American Classroom Readiness Course

The American Classroom Readiness Course from English3

In 2015, the Carlson School’s Human Resources and International Relations graduate program piloted the use of the American Classroom Readiness course (ACR) with its incoming cohort of international students. Overall the program was a success and will continue in the future. In 2016 other programs around the University joined and used the ACR with incoming international students. Each year the Graduate Admissions office has supported funding for the ACR, and this year Graduate Admissions is offering to pay for the ACR for any graduate programs that would like to use it, contingent on the availability of funding.

Why use the ACR?

While program approaches may vary, the common goal is to help incoming international graduate students have a smooth transition and successful start in their first semester on campus. The American Classroom Readiness (ACR) course is designed to expose international students to the expectations of graduate education in the U.S. (e.g., working in groups, participating in lectures, delivering effective presentations, etc.) A key component of the program is direct interaction with the ACR’s trained staff as well as other international students in their cohort. However, it should be noted that the ACR is not intended to be a substitute for formal language instruction or in place of on-campus international student orientation for your program.

Who uses the ACR?

You can determine who should use the ACR for your graduate program, but typically it would be the entire incoming cohort of international students.

How does it work?

Students work through a series of modules focusing on various aspects of the graduate experience. These include writing, listening, reading and the American classroom experience as well as discipline-specific vocabulary and special topics like the U.S. job market. Many of the activities in the modules include viewing short videos prepared by the ACR staff (or your program if you decide to create your own content) and uploading video responses. Students will also receive feedback from ACR staff (and you, if you choose to participate) and will also interact with each other in the course, which helps to create valuable peer relationships even before they meet on campus.

When would the ACR be offered?

The average ACR course takes students between 50-80 hours to complete, but this can be scaled up or down depending on your needs. Allowing students 8-10 weeks to complete the course before arriving on campus is a good general timeframe. 

It is also recommended that programs start reviewing the ACR course and making any customizations at least 3 months before students first log in. Programs will work directly with the ACR staff to create the course.  Once the course has begun, ACR staff will communicate directly with enrolled students and provide feedback on their participation. U of M program staff should also monitor student progress along the way and communicate with students about their participation to ensure satisfactory completion.

How do I get started?

  1. Explore the ACR demo site to familiarize yourself with the product and decide if you would like to participate in the service for your next incoming class of international students. (You can access the demo here: Email and password:; “welcome”. This site does not include video responses from ACR coaches.)
  2. Contact Stacy Doepner-Hove ( if you would like a walk through of the tool or want to discuss your program’s needs, timeline, and the set-up logistics. Or, if you are likely to be moving forward with the ACR, contact Stacy Doepner-Hove and she will put you in touch with the ACR staff to get you started.
  3. The U of M Graduate Admissions office has agreed to pay for the ACR for any incoming international students. Connecting with Stacy will get you access to that payment and put you in touch with the ACR staff to move you forward.
  4. Develop and deliver your course with the staff of the American Classroom Readiness course!