If you’re interested in pursuing a career where you can teach English to non-native speakers, you might consider getting a masters in TESOL.
Students in these types of programs can learn about technical aspects of the English language as well as the theories and ideologies behind teaching it. They may also study the history of the language and the cultural influences that impact learning English.
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To apply to masters TESOL programs, prospective students typically need to have completed a bachelor’s degree.
Online Masters in TESOL Programs
Online degrees in education for teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) typically teach educators different theories and techniques that they can apply to teach English to non-native speakers.
TESOL programs may help educators learn to teach English to children or adults. While enrolled in a masters TESOL program, you may study topics like the following:
- English grammar
- Classroom technology
- Designing curriculums
- Evaluating English skill level
- Literature analysis
- History of the English language
- Second language theory
- Family culture
Before applying to these types of masters programs, prospective students are generally required to hold a bachelor’s degree.
Some schools want to see that you have majored in a relevant subject like English, education, a foreign language, or linguistics. In addition to coursework, these masters programs may offer opportunities for students to apply to internships or take capstone courses. Some schools also have a foreign language requirement.
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Some TESOL masters programs also allow you to choose a specialization that can help you focus your area of study. These concentrations can include teaching English as a foreign language, middle school education, or special education.
Typically, these degrees require students to complete a thesis before graduation, although not every program does. Some also require that their students get practical experience teaching English in a classroom before completing their degree.
TESOL Careers and Salaries
After graduating with a Master of TESOL degree, most graduates pursue roles in the educational arena. They typically work toward jobs where they can help teach others to speak, read, and write English.
These jobs may look like kindergarten and elementary school teachers, English as a second language teachers, and middle school teachers. Professionals in the field may also work as foreign language and literature teachers. K-12 teaching roles often require a teaching license. Your TESOL concentration and prior education could also impact your job qualifications and career trajectory.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the below jobs are examples of careers aligned with TESOL. Some of these roles require specialized education or training beyond an M.A. in TESOL.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|K-12 Education Administrators||$101,320|
|Postsecondary Education Administrators||$99,940|
|Special Education Teachers — Kindergarten and Elementary School||$62,390|
|Middle School Teachers||$61,810|
|Elementary School Teachers||$61,690|
|Adult Basic and Secondary Education and ESL Teachers||$58,590|
|Interpreters and Translators||$53,640|
|Preschool and Childcare Center Directors||$49,690|
TESOL professionals with a masters may also work in educational administration roles, such as postsecondary education administrators and instructional coordinators. Some graduates pursue roles outside of school settings that involve communicating in multiple languages, such as interpreters and translators.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that many roles associated with TESOL will experience steady job growth over the next ten years. For instance, job openings for kindergarten, elementary, and special education teachers are expected to grow by 4%.
MA in TESOL Online Curriculum & Courses
The required coursework for a masters degree in TESOL can vary by school, but here are a few courses you may encounter:
- Methods of Teaching English as a Second Language: You’ll learn about different techniques of teaching English to people who are not fluent.
- Second-Language Acquisition Theories: This class explores ideologies behind learning English as a second language, including different linguistic and cognitive theories.
- History of the English Language: You’ll dive deep into the history of the English language through the perspective of linguistics, sociology, and more.
- Literacy in Bilingual Settings: This course covers different strategies to teach English to preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school students.
- School, Community, and Family Culture: You’ll learn the relationship between schools, communities, and families to understand how to best influence students’ learning capabilities.
- Linguistics: This class covers the basics of linguistics so you can incorporate this knowledge into your teaching practice.
- Technology Enhanced Instruction: You’ll learn how to use different types of technology—including podcasts, presentation software, and online projects—to better teach students.
- Language Assessment Theory and Practice: This course delves into how to assess and place students according to their knowledge level of the English language.
- Grammar for TESOL: You’ll learn about basic grammar rules and how to effectively teach them to people who aren’t fluent in English.
- Brain-Based Learning: This class covers research about how the brain works, which you can use to create lesson plans and curriculums tailored to your students.
In addition to classes like these, you may get the opportunity to participate in internships or practicums as part of your TESOL master’s degree.
While the admissions requirements for TESOL masters programs vary by school, here are a few common ones you may see:
- Bachelor’s degree
- Letters of recommendation
- Undergraduate transcripts
- Personal statement
Since applicants to masters programs may already have several years of work experience, some schools want to see a resume as part of the application process. Most programs require you to submit your undergraduate transcripts so they can look at your GPA, major, and coursework.
TESOL Graduate Programs Accreditation
When choosing a school for your TESOL masters program, it’s strategic to look into schools that are regionally accredited.
When a school has this status, a third-party regional accrediting organization has determined it meets a series of academic quality standards. It may benefit your job search after graduation to have attended this type of school, as employers may prefer or require applicants to have an education from an accredited institution.
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You can learn more about regional accreditation and explore accredited schools at the US Department of Education’s website.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you’re interested in exploring financial aid options, you might start by looking into the different types of government assistance that are available to qualifying students.
You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you qualify for federal aid. Your state might offer aid programs as well. Graduate students may also be able to apply for direct unsubsidized loans, in which their school will determine how much they can borrow. You don’t need to show financial need to apply for this type of loan.
Many employers also offer tuition benefits to workers who are furthering their education and professional development.
What Is a TESOL MA Degree?
An MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) is a masters degree that delves into techniques, theories, and research surrounding teaching English to non-native speakers. This type of program may also dive into history of the English language and major works of literature.
A TESOL MA degree can cover subjects like linguistics, language assessment theory, grammar, and technology related to instruction. These programs typically help prepare students to pursue roles as ESL teachers for children and adults. Graduates may also pursue roles in education administration and curriculum design.
