Intensive English communication program receives accreditation

December 07, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- An intensive English program at Penn State that helps international students acquire the language necessary for higher education success was recently accredited by The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA), a specialized agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Penn State Intensive English Communication Program (IECP) received this distinction after an extensive eligibility and application process. It is an achievement that makes IECP Director Ann Frentzen proud.

“When potential students, their families or sponsors see that our program is accredited, it speaks to them in terms of the quality of the program and what participants can expect to experience as a student with us,” said Frentzen.

In order to become accredited, CEA requires that 52 standards be met within areas such as faculty, administration, curriculum, student assessment and student services.

“CEA is, in our field, the most highly regarded measuring stick of quality,” said Linda Wesley, an instructor with the IECP. “Becoming accredited is a big stamp of approval for our program.”

The process begins with a lengthy self-study, in which “changes that are necessary to meet the standards are made,” said Frentzen. She explained that after the self-study is submitted to the CEA, a site visit is conducted by a team of professionals appointed by the commission. A team report is then written, and at its next meeting, CEA commissioners determine whether or not the program meets the standards for accreditation.

The IECP is one of about 1,000 programs of its kind in the United States and one of 74 that holds accreditation from the CEA. Wesley said that despite receiving the accreditation, the work to assure IECP quality continues.

“This is not a one-time thing,” she said. “It’s a constant process of self-evaluation; we are constantly asking ourselves, ‘How can we improve?’”

For more information on the IECP, send an e-mail to or visit online.

Penn State’s Intensive English Communication Program (IECP) provides quality language instruction to nonnative speakers of English. The program emphasizes the language and skills needed for academic success in college or at a university, but also includes cultural education to prepare students for daily life in an English-speaking environment. The Intensive English Communication Program is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated December 08, 2009