The Best Online Master’s in English Language Learning Programs

English as a second language (ESL) teachers play a vital role for English language learners (ELLs). In addition to developing students' fluency in English, these educators also helping them integrate into American society. To accommodate the growing demand for English instruction, schools and other institutions are developing more structured approaches to teaching immigrants English.

With a growing immigrant population, the U.S. needs more ESL teachers than ever before. Border states — particularly Texas — boast some of the highest ESL teacher salaries in the nation. The first step to entering this in-demand field involves selecting a master's in ESL or master's in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) online program. Online programs are traditionally very flexible, allowing you to work full time or attend to other personal responsibilities while earning your degree. Current teachers can also benefit from direct application of their education during coursework.

Our ranking below reflects the top 25 ESL master's degrees online. Pay close attention to those that confer an ESL teaching endorsement in your home state.

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles$$$$$University Park
Los Angeles, CA 90089
(213) 740-2311

The University of Southern California offers a master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages online for both aspiring and experienced teachers. Students complete the same curriculum as their on-campus peers and graduate ready to instruct English as a second language (ESL) students both in the U.S. and abroad. Graduates also qualify for initial teacher certification in English language development.

The 24-credit program uses a synchronous curriculum that includes coursework in applied linguistics for English language learners, assessment and instruction for diverse language learners, and technology-enhanced language instruction design and practice. Students pursuing licensure also complete practica, internships, and student teaching. Degree seekers earning their teacher certification must complete a total of 52 credits.

USC accepts students who want to earn a master's in ESL online in the spring, summer, and fall terms. Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and two recommendation letters. A private university, USC charges the same tuition to all students regardless of residency.

2Webster UniversitySaint Louis$$$$$470 E Lockwood Ave.
Saint Louis, MO 63119-3194
(314) 961-2660

The master's in teaching English as a second language program at Webster offers two emphases: K-12 Engligh language learners (ELLs) and English as a second language (ESL)/English as a foreign language (EFL). The former prepares licensed teachers to work with ELLs in public schools, while the latter attracts prospective students who plan to either teach overseas or work in adult learning centers in the United States. Students who study full time can earn their degrees in two years.

Each emphasis area features a 33-credit curriculum with coursework in second-language acquisition and curriculum development in second-language classrooms. The two tracks differ in which electives students select. For the capstone, students in both emphasis areas can write a traditional master's thesis or take additional electives.

Students who want to complete an ELL master's program online must submit evidence of a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA, two semesters of a foreign language, and a personal essay. All students pay the same tuition rate. Veterans and active military personnel save approximately 40% on tuition.

3University College - Azusa Pacific UniversitySan Dimas$$$$$300 North Lone Hill Avenue, #200
San Dimas, CA 91773
(855) 276-8669

Based in sunny Southern California, Azusa Pacific University offers an MA in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) that provides students with an excellent education combining instructional best practices with principles of the Christian faith. This online program uses a cohort learning model, so students can form academic and professional relationships. Typically, full-time students earn their degrees in 1.5 years. Graduates go on to work as government advisors, teachers, and private tutors.

Learners completing the 33-credit, synchronous TESOL master's online complete coursework in second-language acquisition, teaching English grammar, and language program design. In the capstone, students compile their best work examples and reflect on how they demonstrate academic competencies gained during the program.

Prospective students' undergraduate transcripts must reflect a minimum 3.0 GPA. Other application requirements include a statement of purpose and three recommendation letters. International applicants from non-English-speaking countries must also submit tests of English as a foreign language (TOEFL) scores. All students pay the same affordable tuition rate regardless of residency.

4Newman UniversityWichita$$$$$3100 McCormick Ave
Wichita, KS 67213-2097
(316) 942-4291

The master of science in education - English to speakers of other languages curriculum and instruction program at Newman University prepares graduates for Kansas English as a second language (ESL) certification. Licensed Kansas teachers who already possess advanced degrees can take a condensed program that only confers ESL certification. Distance learners earning their master's in ESL online enjoy significant flexibility, and full-time students can earn their degrees in two years or less.

The master's program uses a 33-credit, asynchronous curriculum with coursework in advanced curriculum methods, advanced instructional methods, and leadership theories and philosophies. To earn the endorsement, students must complete a practicum at an approved facility. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA to remain in good academic standing.

