Admission Requirements

If you have any questions about the ELI application, please email Mr. Ali Sanjabi, Operations Support Specialist, at Please note that admission to the ELI does not constitute admission to the undergraduate or graduate programs at Gallaudet University.  Scores on the ACT, SAT, TOEFL, or any other examination are NOT required for admission to the ELI. The ELI typically accepts applicants with emergent to advanced ESL skills. During ELI Student Orientation, students take placement exams that are used to gauge proficiency levels and place students into appropriate class levels. Admission criteria are listed below.

  • Both international and domestic applicants can be admitted.
  • Has finished high school, college, or the highest secondary schooling possible in their home country.  Transcripts should include some form of separate writing class and reading class, mathematics, history, science, and geography classes. These classes represent a liberal arts education. In certain circumstances and on a case-by-case basis, the ELI admission requirement for a secondary school certificate of completion / high school diploma can be waived.
  • Deaf or hard of hearing applicants are eligible for admission. Hearing people who plan to major in deaf-related fields or hearing professionals who work with deaf or hard of hearing clients are eligible.
  • Age 17 or older

Readmission Requirements

If the applicant for readmission has been absent from the ELI program for more than one year, then the applicant needs to show evidence of academic activity that occurred during the absence in order to qualify for readmission. An applicant can request an exception to this requirement if a letter explaining the reason(s) for the absence is submitted with the application.

Obtaining a Visa - For International Applicants Only

You must have a valid F-1 or J-1 student visa before you may begin studies at the ELI program. Gallaudet University is authorized to issue form I-20 and DS2019 for academically and financially qualified applicants. People with B-1 visitor visas may not enter the ELI or register for courses. In order to obtain a visa, you must first submit all required admission documents in the ELI application. After the ELI program receives and approves the required documents, Gallaudet University will send you an I-20 or DS2019 form. Then you will take the form and copies of your admission documents to an American embassy or consulate to request an F-1 or J-1 visa, respectively.

What to Expect

The ELI provides placement testing to ELI students after they arrive in order to place them into one of six levels of ESL instruction, two levels of ASL instruction, and three levels of mathematics instruction. (Please note that mathematics classes are optional.) The placement tests serve the ELI administration as a guide to determining how long a student may stay at the ELI program. The ELI also provides qualifying tests to determine if an ELI student is ready to enter university studies. The duration of stay at the ELI program is highly individual and depends on prior existing language skills in both English and in the mother tongue. It is possible an ELI student may stay for only one semester or for up to three and half years. Students entering the ELI program with higher English skills tend to qualify for admission to university study more quickly than those with less skill. At the end of each semester, ELI students can take the ACT test, and if they achieve passing scores, then they can apply for admission to an undergraduate program at Gallaudet University. For students who are interested in applying for graduate school at Gallaudet University, they can make arrangements to take the TOEFL test after they complete their studies at the ELI program.


International and domestic ELI applicants have different deadlines due to Homeland Security requirements for international applicants. In addition, the international deadline also takes into consideration that new international students need more time to apply for a F1 or J1 visa at their American embassy or consulate. Most visa applications need about two months to be processed and granted. Only after the new international student has been granted a visa can the flight ticket be purchased.  There is no time-saving measure that can be done to make this international process go quicker. Please note that deadlines can be extended with permission from the ELI administration.

ELI Application Deadlines for International Applicants

Fall Semester: If you plan to enter the ELI program in the fall semester, we must receive all required application documents by May 1.

Spring Semester: To enter in the spring semester, we must receive all required application documents by November 1.

ELI Application Deadlines for Domestic Applicants

Fall Semester: If you plan to enter the ELI program in the fall semester, we must receive all required application documents by July 15.

Spring Semester: To enter in the spring semester, we must receive all required application documents by December 15.