Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as Second/Foreign Language

Get the skills you need to teach English as a second language in the U.S. or abroad with our in-person or fully online graduate certificate program.

About the Program

As English has become the world’s premier international language, English teachers are in demand all over the world. Most in demand are college graduates with degrees in English, Linguistics, or other humanities or social sciences, with additional preparation in the field of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). 

We offer a 15 credit hour, five-course program for Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language Research and Practice. The certificate can be completed in two or three semesters on campus, or in five 7-week sessions online (10 months), through Arizona Online

Admission Process

To apply for this certification program, you must:

  • Complete a Bachelor's degree with a minimum final GPA of 3.0.
  • Submit a Letter of Purpose (400 – 600 words) addressing your reasons for pursuing this certification.

For international students, you must meet the above requirements in addition to:

  • IELTS score of 7.0 or TOFEL score of 80

You can apply through the Graduate College application website. Be sure to specify whether you are applying to the online or the on campus program. A $85 application fee is required.

For more information, contact Hayriye Kayi-Aydar at hkaydar@email.arizona.edu.

Program Requirements

  • Complete the following 4 core courses (12 credit hours)
  • Must complete ENGL 555 before taking ENGL 613

This course covers basic concepts in linguistics and English grammar for teachers of English as a global language, and is useful for students of TESL, English, and Linguistics. The first part of the course will introduce linguistics through both structural and functional perspectives – the development, social context, textual structures, syntax, words, and sounds of English. The second part of the course, grounded in real pedagogical examples, introduces the pedagogy of English grammar.

This course will provide a general overview of the TESL profession covering prominent theories, methodologies, and procedures influencing the field. Throughout the semester, students will engage in a range of theoretical, pedagogical, and reflective activities to inform their instructional practices. They will also become familiar with diverse educational contexts in which English is taught and learned as well as standards, materials, methods, and assessment tools used in such settings.

This advanced level methods course has three areas as its major focus. First, it introduces concepts in ESL/EFL curriculum development and course design and provides skills needed to develop a course. Second, it focuses on ESL/EFL assessment and related issues, such as standards and testing. Third, it provides students with the necessary skills to develop, evaluate, and adapt instructional ESL/EFL materials for all receptive, productive, and complementary language skills for different contexts, proficiency levels, and purposes. By completing a coherent curriculum and assessment project in addition to several other course assignments, the course participants will extend personal knowledge in the areas of 7 curriculum design, materials development, and second language assessment.

"Culture" is a central yet underexamined concept in the field of TESOL/second language teaching—it has even been called “the fifth skill” after listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This course will examine the culture concept carefully and critically, both from general/theoretical and specific/practical perspectives. Having taken this course, students should be able to generate researchable topics in the area of TESOL/second/foreign language teaching and culture, as well as have a clearer sense of the perils, possibilities, and means of working with cultural matters in and beyond the TESOL/second/foreign language classroom.

  • Complete 1 of the following elective courses (3 credit hours)
  • Must complete core courses before taking the following elective courses

Second language writing is a growing area of interdisciplinary study that draws on insights from applied linguistics, second language studies, and writing studies. This course will provide an overview of the theory and practice of second language writing. We will explore topics such as L2 writing processes and development, L2 texts, biliteracy, pedagogical approaches and strategies, culture, and identity. GTAs who wish to teach ESL composition courses (106, 107, or 108) must take this course before or while doing so.

This course explores theory, practice, and pedagogical application of the latest Internet and computer technologies in second/foreign language education, including synchronous and asynchronous chat, blog, wiki/collaborative docs, audio (podcasting), video, virtual world/digital gaming, mobile/handheld computing, and social media technologies, in view of CALL (computer-assisted language learning), CMC (computer-mediated communication), SLA/D (second language acquisition and development), and literacy/ies research. Class activities will include small group discussions, presentations, and hands-on use of the technologies being discussed. Projects include reaction papers, blog postings, development of a technology-mediated L2 learning activity, and an evaluation of a game or CALL app (e.g. Duolingo, Babbel, Busuu, Memrize, etc.), and a final research project or book review.

This course is designed to explore the nature of research in SLA and to help situate students theoretically and methodologically in this research domain. The focus is on classroom-oriented research in various educational settings, which investigates both qualitative and quantitative approaches to research and processes of conducting research, from identifying problems, formulating research questions, collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data, to writing up research for presentation and publication.

This course is designed to present an overview of the field of second language acquisition, the study of how second and foreign languages are learned after a first language has already been acquired. SLA is a broad subfield of linguistics with many interesting and exciting areas of research.