Prospective students must possess a minimum 3.25 GPA and a Kansas teaching license. Applicants also submit two professional recommendations and a 300-word writing sample. The TEACH Grant Program provides eligible students up to $4,000 per year in financial aid.

5Concordia University - NebraskaSeward$$$$$800 N Columbia Ave
Seward, NE 68434-1556
(800) 535-5494

Concordia University boasts three exciting degree options for aspiring English as a second language (ESL) educators: a master of education in curriculum and instruction with an ESL/English language learners (ELL) emphasis, a master of education in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), and a master of education in literacy with reading specialist and ESL emphases. Students can graduate in 1-2 years, depending upon the program.

In the TESOL and curriculum master's degrees, students can extend their education by earning a Nebraska ESL certification; the literacy master's degree does not offer this option. The 36-credit TESOL program features coursework in contemporary thought in education, linguistics for educators, and the psychological foundations of teaching and learning.

Prospective students can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. Application requirements vary slightly among the programs. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate.

6American UniversityWashington$$$$$4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016-8001
(202) 885-1000

The master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) at American University prepares learners to begin — or further — their careers as TESOL teachers in either the U.S. or another country. Students from all backgrounds benefit from the program's customizability and flexibility, and full-time learners can graduate in just 24 months.

The 36-credit curriculum includes courses in the principles of linguistics, language assessment, and writing and research in TESOL. At the end of the program, students can either write a traditional master's thesis or take a comprehensive examination. Learners who do not write a thesis also take additional electives.

AU undergraduates can earn this degree through a 4+1 program. The program accepts applications for the spring, summer, and fall semesters, and applicants must include two recommendation letters and a statement of purpose. Incoming students with excellent undergraduate GPAs may qualify for an academic stipend up to a $9,000.

7Wilkes UniversityWilkes-Barre$$$$$84 West South Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766
(180) 094-55378

The master of science in teaching English to speakers of other languages program at Wilkes prepares licensed Pennsylvania educators to earn an English as a second language (ESL) endorsement. Teachers who live in states that have licensure reciprocity agreements with Pennsylvania can also enroll in this program. Educators who already possess master's degrees can complete a shorter certification program, though full-time students typically graduate in just 24 months.

The 30-credit curriculum emphasizes second language acquisition, computer-assisted language learning, and approaches to teaching second languages. In the capstone course, students complete a 30-hour field experience at schools in their local communities. Wilkes' professors and instructors have extensive ESL teaching experience.

Prospective students must possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and submit two recommendation letters. A private university, Wilkes charges a tuition rate similar to that students pay when earning a master's in ESL online through public Pennsylvania universities.

8Hamline UniversitySt Paul$$$$$1536 Hewitt Ave.
St Paul, MN 55104
(651) 523-2800

The master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) program at Hamline offers two concentration options: K-12 and adult learners. Students examine the latest teaching methods that both educate and motivate English as a second language (ESL) students, and full-time learners can earn their TESOL master's program online in as few as 20 months.

The 36-credit, synchronous curriculum features coursework in language and society, an introduction to research in TESOL, and advanced linguistic analysis. The concentration also requires 1-3 electives. Students who live near Hamline's Saint Paul, Minnesota, campus also have the option to complete the program in a hybrid format.

Hamline accepts applications for the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, a two-page essay, and two recommendation letters. All online students pay the same tuition and fees. Eligible students may qualify for a scholarship or tuition discount.

9Canisius CollegeBuffalo$$$$$2001 Main St
Buffalo, NY 14208-1098
(716) 883-7000

The master of arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) program at Canisius prepares licensed New York state teachers for K-12 TESOL certification. Students benefit from professors with extensive English as a second language (ESL) teaching experience. Full-time learners can earn their degrees in two years, while students who already possess master's degrees can complete the certification-only program in just one year.

Distance learners pursuing the 30-credit TESOL master's online complete a synchronous curriculum that features unique courses in research in reading, theory and practice in bilingual/multilingual education, and second language acquisition. Students customize their education by selecting two electives, and the program concludes with a hands-on experience through a fieldwork course that learners complete in their local communities.

Canisius may request additional application materials after prospective students submit undergraduate transcripts. All learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate. The university does not award merit-based scholarships or need-based grants to online graduate students at this time.

