Instructors and other professionals who work with English language learners help nonnative speakers achieve English proficiency and overcome other communication challenges. An online graduate certificate in English language learning (ELL) can expand career opportunities for teachers and other educators. This certificate can complement a graduate degree, or it may suffice for individuals who choose not to pursue an education beyond a bachelor's degree.

The need for ELL professionals continues to rise. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of nonnative-English speaking students in public schools in the U.S. rose from 3.8 million in 2000 to 5.0 million in 2017. Trends like this suggest an increasing need for educators and other professionals in ELL fields.

What Are the Best Online Graduate Certificate in ELL Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 5:

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Rank School Location
1 The University of Georgia Athens, GA
2 The University of North Florida Jacksonville, FL
3 George Washington University Washington, DC
4 Biola University La Mirada, CA
5 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students. Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2021 Best Accredited Online Graduate Certificate in ELL Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

The University of Georgia

Athens, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 86%

Based in Athens, the University of Georgia enrolls over 9,000 graduate students. The 15-credit online graduate certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages takes three semesters to complete.

Some core courses include classroom methodology and practice, tools for assessing development of language learners, bilingualism and bilingual education, and theories of first and second language acquisition. Students enrolled in the graduate certificate in English language learning finish the program with a guided practicum, where they can apply their newly learned teaching strategies.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution. UGA charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. The University of Georgia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

2

The University of North Florida

Jacksonville, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Based in Jacksonville, the University of North Florida enrolls over 2,000 graduate students and features a 19-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

The online graduate certificate in teaching English language to speakers of other languages requires six courses to complete. UNF notes that students may have the opportunity to work in China, Korea, or Mexico for a year while enrolled.

Students pursuing the online graduate certificate in English language learning take core courses in applied linguistics and grammar, curriculum development, content instruction, and cross-culture communication and knowledge.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA for the last 60 credits of undergraduate work. The University of North Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

3

George Washington University

Washington, DC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 82%

Located in Washington, D.C., George Washington University enrolls over 26,000 students. The 12-credit online graduate certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) includes core courses in second language instruction, second language acquisition, teaching second language reading and writing, and linguistic applications in English as a second language.

This program prepares graduates for work in the U.S. and abroad. Students can pursue careers in elementary and secondary school programs or community volunteer language programs. Applicants to the graduate certificate in English language learning must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution.

The university charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

4

Biola University

La Mirada, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

Based in La Mirada, California, Biola University enrolls over 6,000 students in Christian-centered education. The 21-credit online graduate certificate in teaching English language to speakers of other languages takes 2-3 semesters to complete. Students can earn this certificate as part of the master's program or as a stand-alone.

Students enrolled in the online graduate certificate in English language learning take core classes in structure of English, materials evaluation and preparation, and vocabulary learning and teaching. Online learners must complete a practicum.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree and must profess a Christian faith. Tuition rates are the same for in-state and out-of-state students. Biola University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

5

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 70%

Based in Fairfax, Virginia, George Mason University boasts an 80% employment rate for students within six months of graduation. The 18-credit online graduate certificate in teaching English language to speakers of other languages offers core classes in English grammar and pedagogy, introduction to linguistics, English pronunciation and pedagogy, and second language acquisition.

Students enrolled in the graduate certificate in English language learning must complete a practicum in English as a second language. Learners can earn this certificate as part of a master's or as a stand-alone program.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution. Virginia residents receive a discounted tuition rate. George Mason University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

6

The University of Cincinnati — Main Campus

Cincinnati, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

Located in Ohio, the University of Cincinnati — Main Campus enrolls more than 46,000 students and offers over 400 degree programs, including the 15-credit online graduate certificate in teaching English language to speakers of other languages.

This program requires core courses in foundations of first and second language acquisition, applied linguistics, and teaching English as a second language methods. Students enrolled in the online graduate certificate in English language learning must complete a practicum.

Applicants do not need a bachelor's degree but must complete at least 30 credits of undergraduate work with a minimum C grade. Elementary through secondary school teachers receive a discounted tuition rate for this program. UC adds nonresident surcharges to tuition.