This course is designed to prepare ESL teachers professionally and will cover topics such as job hunting, interviewing, writing a CV, conferences, observations, assembling a portfolio, and conducting and presenting action research. Students will participate in 10 hours observing ESL in at least two community and university contexts. Requirements include a report of an action research project, a poster presentation of the project, and a portfolio which may be used for securing jobs.

Course Sequence

Below are the sample course sequences for both on-campus and online students. 

On-Campus Students

Fall Semester

  • ENGL 555: Method I: Intro to TESOL
  • ENGL 506: Linguistics and Grammar for TESOL

Spring Semester

  • ENGL 613: Methods II: Curriculum/Materials Development and Assessment
  • ENGL 620: TESOL and Culture
  • ENGL 615: Second Language Acquisition

Online Students

Spring Semester

Session 1

  • ENGL 506: Linguistics and Grammar for TESOL

Session 2

  • ENGL 555: Method I: Intro to TESOL

Summer Session

Session 1

  • ENGL 613: Methods II: Curriculum/Materials Development and Assessment

Fall Semester

Session 1

  • ENGL 620: TESOL and Culture

Session 2

  • ENGL 589: Internet Technologies in L2 Instruction

Frequently Asked Questions

A graduate certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language is recognized worldwide as the entry-level qualification to teach English as a Second/Foreign Language – more so than a single course or a non-credit certificate. It is less commitment than a full Master's degree, but is comprised of accredited coursework that is transferrable later to a graduate degree. It is also ideal for graduate students in other disciplines, like Linguistics, Rhetoric, Literature, Education, or the Languages, who wish to have the skills in the field of TESL to complement their main degree. 

Our Teaching English as a Second Language courses are designed by professors who are research experts in the fields of TESL and Applied Linguistics. Our faculty combined have over 50 years of English as a Second Language teaching experience all over the world. 

For 2017-2018 on-campus, Arizona resident students pay approximately $900 per unit, and the total cost of the 15 credit on-campus Certificate is about $12,000. Non-resident students on-campus pay about $1900 per unit, and the total cost is about $27,500.

For 2017-2018 online, both residents and non-residents pay approx. $680 per unit, and the total cost of the 15 credit online Certificate is about $11,000. 

More information is on the Bursar's office Tuition and Fees page. While we do not offer financial support for Certificate students, you may qualify for financial aid independently. 

Our English courses, both online and on-campus, are accredited and count towards graduate study. They may be applied in the future towards a M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language or other graduate degrees at the UA or other universities.

While they cost more than non-credit courses and certificates, for-credit options are a smart investment in one’s professional future. UA's Center for English as a Second Language offers excellent non-credit TESL teacher training courses for those who are not sure if they want to commit to credit-bearing coursework. 

Arizona Online offers the five TESL Certificate courses in five sequential 7-week sessions, meaning the entire Certificate can be completed in under one year. While coursework is intensive and graduate level, completing one course at a time may be more convenient for working individuals. Online offerings also cost less than on-campus equivalents, for both residents and non-residents.

Assignments for all of the online courses include online materials development and online mock teaching practice. The online elective in Technology-Enhanced Language Learning is especially useful for those who are interested in teaching English online.

On-campus courses are taught by professors and also taken by full-time M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language students and other graduate students. You will be able to enroll full-time (3 courses one semester, 2 courses the second) and finish in two semesters, or if you wish to take one at a time and finish in two years.

An on-campus student typically completes the Certificate in two or three semesters, taking 1 to 3 courses a semester. Online students complete the Certificate in 10 months, taking 5 subsequent 7.5 week courses. 

With program advisor's approval, alternate or more advanced graduate courses on the required areas may count towards Grad Certificate requirements.

Individual degree programs may restrict application of credit to other graduate degrees or certificates. Six credit hours (2 courses) from other units may be applied to the Grad Certificate. Twelve of the 15 Grad Certificate credit hours may be applied to our M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language degree.

Students who achieve a 3.5 GPA in the 5 certificate courses will receive preferred consideration for admission to our M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language program, which has a separate admission process. Completing the M.A. would normally require 2 additional semesters (1 year) of coursework for those who have finished the Certificate.

No. The Grad Certificate is designed for individuals interested primarily in teaching adults in the United States, and teaching children and adults overseas.

One of our courses, ENGL 555, counts toward the official state endorsement. If you are interested in the ESL endorsement to teach K–12 in the State of Arizona, please visit the College of Education's Endorsement Page

On-campus Grad Certificate students may participate in all English Applied Linguistics student activities, which include professional development seminars and events. Online students can participate in a special online seminar for Teaching English as a Second Language job hunting, offered every Spring.