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Carnegie Mellon Department of Chemistry

Guide to Graduate Studies

Ph.D. Requirements

English Language Proficiency

For students entering Fall 2015 and later

Each student for whom English is not a native language must demonstrate fluency in spoken English by the end of the first year in residence. The Intercultural Communication Center (ICC) has been established by Carnegie Mellon University to teach this skill, and administer the required fluency test. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure every student’s ability to communicate effectively in English with Department members and external colleagues about their research and to enhance their ability to contribute effectively to the Department’s educational programs.

Expectations

Students are generally expected to receive a Restricted II (formerly called Category 3) or better on the International Teaching Assistant Test by the beginning of the third semester in residence and to continue working toward Pass or Restricted I (formerly referred to as Category 1 or 2). Starting in the first semester in residence, the Department expects a consistent effort in working with the ICC and in speaking English regularly in departmental activities to achieve these goals in a timely manner. While the ICC may recommend different workshops for different individual needs, a student’s total hours in workshops, tutoring and self-paced work at the ICC should be between 15–30 hours each semester until reaching Restricted II to be viewed as consistent effort. In addition, effort is required year-round, including 15–30 hours in the summer, until reaching Restricted II. Students are expected to take the test at the earliest opportunity recommended by the ICC and the department.

Note that all students who received Restricted I or Restricted II who are working as TAs are required by Carnegie Mellon policy and Pennsylvania law to work concurrently with the ICC to improve their English fluency, typically through the workshops and/or individual tutoring. This work at the ICC is called the ITA Support Program Requirement. (See “CMU’s Evaluation and Certification of English Fluency for Instructional Personnel”)

In addition, the Department strongly encourages students to use English day-to-day in discussing their research since non-technical conversations in English often do not improve fluency on scientific topics. Advisors are also encouraged to talk directly with students when problems with English appear to interfere with communication about research and to inform the GPC as early as possible when they have concerns in this area.

Outcomes

Good standing in the department may be jeopardized if a student neglects to work sufficiently on their English fluency, based on information from the ICC. However, because the Department recognizes that language learning rates can vary substantially, the deadline of reaching Restricted II by the beginning of the third semester may be adjusted for individual students’ needs as long as the student maintains appropriate, consistent efforts to improve. Failure to reach Restricted II by the beginning of the third semester may delay completion of the formal seminar requirement if the required effort at the ICC has not been made for one or more semesters or in the summer. Students are expected to make up the deficiency in hours of training as much as possible within the ICC’s offerings before they can schedule the formal seminar.

Failure to make sufficient efforts in line with recommendations from the ICC and the Department may lead to probation after one semester. Students who have not reached Restricted II by the beginning of the fourth semester in residence and have not sustained consistent efforts to improve English fluency may not be allowed to complete the research progress report and are at risk for termination from the program.

For students entering Fall 2014 and earlier

Each student for whom English is not a native language must demonstrate fluency in spoken English by the end of the first year in residence. Intercultural Communication Center (ICC) has been established by Carnegie Mellon University to teach this skill, and administer the required fluency test. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure every student's ability to communicate effectively with Department members and external colleagues about their research and to enhance their ability to contribute effectively to the Department's educational programs.

Expectations

Students are generally expected to receive a Restricted II (formerly called Category 3) or better on the International Teaching Assistant Test by the beginning of the third semester in residence and to continue working toward Pass or Restricted I (formerly referred to as Category 1 or 2). Starting in the first semester in residence, the Department expects a consistent effort in working with the ICC and in speaking English regularly in departmental activities to achieve these goals in a timely manner. While the ICC may recommend different workshops for different individual needs, a student's total hours in workshops, tutoring and self-paced work at the ICC should be between 15-30 hours each semester until reaching Restricted II to be viewed as consistent effort. In addition, effort is required year-round, including 15-30 hours in the summer, until reachingRestricted II. Students are expected to take the test at the earliest opportunity recommended by the ICC and the department.

Note that all students who received Restricted I or Restricted II who are working as TAs are required by Carnegie Mellon policy and Pennsylvania law to work concurrently with the ICC to improve their English fluency, typically through the workshops and/or individual tutoring. This work at the ICC is called the ITA Support Program Requirement.

In addition, the Department strongly encourages students to use English day-to-day in discussing their research since non-technical conversations in English often do not improve fluency on scientific topics. Advisors are also encouraged to talk directly with students when problems with English appear to interfere with communication about research and to inform the GPC as early as possible when they have concerns in this area.

Outcomes

Good standing in the department may be jeopardized if a student neglects to work sufficiently on their English fluency, based on the ITA Monitoring reports recording participation in ICC activities. However, because the Department recognizes that language learning rates can vary substantially, the deadline of reaching Restricted II by the beginning of the third semester may be adjusted for individual students' needs as long as the student maintains appropriate, consistent efforts to improve. Failure to reach Restricted II by the beginning of the third semester may delay completion of the formal seminar requirement if the required effort at the ICC has not been made for one or more semesters or in the summer. Students are expected to make up the deficiency in hours of training as much as possible within the ICC's offerings before they can schedule the formal seminar.

Failure to make sufficient efforts in line with recommendations from the ICC and the Department may lead to probation after one semester. Students who have not reached Restricted II by the beginning of the fourth semester in residence and have not sustained consistent efforts to improve English fluency may not be allowed to complete the research progress report and are at risk for termination from the program.