The University of Cincinnati — Main Campus is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

6

Indiana University — Bloomington

Bloomington, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 78%

Indiana University — Bloomington enrolls over 19,000 graduate students and offers more than 125 degree programs. The 12-credit online graduate certificate in English as a foreign language/English as a second language teaching includes core courses in language foundations, instruction and assessment approaches, teaching English in K-12 classrooms in global contexts, and computer-assisted language learning.

Students enrolled in the graduate certificate in English language learning must complete a practicum in literacy, culture, and language education. This program provides professional development certification not teaching certification for Indiana or other states.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA. The university charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. Indiana University — Bloomington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

8

Webster University

Saint Louis, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Webster University features more than 50 online undergraduate, graduate, or certificate programs. The 21-credit online graduate certificate in teaching English as a foreign language offers core courses in English for speakers of other languages methods, curriculum development in second language classrooms, teaching English pronunciation, and second language acquisition.

Webster encourages students enrolled in the online graduate certificate in English language learning to consider a master's in teaching English as a second language. Students must complete a practicum in English as a second language to graduate.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Webster charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. Webster University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

9

Missouri State University — Springfield

Springfield, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Missouri State University — Springfield enrolls over 23,000 students across eight different colleges of study. The 15-credit online graduate certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages includes core courses in linguistic theory, sociolinguistics for language teaching, principles of second language acquisition, and methods in teaching English to speakers of other languages.

Students enrolled in the graduate certificate in English language learning may transfer three credits (one class) into the program from a regionally accredited institution. Learners need a minimum 3.0 GPA to graduate.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Missouri residents receive a discounted tuition rate. Missouri State University — Springfield is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

10

Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 52%

Based in Huntsville, Texas, Sam Houston State University features over 130 degree programs and enrolls more than 21,000 students. The 12-credit online graduate certificate in second language instruction includes core courses on topics including social cultural language influence on learning, second language acquisition and development, and applied linguistics in ESL/EFL settings.

Students enrolled in the online graduate certificate in English language learning do not need to complete a practicum. Graduates of the program can use their certificate for teaching or can enter a master's program.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree. SHSU charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

What Can I Expect From an Online Graduate Certificate in ELL Program?

Successful program participants tend to speak English and at least one other language fluently, exhibit patience, and feel comfortable working in culturally diverse environments.

A graduate certificate in ELL may appeal to individuals who enjoy helping others learn English. Successful program participants tend to speak English and at least one other language fluently. They also typically exhibit patience in interpersonal settings and feel comfortable working in culturally diverse environments. Not all ELL jobs require bilingual abilities, but this skill often improves a candidate's job prospects.

A graduate certificate in English language learning often takes around a year to complete, and credit requirements range from 10-20 credits. A student's schedule and course requirements can affect how quickly they complete their program.

Program applicants typically need to hold a bachelor's degree, or in some cases a master's. They should also show evidence of teaching experience. Additional application materials may include a personal statement, one or more recommendation letters, academic transcripts, and a background check. Candidates might also be asked to sit for an interview.

Programs may offer a core curriculum, along with classes that target specific career tracks. For example, some certificate programs prepare graduates for teaching nonnative English speakers at the elementary and secondary levels.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Graduate Certificate in ELL Program?

Students who earn a graduate certificate in ELL can acquire important skills and knowledge related to English language acquisition without needing to earn a master's degree. However, the classes completed in an accredited certificate program can often be applied toward a master's, should students decide to pursue a graduate degree later on.

English Phonetics

The field of phonetics refers to the study of speech sounds and speech's physical properties. This course explores how English speakers form syllables and use rhythm when speaking. Participants also learn how people convert sound inputs into linguistic information and meaning. Phonetics knowledge particularly benefits people who pursue careers in speech-language pathology.

Introduction to Linguistics

Linguistics experts use scientific inquiry to study grammar, speech sounds, and meanings within different languages. Students taking this course learn linguistics research methodologies and the discipline's foundational concepts, such as morphology, phonology, and syntax. Aspiring teachers who take this class learn the skills they need to work in ESL classrooms.

