Best Online Master’s in English Language Teaching

by TBS Staff

Updated August 23, 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. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    A private research university established in 1880, USC provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs across 23 schools and divisions.

    USC's Rossier School of Education offers a masters of arts in teaching with an emphasis on teaching English to speakers of other languages. The 24-credit program is available in both full-time and part-time options. It also includes a fieldwork component and takes one to three years to complete.

    Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher can apply with the submission of official transcripts. Candidates must also submit personal essays, resumes, and letters of recommendation.

  2. University of Maryland-Baltimore County
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $17141

    A public university in Baltimore, Maryland, UMBC offers various bachelor's, master's, doctorate, and certificate programs over seven colleges and schools.

    UMBC's department of education offers the master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages program. Students can choose between general, P-12 certification, and thesis options. The flexible program allows students to take courses on-campus, completely online, or as a combination of the two.

    Applicants holding a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their bachelor's degree can apply to the program with three letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose.

  3. Trevecca Nazarene University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Trevecca is a private liberal arts university. Founded in 1901, it offers various bachelor's, master's, associate's, doctoral, specialist, and certificate programs.

    Trevecca's master of education in English as a second language program consists of 30 credits spread over 16 months. A blend of theory and application courses, the program also requires field experience for completion and is available entirely online. Notable coursework includes psychological foundations of learning, authentic language curriculum design, and language acquisition and learning.

    Interested students must fill the online application and submit transcripts from accredited undergraduate institutions, copies of government-issued identification, and writing samples.

  4. SUNY College at Brockport
    Location

    Brockport, NY

    Tuition

    $14723

    A public college in Brockport, SUNY Brockport, is a part of the State University of New York. Established in 1835, the university offers over 150+ undergraduate major, minor, and graduate programs.

    The Centre for Graduate Studies at SUNY offers the master of science in education in teaching English to speakers of other languages program in two formats: 100% online and hybrid. Students must achieve a minimum of 30 credits with 25 hours of field experience. Course topics include diversity in education, teaching reading to children with diverse needs, and research in linguistics and second language acquisition.

    Applicants with a baccalaureate degree from a four-year university with a minimum GPA of 3.0 can apply to the program. Students must also submit a resume, a letter of recommendation, and a statement of objectives.

  5. Multnomah University
    Location

    Portland, OR

    Multnomah is a private, Christian university located in Portland, Oregon. Started in 1936, MU offers various undergraduate, graduate, seminary, pre-professional, certificate, and online programs.

    Multnomah's master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages program spreads over two years and 37 semester hours. The program features courses such as language assessment and evaluation in addition to practical and internship courses.

    Interested candidates can fill an online application form with a $40 fee. They must also submit official transcripts from previous institutions and a Christian character reference form.

  6. University of Northern Iowa
    Location

    Cedar Falls, IA

    Tuition

    $16453

    UNI is a public university located in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Founded in 1876, UNI offers 90 majors across 160+ areas of study such as humanities, arts, business, education, etc.

    UNI's master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages is available online via the blackboard learning system and Zoom video conferencing. The program prepares students for teaching roles at the community, K-12, or other levels. Notable classes include introduction to linguistics, principles and practices in language teaching, and second language acquisition.

    Those seeking admission can fill an online form to express interest in joining the program. A fee of $40 is applicable with the online form.

    The University of Northern Iowa is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

  7. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
    Location

    Charlotte, NC

    Tuition

    $14987

    UNC Charlotte is a public research university located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Founded in 1946, UNC offers 90+ undergraduate and 100 graduate programs through nine colleges.

    UNC Charlotte's master of arts in teaching English as a second language program consists of 12 credits. The course delivery for the program happens online, and students can pursue additional credits to earn a master's graduate degree. Students typically learn subjects such as introduction to linguistics, teaching reading to English language learners, and research methods.

    Interested applicants possessing a graduate certificate with a minimum GPA of 3.5 can apply online for the master's program. Enrollees must also submit three recommendation letters and a statement of purpose.

  8. Kennesaw State University
    Location

    Kennesaw, GA

    Tuition

    $17618

    KSU is a public research university located in Kennesaw, Georgia. Founded in 1963, KSU offers various undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, professional, and online degrees through 11 colleges and departments.

    The master of education in teaching English for speakers of other languages program spreads over 18-24 months. It trains students to educate a diverse body of individuals in English through various inclusive practices.

    Interested students must fill an online application form with a $60 application fee and attach relevant transcripts from an accredited bachelor's institute. Only individuals with a minimum GPA of 2.75 and above are applicable.

  9. Emporia State University
    Location

    Emporia, KS

    Tuition

    $13670

    Founded in 1863, ESU is a public university located in Emporia, Kansas, that offers over 200 academic programs. The university is popularly known for its mascot, corky the hornet.

    ESU's master of arts in English is a 33-34 credit program with three concentration options: literature, creative writing, and community college/high school teaching. All students take the same core coursework followed by electives from their individual tracks. Regardless of the emphasis deleted, each student must take four courses in literature and two courses in language, rhetoric, or criticism.

    Applicants must submit their application with a reason to request admission with future plans. Other requirements include three letters of recommendation and a writing sample for those willing to take the creative writing emphasis.

  10. Southeast Missouri State University
    Location

    Cape Girardeau, MO

    Tuition

    $12468

    SEMO is a public university based in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Established in 1873, the university offers more than 145 undergraduate majors, 100 minors, and more than 75 graduate programs.

    The master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages program consists of 33 credits and happens entirely online. The teaching program also requires students to complete field experience and one of three available capstone options to be eligible for the degree. Course topics include sociolinguistics, foundations in linguistics, and theories of ESL/EFL learning.

    Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or above can submit an online form with relevant transcripts from previously attended institutes.

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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