Top Schools for ESL Teaching

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

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. Some of the top-ranked schools offering ESL and TESOL include Columbia University, the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and the University of Pittsburg, and their programs can lead to a certificate, an endorsement or a graduate degree.

1. Columbia University at New York, NY

School Highlight: The Applied Linguistics & Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) 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 master's degrees and a doctoral program in TESOL. Students who plan to teach in a New York State public school can complete a master's degree in TESOL with K-12 certification.

2. University of Hawai'i at Manoa, HI

School Highlight: The Second Language Studies program 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's degree in second language studies. The master's and doctoral degree programs in second language studies allow students to specialize in language teacher or second language acquisition, among other areas.

3. University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA

School Highlight: Students can study ESL Teaching at the university's Department of Linguistics, which offers two TESOL certificates.

Students attending the University of Pittsburgh 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.

Top ESL Teaching Programs

School NameDistinctionLocation
Michigan State UniversityOffers a M.A. TESOL programEast Lansing, MI
University of MinnesotaOffers license to teach ESL in Minnesota K-12 classrooms and a master's degree in ESL for Higher Learning, in addition to a Ph.D. program and a certificate in ESL Minneapolis, MN
University of PennsylvaniaTESOL Workshop and M.S.Ed. in Language and LiteracyPhiladelphia, PA
University of Southern CaliforniaTESOL program offered entirely onlineLos Angeles, CA

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