10Mercy CollegeDobbs Ferry$$$$$555 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
(800) 637-2969

The MS in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) program at Mercy College boasts two graduation tracks: one for students earning initial New York state teacher licensure and one for licensed teachers. Although the two tracks differ slightly, each offers a rigorous curriculum that prepares learners for the next stage in their career. Full-time students can graduate in just two years.

Both tracks feature coursework in teaching English as a second language and theory and practice of bilingual education. Learners earning initial teacher licensure also complete a 15-week student teaching experience, while those with a teaching license take additional coursework in mentoring and adolescent literature.

Prospective students must complete multiple undergraduate prerequisites, including foreign language courses. The university recommends applicants submit recommendation letters. Incoming learners interested in financial aid submit a separate scholarship application.

11Eastern UniversitySaint Davids$$$$$1300 Eagle Rd
Saint Davids, PA 19087-3696
(610) 341-5800

Eastern University created its master of education in teaching English to speakers of foreign languages program for aspiring Pennsylvania teachers, but prospective students from all over the world can enroll. Full-time learners can graduate in 12-18 months, and the program qualifies graduates for a Pennsylvania program specialist certification.

The 30-credit, synchronous curriculum includes unique courses in multicultural education, linguistics, and methods of classroom management. The program concludes with a research design project where students complete original research on an English as a second language (ESL) topic. Finally, students can extend their education by earning a certificate in autism education.

Prospective students can apply for one of four start dates throughout the year. Applicants do not submit recommendation letters or standardized test scores. Eastern University alumni automatically receive a 20% tuition discount. Active military personnel and veterans benefit from the university's membership in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

12Arizona State UniversityTempe$$$$$University Drive and Mill Avenue
Tempe, AZ 85287
(480) 965-9011

ASU online features two options for prospective English as a second language (ESL) teachers: a master of teaching English to speakers of other languages and a master of arts in curriculum and instruction: ESL. Students can complete either degree in two years or less, and many go on to pursue careers as interpreters, adult education teachers, and literature teachers.

Learners earning their ESL master's degree online must take 30 credits. In the master of teaching program, students analyze approaches to research, methods of teaching English as a second language, and linguistics. Master's of curriculum and instruction students take courses in literacy development and sociolinguistic issues in bilingual education. Both programs feature practicum experiences.

Application requirements for both programs include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and three recommendation letters. ASU does not charge out-of-state tuition, but master's in teaching students pay approximately 30% more in tuition than master's in curriculum and instruction students.

13Sam Houston State UniversityHuntsville$$$$$1806 Ave J
Huntsville, TX 77340
(936) 294-1111

Students enrolled in Sam Houston State University's master of education in teaching English to speakers of other languages program can earn their degrees without ever visiting the university's Huntsville, Texas, campus. Full-time students can earn their degrees in just two years, and graduates are prepared for careers that do not require teacher licensure or certification.

The 30-credit curriculum confers both a master's degree and a university certificate in second language instruction. Students analyze literacy's cultural and psychological influences and conduct original research.

Prospective learners can apply for the summer, fall, or spring semester. Applicants submit official transcripts, one recommendation letter, and a writing sample of 1-2 pages. Texas residents save approximately 50% on tuition compared to out-of-state and international students. The College of Education boasts 32 scholarship opportunities.

14Liberty UniversityLynchburg$$$$$1971 University Blvd
Lynchburg, VA 24515
(800) 434-9595

The master of arts in teaching English as a second language program at Liberty University prepares graduates for English as a second language (ESL) careers in the U.S. and abroad. Students also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by completing an internship in their local communities. Most students graduate in only 1.5 years.

The 30-credit, asynchronous curriculum features unique courses in applied linguistics, cultural anthropology, and English as a world language. Students who did not take at least six credits of foreign language instruction as undergraduates can fulfill that requirement online through Liberty. New learners can begin the program in the spring, summer, or fall semester.

Application requirements include official transcripts and a statement of purpose. Liberty accepts up to 18 transfer credits. All students pay the same low tuition rate, and veterans receive an automatic tuition reduction.

