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Become an English Scholar

The English Language Scholars (ELS) at Biola University are a group of students who aim for native-like, academic proficiency in English. Within this learning community, you will receive personal mentorship in English while you take classes for your degree, giving you the English language skills you need to become an accomplished scholar. Caring community, opportunities for personal and spiritual development and unparalleled professional preparation make Biola University’s English Language Scholars truly unique within higher education.

"A top university for international students"U.S. News & World Report

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate English Language Scholars advance their English language skills while earning a bachelor’s degree. Language practice is incorporated in their undergraduate courses, and Biola’s foreign language requirement will be met.

Learn More About Undergraduate English Language Scholars

Graduate Students

Graduate English Language Scholars take coursework that is customized to their academic goals, aiding students with writing dissertations, master’s theses, publications, and course assignments.

Learn More About Graduate English Language Scholars

Benefits of English Language Scholars

Unmatched Mentorship

A highly accomplished professor of English, Bonnie Vidrine-Isbell has taught English as a second and foreign language in Washington, Louisiana, Thailand, Spain, Belize, and now California. At Biola, Dr. Vidrine-Isbell mentors English Language Scholars through their transition to university and, along with a team of trained language professors, coaches students to become proficient English speakers and confident academics. Combining years of experience with a compassionate heart for helping students thrive, Dr. Vidrine-Isbell has created a vibrant learning community through English Language Scholars.


Career Preparation

As an English Language Scholar, you will start earning credits toward your degree from day one, preparing you to graduate and begin your career without taking extra time. You will gain confidence in your written and oral communication and receive training in professional skills to equip you to thrive in your occupation.

A Scholarly Community

Biola’s English Language Scholars will surround you with a community of students like you — students from all over the world who are committed to academic excellence and mastery of the English language. Together, you will take classes, attend events and adjust to your studies at Biola University, all while growing in friendship.

Christ-Centered Education

Christian faith is central to a Biola University education. All of your classes will include biblical integration, encouraging you to grow in faith and relationship with Jesus as you sharpen your English skills and advance your degree.

Cultural Immersion

Experience life in Southern California and build relationships with native English speakers in a diverse university community of over 5,000 students.

The Senior Scholars

English Language Scholars who wish to maximize their professional preparation and academic prestige can choose to become a Senior Scholar by taking advantage of additional opportunities for language mastery. To become Senior Scholars, students must:

  • Complete all English language coursework by the end of their third semester at Biola
  • Complete necessary mentorship in office hours for one-on-one training
  • Submit a piece of writing for publication or give a professional conference presentation
  • Be recommended to Biola University president Dr. Barry Corey by the program director.

Undergraduate Students

The Undergraduate English Language Scholars is for international or U.S. applicants — whose first language is not English — admitted to Biola University. Students will complete two semesters of general education and major or minor courses with all credits counting toward their graduation requirement.

Admissions Process

Those who qualify (as indicated on the proficiency requirement below) must meet the undergraduate admission requirements for all international students and complete the application process, as outlined on the International Student Services website. We strongly encourage students to apply early. Transfer students are welcome as well.

All undergraduate students who would like to improve their English proficiency but are above the indicated scores below, are still able to join by emailing to inquire about reserved seats.

English Proficiency Requirement

  • Program Level: Undergraduate
  • TOEFL iBT: 70–79
  • IELTS: 6.0
  • Duolingo: 110-124


All courses will count as credit towards the student’s graduation requirement.

Fall Semester

  • ENGL 104*
  • COMM 235*
  • Freshman Seminar
  • General Education or major/minor course (x2)

Spring Semester

  • ENGL 102*
  • BBST 103*
  • General Education or major/minor course (x2)

Note: These are the courses offered during the 2023–2024 academic year. The courses may change the following academic year.

Cost and Scholarship

Note: If you are a U.S. permanent resident or U.S. citizen, you can also complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal aid.

Graduate Students

The Graduate English Language Scholars is designed for students admitted to one of Biola University’s graduate programs whose TOEFL or IELTS scores fall just short of program requirements (TOEFL iBT ± 10 points; IELTS ± 0.5 points). Students interested in the English Language Scholars program must complete the graduate application to their program of interest.

Admissions Process

Graduate students must meet the graduate admission requirements — which vary by each school and program — for all international students and complete the application process. We strongly encourage students to apply early.

Explore programs and admissions requirements for:


English Proficiency Requirement

  1. For programs that have a minimum of TOEFL iBT 90+, IELTS 7.0+ or Duolingo 125+
    • TOEFL iBT: 81–89 (with department approval)
    • IELTS: 6.5
    • Duolingo: 110-124
  2. For programs that have a minimum of TOEFL iBT 100+, IELTS 7.5+ or Duolingo 125+
    • TOEFL iBT: 90–97 (with department approval)
    • IELTS: 7.0
    • Duolingo: 110-124


Students in the graduate track will take the following course alongside their graduate courses. The course required will be determined upon admissions confirmation.

  • ENGL 084 Advanced Writing and Speech Lab for Graduate Students

Cost and Scholarship

Note: Although scholarships offered through Biola cannot be applied to Graduate English Language Scholar courses, it can be applied for the program of study.

Note: If you are a U.S. permanent resident or U.S. citizen, you can also complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal aid.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I join the English Language Scholars if I’m a current Biola student?

Current Biola students can join ELS courses by emailing for registration and advising.

Can international students work on an F-1 visa?

Yes, an international student on an F-1 visa may only work at Biola for up to 20 hours a week during the school semester and up to 40 hours a week during the summer break. Enrolled students can look at Biola’s on-campus job openings through Handshake.

What if I’m an international student currently studying in the United States?

If you are currently studying at a U.S. school on an F-1 student visa and you would like to transfer to Biola University, please follow the Application Steps. If accepted, you’ll need to complete the SEVIS Transfer Authorization Form. For more information, visit Visa Information or contact our international admissions team. In addition, our team will help you determine how your coursework transfers.

What should my TOEFL/IELTS score be to qualify for the English Language Scholars program?

To become an English Language Scholar, you will need an intermediate to advanced level of English. Please refer to the catalog for more details.

Will there be tutoring service available for ELS students?

Yes, Biola’s Office of Student Accessibility offers one-on-one and group tutoring, and the Rhetoric & Writing Center provides help with any writing assignments, research reports, graduate theses, conference presentations and conversational English for three free 50-minute appointments each week.

Are there scholarships available for ELS students?

For international students, explore Biola's International Student Scholarships. Additionally, U.S. permanent residents and U.S. citizens students can apply for FAFSA.

Will there be someone to help international students transition to the United States?

Biola has more than 600 global students from 40 different countries, so there is a well-developed community through the Global Student Programs & Development (GSPD).

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Yes! Tell Me More!

Meet the Faculty and Staff

Bonnie Vidrine-Isbell

Director, English Language Scholars
Associate Professor

Alice Song

Adjunct Professor

Carla Smithson

Adjunct Professor

Aarika Leigh Alura


Dong Chen

Director of International Admissions

Megan Mitts

Assistant Director of International Admissions

Ty Mussack

International Admissions Counselor for Undergraduate Students

Ceressa Manzo

International Admissions Counselor for Graduate Students

Noelle Delacruz

Associate Director, Global Student Programs & Development

Alison Choi

Student Immigration Services Specialist