At a NAFSA Conference in 1967, directors of thirteen intensive English programs (IEPs) gathered to discuss problems facing their field. The need for IEPs was being recognized, but the need for standards in those programs was not. Ignorance regarding the education and experience necessary to prepare a teacher to provide appropriate instruction was leading to programs staffed with unqualified faculty. A recognition that money could be made from ESL (English as a Second Language) students was enticing academic institutions and private enterprises to maximize income and minimize standards. The lack of other units on campus similar to IEPs left directors feeling isolated as they struggled to develop appropriate structures and strategies to meet the challenges confronting them.

The result of that meeting was the creation of CIEP, later changed in name to UCIEP, an organization committed to setting and achieving high standards in IEPs, to educating institutions to the fact that adequate support of IEPs would lead to international students better prepared to succeed in their academic studies, and to providing a forum for IEP directors to exchange ideas, information and experiences.

For more than 40 years, UCIEP has been committed to this mission. The thirteen founding directors have retired and the number of programs has quintupled. There are now UCIEP members in thirty-one states and the District of Columbia, in densely populated metropolitan areas and in small rural communities, integrated into large research universities as well as small private colleges. Yet the central vision has remained constant. Each of the sixty-five programs in UCIEP is dedicated to maintaining the high standards set by the original thirteen. Each underwent a rigorous application process, including a site visit by an external reviewer, before being accepted. Every five years each must submit a substantial self-study document to an evaluation committee which reviews it to verify that the program continues to meet the standards of UCIEP. Programs which are unable to meet the standards during the application process are told what they have to do in order to qualify for admission at a later time. Member programs which have not been able to continue meeting the standards have been dropped.

In reviewing our individual member sites, you will find an amazing diversity in geography, structure and approach. Parents, sponsors, and students are sure to find among these programs one or more that match their preferences. The fact that the institutions are UCIEP members ensures that students will also find the language instruction, facilities, and supportive environment necessary to have a rich and rewarding educational experience!


University and College Intensive English Programs (UCIEP), founded in 1967, is a consortium of intensive English programs that are governed by universities and colleges in the United States. The mission of UCIEP is to promote excellence in IEP administration, curriculum, and instruction by

  • - establishing guidelines for member programs,
  • - encouraging and sponsoring professional development as well as cooperation and communication among member programs, and
  • - advocating on behalf of member programs, the organization, and the field of teaching English as a second language.

Highlights of the UCIEP Guidelines

  • - Adequate support of the intensive English program (IEP) by the college or university that governs it, including provision for suitable staff and physical facilities
  • - An administrative and teaching staff with appropriate graduate degrees and experience
  • - Appropriate orientation, training, and supervision of teaching assistants in IEPs that include them
  • - Full-time, academic year appointments for administrative and core faculty to assure program integrity and continuity
  • - Inclusion of the IEP staff in the institutions evaluation procedures
  • - Standards for contact hours, levels, and curriculum
  • - Ongoing professional development for faculty and staff
  • - Adherence to NAFSA guidelines for ethical recruitment practices
  • - Professional standards for testing and placement procedures

Prospective Members

We invite qualified programs to explore the possibility of membership in UCIEP. Please review our Guidelines for Prospective Members and Prospective Members Questionnaire, and direct any questions to prospect@UCIEP.org.

Legal Status

UCIEP is a 501 c(3) non-profit membership organization incorporated in the State of Georgia, USA.