Principles and Practices of Second Language Acquisition

This course explores how people learn a language within various settings, including formal classroom work and spontaneous interactions. Knowing how people acquire a second language can prove useful to instructors who work with adult English language learners. This class also covers how second language acquisition processes differ from those children use to learn their first language.

Skills Assessment

Teachers, adult literacy instructors, and curriculum developers in ELL settings use skills assessment to measure English proficiency. Students learn how to evaluate and design assessment instruments. This course also covers how to use individual-level assessments among adult English language learners, who vary widely in their language abilities.

Theory and History of ESL

This course explores the concepts, theories, and practices that have shaped the development of ELL and ESL fields. Students also learn the various methods instructors use to teach English to children and adults. Curriculum and instructional developers might find this course useful because it covers the factors that inform curriculum design.

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What Can I Do With an Online Graduate Certificate in ELL Degree?

For most individuals with a graduate certificate in ELL, career prospects appear promising. The need for ELL-related occupations is steadily increasing. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 10.1% of U.S. public school students in 2017 were English language learners — a rate that grew from 8.1% in 2000. The growing number of English language learners will also require more curriculum developers and other ELL-certified professionals.

An online graduate certificate in ELL can lead to many job and educational opportunities. Learn more about careers in English language learning.

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Instructor

These educators work with adult learners from different cultures and nationalities, helping students improve their English writing and reading skills. Instructors can teach a classroom of students or tutor learners in a one-on-one setting. Much of this work involves addressing individual language-related challenges and learning needs.

Curriculum Developer

Curriculum developers collaborate with teachers and administrators to design curricula that accommodate ESL students. They also assess learning outcomes and recommend necessary changes to course plans and programs. A graduate certificate in English language learning qualifies these professionals to advise educators on how to help ESL and ELL students reach their English proficiency goals.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher

Elementary teachers with ELL training can work in bilingual settings to teach a variety of subjects and skills, preparing young students for success in high school and beyond. These professionals also perform other educational duties, such as conferring with parents, grading, nurturing students' communication and interpersonal skills, preparing lessons, and mentoring students.

ESL Teacher

ESL teachers who hold an online graduate certificate in ELL can help nonnative students learn English. They might also teach students other subjects, like history and science. In addition to boosting the English proficiency of their students, these instructors carry out other teaching-related tasks, such as grading, planning lessons, and nurturing students' cultural competence.

Speech-Language Pathologist

Seasoned ESL educators with an applied linguistics background can work as speech-language pathologists. Job duties may involve assessing and treating clients' problems with communicating and swallowing. The people these professionals serve may include autistic learners, adult stroke patients, people with hearing loss, and individuals with speech impediments.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate Certificate in ELL Programs

Is a graduate certificate in ELL worth it?

An online graduate certificate in ELL can add to a job applicant's marketability. Many schools continue to experience a teacher shortage, especially when it comes to professionals who have experience with ELL. Qualified educators with ELL training can work almost anywhere in the United States, as well as abroad.

What can I do with a graduate certificate in ELL?

An ELL graduate certificate enables people to work in education and other fields. Aspiring educators can teach at the elementary and secondary levels or work with adult English language learners. Besides teaching, education professionals can serve as consultants and curriculum designers. With additional training, an ELL certificate can also help open the door to a speech-language pathology career.

What is the difference between ESL and ELL in education?

ESL means "English as a second language," while ELL stands for "English language learning." ESL programs tend to include concentrated English language instruction that remains separate from mainstream courses and classrooms. Alternatively, ELL students largely remain in general education classes, and their teachers tailor certain aspects of the curriculum to fit these students' language acquisition needs.

How much money can I make with a graduate certificate in ELL?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), ESL instructors and adult secondary educators earned a median salary of $54,350 in 2019. The average pay for these professionals ranges from $45,080 for workers in vocational rehabilitation services to $65,340 for elementary and secondary school employees.

What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a graduate certificate in ELL?

Curriculum developers earn some of the highest salaries among individuals with a graduate certificate in ELL. According to PayScale, these professionals earn an average salary of about $63,660. With additional training, experienced ELL and ESL instructors can become speech-language pathologists. The BLS reports that these workers made a median salary of $79,120 in 2019.