one of the keys to our ongoing success. Whether you are taking an English language course here on campus or through our leading-edge remote learning option, you will find a top-quality academic program taught by expert instructors who are passionate about helping students learn English.

The English Language Academy enthusiastically welcomes students from all over the world. Our programs are designed to help you learn English to excel in your studies at a U.S. university or improve your language skills for professional reasons. Our instructors are skilled at helping learners of varying levels of language proficiency.

English Language Academy: A closer LooK

Take a peek at the USD campus while learning about the philosophy and mission of the English Language Academy in this brief video.

Choose your Course

Featured ELA Courses

English Language Academy
25 Units
Main Campus
English Language Academy
Main Campus
English Language Academy
Main Campus
English Language Academy
N/A Units
Online Fixed-Date
English Language Academy
N/A Units
Online Fixed-Date

Who Should Attend?

The English Language Academy offers a variety of different programs, each carefully designed to serve language learners of varying ages, levels of English proficiency and goals. These range from our popular Summer International Junior Program for international students aged 13-17 to the Intensive English Language Program, which prepares those aged 18 and older for university or career success.

Generally speaking, each of our programs provides personalized, high-quality instruction to help non-native speakers develop and improve their English language skills. Students also gain cultural knowledge that can be helpful in achieving their personal, professional and academic goals.

ELA PRogram Highlights

Here are some of the highlights that are common to the wide range of English language courses and certificate programs offered through our English Language Academy:

  • Individual skill-based student placement for dynamic learning
  • Small classes averaging 10 to 15 students, offering individualized attention and a strong connection with faculty
  • Highly qualified instructors with graduate degrees in English language teaching, enhancing the educational experience
  • Assistance with various housing and accommodation options, including on- and off-campus housing, or homestay with an American family
  • A University of San Diego Student ID Card, providing access to the university’s many facilities and services (e.g. swimming pool, tennis courts, gym, etc.)
  • Opportunities for field trips to reinforce English skills and learn about American culture
  • Friendly, dedicated staff available to help students with academic planning, housing, visa processing, campus functions, social activities and more
  • Certificate issued after successful completion of the program

What our students say

I highly recommend the English Language Academy for international students. Teachers here are really helpful and friendly. They helped me not only in my study, but they also helped me with the problems in my daily life. I came to America without any TOEFL study experience, but with the help of ELA, in two semesters I passed the TOEFL test and got accepted in USD. Thanks for the help from ELA.

My experience in ELA was truly amazing. I returned home after one year not only with a better performance in writing, listening, speaking and grammar, but having a broader experience of our world, sharing with people from other cultures and having unforgettable moments with them. I am also glad to have had teachers so nice and with a high level of know-how, always willing to help you and giving the best of themselves day after day. Forever grateful and thank you for the memories!

Home away from home — this is how I describe my ELA experience. Caring staff and patient teachers. The trips every semester helped me learn more about San Diego and the culture of the U.S. On the academic side, I have improved a lot in my writing skills to a level I am proud of. Moreover, my vocab has enlarged at the ELA, which now makes my writing cohesive. My favorite class was reading and critical thinking, and it is needed at the university level. You will approach what you are looking for if you put the effort.

The ELA is the best English school I have ever attended. The instructors are extremely knowledgeable and very friendly. I would highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to be well-prepared for university level courses

The English Language Academy was a perfect opportunity to improve my English in a friendly atmosphere and small group setting. I enjoyed the variety and usefulness of the courses and meeting new friends from all over the world. The instructors were great, always open to helping me even if it was not related to my course work. The time I spent in the program is unforgettable.

Multilingual Brochures (pdf)

Unique Benefits

In addition to some of the program highlights and benefits mentioned above, one of the key advantages of ELA programs is that our placement test is used to place students at different levels for each skill area. For example, a student may be placed in Advanced Reading, High Intermediate Listening, Intermediate Writing, etc. This helps customize the English language-learning experience to each student’s unique needs, as well as providing them with a more dynamic educational experience by having different teachers and students in classes.

Dynamic, Practical Language Skills

Our individualized, skill-based placement system stimulates dynamic learning for students of varying levels of language proficiency with instruction that is tailored to their unique needs.

Sense of Community

Our faculty and staff engage students from around the globe in an enriching, high-quality educational experience where they also build friendships that help stimulate academic success.

Invested in Your Success

Our mission is to help each student thrive while developing the English language skills that position them to achieve personal, professional and academic goals.