What Can You Do with an Online MA in TESOL?
Many graduates with an online MA in TESOL pursue roles as ESL teachers, adult basic and secondary education teachers, and kindergarten and elementary school teachers. Online English teaching degree graduates may also pursue teaching in middle school and high school. Most K-12 teaching positions in public schools require teaching licensure.
Professionals in the field might also work in roles that bridge the gap between English and a foreign language, such as interpreters and translators. They may also pursue jobs in education administration, like instructional coordinators and elementary school principals.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in TESOL Online?
The timeframe for completing a masters in TESOL can vary depending on your school’s program structure and your enrollment status.
For instance, if you attend a 36 credit hour program and your school doesn’t have a thesis requirement, you may be able to graduate in as little as 1 year. This timeframe assumes that you are enrolled full-time, including during the summer.
If you attend school part-time or take summers off, it may take longer to graduate. Completing a thesis requirement could extend the length of your program as well.
Is an Online Masters in TESOL Degree Worth It?
Yes, an online masters in TESOL degree is worth it for many students. If you’re looking for ways to experience other cultures in your profession, you may get the chance to do so by teaching English to non-native speakers. These degrees can also help prepare you for a wide range of career pursuits in the education arena.
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Professionals in the industry may work as kindergarten, elementary, and middle school teachers. They may also work as adult educators, instructional coordinators, preschool center directors, or education administrators. Overall employment for education, training, and library occupations is expected to see 7% job growth over the next ten years (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Universities Offering Online Masters in TESOL Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Arizona State University offers an online program for a Master of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The curriculum typically teaches concepts like computer-assisted language learning, classroom pedagogy, curriculum design, and English grammar for TESOL. The program requires the completion of 10 courses, equivalent to 30 credit hours. Classes are usually about 7.5 weeks long each.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Eastern University offers a Master of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program online. Potential classes include Multicultural Education, Theories of Second Language Acquisition, and Early Literacy Foundations. On average, the 30 required credit hours are completed in 12 to 18 months when attending classes full-time. Incoming cohorts may start the program every 7 weeks.
Eastern University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Florida State University offers an online program for a Master of Science in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The program aims to help prepare for entry into careers such as TESOL teacher, language assessment specialist, education consultant, or program administrator. The program requires the completion of at least 33 credit hours.
Florida State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
George Mason University offers a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction for TESOL program online. The program is designed to equip educators for non-licensure teaching roles in diverse settings. The program requires the completion of 30 credits and typically teaches topics like cultural inquiry, literacy foundations, linguistics, teaching methodology, and student assessment.
George Mason University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Grand Canyon University offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Classes typically run 6 weeks long each. The program requires the completion of at least 32 credits of courses and 110 hours of observational and practice-based experiences.
Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Middlebury Institute of International Studies offers a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program online. Potential courses include Practices of Language Teaching, Second Language Acquisition, and Structure of English. With full-time attendance, the program’s 40 required credit hours may be completed in 2 years.
Middlebury Institute of International Studies is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.
Murray State University offers a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program online. The program aims to provide comprehensive knowledge of linguistics, language pedagogy, student assessment, and cultural instruction. The program aims to teach competencies in linguistics, language pedagogy, assessment, and culture.
Murray State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southeast Missouri State University offers a Master of Arts in TESOL program online. The program is designed to help prepare for entry into careers such as instructional coordinators, overseas ESL educators, and international program coordinators. The program aims to deepen an understanding of linguistics, first and second language acquisition, and literacy acquisition in a second or additional language.
SEMO is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
St. John’s University offers a Master of Science in Education with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The program aims to address the needs of educators interested in working with linguistically and culturally diverse learners. The completion of 33 credit hours is required.
St. John’s University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Kansas offers a Master of Science in Education with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The program seeks to prepare educators for instruction in early childhood, PK to 12, and adult education settings. Classes are typically 8 weeks long each.
The University of Kansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of North Dakota offers a Master of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program online. Coursework may be completed via streaming video content, lesson modules, recorded lectures, virtual libraries, and online simulations. The curriculum consists of 32 total credits. The program typically culminates with a 90 hour practicum experience in the field.
UND is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Northern Colorado offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This program is intended for those who have a bachelor’s degree and at least 1 year of teaching experience. The completion of at least 30 credits is required. The program usually offers new admissions 3 times each year.
The University of Northern Colorado is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Southern California offers an MA in TESOL program online, but with hands-on experience typically gained through teaching practicums in the field. The program aims to provide the skills and training needed to close opportunity gaps for underserved students around the world. It is designed to do this through exceptional teaching, critical Inquiry, and transformative advocacy.
USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The University of Southern Maine offers an online program for a Master of Science in Education with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
The program aims to help prepare for pursuing careers such as K to 12 teachers, ESOL instructors, overseas teachers, and international volunteers. The 30 required credits may be completed in as few as 10 months. Several yearly start dates are commonly available.
The University of Southern Maine is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Wilson College offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Potential classes include Technology Integration in the Classroom, Applied Linguistics for TESOL, and Differentiated Instruction. A bachelor’s degree and K to 12 teacher certification are required for entry into the program.
Wilson College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Getting Your TESOL Masters Online
If you love learning the ins and outs of the English language and are hoping to pursue a career in teaching, you might consider getting your TESOL masters online.
Students in these programs typically get to learn about the historical, cultural, and societal impacts of language. You may also study more technical aspects of English, such as grammar and linguistics. Professionals in the field often work in schools, educational centers, government institutions, non-profits, and more.
To get started on your journey toward your TESOL masters, you could begin exploring accredited universities and seeing what types of programs catch your eye and match your interests.