Best Master's Degrees In English Language Learning

A ranking of the best master's in English language learning degrees. Programs ranked by affordability, flexibility, and academic quality. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Around 1.5 billion people around the world speak English, or about 1 in every 5 people. Because of this, there is always a demand for people with degrees in English language learning.

What Is English Language Learning?

English language learning is a field primarily concerned with individuals who are unable to effectively learn or communicate in English. They often come from homes where English is not the primary language spoken or countries where English is not the native language.

Specialists help to prepare specialized or modified instruction for these individuals, through both English language courses and in academic subjects beyond English.

If you’re considering another degree, check out College Choice’s ranking of the Best Colleges and Universities.

Top 10 Best Master's in English Language Learning Degrees

#1 Stanford University Stanford, CA
#2 Hamline University Saint Paul, MN
#3 Webster University Saint Louis, MO
#4 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
#5 American College of Education Indianapolis, IN
#6 University of Maryland, Baltimore County Baltimore, MD
#7 Arkansas Tech University Russellville, AR
#8 University of San Francisco San Francisco, CA
#9 Wilkes University Wilkes-Barre, PA
#10 Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA
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How Much Money Can I Earn Working in English Language Learning?

English language learning professionals can pursue a number of different careers, primarily in middle school and secondary educational settings. They can work directly with students as teachers in the classroom, commanding a median salary of just under $60,000 and 8 percent project job growth in the next decade.

They may also choose to become administrators, who have a median salary above $94,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They have a similar 8 percent job growth on the horizon, meaning another 20,000 job openings in the next ten years.

Why Choose A Master’s in English Language Learning?

Having the extra education and experience associated with graduate work also makes a candidate more competitive on the job market, in particular for those lucrative school administrator jobs.

Graduate students have the skills and hands-on experience to stand out and possibly command an above-average salary. The 75th percentile salary for school administrators is almost $120,000/year. Experience and education can get a candidate closer to this level.

What Are the 15 Best Master’s in English Language Learning?

College Choice considers a multitude of factors, including institutional success, student satisfaction, and return on investment, to develop rankings.

Institutional success combines metrics such as endowment, graduation rates and student-to-faculty ratios to measure each school’s ability to provide exemplary and practical education for each student. Student satisfaction measures how satisfied current and former students felt with the services and programs offered at each school. And finally return on investment looks at the fiscal benefits students are likely to receive from each school’s education, weighted against the costs of attendance, namely tuition and student loans.

In the end, we are confident that these are the 15 best master’s in English language learning degrees.



See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Stanford University

    Stanford, CA




    Stanford University is a private university located in Stanford, California. Stanford admitted its first student in 1891, and has since expanded to become one of the highest rated universities in the country. The school is divided between three traditional schools and four professional schools, which serve a student body of around 16,000 students. Stanfords endowment is $24 billion and it has 2,200 academic staff members.

    Program Features

    Stanford University offers a Master of Arts degree in English. Students must complete at least nine courses (a minimum of 45 units) of graduate coursework. Students may pursue direct reading and research classes, in addition to courses such as:

    Advanced Fiction WritingMelvilles Moby DickIntro to Psychoanalysis as a Critical MethodPublication Workshop: The Article

    Students with a minimum GPA of 3.7 in their undergraduate major are eligible to apply for a Coterminal Teaching Program offered with the School of Education, as part of the Stanford Teacher Education Program.


    Those students choosing to pursue the STEP program and the CTP complete a special curriculum in English language, composition, and literature that prepares students for teaching at the public school level. The material and techniques are focused on the premise of teachers planning to pursue elementary and secondary English education.

  2. Hamline University

    Saint Paul, MN




    Hamline University is a private, liberal arts college located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Having offered collegiate courses starting in 1857, it is the oldest university in the state of Minnesota. It is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and has been noted for emphasizing service and social justice. Hamline has about 2,100 undergraduate students and 1,600 postgraduates.

    Program Features

    Hamline has a Master of Arts degree program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Students choose between a concentration in teaching kids K-12 or in teaching adults. It is a 36 credit-hour program with 28 credits of core courses and 8 in the students chosen concentration area. Examples of courses include:

    Advanced Linguistic AnalysisPhonetics and PhonologyAdvanced Linguistic AnalysisPedagogical Grammar and Discourse

    Students pursuing the adult concentration may take a TEFL certification course.