Mission Statement

Mission Statement The English Language Academy (ELA) offers an Intensive English Language proficiency program that helps to improve and strengthen the skills of non-native speakers so they can fulfill the academic requirements of a college or university.

Professor speaking english virtually to students

Expert Faculty Instructors

Our highly skilled English Language Academy instructors — each of whom have earned graduate degrees in English language teaching — are patient and passionate about their work helping students learn English.


The University of San Diego’s English Language Academy is a member of the American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP) and the Association of International Educators (NAFSA). Our Intensive English Language Program is accredited by the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA). In addition, USD’s Division of Professional and Continuing Education is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges – Senior College and University Commission (WASC).

Is USD Right for Me?

USD’s widely respected Division of Professional & Continuing Education is dedicated to connecting students with high-quality courses and certificate programs.

If you are passionate about lifelong learning or if you are seeking educational opportunities to gain specific knowledge and skills for personal or career advancement reasons, then (yes!) the University of San Diego is right for you.

Informative Stats and Facts


USD has been crafting high-quality curriculum for over 70 years


Number of students who have enhanced their career


Majority of courses are offered in flexible and convenient formats

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I choose the English Language Academy (ELA) for my child?

The ELA offers an intensive and rigorous language program for students who are serious about pursuing an academic degree at an American college or university. Classes are small, no more than 20 students per class; and teachers are dedicated to helping students achieve their academic and personal goals.

What type of classes does the ELA offer?

ELA offers classes in reading and writing, listening and speaking, and TOEFL preparation.

Describe the school system in the U.S.

The American system of study is based on the “holistic” method. This means both the classroom environment and the outside home environment contribute to a student’s success in acquiring a language. ELA students, like American students, spend the majority of their time practicing the language through class discussion, in-class projects, and homework. Tests are given to measure progress, and are only a small part of the “holistic” approach to learning.

How are students placed in classes?

  • Level 2: TOEFL score 28-43.1
  • Level 3: TOEFL score 43.2-56.4
  • Level 4: TOEFL score 56.5-68.3
  • Level 5: TOEFL score 68.4-80.3
  • Level 6: TOEFL score 80.4 and higher

How long does it take for a student at the ELA to enter the University of San Diego?

The University of San Diego is a competitive university with a prestigious reputation in the United States. Students wishing to enter the university must have a TOEFL score of 80. Typically, a student at the ELA can expect to make 10-15 point gain, per semester (14 weeks), on their TOEFL test. Individual results will vary.

Is there a way to get into other colleges in San Diego without the TOEFL test?

Yes. Students who have reached the Intermediate level of English proficiency can go to one of several excellent community colleges in San Diego. (View the link to the community college system at www.CommunityCollegesUSA.com. Community colleges use an internal test to place students in English classes. Students can take any number of courses approved by USD to satisfy both the General Education and English proficiency requirements.

Are community colleges good schools?

California offers some of the best community colleges in the country. The community college system is especially important for students who are learning English because it offers a wide variety of courses which prepare students for rigorous university environment.

What is the best way to improve the TOEFL score?

  • Attend all classes.
  • Complete all homework.
  • Read, read, read. Newspapers, magazines, and books are excellent sources for building vocabulary.
  • Live with an American host family.
  • Socialize with friends from other countries.

Can the Division of Professional and Continuing Education help in the process of issuing the Student Int’l Visa (F1)?

Certificate programs offered through the Professional and Continuing Education (PCE) at the University of San Diego, are not supported with I-20 assistance (student visas) at this moment. However, PCE’s English Language Academy (ELA) offers I-20 assistance and students who are participating in ELA programs may also participate in other PCE programs. For additional information, please call 1 619-260-8887.

If you are interested in pursuing a degree program with the University of San Diego, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions can issue a Form I-20 to international students who have been accepted to degree program at the University. The application procedures, deadlines, and the Admissions Office contact information can be found on USD’s Undergraduate Admissions page.

What are the options regarding housing for the students that are coming from outside San Diego?

On-campus housing is subject to availability, for information please contact Residential Life at housing@sandiego.edu

USD is located 5 minutes from Hotel Circle which offers a variety of hotels/motels with varying price points to fit different budgets. There are also apartment options close to campus; for information about these options, please click here.


Your English in America’s Finest City

Make your dreams come true of studying English in the United States at the English Language Academy.