M.Ed. in ESL Curriculum & Instruction: Degree Overview

Oct 13, 2019

Essential Information

Master's degree programs focusing on ESL curriculum and instruction may be alternatively designated as Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or English as a New Language (ENL). Regardless of title, ESL programs prepare teachers to implement curriculum design, analyze instructional methods, write lesson plans and assess student needs. Programs may include a combination of didactic and student-teaching coursework. Completion of the program usually qualifies graduates to obtain an ESL license or endorsement to teach in public schools.

Along with possessing a bachelor's degree, many programs may require students to also possess a teaching certification and meet minimum GPA requirements. Options for fully- and partially-online master's degree programs are widely available.

Master of Education (M.Ed.) in ESL Curriculum and Instruction

Current teaching certification may also be necessary for admission. Many programs include a study of human development and psychology. A master's degree program that focuses on ESL curriculum and instruction often includes courses in linguistics, learning development, teaching theory and research methods. Courses may include:

  • Curriculum theory and practice
  • Development and learning
  • ESL literacy
  • Language acquisition theory
  • Language learning assessment
  • Multicultural education

Popular Career Options

Post-graduation career options can include working within a corporate or academic setting, teaching overseas or teaching English to adults. Some possible career titles could include:

  • Instructional coordinator
  • Administrator
  • Curriculum supervisor
  • Reading specialist

Continuing Education Information

Some states have licensure requirements for ESL teachers in a public school setting. Since credentialing requirements vary from state to state, students are encouraged to check state policy when selecting a program. For students interested in continuing their education, programs in ESL are be available at the doctoral level, which include research in education and foreign language teaching.

Those interested in teaching English overseas might be recommended or required to obtain the Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA), depending on the company or organization they work for. This internationally recognized credential is offered by the University of Cambridge. The certification course is available at learning centers in over 100 countries (

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2018, instructional coordinators earned an annual median salary of $64,450, while adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers earned $53,630. From 2018 to 2028, the BLS projected average employment growth of 6% for instructional coordinators and decline of 10% for adult literacy and General Education Development (GED) teachers.

Teaching professionals who want to obtain a Masters of Education in ESL curriculum will focus their studies on courses such as ESL literacy, multicultural education, and language acquisition theory. Some states do require ESL teachers to have licensure requirements, so it is important for students to be aware of those requirements.

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