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Earning an online Master’s in English Language Learning program can be a good foundation for those who want to advance their careers in the field of education and explore the in-demand area of English language teaching.
This master’s program equips students with a comprehensive knowledge of a variety of areas of study, such as second language acquisition, applied grammar, and linguistics. While most of these graduate programs do not lead to teaching certification, they may lead to an endorsement, provided students are already certified teachers.
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Fortunately, many colleges and universities in the country offer online master’s in English Language Learning programs, providing busy students and working professionals the means to earn an advanced degree that can fit around their schedules. If your passion lies in teaching English to non-English speakers, then this master’s degree is for you.
Teaching the English language, whether to children or adult non-native speakers, presents its own set of challenges that require its own set of techniques and approaches. Students looking to enter this field of education need to be prepared with the right skill sets and theoretical bases, and they should choose the best education they can get.
If you’re looking for such a thing, then we have the perfect starting place for you. We’ve put together a list of graduate schools that offer the best online master’s in English Language Learning programs. Our selections were made based on the following characteristics:
- Offers their programs primarily or entirely online, giving students the chance to balance their coursework with their careers better,
- Feature curriculums that have comprehensive coverage of their chosen scope of teaching settings be it PreK-6 or adult learners in ESL/TESOL settings,
- Conforms to various standards appropriate to teaching practice, as well as those appropriate for ESL/TESOL settings,
- Developed and taught by faculty with extensive expertise in the field of education and other relevant fields,
- Feature competitive tuition rates and a healthy range of cost management and financial aid options,
- Hold the relevant accreditation credentials.
Read our Methodology and explore our online master’s program ranking process.
Best Online Master’s in English Language Learning Programs
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA
Dedicated to changing lives, Louisiana State University offers many degree programs for students who want to advance their careers through quality education. The university is one of 24 universities in the country that hold land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant designations. It is currently serving a total of 35,000 students.
- Louisiana State University’s ME in Curriculum & Instruction – ESL features engaging course content and hands-on experience opportunities in schools and classrooms, equipping students with both theoretical and readily applicable knowledge.
- Students in this master’s degree are expected to develop skills that will help them effectively help students from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds learn the English language.
- The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, which demonstrates its commitment to rigorous national standards.
The online master’s program reinforces the educator accountability standards, supporting Standards for Educational Leaders in Louisiana, the School Improvement Plan, and the Louisiana Performance Accountability System. Students who possess a teaching certificate may be able to qualify for an add-on certification or endorsement.
Did You Know?
Louisiana State University is home to LSU Online and Continuing Education. As part of the LSU family of institutions, this department made it its mission to advance students’ career goals by offering flexible and affordable online certificate and degree programs. Students can be assured of receiving affordable, flat-rate tuition nationwide. Plus, the same instructors who teach on campus handle the online classes.
Eastern Washington University
Known as one of the most diverse college campuses in the Pacific Northwest, Eastern Washington University has been offering quality degree programs since its foundation in 1882. Currently, the university serves more than 10,000 students across 98 academic programs, including Bilingual Education, Business and Marketing, Disabilities Studies, Economics, Geosciences, and Human Resource Management, among others.
- The online Master of Education program offered at Eastern Washington University has an available concentration in English Language Learners, allowing prospective students to gain credentials needed to meet the requirements for qualified educational leaders in P-12 English language learning classrooms.
- This master’s program prepares students to teach at the college level and Adult Basic Education (ABE) centers.
- Students are expected to build on their foundation of pedagogical knowledge, allowing them to explore meaningful ways to integrate instruction within all content areas, including Common Core State Standards.
To earn the graduate degree program, students must complete a total of 14 courses, accounting for 49 credit hours. It includes specialization courses such as Applied Linguistics, Pedagogical English Grammar, Second Language Acquisition, Critical and Social Literacies, and Teaching Methods and Materials, among others.
Did You Know?
Eastern Washington University is known for its low tuition—the lowest among public state universities, in fact. Students are also almost guaranteed some form of financial aid, with 75% of applicants receiving such and about 52% graduating debt-free.
University of Kansas
The University of Kansas is a public research university in Lawrence, Kansas, with a number of branch campuses throughout the state. It was established in 1863 and has steadily grown and expanded over the years to become the state’s flagship university. It currently has over 25,400 students.
- The University of Kansas offers an Online MS in Education – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). The program is intended to address the growing population of English language learners in today’s US Schools.
- The program is offered in both teaching and non-teaching tracks (30 credit hours each) as well as a licensure endorsement-only track (18 credit hours in total). The Teaching and Non-Teaching tracks typically take two years to complete.
