Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MA TESOL)

The College of Arts & Sciences, in conjunction with the Department of International Studies, offers a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MA TESOL). This 30-33 hour master’s program is a combination of theory and practice and is offered for candidates who work primarily with second language learners outside of the Pre-K to Grade 12 classroom setting both in the United States and abroad.

Program Objectives

Successful international candidates in the MA TESOL will:

  • Gain expertise in teaching English as a foreign or second language
  • Develop an appreciation and understanding of English and its structure
  • Learn the latest theories and techniques for teaching a second language
  • Develop competence in using English as well as improvement in their ability to teach a foreign language

American students who complete this program will:

  • Possess the qualifications to teach English to Speakers of Other Languages in programs in community colleges or universities, social service agencies, and churches
  • Possess the additional knowledge and skills to help them seek employment in foreign countries as teachers of English as a second language

This degree does not meet requirements for state public school certification. Candidates who are interested in teaching ESOL in K–12 public schools in the United States must have completed a teacher education program. Option B is recommended for K–12 licensed teachers.

Admission Requirements

Admission Criteria and Process

The following items are required for a complete application. Contact the Office of Admission for application deadlines.

  • Apply Online at
  • Official transcripts demonstrating completion of a Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Cumulative undergraduate GPA must be 2.80 or higher. The GPA for graduate courses transferred in must be 3.0 or higher. You may submit the Transcript Release Form to allow Concordia University to request official transcripts on your behalf or you may submit them yourself. Transcripts must be received in a sealed envelope to be considered official.
  • Two letters of recommendation, dated within six months of applying, that speak to qualifications or potential to teach English as a second language.
  • A letter of intent (no longer than two pages) explaining:
    1.  Why you desire to enter CU's MA TESOL program.
    2.  Where you want to be, personally and professionally, five years from now.
  • Submit a detailed résumé that provides a history of work experience.
  • International students applying to the MA TESOL program have additional requirements.
  • If you are an international student, a score of 80 (internet-based), 213 (computer-based), or 550 (paper-based) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) that is no more than two years old or the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS). The minimum score for the IELTS test is 6.5.  Completion of ELS 112 also satisfies the language requirement for this program. You will also need to:
  1.  Have completed a financial guarantee form
  2.  Submit a copy of your passport

International applicants are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS). The minimum score for the IELTS test is 6.5.

Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate from the Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MA TESOL) program at Concordia University-Portland, the following requirements must be met:

  • Completion of an Application for Graduation per the instructions listed at
  • Successful completion of a minimum of 30 semester hours
  • Successful completion of all required courses
  • At least:
    • 50% of the credits required for the program have been completed at Concordia University-Portland
    • A 3.0 cumulative GPA has been earned
    • All required courses have been completed with a grade of "B-" or better
      • No grade below a “B-” will be accepted in a course that counts toward completion of the program. Students who receive a “C”or lower in a required course must retake the course and earn a “B-” or higher for the course to count toward completion of the degree.

Required Core Courses (22 credits)

Total Credits22

Candidates may choose one of the following options:

Option A: Thesis (+11 credits)

In addition to the core courses, candidates will complete at least five (5) elective credits (see below), TESL 698 THESIS I, and TESL 699 THESIS II

Option B: Non-thesis (+11 credits)

In addition to the core courses, non-thesis candidates will add at least 11 credits of electives (see below), and a substantive research project as part of TESL 597 PROFESSIONAL ASSESSMENT SEMINAR.

Option C: International Immersion Practicum (+8 credits)

In addition to the core courses, candidates will add at least five (5) credits of electives (see below), and a three-credit international immersion TESL practicum – TESL 587 IMMERSION PRACTICUM. Students will spend a minimum of six weeks abroad teaching ESL. In addition, students will write a paper which will be presented and defended for completion of the credits. International teachers cannot use their current employment for this option.


TESL 520TESOL SEMINAR (Up to 4 credits)2

TESL 501      WORKPLACE ESL      Credits: 3

Students will study the theory and practice in developing programs to teach English language programs in the workplace. Students will observe workplace programs and examine case studies. Students will complete a needs assessment and develop curriculum based on that assessment for a local company employing non-native speakers. Students will also examine English for Specific Purposes.


