PeaceSignSyracuse University is proud that it counts some 1,400 international students from 130 countries among its graduate community. Many of them, particularly in doctoral programs, will serve as teaching assistants during the course of their graduate programs. Having international students as graders, course and laboratory instructors, and recitation and review session leaders prepares American undergraduates to think globally, adding immeasurably to the value and relevance of their education.

Recognizing that most international students are not native speakers of English and may have limited experience with American classroom dynamics and communication styles, the Graduate School provides a number of services to help international teaching assistants (ITAs) succeed as students and instructors.

  • Language assessment. All international students with a TA appointment are required to undergo the Graduate School’s English-language-assessment process. This consists of a 20-minute standardized test of spoken English and one or more interviews. Each examinee is assigned a score using a 4-point scale of English language proficiency. Most assessments take place during the TA Orientation Program in August.
  • English courses for ITAs. Three zero-credit courses, offered in conjunction with the ESOL Program, support ITAs whose assessment results indicate a need for help with English for instructional and conversational purposes. These are ENL 610: Oral Communication in Teaching; ENL 620: Advanced Oral Communication in Teaching; and ENL 640: English Conversation for ITAs.
  • Undergraduate Conversation Partners. Any international student with a current TA appointment is eligible to request hour-long weekly meetings with an undergraduate native English speaker for one-on-one practice in English conversation. To use this free service, submit a Conversation Partner Request form to Peg De Furia in the Graduate School ( If you have had a conversation partner previously please submit a Continuing Conservation Partner Request form.

Additional information can be found in the English Language Proficiency Handbook.

View schedule of 2017-18 International Graduate Student Workshops.

The Graduate School
304 Lyman Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244