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Are you considering a career teaching English as a second or foreign language to adults? The M.A. in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is a professional degree that prepares you to teach English to adult speakers of other languages in accredited higher education institutions and in community settings. Be an educational leader in language education, curriculum, and program development.

Colleges, research institutions, educational publishers, and governmental organizations hire our graduates. The M.A. in TESOL is an essential, required degree for most professional positions in the field of ESL in the U.S. and abroad.

The program offers a unique supervised teaching practicum in an intensive English program. This experience equips graduates to analyze language and to meet the English language learning needs of adult learners, and to enter the field as a professional.

Career Outlook

Our graduates have gone on to careers as university professors in accredited programs, instructional leaders, curriculum designers, and assessment specialists worldwide.

Some recent graduates of the M.A. in TESOL are employed in the following positions and institutions:

  • Faculty Associate, University of Madison-Wisconsin
  • Online Course Designer, University of New Mexico
  • Educational Technologist, Center for English Language and Orientation Programs at Boston University
  • Managing Research Scientist, Educational Testing Service
  • Online Projects Manager, English Language Programs, Georgetown University
  • Senior Teaching Specialist, Department of Family Social Science, University of Minnesota
  • Assessment Coordinator, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
  • English Learner and Migrant Education Specialist, Compliance Monitor, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Clinical Assessment Developer, Pearson Education
  • ESL Lecturer, University of North Carolina – Wilmington


Sample program of study

Year One (Fall): foundations in second languages & cultures; methods of teaching ESL in higher education; English grammar for ESL teachers

Year One (Spring): advanced grammar for ESL teachers; practicum in teaching ESL

Year Two (Fall): analyzing learner language in SLA; foreign language testing and assessment or assessing English learners

Year Two (Spring): Complete thesis and elective such as, "language, culture, and education"

The curriculum includes 31-34 credits of required coursework. Students must also pass a Language Proficiency Exam, and write and defend a final thesis (Plan A) or a qualifying paper (Plan B).

See the required core courses on the graduate catalog. Scroll to the bottom of the page under "TESOL."


Martha Bigelow Professor
Martha Bigelow
Mary (Fong) Hermes Associate Professor
Mary (Fong) Hermes
Kendall King Professor
Kendall King
Diane Tedick Professor
Diane Tedick


The M.A. program can be completed in two years of full-time study.


Support is available in the form of:

You must have a complete application in by December 1 to be given fullest consideration for these positions, but we will consider applications on a rolling basis through May for the following academic year.

While support is not guaranteed, we make every attempt to financially support full-time students through completion. You may also explore assistantships available outside our department on the University's employment page.

Admissions Information

Priority deadline: December 1

Strong applicants demonstrate:

  • Evidence of interest in teaching English and second languages
  • Evidence of experience in the discipline
  • Strong writing skills and experience in language learning and linguistics
  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited U.S. institution or foreign equivalent; 3.00 GPA preferred

For more detailed admissions information visit the M.A./Ph.D. admissions page

MA TESOl alumni Darren LaScotte

"The teaching experience I had as part of the program made me a competitive candidate in the TESL field. I am currently a Teaching Specialist in the Minnesota English Language Program and in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Minnesota."

Darren LaScotte, MA in TESOL 2016