Program Overview

Immerse yourself in academic and University life, with access to all Northern Arizona University programs and activities, while studying at NAU’s Program in Intensive English (PIE).  When you exit the program, you are eligible to begin a degree program at NAU (undergraduate level).  

In this program, you will:

  • improve your English skills 
  • learn skills to succeed in university classes
  • engage in courses designed to simulate a university environment
  • join NAU's student community
  • experience American culture and participate in Flagstaff's local events
  • have access to university services, facilities, and activities, including:
    • on-campus living and dining
    • library resources
    • NAU Recreation Center, tennis courts, and swimming pool
    • intramural sports and clubs
    • and more...

How the program works


  1. Apply to PIE
  2. Receive conditional admittance letter from NAU
  3. Participate in International Student Orientation
  4. Take the PIE placement test
  5. Receive level assignment*
  6. Start PIE classes!  


*PIE does not offer classes for beginning-level students. Applicants should have a basic understanding of English; PIE recommends an IELTS score of at least 2.0 (TOEFL score of at least 16). Applicants who place below Level 2 will need to transfer.

Level 2
Level 2 is General English, and students use their language knowledge and ability to go beyond basic communication. At this level, students process information in order to produce longer spoken and written texts, and also develop their ability to sustain reading and conversation. Students in level 2 have approximate scores of 16-31 (TOEFL) or 2-4 (IELTS).
Level 3
In Level 3, students acquire and demonstrate knowledge and language abilities for academic purposes with significant teacher support. At this level, students process simplified academic input in order to produce spoken and written texts. Students in level 3 have approximate scores of 32-44 (TOEFL) or 4-5 (IELTS). View Level 3 courses.
Level 4
In Level 4, students acquire knowledge and demonstrate language abilities for academic purposes. This level provides students opportunities to engage with adapted academic reading, writing, listening and speaking. Students respond critically to academic texts and lectures while developing their vocabulary knowledge. At this level, students begin to draft longer essays that display complexity in organization and content. Students can produce sustained discourse about academic topics and improve their pragmatics and interactional competence by engaging in group discussions. Students in level 4 have approximate scores of 45-56 (TOEFL) or 5-5.5 (IELTS). View Level 4 courses.
Level 5

In Level 5, students gain the language knowledge and skills necessary for study at the university. This level provides the necessary transition from intensive language study to university study. Students become fluent in listening to authentic academic lectures. They learn to apply reading strategies independently in order to successfully comprehend and discuss academic texts. Students at this level study a wide-range of academic vocabulary and apply it in written and spoken contexts. Students in level 5 have approximate scores of 57-69 (TOEFL) or 5.5-6 (IELTS). View Level 5 courses.

Undergraduate degree-seeking students who complete Level 5 may choose to enroll in regular NAU courses or continue in PIE’s Level 6 to further enhance their English language skills.

Level 6
In Level 6, students gain the language knowledge and abilities necessary to be prepared for advanced study at the university. Students listen to authentic academic passages and lectures and read authentic academic texts. Students learn and use academic vocabulary and complex grammatical structures to complete both academic written and spoken tasks. Students in level 6 have approximate scores of 70+ (TOEFL) or 6+ (IELTS). View Level 6 courses.

Program courses

View our program courses to learn what classes you will take as a student in PIE.