Most Affordable Online Master’s in English Language Learning Degrees

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¿Habla inglés? Make your passion for languages a career by earning an affordable online master’s in English language learning!

Did you know that over 20 percent of Americans speak a language other than English at home? For young people starting their education not knowing English, school can be a daunting task. That’s why the education system needs teachers with a degree in TESOL (or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Top 10 Most Affordable Online Master’s in English Language Learning Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Greenville University Greenville, IL
2 University of Texas of the Permian Basin Odessa, TX
3 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT
4 Murray State University Murray, KY
5 Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, TN
6 Southeast Missouri State University Cape Girardeau, MO
7 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
8 Emporia State University Emporia, KS
9 Newman University Wichita, KS
10 Wilmington University New Castle, DE
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What kind of online master’s in English language learning should you get?

It’s easy to get quickly overwhelmed at the cost of education these days. Earning – and paying for – a bachelor’s degree is impressive in and of itself. But a graduate degree can sometimes simply be too much of a time and money commitment. That’s why the combination of “affordable” and “online” are often a no-brainer for people. These 25 programs keep their costs low. They range from $7,000 to $20,000.

Most of these schools offer either an M.Ed. in TESOL or an MA in TESOL. Some of the specific language and acronyms vary, but each degree aims toward giving you the tools to teach English to non-English speakers. If you’re looking for other related affordable graduate programs, take a look at our ranking of the Most Affordable Online Graduate Colleges.

How much money do people make with an online master’s in English language learning?

You’re already on the right track to earning a higher paycheck if you have a graduate degree in your 5-year plan. An advanced degree, hands down, will boost your salary just by nature of your gained experience. According to Payscale.com, ESL (English as a Second Language) Teachers can make as much as $65k per year. The average figure, however, is closer to $42k.

Here’s the deal: Currently, the U.S. Department of Education predicts that by 2030, 40 percent of all school-age children in the US will speak a first language other than English. That means English as a Second Language teachers will be some of the most in-demand teachers in the nation.

What can you do with an online master’s in English language learning?

A master’s in English language learning doesn’t mean you have to limit your skills to just the classroom. There’s need for you everywhere! You could work with adults in a literacy non-profit setting. Or you could work with young adults who are trying to earn their GED. Teaching in the K-12 educational setting is great, but don’t get too worried if that’s not your cup of tea.

Have you ever thought about teaching English abroad? This degree could take you around the world. Regardless of where you choose to teach, this degree will deepen your knowledge of diversity in the classroom, technology integration, curriculum development, and more.

What are the requirements for an online master’s in English language learning?

Even though all 25 of these programs are similar, you’ll find that their requirements vary. For example, some programs require that you have an existing teaching license in your state of residence. Others let you take the program as a non-certification degree. The majority of these schools do not require you to take the GRE, but it’s important to check the fine print when you apply.

Your curriculum will most likely follow a similar pattern for each school. Program lengths tend to last around two years. This varies, of course, with whether or not you’re attending as a full-time or part-time student. As is common with a master’s degree, most of these schools require 30-40 credit-hours, or 10-12 courses in total. You’ll likely end your degree with a capstone project or practicum.

Best Online Master's in English Language Learning Badge

What are the best online master’s in English language learning?

If you’re looking for quality, affordability, and flexibility, you’ve come to the right place. The data team at College Choice has developed a methodology that first considers the online platforms and net cost of each program. Then they factor in essential data like graduation rates, retention rates, and the early salaries of graduates.

The final list offers you the 25 most affordable online master’s in English language learning. Our facts and figures come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.

Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Greenville University
    Location

    Greenville, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Coming in at the top of our list is Greenville University, a liberal arts institution in Illinois. Greenville University is rooted in the Free Methodist Church. It offers both on-campus and online options to its 1,200 students.

    Program Features

    Greenville College makes obtaining an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language look easy. For one, the degree is fully online. You can start it with or without a teaching license. Regardless, however, you’ll need to complete 100 hours of field work in a classroom on top of your coursework. Here’s a sample schedule:

    • Trends and Issues in Education
    • Linguistics for Teaching English as a Second Language
    • Cross-Cultural Studies for Teaching ESL
    • Equity in School and Society

    Notables

    Greenville College emphasizes a multi-dimensional learning experience. Even though you’ll be doing your coursework online, you can still take part in a number of study abroad experiences. The program recommends that you visit a country that speaks your language of study in order to deepen your language skills.

