Online Degrees Blog Explore a rewarding TESL career and gain the skills to teach English as a second language with a TESL certification from KU.

Find the Best Degree Programs for ESL Learners at KU

31 August

If you're looking to diversify your teaching career, a master's degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), or teaching English as a second language (TESL), is a great investment. A TESL program or TESL degree can make you more marketable in districts with a significant number of ESL students.

With TESL or TESOL online certification, you'll also be able to expand your horizons beyond the classroom. You can find employment in a number of other fields, including consulting, academic advising, private tutoring, and working as a program director.1

If you're looking for a versatile and rewarding career working with students for whom English is a second language, read on to learn more about TESL certification programs.

What is a TESL Degree?

A TESOL or TESL degree teaches you how best to educate students who are either learning English as a second language in the American education system or who wish to become proficient in English as a foreign language elsewhere in the world. The two terms, TESOL and TESL, are often used interchangeably, and a certificate in either will meet the requirements for you to teach English to non-native speakers.

TESL degrees are for classroom teachers, but they are also for individuals who want to branch into related careers, such as tutoring, curriculum design, and consulting.

You might seek a TESL degree if:

  • You are already certified to teach but want to transition into ESL by getting a master's degree specializing in this area.
  • You are already certified to teach but need an additional credential to teach ESL in your district.
  • You are an education professional who plans to go into administrative work or some other non-teaching career that would benefit from knowing about best practices in teaching English as a second or foreign language.

Can You Get a TESOL Online Certification?

Getting TESOL online certification is not only possible—it's a great way to get the teaching credential you need to teach students whose first language isn't English, even if you already have a teaching license. Online master's programs are designed to be flexible, and you won't need to relocate to get a degree from a high-ranked program. You can typically complete an online master's degree in TESOL in two years.

How to Get Your TESL Certification

  1. Have your bachelor's degree from an accredited institution of higher education. In order to get your certification to teach ESL, you'll need to have a bachelor's degree with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. If you are planning to teach ESL students in the American public school system, you'll most likely already have a standard teaching license.
  2. Know what you want from a TESL certification program. Are you looking to teach ELL students in the classroom? Do you want to use your knowledge to design better curricula for English language learners? The University of Kansas's Department of Education and Human Sciences has two degree programs, a Teacher Track M.S.E. in TESOL* and a Non-Teacher Track M.S.E.* The former is designed specifically for classroom teachers. They also have an online licensure endorsement in TESOL.**
  3. Gather your application materials for the M.S.E in TESOL and apply by the deadline.
  4. Take the required coursework. KU, for instance, requires M.S.E. candidates to take 10 courses, or 30 credit hours, before they can earn a master's degree.

Where to Find the Best TESL Certification Programs

When looking for an online TESL certification program, you'll want to make sure that the school is accredited and highly regarded. For instance, U.S. News & World Report ranks KU's School of Education and Human Sciences 17th in the country.2

Another consideration is the curriculum you'll take while enrolled in the program. Being a successful ELL teacher is more than just learning methodologies. You also need to have cultural sensitivity and knowledge.

Some classes to look for are as follows:

  • Foundations of Curriculum and Instruction
  • Reading and the English Language Learner from Pre-K to 12th
  • Multicultural Education
  • Methods of TESOL
  • Problems in Second Language Instruction
  • Assessment in TESOL

Change the World, One Student at a Time

Change starts when we strive to give all students a level playing field. An online M.S.E. degree in TESOL* from KU's highly-ranked School of Education and Human Sciences lets you provide ESL students with the understanding they need to become competitive in today's job market. You'll also receive all the information and training you need to take your career to the next level. It's a win-win.

*Master of Science in Education (M.S.E.) in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in TESOL
**TESOL licensure endorsement

  1. Retrieved on July 12, 2021, from
  2. Retrieved on July 12, 2021, from best-graduate-schools/top-education-schools/university-of-kansas-06075