Intensive English Program at St. Mary’s

The Intensive English Program (IEP) at St. Mary’s University is designed to provide international participants and other interested participants the English language training necessary to learn English in order to prepare them to communicate in an academic and/or professional setting. Additionally, for family members of our international students, the IEP provides an opportunity to develop English language skills during their time in San Antonio.

Program Overview

The Intensive English Program complements the St. Mary’s University mission by creating opportunities for improved communications between peoples from different societies and cultures. Communication is the cornerstone of understanding, and understanding is essential for leadership. The Intensive English Program supports international students by sharpening their oral and literate communication skills so that they will be successful in future academic and professional endeavors.

Admission Requirements

We are looking forward to welcoming you into the St. Mary’s University Intensive English Program (IEP). To be considered for acceptance, applicants must:

  • Be a minimum of 18 years of age
  • Be a high school graduate
  • Have a minimum TOEFLT iBT score of 19-29, or IELTS 2.5
  • Be able to understand what teachers say, participate actively in class and talk about yourself

Requirements vary by exchange agreements. Please refer to your agreement for specific requirements for admission into IEP.

All students take a placement test during Orientation Week. Students are placed in the level correct for their current English language proficiency.

Visa Requirements

All international students and their dependents must obtain the appropriate immigration documents required to enter the U.S. prior to beginning the Intensive English Program.

In order for a new international participant to receive a U.S. visa to study in the IEP program, the applicant must:

  • Be accepted into the program
  • Provide the necessary financial documentation
  • Complete the I-20/DS-2019 Request Packet

Applicants who meet all requirements will be issued either an I-20 (F visa) or a DS-2019 (J visa). This documentation will be used by an international participant to apply for F-1 or J-1 status visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Note: If an international participant wants to bring a spouse or dependents, additional financial support must be demonstrated for the issuance of the F2/J2 dependent I-20/DS-2019 form. Add $5,000 for your spouse and $3,000 for each dependent child for each 12-week term of study.

Contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services for help with all visa-related questions and paperwork.

Application Checklist

To apply to the IEP, applications must do the following:

  • Keep track of your username and your password. You will need them to upload important documents to our secure portal.
  • Complete an online application.
  • Once you have been accepted, you will need to request an I-20 or DS-2019 depending on your program. The I-20 or DS-2019 request form will be sent to you in the secure portal after you have received the acceptance letter from the IEP program (for new international participants only). This is done in the portal.
  • Complete the IEP transfer form (transfer participants only).
  • Medical insurance coverage is mandatory for all international students and the accompanying spouse and children of J-1 visa holders, under regulations of the Department of State. If you hold a J-1 visa, you must maintain health insurance with the required minimum coverage for all accompanying or subsequently arriving J-2 dependents. Failure to do so will result in the termination of your program.
  • Provide evidence of current Meningococcal Meningitis Vaccine and current Tuberculosis (TB) screening.
  • Upload your Financial Guarantee forms.
  • Submit all paperwork before the application deadline.

Once the application form has been completed, you should receive an acceptance letter within 5 to 7 days. The acceptance letter includes instructions regarding submitting additional information in order to process your I-20 form.

To start the application process, we recommend you begin preparing:

  • A copy of your passport to upload to your profile
  • Any financial documentation you will be uploading to your profile

If you are planning on bringing any dependents (spouse and/or children), please prepare:

  • Copies of their passports
  • Marriage license/family card (spouse) and/or birth certificate (children)

Visit the International Student Services pages for more helpful information.


The St. Mary’s University Intensive English Program (IEP) currently offers four (4) progressive levels of intensive English.

Our IEP follows the St. Mary’s University calendar and our courses are 14-16 weeks long. During the academic year, we also offer the higher level students extra classes that are fun courses that not only support IEP students to prepare and succeed as university students but also help them communicate with other students on campus and enjoy all the activities here in San Antonio.

How does it work?

  • Before classes begin, the IEP staff will test students to determine which level best fits their needs.
  • The Intensive English Program at St. Mary’s has four levels: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 and University Preparation.
  • Each level has 18 hours of coursework per week and students are expected to spend a minimum of 8-12 hours studying outside of class per week for homework.
  • University Preparation courses may also offer the following: IELTS/TOEFL/GRE classes, academic presentation skills and advanced academic writing.
  • Our program offers classes that are appropriate and engaging for each level.
  • Our grading system follows St. Mary’s policy:

    • 95-100 A = passing
    • 90-94 A- = passing
    • 87-89 B+ = passing
    • 84-86 B = passing
    • 80-83 B- = passing
    • 77-79 C+ = passing
    • 70-76 C = passing
    • 60-69 D = not passing
    • Below 60 F = not passing


