Best Online Master’s in English Language Learning Programs

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Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleMaster'sin English Language Learning2017
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By and large, schools design their online master’s in English language learning programs for teachers and administrative leaders interested in obtaining or strengthening their teaching skills. Learners discover how to instruct and create a curriculum for English as a second language (ESL) or English language learning (ELL) programs. As the nation becomes more multicultural, the need for ESL teachers continues to increase. Schools must also learn to create programs and initiatives that engage students who are not native English speakers. The BLS reports that demand for teachers is growing by 7%. In addition to a career in education, graduates from master’s in English teaching programs may find work in a variety of industries, such as tutoring or translating.


The best online master’s degree in English language learning programs are designed for teachers interested in expanding their ESL skills. Currently licensed teachers learn new techniques that they can incorporate into their daily interactions with students. Administrators learn the art of creating an effective ESL curriculum. Both teachers and administrators develop a unique perspective that helps them connect to ESL students. They also learn the differences between teaching English in foreign countries and teaching in countries where English is the native language.


Most online master’s in English language learning programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree and a valid teaching license. Applicants should have some experience with instructing a class. Administrators interested in applying to this program should also have a valid administrator’s license. State law requires teachers to have work experience prior to applying for a teaching license. Typically, prerequisites vary according to the school and online program. Some programs offer certification and degrees simultaneously.


An online degree program provides the flexibility and convenience ESL teachers need. Learners can work individually at their own pace or within a group. Learners can also work full or part-time while completing a program. Most programs require students to dedicate a certain number of hours per week to coursework. Instructors work with students to provide direction and help when necessary. Academic advisors are always available to guide students and ensure they stay on track to graduate.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
1 University of Southern California 79.78 2% Los Angeles, CA

Located in Los Angeles, USC delivers a master's of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) that interweaves theoretical underpinnings with practical fieldwork. The online program, designed for novice and experienced faculty, features coursework organized across four categories: foundations, teaching methods, language and literacy, and field experience/capstone portfolio. Field experience includes a teaching practicum for new teachers or a capstone project for veteran educators. Students begin fieldwork by tackling an ethnographic case study of an ESL (English as a Second Language) learner. The next term, candidates design and administer a classroom-based assessment and lead an English workshop for English language learners. In their final term, students undertake a professional development project.

Earning USC's master's in ESL online takes 15-20 months for full-time students or up to three years for part-time students. Program sessions begin in January, May, and September with applications accepted on a rolling basis. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree with a GPA above 3.0 and submit a completed application along with a $90 fee, three personal essays, a resume, and two letters of recommendation.

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2 Texas A & M University-College Station 65.82 3% College Station, TX

More bilingual education teachers graduate from Texas A&M University than anywhere else in the state. Located in College Station, A&M features a 36-credit bilingual education master's (of science or education) program covering theory, methodology, and application. Required courses include bilingual assessment and monitoring students, teacher action research in bilingual education, and techniques of research. The program also provides students with abundant fieldwork opportunities. To graduate with their ESL degree online, students must choose between a thesis and oral defense, or a comprehensive exam. At students' preference, classes may be 100% online or consist of a hybrid format that includes face-to-face meetings, video conferencing, and online content. Graduates leave the program prepared for the Bilingual Education Supplemental Exam.

Applicants should have at least a 3.0 GPA and submit letters of recommendation along with a personal biographical profile. A&M's admissions committee will consider other factors, including foreign language fluency, interpersonal skills, life and work experiences, and career goals. Application deadlines are October 15 and March 15 for spring and summer/fall admissions, respectively.

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3 University of Northern Iowa 60.12 18% Cedar Falls, IA

UNI's master's of arts in TESOL is designed for those who want to teach overseas or at community colleges, and for K-12 teachers who want to boost their employability. Throughout the program, students learn about cultural aspects of teaching language, linguistics, and common problems in English grammar.

UNI delivers its online courses through a combination of video conferencing using Adobe Connect and eLearning using the Blackboard learning management system. During the fall and spring semesters, the university structures courses in eight-week modules with sessions on Thursday evenings. Students progress through the curriculum in a cohort. Graduates find that UNI's master's in TESOL prepares them for a variety of ESL jobs. Currently, program graduates teach in more than 25 countries across five continents; others are U.S.-based K-12 teachers.

