Best Online Master’s in English Language Teaching

by TBS Staff

Updated September 29, 2022

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that graduate degree holders have higher employment rates than those with only a bachelor’s degree. Earning a master’s in ESL is a great way to increase your salary as an English language instructor, and to qualify for more diverse and lucrative job opportunities. With the number of English language learning students on the rise in the United States, the need for qualified instructors is also growing, making right now an ideal time to begin a TESOL master’s program.

Featured Online Schools

The Best Online Master’s in English Language Learning Degree Programs

#1 Best Online Master’s in English Language Teaching

The University of Southern California

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in English language learning degree at the University of Southern California, located in Los Angeles, uses a flexible distance learning format. Graduates prepare for advanced roles in the field during the rigorous master of arts in teaching — teaching English to speakers of other languages program. After earning a master's degree, candidates also pursue careers in new industries.

The master's curriculum covers theoretical and practical approaches to English language learning. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. The master's program builds on prior English language learning experience during a bachelor's program.

Online enrollees gain hands-on experience during professional internships in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional network through internships and online events.

The University of Southern California at a Glance:

Type of School: Private 

Admission Rate: 11%

Total Online Master's Programs: 55

Program Name: Master of Arts in Teaching — Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduate Tuition In State: $46,272

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $46,272

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,256
Out-of-state
$57,256
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
48,321
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Best Online Master’s in English Language Teaching

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Baltimore, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County offers an online master's in English language learning. The master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages program emphasizes specialized skills, preparing graduates for increased responsibilities and a higher earning potential. A master's degree can also prepare candidates for opportunities in new fields.

The master's curriculum blends theory and practice to provide an advanced understanding of English language learning. Learners focus their training by choosing electives based on their interests and career goals. Applicants with a background in English language learning typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees gain real-world experience through internships offered in their local area. Internships and other practicum activities also provide professional networking opportunities.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 61%

Total Online Master's Programs: 4

Program Name: Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduate Tuition In State: $11,862

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $20,376

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,704
Out-of-state
$24,338
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
61%
Students Enrolled
13,602
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 Best Online Master’s in English Language Teaching

Trevecca Nazarene University

  • Nashville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Trevecca Nazarene University offers an online master's in English language learning. The master of education in English as a second language program emphasizes specialized skills, preparing graduates for increased responsibilities and a higher earning potential. Earning a master's degree helps candidates move into a new career path or advance in their current field.

The master's curriculum examines theoretical and practical perspectives on English language learning. Participants prepare for focused career paths by choosing electives and concentrations. Applicants without a degree in English language learning or a related field may need to meet prerequisite requirements to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. Internships and other practicum activities build both hands-on experience and professional connections.

Trevecca Nazarene University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private 

Admission Rate: 62%

Total Online Master's Programs: 15

Program Name: Master of Education in English as a Second Language

Graduate Tuition In State: $9,917

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $9,917

Average Tuition
In-state
$25,198
Out-of-state
$25,198
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
62%
Students Enrolled
4,088
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Best Online Master’s in English Language Teaching

SUNY College at Brockport

  • Brockport, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in English language learning degree at SUNY College at Brockport, located in Brockport, New York, uses a flexible distance learning format. The master of science in education in teaching English to speakers of other languages program uses a rigorous curriculum to prepare graduates for advanced roles in the field. A master's degree also helps candidates pursue new career paths.

The master's curriculum incorporates theoretical and applied approaches. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. The admission requirements include a background in English language learning or a related field.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to participate in hands-on experiences and networking events to grow their professional connections.

SUNY College at Brockport at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 55%

Total Online Master's Programs: 7

Program Name: Master of Science in Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduate Tuition In State: $11,310

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $23,100

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,070
Out-of-state
$16,980
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
55%
Students Enrolled
7,924
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 Best Online Master’s in English Language Teaching

Multnomah University

  • Portland, OR
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's in English language learning degree at Multnomah University, located in Portland, Oregon, prioritizes flexibility. Graduates train for leadership roles in the field while earning their degree from the master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages program. After completing a master's degree, candidates advance in their current field or pursue new opportunities.

The master's curriculum examines theoretical and practical perspectives on English language learning. Participants focus the program with electives or a concentration. The program recommends that applicants bring a background in English language learning or a related field.

Online enrollees coordinate with the program to complete internships at approved sites in their local area. Internships and other practicum activities also provide professional networking opportunities.

Multnomah University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private 

Admission Rate: 53%

Total Online Master's Programs: 6

Program Name: Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduate Tuition In State: $13,440

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,440

Average Tuition
In-state
$26,440
Out-of-state
$26,440
Retention Rate
52%
Admission Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
635
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#6 Best Online Master’s in English Language Teaching

The University of Northern Iowa

  • Cedar Falls, IA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's in English language learning degree at the University of Northern Iowa, located in Cedar Falls, Iowa, prioritizes flexibility. The master of arts in education in teaching English to speakers of other languages program emphasizes industry-relevant knowledge and skills, preparing graduates for decision-making responsibilities. A master's degree can also train candidates for roles in new industries.

The master's curriculum covers theoretical and practical approaches to English language learning. Participants choose electives and concentrations to prepare for focused career paths. Applicants with a background in English language learning typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees coordinate with the program to complete internships at approved sites in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to expand their professional connections through internships and networking events.

