ESL TESOL Graduate Programs: Masters, Doctorates, & PhD Degrees
What is a TESOL Graduate Program?
TESOL graduate programs focus on Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). ESOL refers to English for Speakers of Other Languages and is a content area studied by teachers. Such programs may lead to degrees at the master’s and doctorate levels, and certificates.
A Masters in TESOL is a professional degree. It prepares those who want to teach English as a second, foreign or extra language to enter the field. There are also PhD in TESOL degrees. These often underline program design for English language learning.
Some programs center on teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in the United States. Others study practices for teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) abroad.
What Can I Do with Masters in TESOL?
Generally, to pursue a position as a TESOL college teacher, one needs a master’s degree in TESOL or a related field. Per the BLS adult literacy teachers held about 48,300 jobs in 2020 and earned annual salaries that averaged $59,720. For those who prefer to use their TESOL skills outside the classroom, there may be other options. TESOL program directors oversee other teachers and plan curricula. If the writing part appeals to you most, you might write or edit textbooks.
Most of these teaching jobs (26 percent) are in junior colleges and K-12 schools. ESL teachers also find jobs in colleges, universities and professional schools. Others may work as private tutors. Private tutors work for themselves on a freelance basis or as part of a firm. Tutoring positions may be available in both in the United States and abroad.
For those who are ready to use their TESOL skills outside of the classroom, there may be other options. TESOL program directors oversee other teachers and plan curricula. They are often instrumental in helping to design more effective curricula. This is key for schools now striving to meet standards for student achievement.
If you are someone who enjoys writing, experience as a TESOL teacher may help you write or edit textbooks. There is a growing need (12 percent to 2030) for technical writers who parlay expertise into instructional material, according to BLS.
Because many companies have branches overseas, you might also design training manuals. Or, manage the English language training program for a multinational. Using your creativity to think outside the box in this industry may be useful.
written by Rana Waxman
Can I get a Degree in ESL?
An ESL degree is often found as a master’s in TESOL. TESOL stands for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. It encompasses both ESL degree and EFL degree programs.
What Jobs Can You Get with a Master’s Degree in TESOL?
Some community colleges prefer to hire those with a master’s degree or graduate studies in ESL. Most employers also look for candidates with a master’s degree for instructional coordinator positions. The same holds for some training and development manager roles.
Master’s Degree in Education Average Salary 2021
|English Language Teachers, Postsecondary||$82,680||58,480|
|Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary Education, and English as a Second Language Instructors||$60,650||38,260|
Top States for Employment: English Language Teachers 2021
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Top Metro Areas for Employment: English Language Teachers
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA||$110,620||140|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA||$109,500||540|
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Popular TESOL Graduate Degrees
Teaching English as a second/foreign language/ESL language instructor degrees are reported by the National Center for Education Statistics under the category of Education.
Per the most recent data (2013), there were 3,072 degrees awarded to graduate students. The majority (99%) of these programs were at the master’s level.
Graduate schools with ESL TESOL graduate certificate programs online
What is the Difference Between a Masters in TESOL (MAT) and a Graduate Certificate?
You have a bachelor’s degree and aspire to teach English to Speakers of Another Language. There are a few main pathways to think about depending on your goals. Do you want to teach ESL in the U.S. school system? Or teach English in a foreign country without completing a master’s degree in education?
One avenue is the Master of Arts (MAT) in TESOL. The Master of Arts in Teaching is a teacher education program. You will usually spend part of the program as a student and another as a student teacher.
Often 36 credits, a MAT degree goes into depth. It covers areas of applied linguistics, second language acquisition, TESOL methods and more. This path may enable grads to pursue an initial teaching license to teach ESL in the United States. Teachers with a master’s degree may earn higher salaries than those with a bachelor’s.
TESOL Graduate Certificate
A TESOL Graduate Certificate is another option. This is often for international teachers and non-education majors in general. It is a short-term pathway that may take one year or less to complete.
TESOL Graduate Certificate credits may transfer over to a MEd or MA-TESOL degree later. Yet, one cannot always use this program to pursue a state TESOL endorsement.