Globalization is one of the major forces shaping our world. If we look at the spread of information, ideas, capital, media, cultural artifacts—or people—we can see that the boundaries and borders that have historically separated one country or one group from another are becoming more and more permeable. This course is designed to help students meet the challenges of living in a world in which we regularly interact with people from different cultures.

TESL 520      TESOL SEMINAR      Credits: 2

Graduate students will benefit by having the option of taking specialized seminars which will meet specific needs depending on the students desired teaching situations. Topics will include teaching pronunciation, studies in second language acquisition, using technology, and sociolinguistics.


Students in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program should plan to take the Professional Planning Seminar during their first semester whenever possible. This seminar outlines the candidate's personal and professional goals and provides students with a comprehensive plan for meeting those goals. Students will begin the process of assessing competencies necessary for the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

TESL 539      LINGUISTICS      Credits: 3

This course is designed to investigate and discuss the various aspects of language from both historical and current viewpoints. Students will see language from a philosophical standpoint as well as in scientific ways, considering languages in society and how languages change over time. A major focus of this course will be to introduce students to the general principles necessary for the study of language: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. Since linguistics is an empirical science, this portion of the course will emphasize problem solving and the examination of language data. The second half of the course will focus on a variety of topics related to linguistics: language variation, dialects, and historical linguistics (the history of English).


Using free Web 2.0 tools, students will collaborate online with an international group of teachers in order to learn how to exploit social multimedia Web resources for classroom teaching and professional development. This class is designed for those who want to move beyond using the Internet solely for information dissemination. You will learn to use the Web in educational settings as students are already doing in their wider world, including blogs, wikis, podcasts, audio and videoconferencing, social bookmarking, and resource management. Text, audio and video resources will help guide you in pedagogical best practices, using Web 2.0 tools to create classroom materials and activities that can be used immediately in English language teaching settings.


This course provides an in-depth study of the structure of English. Students will examine the role of grammar in language acquisition and learn methods of teaching grammar both deductively and inductively.


This course focuses on language teaching strategies, techniques, drills, and activities based on the latest research in language acquisition theories. This course provides content specific strategies for teaching all the language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. In addition, students will examine the roles of grammar and vocabulary in language learning.

TESL 546      TESOL METHODS      Credits: 3

This course provides students with a foundation in key concepts necessary for the field of TESOL. Students will learn current theories related to second language acquisition, the nature and importance of learner variables, and the history and development of methods of teaching language.


This course provides a comprehensive survey of the essential principles of assessing second language learning and provides students with the critical tools that they will need as teachers to evaluate performance fairly and effectively. Students will examine assessment for all four language skills- listening, speaking, reading, and writing - and will explore standardized tests and standards-based assessment.

TESL 585      TESOL PRACTICUM      Credits: 1-3

Students in the MA-TESOL graduate program will teach 135 hours in settings with non-native English speakers. Based on career goals, candidates may teach in community college programs, intensive academic ESL programs, K-12 classrooms, or vocational ESL programs.

TESL 587      IMMERSION PRACTICUM      Credits: 3

This practicum gives TESOL candidates the opportunity to teach English in a setting outside the United States. Students complete at least 6 weeks of full-time teaching at an approved institution abroad and complete an assigned curriculum project. Placements are made by the program director in conjunction with the candidate.


During the last semester of their program, candidates in the TESOL program are required to complete the Professional Assessment Seminar. This seminar gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their competence in the field through oral presentation of their research and completion of the Final Assessment of Competencies and portfolio. Students will also look at job opportunities in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, prepare a professional curriculum vita, and examine ways to continue to grow professionally.

TESL 603      RESEARCH DESIGN METHODS      Credits: 3

This is an educational research class that is designed to provide TESOL graduate students with the knowledge to analyze and understand research in SLA studies and educational research. It is not a statistics course (but that does not mean that we don’t do some statistics). Students will learn the basic framework of research, including necessary statistics, to design a research study in the field of applied linguistics. Students will learn to engage safely in analysis and research design at the scholarly level and will learn to be a critical reader of research in their chosen area of study.

TESL 698      THESIS I      Credits: 3

Students will work on their literature review and research for their thesis.
Prerequisites: TESL 603 with a B- or higher.

TESL 699      THESIS II      Credits: 3

This course offers the graduate student the opportunity to investigate, in depth, a topic in teaching English as second language, applied linguistics, or language acquisition. Students will work with an individual faculty mentor, following the full procedures of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Prerequisites: TESL 698.