- The program includes a required teaching practicum experience component.
The program’s choice of three tracks makes the program a good fit for a wider range of individuals, both within the state and outside. The Licensure Endorsement-only track is particularly suited for out-of-state licensed teachers who require additional licensure endorsement to teach in ESL settings.
Did You Know?
Being a top research university, the University of Kansas is also a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity.”
Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts was established as a women’s institution in 1909 and focused on teacher training. It has grown steadily over the years and now offers over 110 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, with a population of almost 6,600 students.
- Lesley University’s Master of Education in Language and Literacy is designed to prepare students to enhance their teaching effectiveness across a variety of areas, including English Language Learning.
- The program is 100% online, with a total of 30 credit hours. It typically takes around two years to complete.
- A teaching license or proof of education-related experience is a program prerequisite.
This is a Language and Literacy program that covers cultural responsiveness, linguistics, and content literacy, and also develops students’ skills related to planning, implementing, and managing ESL content instruction.
Did You Know?
Lesley University was founded as an institution that teaches kindergarten teachers. As such, its earliest programs were anchored on the work of Friedrich Froebel, the inventor of the concept of kindergarten. Some core concepts of Froeblian philosophy remain central to the university to this day.
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, ND
The University of North Dakota is a public research university in the city of Grand Forks. Established in 1883, it is currently the flagship university of North Dakota, offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs in over 225 fields of study. It has a population of over 13,800 students.
- UND’s online Master of Education in TESOL program was launched to help address the growing demand for English language teachers in the country.
- The program has a total of 32 credit hours and can typically be completed in at least two years. The program’s coursework is 100% online and is asynchronous.
- As a way to gain additional knowledge, the program includes an optional TESOL live seminar each semester, either on-campus or in conjunction with a regional TESOL conference.
The program features standard content areas in TESOL and general English Language Learning (ELL) but also offers students the choice to specialize in rural ELL/ESL education. The program also aligns with the standards set by the International TESOL Association.
Did You Know?
The University of North Dakota is among the handful of universities in the country that are older than the states they are in. In the case of the UND, this was because it was established when Dakota was still an incorporated territory and was yet to gain statehood and admission into the Union.
George Mason University
Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction – TESOL Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
George Mason University (GMU) is a public research university in Fairfax, Virginia. It was originally a branch of the University of Virginia before it became independent in 1972, and it currently has several locations throughout the state, as well as a campus in South Korea. Organized into 11 schools and colleges, it has overtaken its parent institution in terms of size, with a population of over 39,000 students.
- George Mason University offers the online ME in Curriculum & Instruction – TESOL concentration. The program prepares students to teach English in settings both within the country and internationally.
- The program has a total of 30 credit hours, with courses offered 100% online and asynchronously.
- This M.Ed. is not designed to be a US State licensure program, although it serves as preparation for students to sit for the PRAXIS-ESOL exam for teaching in PreK-12 settings.
The program is designed for teaching both within the country and internationally, and students in the program get the chance to connect with and learn from an international community of educators and alumni. Given its international reach, the program emphasizes a culturally responsive English teaching practice that draws on bilingual/multilingual learners’ cultural, linguistic, and experiential backgrounds.
Did You Know?
GMU is named after George Mason, one of the Founding Fathers. The name was chosen in 1959 by the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors, with GMU then being known as the George Mason College of the University of Virginia.
North Andover, MA
Merrimack College is a private university in the town of North Andover, Massachusetts. It is affiliated with the Augustinian religious order, which founded the university in 1947 with the initial goal of providing education to returning World War II veterans. It has steadily expanded over the succeeding decades and is now organized into 13 academic divisions that host a total of over 5,400 students.
- Merrimack College offers a Master of Education in English as a Second Language (ESL). The program is designed to prepare students to earn their Initial License to teach in PreK-6 classroom settings.
- The program contains a total of 36 credit hours and blends online coursework with field-based experiences.
- The program covers subject matter knowledge, instructional strategies, curriculum design, observation and assessment, and family and community collaboration.
This program meets the requirements established by the Massachusetts Professional Standards for Teachers & Subject Matter Knowledge. It can also be completed as a personalized non-licensure master’s degree for Initial Licensure students not pursuing their license.
Did You Know?
Merrimack College also offers English as a Second Language (ESL) as an online Add-on License program designed for teachers with an Initial or Professional License intended for PreK-6 classroom settings.
University of Southern Maine
The University of Southern Maine remains committed to academic excellence. At present, it offers more than 50 undergraduate programs and over 25 graduate programs. Many of these programs are also available online, which makes the university an ideal choice for working professionals.