15Spring Arbor UniversitySpring Arbor$$$$$106 E. Main St
Spring Arbor, MI 49283-9799
(517) 750-1200

Working professionals can flexibly earn an MA in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) online through Spring Arbor University. Distance learners pursuing a master's in TESOL online can choose between two tracks: one for certified teachers working toward English as a second language (ESL) endorsements and one for students who plan to work in careers that do not require licensure or certification. The former track confers Michigan state certification, which transfers to states with reciprocity agreements. Full-time students can earn their degrees in two years.

Both tracks share a core curriculum with coursework in linguistics for teachers of English, cross-cultural competence in communications, and assessment and evaluation of language minority students and programs. The certification track includes field experiences that practicing teachers can complete at their job sites. Students on the other track take additional electives such as secondary reading.

Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and two professional references. Prospective students do not submit standardized test scores, and all learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate.

16Pennsylvania State University - World CampusUniversity Park$$$$$128 Outreach Building
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 865-5403

Penn State University's online master of education in curriculum and instruction program boasts six specialization options, including English as a second language (ESL). Students learn from the same professors who teach on campus, and the program's asynchronous curriculum gives students the chance to learn at their own pace while working full time. Full-time students can graduate in only two years.

Regardless of their specialization, all learners complete a core curriculum that emphasizes teaching as inquiry, the theory and practice of curriculum design, and theories of childhood. The ESL specialization represents a specialized path that students create with their advisor's help. Students select five ESL courses that meet their academic interests and career goals.

Applicants who want to earn their master's in ESL online submit transcripts, two professional references, and an essay. The university extends in-state tuition rates to all online graduate students. Full-time students pay a flat tuition rate, which saves them money compared to part-time students.

17McDaniel CollegeWestminster$$$$$2 College Hill
Westminster, MD 21157
(410) 848-7000

The MS in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) at McDaniel caters to students who plan to work in careers that do not require teacher licensure. However, many Maryland licensed teachers — and teachers who live in states with licensure reciprocity — select this program because it confers English as a second language (ESL) certification. Full-time students typically graduate in 24 months.

The 36-credit curriculum features coursework in the assessment of English learners, introduction to research, and grammar for ESOL teachers. Students customize their education by either writing a traditional master's thesis or presenting a digital portfolio to professors and peers. Learners must stay in good academic standing by maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Prospective students submit undergraduate transcripts, three letters of recommendation letters, and a statement of intent. All students at McDaniel pay the same tuition rate. The university does not offer scholarship or grant opportunities to online graduate students at this time.

18University of Northern IowaCedar Falls$$$$$1227 W 27th St
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0005
(319) 273-2311

The University of Northern Iowa offers three master's in ESL online: teaching English in secondary schools, teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), and TESOL/Spanish. Students can complete these programs entirely online, and full-time learners without transfer credit can earn their degrees in 2-3 years.

The master's in teaching English in secondary schools features a synchronous, cohort-learning format. The other two degree options feature an asynchronous curriculum that learners can complete at their own pace. The TESOL/Spanish program builds upon the standard TESOL program by requiring in-depth instruction in the Spanish language.

UNI accepts applications for the spring, summer, and fall semester. Incoming students may qualify for an endowed scholarship.

19Biola UniversityLa Mirada$$$$$13800 Biola Ave
La Mirada, CA 90639-0001
(562) 903-6000

Biola's online MA in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) program prepares graduates to help others learn English as well as spread the Christian faith. Biola allows prospective students to take a free introduction to TESOL to determine if the university matches their learning style. Full-time students can graduate in four semesters, while part-time students may need 6-8 semesters to earn their degree.

The 33-credit curriculum blends asynchronous and synchronous courses. Unique course offerings include second language acquisition, intercultural communication for TESOL professionals, and a practicum in TESOL. All students must also take one course in the Bible or Christianity. Students can expect to spend approximately 10 hours per week on coursework.

Biola's online TESOL master's program requires that applicants work as teachers in public or private schools. Online students save 33% on tuition compared to their on-campus peers.

20The New SchoolNew York$$$$$66 W 12th Street
New York, NY 10011-8603
(212) 229-5600

The MA in teaching English to speakers of other languages at the New School boasts an international faculty that possesses experience teaching English as a second language (ESL). Although students can earn their master's in ESL entirely online, students who live in the New York City area can complete the program in a hybrid format.

The 30-credit program includes six required courses and five electives. Unique electives include teaching pronunciation, social justice and language, and English in the world. The program concludes with either a professional project or practicum.

