Best Online Master’s in English Language Learning Programs

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August 12, 2021

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The best online master's in English language learning programs provide students with the skills they need to effectively teach English as a second language (ESL). Typically leading to TEFL or TESOL certification, these online degrees explore the pedagogical and linguistic theories that inform current best practices in teaching a second language.

Often designed for working teachers, an online master's in English language learning provides a flexible and affordable academic option, allowing students the ability to maintain personal and professional obligations while completing academic requirements.

The following page looks at what this online degree might entail and possible career options for graduates. Read on to learn more about online English language learning programs.

What Are the Best Online Master's in English Language Learning Programs? Here Are Our Top 10:

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#1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
#2 Carlos Albizu University - Miami Miami, FL
#3 University of Maryland - Baltimore County Baltimore, MD
#4 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA
#5 Webster University Saint Louis, MO
#6 Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA
#7 Harding University Searcy, AR
#8 Concordia University - Nebraska Seward, NE
#9 Newman University Wichita, KS
#10 Biola University La Mirada, CA

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in English Language Learning Programs

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University of Southern California View School Profile Los Angeles, CA

The University of Southern California serves more than 47,000 students each year on campus and online. Distance learners may pursue an online master of arts in teaching - teaching English to speakers of other languages. Through a curriculum that emphasizes culturally responsive instructional strategies, candidates are prepared to work as TESOL teachers in the U.S. and abroad.

Coursework covers topics in applied linguistics for English language educators and social foundations of language education. Candidates also explore assessment and instruction for diverse language learners. This online master's in English language learning program allows students to augment their training by earning an English language development credential or a gifted education certificate.

Applicants must possess a regionally accredited bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additional materials include a 250-word personal statement, a resume or CV, and 2-3 recommendation letters. They also need to pass a timed writing assessment.

Carlos Albizu University - Miami View School Profile Miami, FL

Carlos Albizu University - Miami delivers an online master of science in TESOL with an exceptional student education concentration. By completing this 30-credit program, candidates learn to use interventions and methodologies that enhance language acquisition among students with limited to no English proficiency. Coursework is delivered through the Blackboard platform.

The degree plan includes courses like cross-cultural communication and understanding, instructional strategies for learning disabilities, and applied linguistics. Candidates also examine best practices in ESOL testing and evaluation. To earn their online master's degree in English language learning, students must complete one full year of residency.

Application requirements consist of a minimum 3.0 GPA and two recommendation letters. CAU grants up to six transfer credits for prior college coursework completed with a "B" grade or higher.

University of Maryland - Baltimore County View School Profile Baltimore, MD

The University of Maryland - Baltimore County is a renowned public research institution that enrolls about 13,600 students each year. Graduate candidates may enroll in an online master of arts in TESOL program. Distance learners can complete a fully remote curriculum or create a hybrid learning experience by taking some classes on campus.

In lieu of the general track, master's in English language learning candidates can pursue thesis and P-12 certification options. Courses include instructional systems development, linguistics for ESOL/bilingual educators, and research designs in education. Students also examine the grammar of American English.

UMBC offers fall, spring, and summer entry dates, and accepts applications on a rolling basis. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must submit a statement of purpose and three recommendation letters.

University of Northern Iowa View School Profile Cedar Falls, IA

Based in Cedar Falls, the University of Northern Iowa delivers more than 50 career-focused graduate programs. The catalog includes an online master of arts in TESOL/Spanish that totals 33 credits. This non-thesis program prepares graduates to teach English and Spanish to speakers of other languages in academic and professional settings.

Required courses include phonetics, phonology, and language teaching; second language acquisition; and forms and functions of English grammar. Candidates round out degree work with a teaching portfolio presentation and a comprehensive exam. This online master's in English language learning program boasts a high success rate, with 90% of students finding employment after graduation.

Applicants must submit a personal statement, a writing sample, and three recommendation letters. UNI does not require GRE scores. The university offers a variety of financial aid, including graduate assistantships and scholarships.

Webster University View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

Webster University maintains its flagship campus in Saint Louis, Missouri, and enrolls over 11,400 students annually. Graduate candidates may enroll in an online master of arts in TESOL program to develop the theoretical knowledge and instructional skills needed to teach non-native speakers. The 33-credit curriculum covers core topics like language and culture, principles and practices of language testing, and material development in language classrooms.

Students take advanced classes in either an ESL/EFL or a K-12 English language learner emphasis. The former track allows candidates to earn a Missouri ELL certification by taking an additional 21 credits of coursework. All master's in English language learning candidates engage in practicum training.

