Online ESL Degree Programs Resource

An ESL degree can be put to use in many career positions, such as teaching in a high school or university, teaching overseas, or tutoring students one-on-one. Teaching English as a second language has become a career that is in high demand. It is helpful to have some experience in teaching or assisting others in learning English, but it is not required to pursue an ESL degree. In many cases, the best way to pursue ESL jobs is to get a degree from an accredited school prior to searching for a placement opportunity. Many ESL programs are available to choose from, including online ESL degree programs.

ESL Degrees & Certification

Whether they graduate with ESL degrees from traditional universities or an online schools, ESL degree holders can qualify for many types of jobs. For someone who wants to travel the world, there are ESL jobs in a variety of countries that range from full-time, permanent positions to temporary opportunities that can keep the instructor constantly on the move. If an ESL instructor wants to stay in their home country and teach, there are ESL jobs and opportunities at many local universities or high schools. Because there has been an influx of foreign students, there is a significant need for ESL teachers.

Profiles of English Second Language Programs

Western Governors University
Western Governors University’s ELL (English Language Learners) Endorsement Preparation Program allows already-certified elementary and secondary teachers to earn the necessary endorsement to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) in grades kindergarten through 12. The program, which students complete entirely online with the exception of a three-credit practicum, generally requires 12 to 18 months to complete with individual semesters running for six months. All ELL/ESL students will be matched with a mentor, with whom they will work throughout the program. Curriculum covers such topics as culture, the professional role of the ELL teacher, and subject specific pedagogy. All students will complete a mandatory orientation to acclimate them to online learning. WGU recommends that students investigate their state’s ELL/ESL certification requirements, which may require additional examinations or coursework that is specific to the individual state.

Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University’s graduate program in English as a Second Language (ESL) provides students with the opportunity to earn a Master of Science (M.S.) or a Master of Education (M.Ed), the latter of which prepares students to move on to doctoral study. Graduates of the program have the credentials to teach ESL in a number of settings, including kindergarten through 12th grade, in community programs, at community colleges, and in school settings abroad. Thirty-two credits are necessary to earn a M.S. while M.Ed students must complete 36 credits. Despite the degree path, all ESL graduate students must complete three core classes: analysis of teaching behavior, cultural foundations of education, and curriculum development. The program runs in a traditional classroom setting on campus. Successful applicants to the program must submit a completed application, an application fee, and official transcripts. GRE scores are optional.

Arizona State University
Arizona State University features a 30 credit graduate program leading to a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Curriculum and Instruction – English as a Second Language (ESL). Students will complete a comprehensive curriculum that includes an introduction to research, ESL for children, assessment and evaluation of English Language Learner (ELL) students, and bilingualism and second language acquisition. The program culminates with a practicum in which students gain hands-on teaching experience in an ESL classroom. The mandatory practicum ensures graduate students meet all of the educational requirements for earning an endorsement in ESL in Arizona.

ESL Degree Requirements and Coursework

Some characteristics that may fit well with the role of an ESL teacher include patience, good communication skills, a strong desire to teach speakers of another language, and a strong work ethic.

Requirements for entrance into an ESL program vary depending on the school but may include a minimum GPA, completion of specific courses, qualifying exam scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay.

Some examples of courses that can be found in a ESL program curriculum include:

  • ESL Curriculum and Instruction
  • Grammatical Structure of American English
  • The English Language
  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language
  • Cross Cultural Issues in ESL
  • Principles of Language Testing
  • Special Topics in ESL
  • Teaching Practicum

ESL and Foreign Language Teacher Career Interviews

Teaching and Education Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an ESL Teacher

Question: What’s the difference between “ESL” and “TESOL”?

Answer: ESL stands for English as a Second Language while TESOL stands for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Question: What do I need to teach English abroad?

Answer: Requirements for teaching English abroad depend on the school hiring. Generally, they look for someone with a university degree, although it is not always necessary. Some employers like to see that you have TEFL or TESOL certification. You should also have some teaching experience and some knowledge of the language spoken in the country in which you hope to work.

ESL Degree Program Student Reviews

Student Review: “The MATESOL graduate program at the University of Central Florida proved to be a wonderful experience. Initially, you are given the option of a thesis or a four-hour comprehensive written exam. The thesis or exam material had to relate to the five core courses of the teaching program, which was Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. I opted for the comprehensive exam and passed with flying colors. I found the teachers were friendly and always available in/after class for questions. I still speak and correspond with a couple of my teachers, who have now become mentors. The classes, themselves, were challenging but also enlightening. Because of my experience at UCF, I have now moved on to become a university teacher myself.” -Catherine M., student at University of Central Florida