Info for Students

Info for Students: The ELI Requirement

All undergraduate students complete a minimum of one ELI-approved experience prior to graduation.

Important ELI Facts

  • Students must have completed a minimum of 24 credits prior to completing an approved experience to fulfill their ELI requirement. For transfer students, credits from other institutions will be considered toward the 24 credit requirement.
  • The ELI requirement shows up as a checkbox in Degree Works, in the same way as a required Writing Intensive course. 
  • Some majors have a built-in course/experience that fulfills a student’s ELI requirement while others do not. Students should check with their academic advisor on whether or not a requirement in their major fulfills their ELI requirement.
  • Students should discuss options for fulfilling their ELI requirement with their academic advisor starting in their first year on campus. It is strongly recommended that students complete their ELI prior to their last semester at Messiah.
  • Some ELI experiences carry academic credit, while others do not. Both options can fulfill a student’s ELI requirement in Degree Works. ELI options that are typically credit-bearing include: internships/practica; service learning courses; semester study abroad or cross-cultural courses; and most ELI-approved research options. ELI leadership positions are almost never for academic credit, even though it fulfills the ELI requirement in the same way as the credit-bearing options.
  • Once a student determines their chosen ELI experience, they must communicate to their advisor (and the educator who would oversee the experience) their intent to complete the experience to fulfill the ELI requirement. Students may NOT declare an experience to count for ELI after the experience has begun. This must be approved prior to beginning the experience.
  • While students only need to complete one of the experiences to fulfill their ELI requirement, it is encouraged that students, as they’re able, consider doing more than one of these experiences.  Research shows that these experiences not only contribute to deeper application of learning, but also to students’ preparedness for the transition to life and career after graduation.

What are the signature elements of an ELI experience?

Regardless of the chosen experience, ELI experiences feature common elements that allow students to apply their classroom learning, hone new skills, consider their contribution to community, and prepare to tell their "Messiah story” in a way that is meaningful to prospective employers.

The following are signature elements of all ELI-approved experiences:


All students participating in an ELI-approved experience will design learning objectives at the beginning of the experience that focus on their personal, professional, academic and community-based development.


At the conclusion of the experience, students will describe their learning outcomes, which are based on their initial objectives.


To ensure that the ELI leads to the stated outcomes of professional development and community engagement, students will translate their learning through a “career application” piece that is contextualized for an external audience relevant to the students’ future goals (employer, graduate school, etc.).

Options for career applications include: a resume; ePortfolio; website; LinkedIn profile; or personal video. The degree of flexibility within these options for the required career application is determined by each advisory team and ELI advisor.