Prospective students can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. Applicants submit two recommendation letters, a 700- to 1,000-word essay, and complete an interview. The school awards merit scholarships to eligible students.

21Carson-Newman UniversityJefferson City$$$$$1646 S Russell Ave
Jefferson City, TN 37760
(865) 471-2000

The master of education: curriculum and instruction program at Carson-Newman features a customizable curriculum where students can create personalized concentrations, including English as a second language/international. This dynamic program attracts experienced, licensed teachers who aspire to leadership roles in their schools and districts. Full-time students can graduate in two years.

The 36-credit curriculum features three components: core courses, electives, and a capstone. In the core curriculum, students analyze the foundations of leadership, educational research, and techniques for inclusion. Carson-Newman advisors work closely with students to select electives, and a capstone requires students to either write a thesis or take additional higher-level courses.

Prospective students must work as K-12 educators. Other application requirements include PRAXIS II or GRE scores and official transcripts. Full-time students pay a flat tuition rate, saving them money compared to part-time students.

22St John's University - New YorkQueens$$$$$8000 Utopia Pky
Queens, NY 11439
(718) 990-6161

At St. John's, students can earn their master of science in education in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) entirely online. Distance learners earning their master's in TESOL online choose from licensure and non-licensure tracks; the former confers New York state licensure, which transfers to states with reciprocity agreements. Typically, full-time students graduate in two years.

Both the licensure and non-licensure tracks use a 33-credit curriculum. In professional core courses, students analyze content area instruction for linguistically diverse learners, methods of language and academic assessment for English language and exceptional learners, and psychology and sociology of language and bilingualism. Learners earning licensure also complete student teaching.

Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and PRAXIS, GRE, or MAT scores. A private university, St. John's charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all students. The university does not award merit-based scholarships to graduate education students at this time.

23Asbury UniversityWilmore$$$$$1 Macklem Dr
Wilmore, KY 40390-1198
(859) 858-3511

Students who enroll in Asbury's master of arts program can earn an additional Kentucky teaching endorsement in one of 12 areas, including English as a second language (ESL). The program does not accept out-of-state students at this time. Asbury also offers a similar master of arts in teaching program for prospective students earning initial teacher certification. Full-time students can earn their degrees from this fully online program in two years.

The 47- to 51-credit synchronous program uses set meeting times to mimic the on-campus learning experience. Unique courses include instructional technologies, introduction to teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), and sound systems of language. In addition to one semester of student teaching, learners complete an extended research project.

Applicants who want to pursue this ESL master's degree online must already possess a Kentucky teaching certificate and a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA. Other application requirements include GRE or PRAXIS scores.

24University of North Carolina at WilmingtonWilmington$$$$$601 South College Road
Wilmington, NC 28403-5963
(910) 962-3000

The University of North Carolina Wilmington offers a master of education in teaching English as a second language (TESL) focus area program for experienced teachers. Students hone their communication, teaching, and classroom management skills while learning the best practices for educating ESL students. Full-time students generally graduate in two years.

The 33-credit curriculum includes 18 credits in ESL topics such as pedagogical grammar for teachers, English as a second language assessment, and second language acquisition research and theory. Learners can also customize their education by completing two education electives.

Prospective students can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. Applicants submit proof of a valid teaching license or certificate, three recommendation letters, and a personal essay. North Carolina residents save approximately 80% on tuition compared to out-of-state online students.

25Cornerstone UniversityGrand Rapids$$$$$1001 E Beltline Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525-5897
(616) 949-5300

The MA in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) program at Cornerstone University prepares learners for careers that do not require teacher licensure or certification. Students can complete their degrees entirely online or in a hybrid format involving some courses on CU's Grand Rapids, Michigan, campus. Full-time students can earn their degrees in 22-24 months, and graduates go on to work in careers such as curriculum developers or teacher trainers.

The 33-credit program features coursework in introduction to linguistics, sociolinguistics, and TESOL methodology. Students also complete a capstone project and choose either a thesis and non-thesis track. Learners who do not write a thesis complete a 60-hour practicum experience in their local communities.

CU accepts students who wish to earn a master's in TESOL online in the spring and fall semesters. Applicants submit undergraduate transcripts, two recommendation letters, and a professional resume. CU accepts up to six transfer credits. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate.