Graduate Preparation Program

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Program Outline

The Graduate Preparation Program (GPP) is a four-week intensive non-credit course offered in person on the main campus prior to the fall quarter, which is open to all current and newly admitted international graduate students. It focuses on English for Academic Purposes (EAP), academic skills, and cultural orientation. The program also provides a foundation for transitioning into the Teaching Assistant role.

The course offers guided support with:

  • Seminar-style classroom discussion
  • Presentation and oral communication skills  
  • Information on U.S. classroom culture; roles and responsibilities of faculty, Teaching Assistants, and students
  • Critical thinking; using evidence to support ideas
  • Research writing; citation; avoiding plagiarism
  • Collaborative and project-based learning

A collaboration between the Graduate Division and Global Engagement, the Graduate Preparation Program provides a strong foundation for the U.S. classroom environment and university system, in addition to the opportunity to practice and master the language and academic skills needed for success.

Course Information

Program Components
  • Academic English: (1) Oral Communication, (2) Writing, (3) Reading & Research Skills
  • Intercultural Workshops (e.g., cultural transition, U.S. classroom culture)
  • Teaching Assistant (TA) Workshops
  • Grad Life Workshops (e.g., Off-Campus Housing, Santa Cruz Life)
  • Social Activities (e.g., social mixer, picnic)
  • Capstone Project: Poster Fair
Class Descriptions

Class Schedule:

Classes will run for 90 minutes and will be offered in the morning/early afternoon on weekdays. A full schedule will be shared soon.

Class Descriptions:

  • Oral Communication  
    • This class focuses on understanding and being understood in seminar-style classroom environments, including academic conversation techniques, pronunciation as needed, and using/identifying evidence in a discussion. It also introduces U.S. classroom approaches and student-centered teaching and learning.
  • Academic Writing  
    • This class introduces best-practice in academic writing, including issues of citation, avoiding plagiarism, and written structure in research. It includes staged feedback from instructors and peers in order to encourage a “writing process” and awareness of student/faculty roles.
  • Reading & Research Skills
    • This class introduces reading strategies, including skimming and scanning, note-taking, and text analysis techniques to improve critical reading skills. It also introduces students to UC Santa Cruz library resources as well as basic research skills. The Reading and Research Skills class serves as the foundation for the capstone project as it is where the project topic is defined and researched.
  • Guided study (independent online and project-related work) 
    • Students are expected to complete additional independent and group work related to the above classes, especially the Academic Project Class as related to the summative projects.  This will occasionally involve online resources to encourage learner autonomy and self-guided study.

Eligibility & Program Participation

GPP ensures that international Teaching Assistants have the language skills and support to succeed in the classroom, which will have an additional positive impact on undergraduate student success. Note: Students who successfully complete the Graduate Preparation Program will not be required to take the Versant English Placement Test. For more information on requirements for Teaching Assistant assignments, please contact your department.

Requirement Informtaion
You are required to attend the program if:
  • you are offered a Teaching Assistant position at UC Santa Cruz for the upcoming academic year, AND:
  • you have not passed the IELTS or TOEFL exam with a qualifying score (26 for the iBT sub-score in Speaking; or 8 for the IELTS subscore in Speaking).

Required students will receive an email in May from our team with program and registration information. Required students are expected to complete registration forms for the Graduate Preparation Program; they are not automatically registered. 

You are strongly encouraged to attend the program if:
  • you are interested in obtaining (but not yet offered) a Teaching Assistant position, AND
  • you have not passed the IELTS or TOEFL exam with a qualifying score (26 for the iBT sub-score in Speaking; or 8 for the IELTS subscore in Speaking).

Program Dates & Costs

Dates: Monday, August 19 – Thursday, September 12

  • Students interested in on-campus housing during GPP can move in as early as Friday, August 16 and depart as late as Thursday, September 12 in the early afternoon.

Cost: $1200 tuition *

* GPP is often paid for by graduate programs and departments for new students who were awarded a Teaching Assistant position in their first year of graduate study. New students typically will need to pay for their housing costs, either on or off campus. Continuing graduate students who choose to attend GPP, or new students who were not awarded Teaching Assistant positions in their first year, are expected to individually cover the course and any associated housing costs.


Registration for GPP and on-campus housing will close on Friday, August 9.


For questions regarding program content, administration, and registration, contact

For questions regarding program eligibility or Teaching Assistantships, contact your department.

Last modified: Mar 08, 2024