  2. University of Texas of the Permian Basin
    Location

    Odessa, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Odessa, TX, the University of Texas of the Permian Basin was established in 1969. The school has thrived over the years and grown to a student body of around 7,600.

    Program Features

    At the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, you can earn your MA in Bilingual/ESL Education in as little as 12 months. This is an online program that will require 36 credit-hours in total. You’ll choose to follow a curriculum of either Bilingual Education or ESL Education. Either way, most of your core classes will be similar:

    • Teaching Language Arts and Reading for Spanish Speakers
    • Methods of Teaching ESL
    • Cultural Diversity in Education and the Social Sciences
    • Language Development and Acquisition

    Notables

    Besides being one of the most affordable programs on this list for its flat-rate tuition, the University of Texas of the Permian Basin offers even more financial perks. Students in this program are eligible for the TEACH Grant. This awards $3,736 to qualified applicants each year.

  3. Western Governors University
    Location

    Salt Lake City, UT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    An innovator in competency-based learning, Western Governors University is a private online institution. It was formed in 1997 as a way to meet the needs of adult learners. Although the school is based in Salt Lake City, it has affiliate schools in seven other states. Today there are over 99,000 students in attendance from all over the United States.

    Program Features

    Western Governors University features an online MA in English Language Learning for PreK-12. The vast majority – 86 percent – of graduates of this program finish within 6 to 20 months. So if you’re on a time crunch, this program is perfect! Your focus areas will cover language acquisition skills, research, and teaching with classes like:

    • Theories of Second Language Acquisition and Grammar
    • Professional Role of the ELL Teacher
    • Teacher Work Sample in English Language Learning
    • Planning, Implementing, Managing Instruction

    Notables

    There’s a lot to praise about this program at Western Governors University. For one, the National Council on Teacher Quality named it the #1 Best Value US Teaching Program of 2015. Even more, 97 percent of WGU graduates would recommend the school to their loved ones. That’s a great track record!

  4. Murray State University
    Location

    Murray, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A leader in higher education in Kentucky, Murray State University is a four-year public institution. Over the last fifteen years, it has consistently ranked in the top 15 public schools in the south, according to U.S. News & World Report. Murray State University has a thriving online branch that offers degrees in all levels of education.

    Program Features

    The MA in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Murray State University includes both an on-campus and online degree program. The total course requirements include 33 credit-hours. This incorporates coursework, a practicum, and an internship. Some of the highlight courses are:

    • Applied Linguistics and Professional Practices
    • Testing and Evaluation in Second Language Teaching
    • Language and Culture
    • Teaching ESL/EFL Writing

    Notables

    If you already have your teaching license, and you’re just looking for an extra boost to your resume, Murray State University can still help you out. The school offers an online ESL Endorsement for Kentucky teachers. This program takes about 18-24 months to complete, but students can jump into the program at any point.

  5. Middle Tennessee State University
    Location

    Murfreesboro, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Murfreesboro, TN, Middle Tennessee State University is built on nine academic colleges. Together, they support over 300 unique degree programs, some of which are offered online. Each year, Middle Tennessee State University offers over $20 million in scholarship funds to its students.

    Program Features

    Middle Tennessee State University delivers a totally online M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction in English as a Second Language. The degree is multi-functional for each students’ needs. You can earn it as an add-on licensure endorsement, or paired with an initial licensing, or as an endorsement only. The curriculum remains consistent:

    • Education and Digital Youth: Language Learning in a Participatory Culture
    • SLA: Language, Culture, Theory, Practice
    • Assessment and Evaluation of English Language Learners
    • Literacy and Content Instruction for ELs

    Notables

    Middle Tennessee State University makes it easy for you to jump into a degree program without falling behind from your previous education. Through the Tennessee Transfer Pathway program, you can easily transfer credits from an in-state community college. This will help you wrap up your undergraduate degree and be prepared to progress forward!  

  6. Southeast Missouri State University
    Location

    Cape Girardeau, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located on the beautiful Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau, Southeast Missouri State University is home to nearly 12,000 students. The school incorporates experiential learning and applied internships to all of its degree programs. The majority of the students – 80 percent – are Missouri residents. Around 300 students attend the online education graduate program.