Prospective applicants should have a minimum 3.0 GPA, though a GPA as low as 2.76 may lead to provisional admission. Students can transfer graduate credits earned within the past seven years with a grade of B- or better. Unlike most ESL master's programs online, UNI's program has no entrance exam requirements.

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4 Dominican University 58.65 15% River Forest, IL

Located in River Forest, Illinois, Dominican offers an endorsement in English as a second language (ESL). The program, available entirely online, enables licensed or prospective teachers to obtain the endorsement they need to teach ESL. With the endorsement in hand, graduates can then opt to complete a master's degree in education in only a few additional semesters.

Throughout Dominican's program, students become familiar with assessment methods, linguistics and language development, and instruction materials. The endorsement requires students to complete 100 clock hours of experience working with ESL learners or three months at ESL teaching jobs. While the endorsement requires students to complete 18 semester credits, those with an Illinois teaching license and learning behavior specialist I endorsement may choose to instead pursue an ESL approval, which requires just 9 semester credits. Graduates with an approval can work with ESL learners who have an individualized education plan; graduates with an endorsement can work with anyone in the age range for which the endorsement was awarded. Students typically complete Dominican's endorsement program in three or four semesters.

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5 Hamline University 57.99 6% Saint Paul, MN

Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Hamline's School of Education helps current and prospective teachers learn how to motivate students while assessing and developing their capabilities in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The university's master of arts in TESOL degree is a fully online, 34-credit program designed for those with a passion for teaching ESL to migrant populations.The 28 prescribed credits include courses on applied phonetics and phonology, introduction to applied linguistics, and English teaching practices. Students must also enroll in six elective credits, and can choose among subjects like development of literacy skills, technology enhanced language learning, and advanced linguistic analysis.

Hamline's ESL master's online program begins in the fall term and takes five or six terms to complete. Transfer students can apply as many as six semester credits of graduate work from another institution toward the degree's elective requirements. To apply for the program, prospective students need to complete an online application and submit transcripts with at least a 3.0 GPA (2.5-2.9 for possible provisional admission), two recommendation letters, and a two-page essay describing their career goals.

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6 The New School 57.72 12% New York, NY

The New School, in New York City, offers a teacher training program that emphasizes social action and community improvement. Students can complete the New School's 30-credit master's of arts in TESOL entirely online and can choose to specialize in teaching or curriculum development. Course content addresses current political, social, and cultural issues with outreach programs involving multilingual families or victims of violence. Throughout the curriculum, students witness firsthand how learning English can empower underserved communities.

The New School's master's in ESL online requires students to complete 15 credits of core courses in addition to 15 credits of courses in their concentration. Core courses cover topics like language analysis and principles of language learning. Electives include teaching pronunciation and teaching young learners. The New School delivers its online courses in an asynchronous format.

Most part-time students earn their ESL degree online within 20 months, but full-time students can finish in as little as 15 months. Along with their application, prospective students should submit a 1,000-word statement of purpose, transcripts, resume, and recommendation letters. Applicants must also complete a personal interview before they can earn admission.

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7 Webster University 55.68 18% Saint Louis, MO

Webster features a master's of arts in teaching ESL wherein candidates study phonology, dialects, and language structure. Throughout the program, students develop a solid theoretical understanding of second language acquisition as it relates to curriculum development, methodology, and assessment. Students pursuing Webster's master's in ESL online can choose between two tracks: an adult education emphasis, which requires no prior teaching experience, or a K-12 English language learner education emphasis, which requires licensure. Each track consists of 33 credits with 24 required courses and nine elective credits.

To be eligible for admission to the program, applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and must submit transcripts along with an essay describing their teaching philosophy. Webster highly recommends two semesters of a foreign language with a "B" or better for native English speakers. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate.

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8 University of Maryland-Baltimore County 55.16 4% Baltimore, MD

Like other online ESL master's degree programs, UMBC's master's of arts in TESOL program features an optional, substantial internship component for those seeking hands-on experience. In completing the required 36 credits, students can choose to complete a thesis, an internship/practicum, and/or add on K-12 ESOL certification. UMBC's noncertification, paid internships involve three to six months of teaching in the U.S. or abroad, where the university has internship agreements in Ecuador, Mexico, Bolivia, and Peru.