The University of Northern Iowa at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 79%

Total Online Master's Programs: 14

Program Name: Master of Arts in Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduate Tuition In State: $9,159

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $21,375

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,665
Out-of-state
$19,949
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
10,477
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
26% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Best Online Master’s in English Language Teaching

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

  • Charlotte, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte hosts a top-ranked master's in English language learning program. The master of arts in teaching in teaching English as a second language program uses a rigorous curriculum to prepare graduates for advanced roles in the field. A master's degree can also prepare candidates for opportunities in new fields.

The master's curriculum emphasizes theory and practice in English language learning. Participants individualize the course of study by selecting electives and concentrations. Applicants who majored in English language learning or a related field typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees work with the program to arrange professional internships at approved locations in their local area. Graduate students also build professional connections by attending networking events.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 65%

Total Online Master's Programs: 12

Program Name: Master of Arts in Teaching in Teaching English as a Second Language

Graduate Tuition In State: $4,337

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $17,771

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,812
Out-of-state
$17,246
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
65%
Students Enrolled
29,615
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 Best Online Master’s in English Language Teaching

Kennesaw State University

  • Kennesaw, GA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Kennesaw State University, located in Kennesaw, Georgia, offers a flexible online master's in English language learning. Graduates prepare for advanced roles in the field during the rigorous master of education in teaching English to speakers of other languages program. A master's degree helps candidates advance in their current field or pursue a new career path.

The master's curriculum emphasizes the best practices in English language learning. Program participants choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. The program encourages applicants to gain experience in English language learning before applying to the program.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. Internships and other practicum activities build both hands-on experience and professional connections.

Kennesaw State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 75%

Total Online Master's Programs: 20

Program Name: Master of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,328

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $19,188

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,450
Out-of-state
$15,704
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
37,807
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 Best Online Master’s in English Language Teaching

Southeast Missouri State University

  • Cape Girardeau, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Cape Girardeau, Southeast Missouri State University hosts a top-ranked master's in English language learning program. The master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages emphasizes industry-relevant knowledge and skills, preparing graduates for decision-making responsibilities. A master's degree can also prepare candidates for opportunities in new fields.

The master's curriculum emphasizes the best practices in English language learning. Program participants focus their training by choosing electives based on their interests and career goals. Applicants who majored in English language learning or a related field for the bachelor's typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees work with the program to arrange professional internships at approved locations in their local area. Graduate students grow their professional connections through internships and virtual networking events.

Southeast Missouri State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 86%

Total Online Master's Programs: 13

Program Name: Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,242

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $9,796

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,606
Out-of-state
$12,636
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
86%
Students Enrolled
10,637
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#10 Best Online Master’s in English Language Teaching

Sam Houston State University

  • Huntsville, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's degree in English language learning at Sam Houston State University, located in Huntsville, Texas, offers high academic quality. The master of education in teaching English to speakers of other languages program strengthens industry-specific skills, preparing graduates for leadership responsibilities. A master's degree can also lead candidates to new career paths.

The master's curriculum explores English language learning research and methodologies. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. Applicants with a background in English language learning typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to expand their professional connections through internships and networking events.

Sam Houston State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 83%

Total Online Master's Programs: 27

Program Name: Master of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,765

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,361

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,856
Out-of-state
$15,984
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
21,558
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Choosing a Program

Most ESL master’s degree programs will offer slightly different courses and they may have different graduation requirements. These programs are not identical, and you will want to consider your own academic and professional goals to decide which type of program best suits you. For example, some programs offer the opportunity to pursue a concentration like multiculturalism. Pursuing a concentration will specialize your degree, may prolong your time–to–completion, and could impact the types of careers you consider after graduation.

Despite their differences, all these accredited online programs prepare you to effectively teach English to English language learners. TESOL master’s programs cover several important topics, including second language acquisition, theories in language practice, language instruction, and research. Some programs also require fieldwork, a thesis project, or an internship to graduate. As you search for the right school to complete your degree, consider how these different requirements fit into your educational and vocational goals.

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Online Master’s in English Language Learning Careers

Any graduate degree in teaching prepares you for a variety of careers; you are not limited to teaching. Experience with second–language learning is an especially valuable skill in today’s culturally and linguistically diverse workforce. The careers below are just a few examples of paths that graduates of TESOL master’s programs can pursue.

Instructional Coordinators
Instructional coordinators work at all levels of education, from primary to postsecondary. They create instructional material and curriculums, oversee their implementation, and evaluate their effectiveness and while making necessary adjustments. They may work in a specific school district, for an independent education company, or for the government.
  • Median Annual Salary: $62,460
  • Projected Growth Rate: 10%
School and Career Counselors
Advanced training in TESOL prepares you to work among students with diverse backgrounds and needs. School and career counselors guide students of all levels and backgrounds to meet their academic and career goals by graduation. These counselors generally work in secondary schools, but some may find employment in postsecondary institutions as academic advisors.
  • Median Annual Salary: $54,560
  • Projected Growth Rate: 11%
Postsecondary Teachers
A master's degree may qualify you to teach in higher education, particularly in community colleges. As a TESOL-qualified instructor, you have the unique qualification to work with students who may need extra help in their English-language speaking coursework. You may also teach English specifically to groups of these language learning students.
  • Median Annual Salary: $75,430
  • Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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