An online certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) prepares students for in-demand careers. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the percentage of English language learners (ELL) in public schools increased by 3% from 2005 to 2015. The need for elementary and secondary teachers who can assess and address the needs of ESL students will increase in coming years, and the growing population of adult English learners will need postsecondary ESL instructors.

What are the best English language learning programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

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
6 The University of Cincinnati — Main Campus Cincinnati, OH
7 Indiana University — Bloomington Bloomington, IN
8 Webster University Saint Louis, MO
9 Missouri State University — Springfield Springfield, MO
10 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX

2020 Best Accredited Online Graduate Certificate in English Language Learning Programs

Sort By
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 Will I Learn in a TESOL / ESL Online Certificate Program?

Although the curricula for graduate certificate in English language learning programs vary, they all provide knowledge, skills, and core concepts required to teach English as a second language. Listed below are courses common to most English teaching certificate programs.

  • English Phonetics: This course presents a scientific survey of the sound system of the English language. Students explore how syllables are formed in English and prosody, or the rhythm of speech, with reference to different versions of English. This course prepares students for careers as speech-language pathologists.
  • Introduction to Linguistics: This course covers fundamental linguistics concepts and terms, including phonology, morphology, and syntax. Students examine methodologies used in linguistic research and gain skills crucial for elementary and high school teachers instructing ESL students.
  • Principles of Skills Assessment: Students learn to design assessments that are valid and reliable instruments for measuring English language aptitude. Since abilities vary significantly among adult students, this course is highly recommended for adult literacy instructors.
  • Principles and Practices of Second Language Acquisition: Native language acquisition happens in a spontaneous and largely untutored manner, but learning a nonnative language often involves focused study and extrinsic motivations. This course covers the latest research regarding second language learning and is useful for postsecondary teachers working with adult English learners.
  • Theory and History of ESL: This course surveys various methods for teaching English as a second language. It covers pedagogical theories and practices that have shaped the ESL field and provides a metalevel understanding of how ESL teaching has and could be conducted. This course is useful for instructional coordinators involved with developing new ESL curricula.

What Can I Do With a Certificate in English Language Learning?

The skills learned while earning a certificate in English learning may be applied to several professional roles. Students interest in educating children or teenagers become elementary or high school teachers. Those who prefer working with adult students become postsecondary or adult literacy instructors. Others find rewarding careers as speech-language pathologists, helping developmentally impaired children or older adults suffering from language disorders.

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Instructor

Adult literacy and high school equivalency instructors help adult learners from diverse backgrounds improve their English reading and writing skills. Instructors adjust methods to address individual learning needs.

Median Annual Salary: $50,650
Projected Growth Rate: 7%

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher

Instructing younger students presents unique opportunities and challenges. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers provide younger students with skills necessary to succeed in higher levels of education.

Median Annual Salary: $55,490
Projected Growth Rate: 6%

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators work with educational leaders and teachers to develop and implement curricula that address student learning needs and standards. They measure student outcomes and curriculum effectiveness.

Median Annual Salary: $62,460
Projected Growth Rate: 7%

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers instruct students who have completed high school. They lecture, research, and publish, and they may advise students in academic preparation and research.

Median Annual Salary: $75,430
Projected Growth Rate: 13%

Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists identify and treat individual communication weaknesses. They may work with children struggling to speak clearly, adult stroke patients, or autistic learners. While most hold a master's degree, experienced ESL teachers with training in applied linguistics can excel as speech-language pathologists.

Median Annual Salary: $74,680
Projected Growth Rate: 21%

Accreditation for Graduate Certificate Programs

Higher education institutions prove the quality of their educational programs by meeting accreditation standards. There are two main types of accreditation: regional and national. Traditionally, academically focused institutions are regionally accredited, and technical education institutions are nationally accredited. Regional accreditation remains the most highly regarded, but national accreditation is now often awarded to online colleges. The Department of Education publishes a list of recognized accrediting bodies.

Although accreditation is not as essential for certificate programs as for degree programs, a school's accreditation status can affect financial aid opportunities, the ability to transfer credits, and employer perception. Schools of education are often accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and graduate certificate in English language learning programs offered by CAEP-accredited education departments are the most widely respected.

Financing Your Online Graduate Certificate in English Language Learning Program

A certificate program is a cost-effective way to gain valuable skills, but these programs rarely qualify for federal student loans. However, students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to determine their specific financial aid options. Private student loans are available to finance certificate programs, and many employers offer reimbursement programs for employees gaining the specialized skills presented in English teaching certificate programs.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

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.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

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 STUDENTS

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.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

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.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

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.