Degrees for ESL Teachers

Explore bachelor's and master's degree programs to prepare teachers of English as a second language (ESL). Find out how post-baccalaureate certificates and undergraduate minors can complement a bachelor's degree for teachers of English at home and abroad. Schools offering Teaching ESL degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degree Do I Need to Become an ESL Teacher?

English as a second language (ESL) teachers work with students from various age groups and backgrounds and aid them in learning how to speak, read and write English. In most states, a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement to become an ESL teacher in public schools. Bachelor's degree programs are not typically offered specifically in ESL, but you may consider pursuing a bachelor's degree with a major in English, education or bilingual education and following it with an ESL certificate program. In some schools, you could choose to take a minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Master's degree programs in TESOL are also offered from a number of schools and prepare graduates to work within the public school system or to work with adult learners in the U.S. or abroad.

Program Options Graduate certificates and master's degrees in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
Admission Prerequisites Bachelor's degree (usually with majors in English, education or bilingual education); typically requires valid teaching license
Common Courses Second-language acquisition, listening and speaking skills, linguistics (certificate program); methods of teaching English, technology in education (master's degree)
Other Requirements Practicum in a classroom setting
Online Availability Graduate degrees and certificate programs offered online; online-and-on-campus hybrid also available

What's Involved in a Certificate Program?

Certificate programs for ESL teachers, such as a TESOL certificate, are offered through a number of schools and typically require admissions candidates to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school and a valid teaching license; however, some programs may accept you while you are working on your bachelor's degree. Some options do not require a teaching license for those who want to teach adults or work abroad.

Certificate programs cover a number of topics, from intercultural communication and teaching methodologies to grammar. Some also require you to complete a practicum working with other teachers and students in a classroom setting. Some of the topics you may encounter include:

  • Second-language acquisition
  • Listening and speaking skills
  • Linguistics

What Can I Expect From a Graduate Degree Program?

Master's degree programs in TESOL are widely available. Foreign-language master's degree programs with concentrations in ESL education may also be found from a few schools. These degree programs cover a number of topics from second-language acquisition and applied language studies to curriculum and assessment. In addition to coursework, you also complete a practicum working in a classroom setting. Some of the courses you can expect to take cover:

  • Research methods
  • Linguistics
  • Methods of teaching English
  • Human learning
  • Technology in education

Can I Complete My Program Online?

Both certificate and master's degree programs are available online. A number of schools offer an online-and-on-campus hybrid. Most online programs do not require you to visit the campus, but you still have to complete an internship or field experience in a classroom in your area.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. Next »