Distance learners at UMBC study at their own pace. Full-time students typically earn their degree within 18 months, while part-time students generally finish in 30 months. Those who choose to participate in an internship or add on K-12 ESOL certification might need an extra semester to complete the program. UMBC students can transfer up to six credits toward their master's in ESL online. Prospective students can take a few courses that count for credit once the student is admitted. The program's application deadlines are August 1 for the fall semester, January 1 for spring, and May 1 for the summer session.

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9 McDaniel College 54.22 0% Westminster, MD

Respect for diversity and individual language rights is an integral component of the master's of science in TESOL at McDaniel in Westminster, Maryland. The 36-credit program stresses collaboration in a global community, respect for multiculturalism, and synergy between research and practice in improving the teaching of ESL. Required courses explore linguistics, grammar, assessment of learners, methods of teaching reading, and principles of language acquisition. Core courses are available entirely online, and students can choose to complete electives online, in a hybrid format, or in person. McDaniel holds in-person class sessions in the evening, Monday through Thursday, and on Saturday mornings.

McDaniel accepts applications for this ESL degree online year-round, but advises students to submit them well before due dates for enrollment in fall, spring, and summer sessions. Admission requirements include prerequisite courses in cross-cultural studies and a foreign language. Those applicants who lack a teaching certificate will need additional prerequisites in education and reading methods, in addition to evidence of proficiency in K-12 science and math and a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or better.

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10 Canisius College 53.78 7% Buffalo, NY

A Jesuit school located in Buffalo, New York, Canisius delivers a fully online, 30-credit master's degree in TESOL with an optional track that prepares students for certification to teach ESL to K-12 grades in the state. Courses cover topics like measurement and statistics, adolescent literacy, and emergent literacy. The program includes a supervised fieldwork requirement, which students can fulfill anywhere in the U.S. or internationally.

Like nearly all ESL master's programs online, Canisius' program features a flexible schedule, with sessions that begin in January, May-June, and late August and no application deadlines. To be eligible for admission, applicants must have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and submit a 300-word essay, test scores, two letters of recommendation, teaching certification, and 12 credits of a foreign language if they intend to pursue certification.

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11 Azusa Pacific University 52.92 18% Azusa, CA

Prospective and experienced teachers may be interested in APU's master of arts in TESOL. The program, which students can complete entirely online, in the field, or on campus, adopts a Christian perspective in preparing them to teach ESL to diverse populations in various environments. The field-based option allows students who secure a two-year teaching contract abroad to earn their degree while they teach. Students on this track, who benefit from a tuition discount, meet with faculty in person twice a year for two weeks of instruction in Chiang Mai, Thailand, or Azusa, California.

Courses in the program explore language learning through technology, acquisition of a second language, sociolinguistics, and second-language pedagogy, among other topics. Students progress through the curriculum as a cohort. Full-time students usually take two courses each session and finish in 18 months. Part-time students generally finish the program in about three years. To earn their ESL master's online at APU, all students must create an online portfolio that demonstrates their competencies in 15 areas.

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12 Western Governors University 51.58 100% Salt Lake City, UT

Located in Salt Lake City, Utah, WGU was one of the first institutions of higher learning in the nation to offer a competency-based learning model. In that vein, the university's online master's of arts in English language learning (ELL) allows students to progress through the program by demonstrating their knowledge on assessment tests. Candidates study subjects like curriculum development, design, and evaluation. Additionally, students complete more than 15 hours of field experience that includes supervised teaching at elementary and secondary levels. They must also write a research-based curriculum unit that demonstrates their instructional capabilities. Students work with faculty mentors to develop personalized degree plans that determine their pace through the program. Those who spend 15-20 hours a week on coursework can graduate in about two years.

WGU does not grant transfer credits for professional experience, but will consider previous coursework. Unlike with most ESL master's programs online, the university charges a flat tuition rate regardless of how many courses students take each term, so those who accelerate their studies save both time and money.

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13 Concordia University-Nebraska 51.49 15% Seward, NE

Seward, Nebraska's Concordia University delivers a 36-credit master's of education in TESOL. The program prepares students to teach ESL and ELL in environments outside the classroom, such as refugee and migrant centers, and is also appropriate for those seeking to teach English abroad. Throughout the program, students learn about key concepts, theories, and research associated with language acquisition and the ways culture affects language development. Courses cover topics like psychological foundations, curriculum and assessment, linguistics, culture, acquisition, and word study. Armed with this knowledge, graduates are able to build supportive learning environments for their students.

