Best Online Master’s in English Language Learning Programs 2021

by TBS Staff
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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

University of Southern California View School Profile Los Angeles, CA 92% 29% 18% The University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WASC-SCUC).

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.

University of Maryland-Baltimore County View School Profile $$$ Baltimore, MD 68% 37% 9% University of Maryland - Baltimore County is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

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.

Trevecca Nazarene University View School Profile Nashville, TN 54% 53% 42% Trevecca Nazarene University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

SUNY College at Brockport View School Profile $$ Brockport, NY 65% 68% 24% SUNY College at Brockport is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

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.

Multnomah University View School Profile Portland, OR 63% 82% 38% Multnomah University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

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.

University of Northern Iowa View School Profile $$$ Cedar Falls, IA 65% 56% 25% The University of Northern Iowa is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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).

University of North Carolina at Charlotte View School Profile $$ Charlotte, NC 59% 53% 28% The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Kennesaw State University View School Profile $$$ Kennesaw, GA 43% 49% 42% Kennesaw State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Emporia State University View School Profile $$ Emporia, KS 45% 66% 54% Emporia State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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.

Southeast Missouri State University View School Profile $$ Cape Girardeau, MO 49% 45% 45% Southeast Missouri State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

Sam Houston State University View School Profile $$ Huntsville, TX 52% 48% 53% Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

SHSU is a public university located in Huntsville, Texas. Founded in 1879, it offers more than 90 bachelor's, 55 master's, and ten doctoral programs, in addition to various certificate and online programs.

SHSU's master of education in teaching English to speakers of other languages is an online program that spreads over 30 credits. The program trains students to become ESL/EFL professionals at various levels.

Those seeking admission must submit a graduate application with a non-refundable fee of $45. Other admission requirements include submitting official undergraduate transcripts, one letter of recommendation, and a writing sample.

Webster University View School Profile Saint Louis, MO 59% 54% 43% Webster University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Webster is a private university located in Webster Groves, Missouri. Founded in 1915, the university offers more than 160 programs in a variety of study options.

Webster's master of arts in teaching English as a second language is an online program with three emphases to choose from - ESL/EFL education, international education, and K-12 English language learner education emphasis. The program spreads over 33 credits and comprises subjects such as second language acquisition, language and culture, teaching English pronunciation, and principles and practices of language testing.

Students must also complete three credits of a practicum experience in ESOL at the end of the program to be eligible for the degree.

Interested candidates must hold an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher to be eligible for admission. In addition, students must fill an online application and submit relevant baccalaureate transcripts.

Concordia University-Nebraska View School Profile Seward, NE 63% 49% 33% Concordia University - Nebraska is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Concordia is a private, Lutheran university located in Seward, Nebraska. Established in 1894, the university offers various undergraduate, graduate, dual credit, and online programs.

The master of education in teaching English to speakers of other languages is a 100% online program that spreads over 36 credits. Students can complete the program in two years by taking one course per eight-week term or choose the fast track option to complete the program within 18 months.

Applicants require submitting an online form along with official transcripts, a resume, and a letter of intent in 500-750 words for admission.

University of Rhode Island View School Profile $$$ Kingston, RI 67% 63% 21% The University of Rhode Island is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

URI is a public land-grant research university located in Kingston, Rhode Island. Founded in 1892, URI offers 103 bachelor's, 78 graduate, and 22 certificate programs.

URI's school of education offers a master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages. The online program is available in three areas of focus: english as a second language (ESL), bilingual dual language immersion (BDL), and education in a range of settings outside of public schools, including international settings. Students enrolled in the program typically learn subjects such as second language acquisition and assessment, literacy for multicultural populations, and structured english immersion and sheltered english.

Candidates with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 can apply via an online application. Other admission requirements include undergraduate transcripts, relevant teaching certification, a resume, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Regent University View School Profile Virginia Beach, VA 59% 80% 91% Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Regent is a private Christian university located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Founded in 1977, the university offers various programs across 150 unique areas of study.

Regent's master of education in teaching English to speakers of other languages is an online program that spreads over 30 credits. The program trains students for career roles as ESL/EFL teachers, ESL/EFL administrators, and international teachers/ administrators. Notable courses include developmental leadership, linguistics, multi-cultural education, and first and second language acquisition.

Interested students must fill an online application form with a non-refundable application fee of $50. They must also submit transcripts from previously attended institutions and a government-issued ID. The admission process also requires applicants to complete an admissions questionnaire.

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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