Online Master’s Degree in TESOL

TESOL, which stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is an increasingly important discipline of education, as the number of non-English speakers continues to grow in the U.S. TESOL teachers play an important role in helping non-English speakers overcome language barriers so that they can obtain jobs, further their education, and participate more fully in American society. A masters degree in TESOL, often called a Master of Education (M.Ed) in TESOL, is a good fit for K-12 teachers and adult education teachers who want to work primarily with non-English speakers, as well as individuals who want to teach English overseas. To meet the needs of working teachers, many universities now offer accredited online masters degrees in TESOL, which provide much-needed flexibility for busy adults.

An online masters degree in TESOL typically can be completed in about two years of full-time study. However, students who would like to complete their degree more quickly may wish to consider accelerated master’s programs. Program length is determined by a variety of factors, including the number of credit hours required, how many classes a student takes per semester or term, and if the student transfers in any applicable graduate credits. Many masters programs can be completed fully online, though for some students the best online masters degree programs may include residency options where students have some opportunity to meet face-to-face with faculty.

Classes for an Online Masters Degree in TESOL

Coursework in an online masters degree program in TESOL is well-rounded, encompassing foundational classes as well as courses in teaching methods, language and literacy, and sometimes even field experiences. TESOL curriculum development is also emphasized. Most masters programs will also incorporate rigorous courses in research methods. Required coursework varies significantly from program to program, though a few courses you may encounter include:

  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Methods of Teaching English Language Learners
  • Assessment for Diverse English Learners
  • Systems of the English Language
  • Language and Culture for Educators

Most course work can be completed online, though nearly all online masters programs in TESOL incorporate field experiences where students work directly with speakers of other languages in either an adult education or a K-12 setting. These practicum experiences are typically arranged at organizations and schools that are close to where the student lives. In addition to practicum experiences, some online masters TESOL degree programs conclude with the completion and oral defense of a master’s thesis.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Masters Degree in TESOL

One of the most common careers for those with a master degree in TESOL is adult literacy and GED teachers. These teachers provide instruction aimed at building students’ basic skills in reading, writing, and/or speaking English. To become an adult literacy or GED teacher, you must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in education, although some employers prefer a masters degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A teaching certificate is also commonly required. Employment for these teaching professionals is projected to grow 15% between 2010 and 2020, with job growth spurred by immigration into the U.S. and demand for adult education programs.


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