The program includes a 45-credit practicum requirement, fulfilled at various intervals. Students take twelve courses, one at a time, during eight-week terms and can finish their degree in 24 months. If they choose, students can accelerate the program by doubling their course load and earn their degree within 18 months. Unlike some ESL master's programs online, Concordia-Nebraska allows applicants to transfer up to 25% of their required credits from another institution. The university does not require GRE or GMAT test scores.

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14 Emporia State University 50.58 20% Emporia, KS

ESU's 36-credit master's of arts in TESOL explores topics like instructional methodologies, language assessment/evaluation, research methods, sociolinguistics, computer-assisted learning, and cross-cultural communication. The degree ranks among top ESL master's programs online partially because its curriculum is designed to ensure that graduates leave with an appreciation for the rich diversity of cultures in the United States.

Thesis and non-thesis candidates must complete core courses totaling 21 credits and electives totaling 12 credits, all with a minimum 3.0 GPA. To graduate, students must also pass the TESOL Content PRAXIS Exam with a grade of 138 or better. Prospective students need three references, a resume, statement of purpose and a minimum 2.75 GPA. In their admission essay, applicants must describe their own ESL methodology, reflecting on language, how it is acquired and how it can be taught.

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15 Wilkes University 50.55 14% Wilkes-Barre, PA

Located in Pennsylvania, Wilkes delivers a 30-credit master's of science in TESOL as one of 16 online master's degrees. The program prepares students for a range of education careers and qualifies graduates for ESL jobs in public or private schools, community colleges, universities, intensive English programs, and corporate English programs, in the U.S. and abroad. Students learn about the application of linguistic terminology, the role of intercultural communication, and modern research in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. A required course on computer-assisted language learning (CALL) asks students to demonstrate what they've learned by developing a CALL project for second language learners.

To apply, prospective students need a minimum 3.0 GPA and undergraduate transcripts, along with two letters of recommendation. Wilkes allows students to transfer up to six credits toward their degree, provided they were completed within the past six years with a grade of B or better. The university accepts applications on a rolling basis.

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16 Concordia University-Chicago 50.22 19% River Forest, IL

Concordia Chicago's online master's of arts in TESOL was developed for those who wish to acquire subject matter knowledge and practical skills essential for teaching English in the U.S. and abroad. The university's 30-credit program will prepare students to find ESL jobs in community organizations, intensive English programs, colleges, and private companies. Courses in curriculum planning, second language acquisition, and applied philology culminate in a capstone project and a seminar in reflective practice, each demonstrating the candidate's mastery of the material. Students can complete the program in 12 or 24 months, taking one eight-week course at a time.

To begin studies in the fall, spring, or summer semesters, prospective students should submit an online application along with a statement of educational goals, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. To be considered for admission, applicants should have a minimum 2.85 GPA. Notably, Concordia Chicago guarantees that students without interruptions in their study will never be subject to any tuition increase.

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17 University of North Dakota 49.79 29% Grand Forks, ND

UND delivers a 35-credit master's in ELL education with an option to specialize in rural ELL/ESL education. Graduates are able to help ELL and ESL populations reach their full potential and advocate for them in schools and society. This part-time program is appropriate for certified teachers or noncertified professionals in related positions. Students learn from faculty who hold doctoral degrees and have backgrounds in the Peace Corps or teaching ESL to refugee, immigrant, and Native American populations. UND's two-year ESL master's online program requires 90 hours of supervised practicum experience in a K-12 public school. The university also advises students to attend an in-person seminar each semester.

Prospective students need a minimum 2.75 GPA, three letters of recommendation, an essay, and, for those not currently working, an issue-free criminal background check. The program has start dates in August and May. Online students pay the same tuition as in-state students, regardless of their state of residence.

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18 Asbury University 47.86 26% Wilmore, KY

Located in Wilmore, Kentucky, Asbury seeks to preserve its commitment to evangelical Christianity through its master's of arts in teaching ESL P-12. The part-time program is designed for those who already have teacher certification. The curriculum is ethically grounded in educational inquiry and professional competence, with a focus on Christian educational leadership. Students must complete coursework in subjects like intervention, instructional technologies, language sound systems, and grammatical structure. Candidates learn to assess student needs, analyze learning, and implement suitable interventions.

Asbury delivers its online courses in an asynchronous format using Adobe Connect. Open enrollment allows students to begin project-based, collaborative courses in the fall, spring, or summer. Each course lasts for seven weeks. Candidates need six semesters and a minimum 3.0 GPA to obtain their ESL degree online. Students can transfer nine semester hours of graduate-level credit with a B grade or better toward their degree. To be eligible for admission, applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA, PRAXIS exam scores, transcripts, three references, proof of teaching licensure, and to complete an interview with the chair of Educational Specialties.

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19 Sam Houston State University 45.56 37% Huntsville, TX

With the motto, "The measure of a life is its service," SHSU tries to honor its historical roots through the academic excellence of its programs. The Huntsville, Texas-based institution boasts 50 master's programs, including an online master's of education in TESOL. The 30-credit program addresses language instruction theories and best practices. Students review the psychological, linguistic, cognitive, and sociocultural premises of language and literacy, and learn how to incorporate technology to enhance instruction. Required courses make up 12 credits and students choose another six courses that may include gaming and literacy, English for specific purposes, or building relationships with diverse families and children. SHSU provides flexibility for its distance learners, offering classes online and at night.

Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and complete their master's in ESL online within six years. SHSU allows students to transfer up to six credits (earned with a grade of B or better) toward their degree. Prospective students should submit a completed application along with a nonrefundable $45 fee, a writing sample, and two letters of recommendation.

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20 Kennesaw State University 45.36 27% Kennesaw, GA

Located in Georgia, Kennesaw prepares teachers to educate an increasingly diverse student population. The university's master's of education in TESOL program covers teaching strategies in reading and writing, collaborative practices, and curriculum development. Students can complete the 36-credit program, which is available entirely online, in five semesters. Sample courses include collaborative practices, which helps candidates build effective family, school, and community partnerships to facilitate research-based instruction. The program also boasts a field experience component, centered on developing and implementing a lesson plan.

Content delivery for this ESL degree online may be asynchronous or synchronous, with an average course load of three courses in each of the first two semesters and two courses in the remaining three semesters. Kennesaw allows students to transfer nine credits toward their degree. Applicants must submit an online application with a $60 fee, valid teaching certificate, transcripts, a personal statement, resume, and two recommendations by July 1.

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21 Mercy College 45.18 47% Dobbs Ferry, NY

At Mercy in Dobbs Ferry, New York, future teachers dedicate themselves to serving the needs of English language learners from diverse cultural backgrounds by earning a master's of science in TESOL on one of two tracks. Those seeking initial certification take the 136-credit track, where they undertake a 15-week, supervised student teaching experience. Those seeking professional certification take the 133-credit track, where they complete a 20-day clinical practice experience in a pre-K-12 ESL school setting. Students on either track take courses like linguistics and language development and modern English structure.

Full-time candidates in the ESL degree online program enroll in nine to 12 credits each semester; part-time candidates take three to six credits. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA to graduate. Applicants can transfer up to six credits for prior courses taken. Admission to either track requires 12 credits of college-level work in a language other than English, a developmental psychology course, and completion of an e-portfolio. The initial certification track also requires an undergraduate major in the sciences or liberal arts.

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22 Murray State University 43.63 24% Murray, KY

Murray's master's of arts in TESOL program features opportunities in graduate assistantships to help students gain invaluable experience. The part-time ESL master's online is designed for working professionals, offering course loads of one or two classes per term. Program content covers topics like applied linguistics and professional practices, testing and evaluation in second language teaching, and computer assisted language learning.

Distance learners are eligible for in-state tuition. All candidates must complete an internship, paid or unpaid, in the U.S. or abroad. Murray's 33-credit master's program takes 24 to 36 months to finish. Prospective students who are native speakers of English will need to have completed an undergraduate major in English or a modern foreign language and have at least 12 credits in one modern foreign language. Applicants submit a $40 fee with their online application and transcripts showing an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better.

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23 St John's University-New York 43.59 14% Queens, NY

Students enrolled in SJU's master's of science in TESOL embark on a research-centric journey toward becoming multicultural ESL educators. This 33-credit program provides teachers with advanced knowledge of K-12 instructional programs for students with different linguistic and sociocultural backgrounds. SJU's master's in TESOL features two tracks: one designed for students with New York state certification, and one for those without it. Each track includes nine credits in foundational courses, 18 credits in professional core courses, and three credits each in special education and technology.

Students may choose to apply for a graduate assistantship or university fellowship within SJU's Education Department. These positions are awarded based on academic merit, and the university expects applicants to have at least a 3.20 GPA. Students enrolled in SJU's ESL degree online share access to financial aid, library resources, career services, and even tuition rates with on-campus students. Applications should include a statement of goals, transcripts, and results of either the GRE, MAT, or PRAXIS Core exam.

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24 Biola University 42.76 7% La Mirada, CA

Located in La Mirada, California, Biola's master's of arts in TESOL may appeal to Christian teachers of ESL who want to enhance their current skills. The program, available entirely online, consists of nine credits in foundational courses like the Bible/theology, 23 credits from core courses, three credits of elective courses in the Bible/theology, and six credits of electives in TESOL.

For most students, Biola's program begins in the fall, with specified start and end dates for each course and weekly assignments that require interaction with classmates in an asynchronous format. Students generally complete Biola's program in two to five years. All students must take a writing proficiency exam and have a minimum 3.0 GPA to graduate. Prospective students should have at least one year of experience teaching ESL and identify themselves as evangelical Christians. While candidates aren't required to hold current ESL jobs, they do need access to an ESL class for purposes of observation. Distance learners in Biola's TESOL master's program automatically receive a one-third in tuition when registering for TESOL classes online.

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25 The University of Texas of the Permian Basin 40.06 74% Odessa, TX

Odessa's UTPB delivers an online master's of arts in bilingual or ESL education. The program's bilingual option prepares Spanish-speaking students to work as educators in a bilingual setting, covering topics like cultural diversity, philosophical perspectives on learning, and the politics of bilingual education. Successful completion of the program for those with a teaching certificate in Texas readies graduates to take the bilingual supplemental exam. Those who choose to pursue their ESL master's online learn how to teach students whose native language is not English. Students who complete this option can take the ESL supplemental test in Texas.

Sample required courses for both options include educational psychology, issues and advanced problems in ESL, and methods of teaching ESL. Courses last nearly eight weeks each, with six start dates throughout the year. Students can complete the 36-hour program in two years. Applicants should submit evidence of a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or better, an essay describing their interest in the program, and two letters of recommendation.

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The best master’s degree in English learning language programs prepare professionals for the challenges inherent in teaching English as a second language. Each school has specific credit requirements and courses tailored to fit the needs of ESL and ELL teachers. Read below for more information about obtaining a master’s degree in English learning online.


Each online master’s degree program is carefully curated by the school. While details vary by program, learners can expect to encounter some variation of the following courses:

  • Language Production, Theory, and Acquisition: In this course, learners study how human beings employ, comprehend, and interpret language. The class takes a scientific look at ESL/ELL students and how they relate their own language to English.
  • Planning, Managing, and Implementing Instruction: Learners explore the keys to building an effective ESL/ELL curriculum. Coursework centers on helping learners better understand the thought process of ESL students, and how best to tailor coursework to their specific needs.
  • Assessment Theory and Practice: The material in this course largely focuses on standardized testing. Learners examine the structure of tests and how ESL students approach English-based assessments. Course instructors provide information regarding grading assessments and how to offer feedback. ESL teachers learn assessment strategies that provide positive learning outcomes.


As mentioned above, online master’s in English language learning programs vary according to a number of factors, such as a program’s curriculum and graduation requirements. Schools develop their curriculum based on credit hours, prerequisites, the aims of instructors, core courses, and electives. Applicants may be able to transfer credits depending on their school’s transfer credit policy. An enrollment counselor will be able to assist students with planning. On average, a student completes a master’s program in two years. Program start dates also vary, providing students with significant flexibility.

Individually paced programs focus on the student. Students work by themselves to complete coursework and projects. Instructors provide a syllabus and are on hand to answer questions. Cohort learning programs are primarily group-focused. Students work in groups to complete assignments and conduct discussion. Group members help each other stay on track to graduate. By design, cohort learning provides a more interactive experience for the student.

Regional and national accreditation are the two most popular forms of postsecondary accreditation. Accreditation agencies are tasked with monitoring schools, including their degree programs. These agencies ensure that schools provide students with the skills they need to be successful in their fields after graduation. To guarantee that educational institutions continue to meet their academic standards and guidelines, accreditation agencies review a school’s accreditation every three to five years.

Every student should understand the difference between regional and national accreditation. Six agencies award regional accreditation throughout the United States. Regional accreditation agencies ensure that nonprofit and for-profit post-secondary educational institutions uphold high academic and operational standards. National accreditation is usually reserved for vocational, trade, and career schools and nationally accredited programs are sometimes less expensive than regionally accredited programs. However, regional accreditation is by far the most popular and prestigious form of accreditation. Credits from regionally accredited schools are easily transferable and degrees from regionally accredited institutions are widely recognized by schools and employers throughout the country.

The United States Department of Education (ED) is a federal agency that oversees the country’s school system. The ED distributes funds to public and private schools and loans money to individual students. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is the primary accreditation agency for secondary schools. The CHEA works with the ED to monitor school programs and propose improvements within the accreditation process. The CHEA consists of thousands of schools, a list of which can be found on the Agency’s website. The ED also offers a list of accredited institutions on their website.


Graduates who hold an online master’s in English language learning often go on to pursue careers in education in the public or private sector. Students can work on curriculum development or course instruction. They may take jobs as school administrators, principals, superintendents, teachers, counselors, or district leaders. Graduates may also work as interpreters or translators for a variety of companies. Leaders interested in working with students one-on-one often enjoy a career as an ESL teacher. Professionals who plan on entering the corporate workforce can work for public or private companies as an interpreter, and may also work for government agencies. Consider the following positions:

  • Instructional Coordinator: Instructional coordinators use online master’s in English learning programs to study the mind of a student. Their job is to create a curriculum that will engage and educate learners. They work closely with ESL teachers to identify key objectives and learning outcomes. They also help teachers coordinate standardized testing and learning assessments.
  • ESL Teacher: ESL teachers interact with students daily to prepare them for the workforce. Instructors teach core subjects such as math, reading, science, and history. Teachers work with students to develop their English reading and speaking skills. ESL teachers are multilingual and they communicate with students using English and foreign languages.
  • Guidance Counselor: Guidance counselors at the middle and high school level assist students with career planning and navigating the school system. They may also provide mental health counseling. Guidance counselors help students apply for ESL/ELL classes and prepare for standardized tests.
Position Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate
Instructional Coordinator $62,460 7%
ESL Teacher $58,030 6%
Guidance Counselor $54,560 8%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


Certification is an extremely important component of a degree. Certification programs have rigorous standards. These programs are designed to ensure teachers are well-equipped to handle leading a school classroom, curriculum, or working with foreign language speakers. Each state has its own set of requirements for ESL teachers. Applicants must apply through the state’s board of education for a teaching certificate and subsequent certification. ESL Teacher certification requires a set amount of teaching hours.

  • Teaching English As a Foreign Language (TEFL): TEFL certification designed for for ESL instructors working in non-English speaking countries. It prepares teachers to instruct non-English speaking students and teach English as a foreign language.
  • Teaching English As A Second Language (TESOL): Instructors teaching English in a native-English speaking country should apply for this certification. TESOL certification provides them with the knowledge they’ll need to lead non-English speaking students and help them improve their conversational skills.


Salaries for the best online master’s degree in English language learning students continues to grow. Graduates in the field of education make the same amount or more than their non-ESL teaching counterparts. They also have the ability to work as translators or interpreters in industries outside of education. The need for interpreters and ESL teachers continues to grow as the cultural landscape changes. Salary varies based on years of experience, certification and degree, as well as state of employment.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Instructional Coordinator $59,961 $42,000 $54,000 $66,000
ESL Teacher $40,658 $39,000 $40,000 $52,000
Guidance Counselor $53,931 $44,000 $52,000 $68,000
Translator $45,438 $40,000 $46,000 $56,000
Adult Education Teacher $39,228 $38,000 $56,000 $70,000


Professional Organizations provide unmatched resources and support to ESL educators. Several organizations focus on bilingual and multilingual education and issues. Members benefit from the opportunity to network with ESL educators in the United States and beyond. They also have access to online courses, career centers, and teaching materials. These organizations are also advocate for the rights of multilingual students. The membership process for each organization varies (see their websites for more information).

Post-secondary education can be costly and students pay for their degrees through a variety of ways. The most common way to finance an education is a loan and students often take out public loans from the ED or private loans through a bank or third party. These loans provide students with immediate funds to pay tuition. Students can apply for funds given by the ED by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.