    The program is available on-campus, fully online, or in hybrid format (campus and online courses). Concentration courses for the K-12 option include Advocating for ELLs and ESL Methods, as well as Testing and Evaluation of English Language Learners. Alumni of Hamline are eligible for a 10 percent discount when they enroll in any program through the School of Education.

  3. Webster University

    Saint Louis, MO




    Webster University is a non-profit university located in Webster Groves, Missouri. The school is non-denominational and offers degrees in liberals arts, fine arts, performing arts, teacher education, and business/management. Webster has around 14,000 total students, and 184 full-time academic staff. The school has an endowment of $111 million.

    Program Features

    Webster has a Master of Arts degree program in Teaching English as a Second Language. It is a 33 credit-hour degree program, and students have the option of choosing between a K-12 ELL Education emphasis or and ESL/EFL Education emphasis. Course options in the program include:

    Curriculum Development in Second Language ClassroomsLanguage History, Planning, and PolicyLanguage and CultureSecond Language Acquisition

    Elective course options will vary based on the emphasis that the student chooses. Twenty-four credit-hours are core courses and nine are from electives.


    For admission to the program, applicants should have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. They must also present a philosophical statement on teaching, concerning what kind of knowledge and values make a TOEFL teacher more effective. Native English speakers must also present a minimum level of foreign language proficiency.

  4. Sam Houston State University

    Huntsville, TX




    Sam Houston State University is a public university located in Huntsville, Texas. Sam Houston began as the Sam Houston Normal Institute in 1879, educating teachers for the state of Texas. It is the third oldest public university in the state of Texas. SHSU has more than 20,000 students and offers almost 70 different graduate degree programs.

    Program Features

    Sam Houston State offers a Master of Arts in English degree program. It is a 36 credit-hour program. Students may choose between a thesis or non-thesis track path through the degree, and take courses such as:

    English LinguisticsNarrative TheoryEarly & Middle English LitCreative Writing: Nonfiction

    The thesis option is mostly for students who are planning on applying to further graduate study in English/PhD programs. Students may also pursue the non-thesis option to take on a secondary field of study.


    There are start dates available for Fall, Spring, and Summer. Students have the option of electing a 12-hour minor during the program. Options for this minor include foreign languages, history, and education. These are namely designed to compliment the students research interests in the field of English.

  5. American College of Education

    Indianapolis, IN




    The American College of Education is an online college based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. ACE was formally incorporated in 2005, before then purchasing the academic programming of Barat College. Their academic programs mainly focus on education, healthcare, and nursing. It offesr masters, doctorate, and specialist degree programs, as well as bachelors degree completion programs and graduate level certificates.

    Program Features

    ACE offers a Master of Education degree in English as a Second Language and Bilingual Education. It is a 34-credit program, which includes courses like:

    Diverse LearnersStandards-Driven LearningCross-Cultural Studies for Teaching ELLsLinguistics for TESOL

    Students do not need to complete an internship to graduate, but American offers internship courses for students whose state of residence requires them for certification. There is also a capstone course which students take during their final semester.


    The program is not specifically designed to prepare students for licensure or certification in any state. Student can apply for Students-At-Large status after completing the M.Ed. degree, if they wish to continue and pursue an internship. The content of the program is aligned with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

  6. University of Maryland, Baltimore County

    Baltimore, MD




    The University of Maryland-Baltimore County is a public university located primarily in Catonsville, Maryland. UMBC has 13,600 total students, most of which are undergraduates. It has 546 full-time academic staff members and an $81 million endowment. UMBC offers 48 different undergraduate majors and over 60 graduate programs.

    Program Features

    UMBC offers a Master of Arts degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. It is designed to train prospective and experienced teachers of ESL and EFL. It is a four-course program, consisting of two core courses and two electives. Courses from the program include:

    Human Learning and CognitionThe Grammar of American English for ESOL TeachersBilingualismTeaching and Assessing Second Language Speaking and Listening

    Students may complete the program by preparing a thesis based on original research they conduct, or by completing an ISD Project Seminar.


    UMBC offers a non-certification internship and K-12 ESOL teaching experiences, which allow students to get firsthand experience at teaching English. Internships last from three to six months and can be done domestically or internationally. The UMBC ESOL program has internship agreements in Ecuador, Korea, Bolivia, and El Salvador.