Endorsements (specialist license, ESL certification) are for in-service or pre-service teachers. If this is your aim, you should clarify whether the certificate is enough. Sometimes, to secure a position as an ESL teacher in a public school, one needs a certification. For instance, in Early Childhood Education, Middle Grades English, or Secondary English.
|TESOL Degree Guide|
|MAT- TESOL *||ESL Graduate Certificate *|
|Master of Arts in Teaching - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages - TESOL (Online)||English as a Second Language Graduate Certificate|
|Length of Program: 15 months||Length of Program: 12 months or less|
|This program may prepare you to teach English and other languages to a variety of learners in both domestic and international settings. Completing extra requirements may help in the pursuit of a Single Subject Teaching Credential (California).||This program may prepare you to work with English language learners in increasingly diverse classrooms across Pennsylvania and the region become increasingly diverse. Upon successful completion, you will earn the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Program Specialist: ESL Certificate.|
|Technology enhanced language instruction Vocabulary Sociolinguistics Trans language Immersion Models||Applied Language Study Grammar, Morphology Literacy Development Current Approaches to TESOL Assessment and Curriculum|
|Programmatic accreditation from the National Council on Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)||Programmatic accreditation from Pennsylvania Department of Education|
What is TESOL Certification?
TESOL certification means graduating from an accredited TESOL masters program. This may be a MEd, MA, or MAT in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). It is the same as TEFL certification. In fact, the terms TESOL and TEFL are interchangeable across much of the world.
Can I get TESOL certification without a degree? Some schools offer an English as a Second Language (ESL) Graduate Certificate program. This type of program might help teachers pursue a state specialist license for TESOL. It is wise to check your state education board for details on how to meet requirements.
What Courses Are Needed for a Master’s in TESOL?
Each school is unique in which courses they need to complete a master of arts in TESOL. The MA in TESOL usually studies pedagogy. The classes thus relate to teaching English as a second language to non-English-speaking students. This applies to both the ESL and EFL contexts. Some of the common elements include:
Second Language Acquisition
This type of class often relates to the linguistic sciences. It may cover various methods and approaches to teaching English to those who do not speak it. It may also look into the phases of learning to speak and how to help students in this process.
Curriculum and Instruction
This class is a frequent feature on TESOL curricula and a popular emphasis in MEd programs. It touches on lesson planning, fluency levels and teaching tactics for pre-K to 12th grade. The material might help you understand how to set goals and format quizzes.
Linguistics for Language Teachers
This class focuses on how people learn their native and second language. It usually highlights the components of language such as grammar and syntax. It helps ESOL teachers to explain correct phrasing and sentence structure.
This course often covers various kinds of assessment in an ESL/EFL curriculum. It might also explain how to ensure that tests are valid, reliable, and practical to use in the classroom.
There are specific laws in place about managing diverse and challenging student behaviors. This class might cover the roles, rights and duties of said rules. For instance, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 legislation.
The Multicultural Classroom
Today's classrooms often encompass students from diverse cultures. This class may look at how key issues like how bias impacts student outcomes and bullying. Other topics may address teaching tactics. These may relate to race, ethnic class, gender, and teaching English language learners.
Do TESOL Masters (MAT) Programs Need to Be Accredited?
Accreditation is a quality assurance through an outside peer review. It happens at regional/national and program levels.
The primary accreditor of educator preparation programs that lead to licensure is CAEP. CAEP stands for ‘Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation’. Because the MAT degree falls under their purview, you may want to check for this type of approval.
Many schools with regional accreditation do offer MAT programs. But they may not come with CAEP accreditation. Studying at one of these institutions may enable the transfer of credits. It is also important if you plan to apply for federal aid. To check this type of approval, there are public lists on several sites:
- Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP)
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
- Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA)
- National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI)
How Long Does It Take to Get Masters in TESOL?
Full-time students usually take 2 years to complete a 30 to 36 credit Masters in TESOL program. Part-time students may take up to 4 years, depending on the school policy. Many schools also offer accelerated tracks which may take 12 to 18 months.
How Much Does It Cost to Get A Graduate Degree in ESL or TESOL?
The average cost of earning a graduate degree from a public institution is $11,617 per year. This means you could find programs both more affordable and more expensive than the average.
The visualization below shows graduate tuition costs of 4 institutions with TESOL Graduate Programs, as reported by NCES. We compared those costs to the typically most affordable and most expensive college options, also reported by NCES.
GradSchools.com offers 202 Graduate Schools withESL TESOL Graduate Programs
Western Governors University
Grand Canyon University
Loyola University Chicago
Indiana University Of Pennsylvania
University of North Dakota
East Tennessee State University
Brigham Young University
University of Pittsburgh