Level 1This course integrates grammar skills with listening, speaking, writing and reading activities based on common topics.
Level 2This course helps students to understand and use basic grammar structures. Students learn to recognize and produce simple, compound, and basic complex sentences necessary for writing tasks.
Level 3This course builds upon basic grammar structures to include additional verb tenses and complex sentences that support writing skills.
Level 4This course helps students use advanced grammar structures for effective college-level writing.
University PreparationThis course is designed to have students actively use college –level grammar in context – specifically, by reading and writing at an advanced level.  Students will explore a variety of texts, identify complex grammatical structures, and then, using these structures as models, create their own sentences, paragraphs and essays.  Self-editing is emphasized.
Level 1In this course, students learn basic conversational skills on familiar topics for every day communications. Speaking activities help students with pronunciation, intonation, and rhythm of common words and phrases of American English.
Level 2This course helps students learn effective conversational and listening skills to function in a variety of personal, academic and/or professional situations. They practice speaking strategies that help them communicate with increased proficiency and confidence.
Level 3This course helps students improve oral communication skills in a variety of personal, professional, and/or academic situations. They also learn to talk about and describe events and situations in group discussions and presentations. Listening activities provide students opportunities to understand spoken English from authentic sources.
Level 4In this course, students improve oral communication fluency and conversational strategies necessary to communicate in a wide range of personal, professional, academic, and cultural situations. Students also listen to English speakers in a variety of authentic real-world situations to understand different points of view to function in a global community.
University PreparationThis course helps students plan and deliver well-organized academic presentations. Students will learn the fundamentals of presenting information in public, as well as specific academic presentation styles.  During this class, students engage in peer evaluations, practice sessions, revision sessions, and one-on-one conferencing with their instructor.
Listening and Speaking
Level 1In this beginning reading course, students read short personal stories and texts. They also learn basic strategies and vocabulary that aid reading comprehension. Students entering this class should have basic literacy.
Level 2This course helps students improve reading comprehension of various reading selections from basic academic texts and personal interest stories. Students learn specific reading strategies and increase vocabulary.
Level 3This course focuses on improving the students’ reading skills, vocabulary and comprehension. Students read a selection of fiction and nonfiction texts and apply new knowledge to personal experiences and academic assignments.
Level 4In this course, students read a variety of authentic selections that include various ideas and perspectives as well as different political and cultural values. Students are encouraged to become independent thinkers by analyzing opposing views.
University PreparationIn this course, students will hone essay and research-oriented reading skills. Through reading authentic materials, including college texts and/or literature, students gain the necessary critical reading and thinking skills required for college-level assignments.
Level 1In this course, students practice and apply basic structures of English grammar, correct spelling and accurate punctuation to produce simple writing tasks on personal topics.
Level 2In this course, students develop and apply basic writing skills for personal, academic, and professional communications. They produce a series of simple and compound sentences, as well as short paragraphs on personal topics.
Level 3In this course, students develop writing fluency and vocabulary by using complex writing skills for personal, academic, and professional communications. They produce well-constructed paragraphs with clear topic sentences, supporting details and a conclusion. They also use editing and revising strategies.
Level 4In this course, students develop greater writing fluency and vocabulary by using more complex grammar structures and vocabulary to produce and revise multi-paragraph essays necessary for academic and professional communications.
University PreparationIn this course, students develop essay and research-oriented writing skills.  Students will read a variety of academic publications, essays, and papers to deconstruct academic writing.

Important Dates

SessionApplication DeadlinePlacement Testing and OrientationFirst Day of Class and Tuition DueLast Day of ClassIEP Final / Exit Program
Fall 2024June 15, 2024iTEP in student’s home country using Lock Down Browser will be July 29 through Aug. 9 2024. St. Mary’s University must receive scores by Aug. 9, 2024. Orientation TBD.Tuesday, Aug. 20Thursday, Dec. 5, 2024Monday Dec. 9, and Tuesday Dec. 10, 2024. Exit Program: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2024
Spring 2025Nov. 1, 2024iTEPS in student’s home country using Lock Down Browser Dec. 16 through Jan. 4 University must receive scores by Jan. 5, 2025. Orientation Monday, Jan. 13, 2025.Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2025Thursday, May 8, 2025Monday, May 11, 2025, and Tuesday, May 12, 2025. Exit Program: Thursday, May 14, 2025
Dates are subject to change at any time. Placement testing and orientation is required of all students. Application deadlines are for students who need an F-1 visa. Students already in the U.S. who have an eligible visa to enroll in the program (e.g., F-1 transfer students, permanent residents, F-2, A-2, L-2) must apply no later than a week ahead of each session’s orientation date.