Webster offers full admission to applicants with at least a 2.5 GPA. Candidates with a GPA of 2.0-2.49 may enroll on a provisional basis.

Azusa Pacific University View School Profile Azusa, CA

Azusa Pacific University offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate degrees, many of which students can earn remotely. Program options include an online master of arts in TESOL designed for aspiring and experienced educators. Through an innovative curriculum, candidates develop crucial theoretical foundations and prepare for diverse teaching environments and scenarios.

Coursework includes second language acquisition, intercultural communications, and language program design. Candidates also learn to teach English grammar and pronunciation to students of all ages and backgrounds. Similar to other master's in English language learning programs, the APU track culminates with a comprehensive portfolio presentation.

Distance learners can enroll in the fall or spring. Applicants need a regionally accredited bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit a statement of purpose, a resume or statement of experience, and two recommendation letters.

Harding University View School Profile Searcy, AR

Located in Searcy, Arkansas, Harding University offers an online master of education in elementary education with a TESL specialization. This 35-credit program prepares candidates with advanced knowledge of subject matter and pedagogy, and allows them to work for schools, government agencies, and private companies. Distance education is delivered through the Canvas platform.

The curriculum includes classes like human growth/development, education in an urban setting, and school law and policy. Students also explore the instructional applications of technology. They complete the program by taking a comprehensive exam.

This online master's in English language learning program requires applicants to have a valid teaching license. They also need a minimum 2.75 GPA and adequate GRE/MAT/PLT scores. Additional admission materials include three recommendation letters.

Concordia University - Nebraska View School Profile Seward, NE

Concordia University - Nebraska delivers 17 fully remote academic programs through Blackboard. Graduate offerings include an online master of education in TESOL accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Through accelerated eight-week courses, candidates may earn their degree in as few as 18 months.

The curriculum covers topics in research-based educational practices; curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and theories and second language acquisition. Students also examine English linguistics, with focus on the elements applicable to language teaching and learning. They gain hands-on experience by completing a 45-hour practicum.

This online master's in English language learning program does not require standardized test scores. Applicants must submit a 500-750 word personal statement that details their professional background and career objectives. Concordia allows graduate students to fulfill 25% of their degree requirements with transfer credits.

Newman University View School Profile Wichita, KS

Newman University enrolls 3,400 students across 50 academic programs, including an online master of science in education with a concentration in ESOL curriculum and instruction. Distance learners can graduate in under two years by taking accelerated eight-week courses through Canvas.

The master's in English language learning curriculum totals 33 credits and includes coursework like cultural diversity, advanced instructional methods, and applied linguistics. Students also explore leadership theories and coaching techniques. They develop hands-on skills by completing an intensive practicum experience.

Applicants need an active Kansas teaching license. They must also have a regionally accredited bachelor's degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Admission materials consist of two professional recommendations and a 300-word writing sample explaining their personal education philosophy.

Biola University View School Profile La Mirada, CA

Based in La Mirada, California, Biola University serves more than 6,000 students annually. Through the Cook School of Intercultural Studies, graduate candidates can earn an online master of arts in TESOL in four semesters if enrolled full-time, and 6-8 semesters if pursuing their credentials part-time. The school also delivers an accelerated 12-month track for learners with a relevant bachelor's degree.

Required coursework comprises structure of English, materials preparation and evaluation, and language testing and assessment. Students develop hands-on skill through practicum training and personalize the degree plan by choosing three electives. This online master's in English language learning program culminates with a professional portfolio presentation.

Biola offers fall, spring, and summer entry dates. Admission requirements include a profession of Chrisian faith. The university accepts up to nine transfer credits.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in English Language Learning Program?

The best online master's in English language learning programs provide students with the theoretical and practical knowledge required to succeed in their field.

Each online master's in English language learning offers different outcomes, and curricula and concentrations can vary from program to program. The best online master's in English language learning programs provide students with the theoretical and practical knowledge required to succeed in their field.

Most of these programs require about 35 credits and take under two years to complete. Additionally, some programs offer an accelerated academic track for students with a language-based bachelor's degree. For example, Biola University's accelerated master's program takes just 12 months to complete.

Typical coursework covers topics like linguistic theory, curriculum design, and student assessment concepts. In addition to traditional coursework, students gain experience through a practicum in which they apply classroom concepts to a real-world ESL environment. Online students traditionally complete their practicum at an approved location in their community. Most programs also lead to TEFL or TESOL certification.

Admission Requirements for Online Master's in English Language Learning Programs

Admission requirements for an online master's in English language learning mirror many other online master's programs. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum GPA of around 3.0. Prospective students should expect to submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and professional resumes.

