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Top Schools for ESL Teaching

Read about English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, which prepare elementary and secondary school teachers to meet the language needs of their students. Learn about the degree options at four high-ranking universities, and find a list of other schools in the U.S. that provide training for ESL teachers. View article »

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  • 0:02 School Information
  • 0:38 Columbia University
  • 1:25 University of Hawaii
  • 2:00 University of Pittsburgh
  • 2:38 Michigan State University
  • 3:14 Top ESL Teaching Programs

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Video Transcript

School Information

English as a Second Language (ESL) and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programs prepare teachers to instruct students who did not learn English as their first language. Programs can lead to a certificate, an endorsement, a bachelor's, or a graduate degree.

Some of the top-ranked schools offering ESL and TESOL programs include Columbia University, the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, the University of Pittsburg, and Michigan State University. Each was nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report for 2017.

Columbia University at New York, NY

The Applied Linguistics & Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program in the Department of Arts & Humanities at Columbia University identifies the nature of language from a biological and physical standpoint, realizing how language is used as a cultural and social way to interact with others.

The Teachers College offers a certificate program in TESOL, as well as a Master of Arts degree in TESOL. A Doctor of Education program is also available. Students who plan to teach in a New York State public school can complete a Master of Education degree in TESOL with K-12 certification.

Columbia was ranked #5 among national universities by U.S. News and World Report for 2017.

University of Hawai'i at Manoa, HI

The Department of Second Language Studies at the University of Hawai'i is a department that provides ample resources for investigating how people use and learn different languages.

The University of Hawai'i has one of the oldest ESL departments in this field and offers a Bachelor of Arts in Second Language Studies. The Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs in second language studies allow students to specialize in language teacher or second language acquisition, among other areas.

For 2017, the school was ranked #89 among all public schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

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University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA

Students can study ESL Teaching at the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Linguistics, which offers two TESOL certificates.

Students attending the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania can complete the ESL Program Specialist endorsement and add it to an existing Pennsylvania teacher license. Alternatively, they may complete the TESOL Certification for Higher Education Program to prepare to work in administrative positions within ESL departments at elementary or secondary schools, school districts, and colleges.

For 2017, U.S. News and World Report ranked the school the #24 public school in the country.

Michigan State University in in East Lansing, Michigan

Michigan State University offers a Master of Arts in TESOL program. The TESOL program at Michigan State University is offered through the College of Arts and Letters. The program consists of 36 credit hours of coursework and it includes both theoretical and research-based studies. Students must also complete a practicum in TESOL, which involves six weeks of teaching adult ESL classes. The program culminates in either a thesis or a comprehensive exam.

For 2017, Michigan State was ranked the 33rd best public school in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

Top ESL Teaching Programs

These three schools also offer strong ESL teaching programs:

School Name Distinction Location
University of Minnesota Offers license to teach ESL in Minnesota K-12 classrooms and a Master of Arts in ESL for Higher Learning, in addition to a Ph.D. and certificate program in ESL Minneapolis, MN
University of Pennsylvania TESOL Workshop and M.S.Ed. in Language and Literacy Philadelphia, PA
University of Southern California TESOL program offered entirely online Los Angeles, CA

Aspiring ESL teachers can find certificate-, bachelor's-, master's-, and doctoral-level programs that can prepare them for their careers at nationally ranked universities around the United States.

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