Helpful Information

International students are welcome and included on our campus and have access to all the on-campus services and amenities like student health services, the library, intramurals, on-campus clubs, campus housing and campus dining.

TuitionFall 2023
Full-time tuition (4 classes)$3,800
Part-time tuition (3 classes)$2,850
Part-time tuition (2 classes)$1,900
Part-time tuition (1 class)$950
InsuranceFall 2023
All students (part-time or full-time)$1,335
ID Card ReplacementCost
All students (new card or replacement)$10
Other feesFall 2023
Student services fee$496
Textbook cost$200


  • Total tuition and fees are due for each semester/term
  • Costs for room and board can be found in “Housing and Meals Cost”
  • Health insurance is mandatory
  • Tuition and fees can change without notice
Financial Requirements to Issue an I-20 for an F-1 Visa IEP Studies (one semester)
Tuition and Fees (one semester)$5,841
Living Expenses (one semester)$6,012
Financial Requirements to Issue an I-20 for an F-1 Visa for IEP Studies (academic year)
Tuition and Fees (academic year)$11,692
Living Expenses (academic year)$12,024
Tuition and Mandatory Fees

All costs are per semester.

Determined by which dormitory you are placed in.
Residential Student Meal Plan Options — 2022-2023
Meal PlanCost per semester (includes tax)
Rattler All-Access 5$2,118 (includes $300 Dining Dollars*)
Rattler All-Access 7$2,415 (includes $250 Dining Dollars*)

*Dining dollars can be used at any of the on-campus restaurants (Subway, Chick-Fil-A, etc.)

The costs for housing, meals, tuition, student services feed, any mandatory fees (including lab fees), as well as insurance costs are subject to change every year as published and approved.

Housing and Meal Costs

Estimated Expenses for Intensive English Program – International Students

Fall 2023

One 14-week semester of full-time studies (12 credit hours)
Student fees$496
Health insurance$1,335
ID card$10
Living expenses$6,012
One academic year of full-time studies (12 credit hours)
Student fees$992
Health insurance$2,670
ID card$10
Living expenses$12,024
Dependents (per individual/per academic year)

The Estimated Cost of Attendance, also referred to as the student budget, is our best approximation of what each student at St. Mary’s will need each year. A standard student budget is assigned to every enrolled student. Note that these annual costs are estimates. St. Mary’s University charges tuition and fees on a semester basis, not annually. 

Cost of Attendance

For information on withdrawal dates and refunds, please visit the St. Mary’s Registrar page.

Withdrawals and refunds

Each class is 2:15 in instructional length per day (with a 10-minute break, classes are 2:25 in length). 

Fall session: 16 weeks
Orientation:  Friday, Aug. 16, 2024
Placement Testing: Two weeks before arriving on campus, students will complete the language proficiency test, iPET, from their home countries using a lock-down browser.  On July 29,  the department will issue the test, if the application fee has been paid.
First day of class: Tuesday, Aug. 20
Elective Courses:  On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, students will have the opportunity to choose  a topic to study for an eight week flex class.  .  At the end of the first flex class, students will choose a second topic.  Some electives may be taken a second time depending on the topic. 

9 to 11:30 a.m.Core Skills*Core SkillsCore SkillsCore SkillsNo class
12:30 to 1:35 p.m.Communication Skills**ElectivesCommunication SkillsElectivesNo class

*Academic Writing, Grammar for Accuracy, Reading for Critical Thinking/Vocabulary

**Listening / Speaking, Pronunciation

General Course Schedule – Fall 2024

On top of offering quality English language instruction to master English language skills, students in our program learn other skills necessary to be successful university students, in and outside of the classroom.  Students will have the opportunity to ride San Antonio city busses to visit the many historical sites, museums, restaurants, sporting events and parks.  Field trips are offered to experience the San Antonio, Texas, and American culture. Examples of previous trips include: the San Antonio rodeo,  Texas Hill Country (hiking, picnicking),  the Poteet Strawberry Festival,  Spurs, the five-time NBA champions, games, San Antonio Fiesta activities, and Broadway shows at the Tobin Performing Arts Center and Majestic Theatre.

Classes are small and personalized. Classes have 15 students or fewer for better instruction. Individual tutoring help is also available. For prospective students, our IEP is an option for those international students who do not have the required TOEFL/IELTS scores necessary for admission to St. Mary’s or other institutions of higher education where English is the primary language of instruction. We can help you!

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