    Program Features

    Southeast Missouri State University features an online MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The curriculum spans 36 credit-hours. This degree will prepare you to teach both K-12 and adult learners. Your classes include some of the following subjects:

    • Sociolinguistics
    • Assessment Strategies for ELLs
    • Developing Intercultural Awareness and Competence
    • Research Methods in TESOL

    Notables

    The program at Southeast Missouri State University extends farther than Missouri. The program has a partnership with Sichuan Normal University in China and Vinnytsa State Pedagogical University in Ukraine. This alliance encourages international students to apply and participate in the degree program.

  7. Sam Houston State University
    Location

    Huntsville, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Sam Houston State University is a part of the bedrock of Texas’ higher education history. The third oldest public university in the state, it was founded in 1879. The school ranked #1 in Texas for placing its students in the workplace after graduation. It also has received accolades for its affordability and ranks among the top 10 schools in the state.

    Program Features

    The Master of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages caters toward existing educators. In addition to the degree, students earn a certificate in Second Language Instruction. You’ll cover a total of 30 credit-hours, all attainable online. After four core classes, you’ll branch out into more elective classes like:

    • Teaching Second Language Writing
    • Second Language Literacy
    • Building Relationships with Diverse Family and Children
    • Action Research in Second Languages

    Notables

    Sam Houston State University is dedicated to helping out in any way possible when it comes to paying for your degree. That’s why you have over 30 unique scholarships available to you within the Department of Education. The amounts range from $400 to $5,000 per year, depending on the qualifications.

  8. Emporia State University
    Location

    Emporia, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Emporia State University is a strong public university in Kansas. Founded in 1863, it remains one of the oldest higher education institutions in the state. When it comes to distance learning, Emporia State University has got it figured out. Students choose from 31 different graduate programs with a variety of online and distance options.

    Program Features

    One of the only programs of its kind in the area, Emporia State University offers an online MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. You’ll engage in research, theory, application, and language acquisition for a total of 36 credit-hours. All of the courses are delivered online. Here’s a quick sampling:

    • Second Language Acquisition
    • Language Assessment and Evaluation
    • Structure of English
    • Cultural Awareness for Educators

    Notables

    This degree is offered through the Department of Instructional Design and Technology at Emporia State University. As such, you’ll have access to interesting graduate certificates on top of this degree. Some of your options include: Certificate in eLearning and Online Teaching, Certificate in Teaching with Technology, and more.

  9. Newman University
    Location

    Wichita, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Rooted in the Catholic faith, Newman University is a liberal arts school based in Wichita, KS. With a small student body of 3,700, it maintains an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1. Newman University provides affordable and quality degree options for online learners, adult learners, veterans, and laid-off workers, just to name a few.

    Program Features

    Newman University provides two options for students looking for a graduate program related to teaching English as a second language. You can either earn an MS in Education with an emphasis in ESOL Curriculum & Instruction or an ESOL Endorsement. The first requires 33 credit-hours while latter requires only 15. Here’s a look at some classes:

    • Applied Linguistics
    • ESOL Methods
    • Advanced Instructional Methods
    • Reciprocal Reading & Writing Process

    Notables

    Newman University makes it possible for you to mix and match classes as you go. If you start on the ESOL endorsement track, but want to pursue the full graduate degree halfway through, you can apply those courses to your degree. Overall, you can complete the entire program in less than two years.

  10. Wilmington University
    Location

    New Castle, DE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A private university based in Delaware, Wilmington University prides itself on offering a wide range of options for its nearly 20,500 students. For non-traditional students, the school offers online, evening, and weekend courses in traditional and accelerated formats. About 44 percent of the total student body takes advantage of online learning.

    Program Features

    The Master of Science in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at Wilmington University is packaged in 11 total courses. All of your 33 credit-hours are attainable via distance learning. The curriculum is designed in such a way that you can apply your coursework to numerous career areas. Here’s a peek at your schedule:

    • Linguistics for TESOL
    • Theories of Language Learning
    • Technology & Language Learning
    • Global Contexts of ESL

    Notables

    If you’re a military member nearby, you can take full advantage of Wilmington University’s benefits. The online courses make it easy for you to complete your undergraduate or graduate degree alongside your duties in accesible 7-week courses. Wilmington University is affiliated with Dover Air Force Base and McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

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