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At VIPP, your educational experience will take place both inside and outside the classroom. We provide a fun and creative learning environment through our innovative programs.

Whether attending a class or a conference, becoming a community volunteer or a member of a university organization, you will discover wonderful opportunities that will help you achieve your goals.

Learn more about life at VIPP by clicking on the sections below.

J-1 Visa Requirements

Once you're admitted to our program, you will be on J-1 non-degree student visa. Being on J-1 student visa means you are required to conduct a minimum of 18 hours of academic activities each week throughout your stay at VIPP, including the summer semester (unless you're pre-approved in advance. For summer vacation eligibility, please section below.) If you don't comply with this regulation, your J-1 visa may be revoked. 

Normally, VIPP students take 3 semester-long VIPP classes (A total of 9 credits) each semester. The remaining 9 hours of the required 18 hours can be used for independent study (reading, writing, researching at library, etc.) and other academic activities such as attending campus lectures, seminars, conferences, workshops, etc. VIPP informs participants of various academic events going on at MSU and also provides our own additional academic events such as signature lectures, field trips, and brown bag seminars. It is important you record your academic activities via weekly time log. 

Once you are accepted to our program, more detailed information about the weekly time log will be provided by your program coordinator. 

Summer Vacation Eligibility

If you’d like to take a summer vacation, please consult with your VIPP program coordinator about your eligibility during application process. Your program plan has to be approved in advance when you apply for a visa. 

To be eligible for summer vacation, you have to meet two requirements.

1) A summer semester should be the participant’s middle semester of the one-year program, not the first or final semester. For example, if your programs begins in January and ends in June, you are not eligible for summer time off because the summer semester is your end semester.

2) Also, a summer vacation is only allowed if participant’s program start date on the DS2019 form starts within 30 days into the spring semester (1/19/2016 – 4/29/2016) and ends less than 30 days prior to the end of the fall semester (9/7/2016 – 12/9/2016). For example, a summer vacation is not allowed if your starting date is on or after February 19 this year or your ending date is on or before November 9. When you apply for the VIPP program, our coordinators will explain whether you’re eligible for summer vacation and discuss specific academic plans with you.

Academic Calendar

The VIPP academic year consists of a fall semester, a spring semester, and a summer semester. VIPP follows MSU's academic calendar but VIPP courses begin one week after the start of the semester. Download VIPP's 2017-2018 academic and cultural event calendar (PDF).

  • August 30, 2017 - MSU Fall 2017 Semester Begins 
  • September 6, 2017 — VIPP Fall 2017 Semester Begins
  • September 9, 2017 — VIPP Football Tailgate
  • September 15, 2017 — Fall Welcome Luncheon (New participants only) 
  • October 4, 2017 — VIPP Brown Bag Seminar 
  • October 23, 2017 — VIPP Half-semester Courses Begin
  • November 2, 2017 — VIPP Signature Lecture 
  • December 8, 2017 — MSU & VIPP Fall Semester Ends
  • December 10, 2017 — VIPP Graduation (Graduates only) 
  • January 8, 2018 — MSU Spring 2018 Semester Begins
  • January 16, 2018 — VIPP Spring 2018 Semester Begins
  • January 26, 2018 — Spring Welcome Luncheon (New participants only) 
  • March 3 – 11, 2018 — MSU Spring Break (No VIPP classes)
  • March 12, 2018 — VIPP Half-semester Courses Begin
  • April 2 – 6, 2018 — VIPP Spring Break (No VIPP classes)
  • April 27, 2018— Last day of classes for MSU & VIPP
  • May 14, 2018 — MSU & VIPP Summer Session 1 Begins
  • May 30, 2018 — Memorial Day (MSU closed)
  • June 28, 2018 — MSU & VIPP Summer Session 1 Ends
  • July 2, 2018 — MSU & VIPP Summer Session 2 Begins
  • July 4, 2018 — Independence Day (MSU closed)
  • August 17, 2018 — MSU & VIPP Summer Session 2 Ends

VIPP Fall semesters generally begin in the first or second week of September and end the first week of December. VIPP Spring semesters generally begin in mid-January and end the last week of April. VIPP Spring semesters observe two 1-week breaks: MSU spring break the second week of March and area schools' spring break the second week of April.

Ideally, participants should arrive at the beginning of MSU's Fall or Spring semester since most VIPP courses are a semester long. To accommodate visiting professionals who may arrive in the middle of the semester, we also offer half-semester long courses which normally begin mid-March or late October. 

Course Offerings

VIPP courses focus on improving English language skills for business or academic communications, and enhance understanding of global affairs and American culture and society. Specialized courses on particular areas and topics may be offered as requested.

The following are some examples of the courses; course offerings are subject to change each semester. Download Spring 2018 VIPP course descriptions (PDF).

  • VIP 401 America 101  
  • VIP 414 Idioms
  • VIP 415 Conversation
  • VIP 417 Academic and Professional Writing
  • VIP 418A Environmental Policy Issues and Community Engagement  
  • VIP 422 Academic Reading 
  • VIP 441 Pronunciation & Public Speaking
  • VIP 443 Pronunciation Pedagogy 
  • VIP 451 American Culture
  • VIP 451B American Culture through Movies and Music 
  • VIP 454 Discovering MSU 
  • VIP 455 Discovering Michigan 
  • VIP 464 Business English
  • VIP 471 Visual Presentation Skills
  • VIP 472 Critical Thinking 
  • VIP 475 Corporate Governance
  • VIP 477 American International Relations 
  • VIP 480 Cross-Cultural Business Communication Skills
  • VIP 483 Organizational Behavior 
  • VIP 487 Organizational Leadership 
  • VIP 488 Personnel Training & Development
  • VIP 489 Compensation & Rewards System in HR
  • VIP 841 Current Macroeconomic Issues in the U.S.
  • VIP 815 US Telecom Systems and Services
  • VIP 854 Global Leadership and Management (additional fees apply) 
  • VIP 856A TESOL Pedagogy
  • VIP 856B Pedagogy of University Teaching
  • VIP 858 General Research Methodology
  • VIP 857 Instructed Foreign Language Learning 
  • VIP 865 U.S. Legal System

VIPP Course Registration

In general, you are required to take 3 VIPP courses unless you have arranged other MSU courses with your program coordinator in advance. Enrollment is on a first come, first serve basis. Our class size is limited to 22 students and each course will need a minimum of 5 students enrolled. Detailed instructions will be provided by email once you arrive at MSU.


Weekly Time Log

You are required to conduct a minimum of 18 hours of academic activities and submit a weekly time log to record your activities each week throughout your stay at VIPP. Your visa is subject to be revoked if you do not comply with this regulation. It only takes a few minutes to complete the time log and you will receive copy of the time log once you submit the form. This will help you to build up your portfolio which will be helpful in keeping all your academic endeavor and prepare a final report for your organization or sponsorThe time log link will be provided by email once you arrive at MSU. 


Each semester VIPP offers orientation to newly arriving participants and provides essential information related to academic and cultural life. 

Signature Lectures

For VIPP's Signature Lecture series, we invite renowned MSU scholars and community leaders to deliver a lecture on important topics relevant to our scholars. Our signature lectures provide an intellectually stimulating discussion and will push your thinking beyond your current boundaries.

Fall 2017 Series

Cancer and the Diet: Carcinogens in Food vs. Lifestyle Dietary Choices by Dr. Felicia Wu, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics  

Spring 2017 Series

Perspective from Electric Chair by Mo Gerhardt of the MSU College of Natural Science and the Spartan Sports Network

Design Thinking for Creativity and Collaboration by Leigh Wolf, Assistant Director of Innovation in Learning and Technology at MSU 

Fall 2016 Series

US Higher Education by Roger Baldwin, Professor in the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education at Michigan State University 

Conversation with East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows 

Life after College Sports: Conversation with Duckett Brothers  

Spring 2016 Series

Best Practices in University Teaching: Focus on Active Learning by Deborah DeZure, Ph.D., Assistant Provost for Faculty and Organizational Development, Michigan State University

How the U.S. Press Covers the Presidential Campaign by Eric Freedman, Professor of Journalism at Michigan State University, Pulitzer Prize Winner 


Brown Bag Lunch Seminars

brown bag series 1 side-by-side.jpgA brown bag seminar is an American tradition in which people gather during the lunch hour and learn something new while eating their lunch.

VIPP provides two or three brown bag seminars each semester to provide casual learning opportunities to our participants. Brown bag seminar topics are pertinent to safe and healthy living at MSU and in Michigan. The seminars help our participants smoothly transition to American life. Topics we have covered include US K-12 Education, MSU Police, How to Drive Safely in Michigan, Michigan Tourism, Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy,etc.

Field Trips

vipp_participants_with_tom_izzo.jpgchicago_1.jpgLocal field trips are often organized by either VIPP instructors or VIPP staff for hands-on learning and socializing.

Destinations include the MSU facilities that may not be accessible otherwise, Michigan Capitol, Michigan Supreme Court Learning Center, Michigan Historical Museum, Library of Michigan, Fenner Nature Center, and local K-12 schools.

VIPP is always working to develop exciting field trips that will take participants to popular destinations in Michigan and in the U.S. for cultural and historical learning. Additional charges may apply.

Cultural Events

tailgate side-by-side.jpgVIPP believes learning should be fun! We offer lots of cultural events to participants where they can learn more about American cultures and lifestyles simply by having fun.

ski trip side-by-side.jpgOur year-round cultural events are also family-friendly: all VIPP participants and their families are welcome to join and make friends. Our cultural events include cross-country skiing, a maple syrup festival, Thanksgiving potluck, and football tailgating.

Special Seminars and Workshops

1-9-91D-80-outreach___engagement_lecture_(1).jpgVIPP organizes special seminars and workshop series in collaboration with many MSU departments, colleges, and service units.

For example, recent collaboration with the University Outreach and Engagement (UOE) provides a series of seminars on the topics of community engaged research and methodologies. Another collaboration with the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement provides participants volunteer opportunities with non-profit organizations, schools, hospitals, health care facilities, government agencies, and advocacy groups.

Scholar Presentations

At the conclusion of their programs, VIPP scholars have an opportunity to present their research findings to their colleagues. These twenty-minute presentations are voluntary and help our scholars practice their English and presentation skills in an academic setting.


graduation2016-side-by-side.pngEach semester, VIPP hosts a graduation ceremony for participants who have finished their programs. This is a proud and happy moment for students, staff and faculty. We gather together to celebrate all you have accomplished at VIPP and you will go on to achieve more in your career after your time at MSU. You might be leaving MSU and US, but you’ll always be a Spartan!

Other Learning Opportunities

Free Language Courses

In addition to VIPP's language courses, there are several opportunities in the East Lansing area for you to improve your English language skills.

If you visit Volunteer English Tutoring Program website you can find Lansing community resources for free language courses. Make sure to check time and place before you start attending any class. 

Off-campus and community resources include:

• East Lansing Public Library 
• Friendship House 
• Spartan Village Community Center 

Other volunteer English programs can be found at local churches such as Trinity Church and University Lutheran Church.


Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 150 years. MSU now offers free online courses through a website called “Coursera.”

All of the courses found on this site are non-degree, completely online, and free! These courses act as supplemental material for a class you may already be taking or as a trial run for a subject or field you may be interested in.

The goal of this website is to encourage students and young professionals to step out of their comfort zone and try something new at no extra cost. Here’s a small list of some of the courses offered by MSU through Coursera:

  • Business of Games and Entrepreneurship
  • Principles of Game Design
  • Photography Techniques: Light, Content, and Sharing
  • Music Theory
  • Script Writing

All of the courses offered on this website have a start and end date, but users are welcome to work through material at their own pace. Once you enroll, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun.

If you need additional time to complete a course – not a problem. Course schedules are flexible and you will be provided 180 days of full course access and Certificate eligibility (see terms and conditions for each course). Self-paced courses have suggested deadlines, but you won’t be penalized for missing deadlines as long as you earn Certificate within 180 days.

If you complete a course successfully, your electronic Certificate will be added to your “Accomplishments” page – from there you can print your certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. Note that the Course Certificate does not represent official academic credit from the university.

There are already more than 20 courses offered through this site taught by professors in the Communication Arts and Sciences College, the MSU College of Music, the MSU School of Journalism, the Broad College of Business, as well as the MSU Innovation Hub. If you would like to enroll in classes of if you'd like to learn more make sure to visit for more information.


Conference Travel Support

VIPP is pleased to provide a conference travel grant worth up to $600 for VIPP participants. 12 month GPEP and SGPEP program participants are eligible to apply if they plan to attend academic or professional conferences, workshops or other relevant events related to professional development during their program stay. The travel should be within the domestic U.S. For details of eligibility and application process, download a conference travel grant application form (PDF). To read about some of our past travel support recipients and the conferences they attended, click here.


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