Some online master's in English language learning programs require applicants to hold a current teaching license or have documented teaching experience. Check with prospective programs to ensure that you meet all admissions requirements.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in English Language Learning Program?

An online master's in English language learning typically includes foundational classes, concentration courses, and practicum experiences. Coursework covers topics like language learning pedagogy, linguistics, and curriculum development. Students also explore the social and cultural issues that influence English language learning.

Common courses in online master's in English language learning programs include the following:

Teaching English Grammar

This online course focuses on honing grammatical competence for ESL students. By examining grammatical structures in both student speech and writing, degree-seekers learn practical methods for presenting and practicing these structures. Students also gain a broad knowledge of English grammar and explore how ESL learners interpret these grammatical rules.

Teaching English Pronunciation

This class examines English phonology and best practices in spoken English pedagogy. Students explore the way sounds and grammatical rules influence spoken English and how native languages affect and relate to learning English.

Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching

As an introduction to sociolinguistics, this course explores the social and cultural influences on language and how languages develop and change throughout history. By understanding these social influences, degree-seekers reassess classroom pedagogy and how their preconceptions about language influence teaching and language policy.

Language Program Design

This course focuses on classroom preparation and curriculum planning. Learners gain the pedagogical skills needed to adjust their teaching to meet the needs of specific classes and ESL learners. Learners formulate curricular goals and objectives, organize classroom content and syllabi, and examine best practices for assessing student work.

Second Language Acquisition

This online course explores the ways people acquire second language proficiency and the hurdles ESL learners face throughout the process. Degree-seekers examine effective strategies for ESL teaching and explore how cognitive and social factors influence second-language development.

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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in English Language Learning Degree?

Graduates with an online master's in English language learning can enter several different fields and often take on positions that have a positive social impact. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that adult education and ESL jobs will likely decline between 2019 and 2029.

Graduates of online English language learning master's degree programs often find work as instructional coordinators and administrators for schools with a linguistically diverse student population. Read on to learn about more common careers for English language learning graduates.

true ESL Teacher

These professionals teach students to read, write, and speak English. ESL teachers plan and teach lessons while staying up to date in best practices in the field. These professionals tailor their teaching to their students' needs, monitor student progress, and develop creative ways of overcoming language barriers.

Instructional Coordinator

Supervising school curricula and teaching standards, these professionals work with teachers and principals to develop and implement educational content. Instructional coordinators analyze student progress, train teachers in new teaching methods, and suggest new educational materials and technologies.

Social Worker

Often working with immigrant communities, social workers help clients adjust to challenges unique to the immigrant experience. They may serve as client and community advocates and help clients access available resources. These professionals also develop and evaluate programs and services, respond to crises, and assess their clients' unique needs. Social workers often establish relationships with governmental agencies to raise awareness for community needs.

Interpreter and Translator

Aiding in either written or spoken communication, these language professionals communicate fluently in at least two languages and apply cultural knowledge to convert meaning from one language to another. Interpreters and translators work in a variety of areas, including healthcare, legal settings, and community environments.

Adult Education Teacher

Adult education teachers provide general education and career-focused training for adult learners. Whether building professional language proficiency or preparing learners for high school equivalency tests, these professionals frequently work with underserved populations to expand career and academic opportunities. These teachers often emphasize skills that help students find jobs and connect them to community resources.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in English Language Learning Programs

Is a master's in english language learning worth it?

An online master's in English language learning provides a great opportunity for students interested in advancing their language skills while helping others learn English. Additionally, an online master's often offers flexibility and affordability. Many programs also offer a pathway to ESL teaching licensure.

What can I do with a master's in english language learning?

Whether teaching English in a non-English speaking country or providing essential social services to immigrant communities, graduates with an online English language learning degree work in diverse career environments. Typical careers include social worker, ESL teacher, and interpreter. English language learning skills also apply to fields like healthcare, law, and government.

Is teaching english language a good career?

While English language learning graduates do not typically earn high salaries in their post-graduate positions, these professionals frequently enter meaningful careers that positively impact people's lives. Often working with underserved populations, ESL professionals advocate for the needs of the communities they serve.

How much money can I make with a master's in english language learning?

English language learning graduates can pursue growing careers that pay relatively well. ESL and adult education teachers earned a median annual salary of $54,350 in 2019, according to the BLS. Social workers earned a median annual salary of around $50,470 that same year.

What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in english language learning?

The highest paying jobs for English language learning graduates use ESL skills in environments outside the classroom. For example, instructional coordinators earned a median annual salary of $66,290 in 2019, according to the BLS.

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