  7. Arkansas Tech University

    Russellville, AR




    Arkansas Tech University is a public university located in Russellville, Arkansas. The school started in 1910 as the Second District Agricultural School. ATU now has a student population of just under 10,000. The school began its first doctoral programs in 2015, and it also has a satellite campus in Ozark that offers mostly certificate and associate education.

    Program Features

    Arkansas Tech has a Master of Arts in English program, which is designed to prepare students for either doctoral-level study or careers in post-secondary teaching. It has a structured, four-course degree program that allows students to take courses recommended by the state of Arkansas for certification, including:

    Second Language AcquisitionESL AssessmentTeaching People of Other CulturesTeaching English as a Second Language

    In total the degree requires the completion of 30 semester-hours of study, with each course generally counting for three semester-hours.


    Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 while in the program. To graduate students must complete all degree requirements within six years of beginning the program. At least 24 semester hours of study must be completed in residence at Arkansas Tech. Students have the option of preparing a Masters Thesis in consultation with a faculty member from the department.

  8. University of San Francisco

    San Francisco, CA




    The University of San Francisco is a private university located in San Francisco, California. It is a Roman Catholic university, specifically affiliated with the Jesuit congregation. USF has around 1,200 full-time academic staff members and 11,000 total students. The schools endowment is $342 million and the campus is located in close proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Program Features

    USF offers a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program. It is a 30 credit program, which includes foundations, methods, social and cultural studies, elective, and field project courses. Sample courses include:

    Gender and GlobalizationCritical Analysis of Urban SchoolingLanguage and CultureApplied Linguistics

    It is a practitioner-oriented degree program, which covers both the theory and practice of linguistics, as well as providing students the tools to be effective social justice language teachers.


    Students who complete the masters degree program can complete an additional five courses (15 credits) of work to earn a single/multiple teaching subject credential. These additional courses include Structure of American English and Preparation and Evaluation of TESOL Materials. It also requires the completion of a TESOL MA Thesis/Field Project, which can be completed jointly with the MA degree program.

  9. Wilkes University

    Wilkes-Barre, PA




    Wilkes University is a private university located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvannia. Wilkes started as a satellite of campus of Bucknell University, before becoming an independent college in 1947 and a full university in 1990. The school has 157 full-time academic staff members and around 4,500 total students. Its endowment is $45 million.

    Program Features

    Wilkes has a Master of Science degree program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The program is 48 credits and involves 16 courses, which include:

    Approaches to Teaching Second LanguagesTeaching the Four Skills: Reading, Writing, Listening, and SpeakingSecond Language AcquisitionSociolinguistics and Second Language Acquisition

    Some courses included required field experience hours. Students who do not yet possess a level 1 or 2 instructional certification are eligible to receive a letter of endorsement after successful completion of the first five courses.


    Students who graduate from the program and who have an Instructional Level 1 or 2 Certification will be prepared to serve as administrators in US K-12 public schools. For admission to the program, applicants must have a bachelors degree with at least a 3.0 GPA from an accredited institution. There is also a certificate program available, which requires fewer classes/credits.

  10. Azusa Pacific University

    Azusa, CA




    Azusa Pacific University is a private university located in Azusa, California. It is an interdenominational, evangelical Christian university. Formerly known as the Pacific Bible College, the school now has almost 10,000 total students. The student population is split mostly evenly between undergraduates and graduates, with the most popular graduate programs offered at the Graduate School of Theology.

    Program Features

    Azusa Pacific offers a Masters in English, which encourages an active conversation between Christianity and literature. It is a 30-unit program, which can be completed in as few as 12 months. Coursework for the program includes classes such as:

    Literature and the BibleAmerican Literature SeminarWriting for Religious AudiencesWriting Center Pedagogy and Practice

    Overall the courses are divided into six units of core classes, 21 units of electives, and a three-credit thesis/portfolio course that comes at the end of the students course of study.


    Students also have the option of attending the program part-time, which would mean an estimated completion time of around 24 months/two years. Admission to the program requires an official resume or statement of experience, along with a writing sample. Azusa is a Yellow Ribbon School, which helps to provide scholarships and financial aid to eligible veterans and military members.

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