- The MS in Education in TESOL at the University of Maine equips students with the skills to assess language and implement instruction with the aim of improving learners’ proficiency for component second language.
- This master’s degree is grounded in literacy theory, providing students with both pedagogical theory and best practices applicable to a classroom environment.
- Students may complete the 30-credit-hour program in as fast as 10 months.
- This graduate program accommodates the needs of English as a Second Language professionals, including K-12 teachers, adult educators, and those who choose to teach abroad.
This online master’s program is the only teaching degree of its kind in Maine. In fact, it has demonstrated its quality through its 100% pass rate on the Maine Praxis ESOL Exam. The Council also accredits this degree for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Did You Know?
The University of Southern Maine’s online graduate and undergraduate programs are rigorous and career-focused, all designed with busy professionals in mind. The online programs have generous transfer policies, which makes it possible for working adults who want to continue their education, finish their degree and advance their careers with ease.
Since 1971, Liberty University has been at the forefront of quality and innovative education. This accredited evangelical liberal arts institution spans across 15 colleges and schools, serving over 100,000 students. It currently offers more than 700 programs from the certificate to the doctoral level. About 600 of these degree programs are available to students all over the world through distance education.
- Liberty University offers the Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language program for those who want to engage with foreign cultures or teach non-English speakers in the country.
- Students in this program will learn knowledge and skills integral to facing cross-cultural and cross-linguistic teaching with a graduate degree that will help them stand out in the highly competitive market.
- The program requires students to complete a total of 30 credit hours, including English as a World Language, Cultural Anthropology, Methods and Materials for TESL, and Teaching Grammar, Lexicon, and Pronunciation, among others.
This master’s program allows students to gain the broad skill set and practical training needed to thrive as a TESL instructor. Not only will they learn the practical use of the English language, but students will also explore the syntax and phonology of the major languages of the world to help them better approach students coming from various language backgrounds.
Did You Know?
Liberty University has met strict standards when it comes to degree programs, faculty, student support and services, and administration. Being Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges-approved, the university participates in federal aid programs, tuition assistance and government tuition reimbursement programs. It also offers corporate tuition assistance.
University of Virginia
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia is committed to advancing human knowledge, educating leaders, and cultivating citizens. The university encompasses 12 schools, including the School of Data Science, the School of Education and Human Development, the Darden School of Business, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
- The University of Virginia’s Master of Teaching program with a concentration in English as a Second Language is 100% available online.
- The online program is designed for paraprofessionals looking to earn their professional teaching licenses and teachers with provisional licenses who need to convert to a professional license.
- As a part-time master’s degree, this program allows students to complete 1-2 courses per semester, including Teaching Reading and Writing to ELLs, Cross-Cultural Education for Diverse Learners, English Linguistics, ESL Methods, and ESL Assessment and Curriculum Design, among others.
In this master’s program, students have the opportunity to gain valuable field experience. They can work with the Teacher Education office to identify clinical experience placements that meet their needs. The practicum is a good chance for students to connect theory to practice. While at it, they receive targeted feedback from their clinical coaches.
Did You Know?
Providing world-class education, the University of Virginia ensures talented students who meet its rigorous standards can afford and access their college education through the university’s financial aid model. The university accepts students solely on academic merit and covers 100% of their financial need. Their robust student scholarship support makes sure students are protected against student debt. Some of the financial aid packages include grants, scholarships, work-study employment, and need-based loans.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the common admission requirements for the Master’s in English Language Learning programs?
The admission requirements often vary between universities. However, there are common requirements that they share. This includes requiring students to hold a bachelor’s degree from a relevant field. There may be cases where students need to meet a minimum GPA. While GRE scores are not often required, international students are typically asked to turn in their TOEFL or IELTS scores. Personal statements, letters of recommendation, and official transcripts are also common application requirements.
What can I do with an online Master’s in English Language Learning program?
This online master’s degree can lead to many potential careers, including ESL teachers, foreign language teachers, ELL teachers, and bilingual teachers. Graduates may also pursue careers as curriculum supervisors and instructional coordinators.
- Master’s in English Language Learning degree programs prepare students with the needs and strategies unique to teaching the English language.
- Master’s in English Language Learning programs tend to vary in design based on unique educational settings, with some programs designed for both child and adult learners and others focusing on a particular learner’s age range/setting.
- Master’s in English Language Learning programs are first and foremost designed as Education programs and are invariably designed with teachers in mind. While some programs are designed as preparation for students to earn their initial teaching licenses, others are designed for active, licensed teachers.