Most Affordable Online Master’s in English Language Learning Degrees
| Staff Writers
Are you ready to find your fit?
¿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
Explore our featured online programs and find the right match for you today.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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:
Assessment Strategies for ELLs
Developing Intercultural Awareness and Competence
Research Methods in TESOL
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
Advanced Instructional Methods
Reciprocal Reading & Writing Process
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.
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.
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
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.
The University of North Dakota is the state’s oldest public research university. Located in Grand Forks, it stands out in the region for its Carnegie Foundation designation of “high research activity.” The Division of Continuing Education offers over 110 online options, from professional development classes to doctoral degrees.
The University of North Dakota blends together the best of both worlds in its M.Ed. in English Language Learner Education. You’ll take 35 credit-hours of online learning and then tackle 90 hours of a practicum experience. This program typically takes two years to complete. Here’s a look at the curriculum:
ELL Methods and Materials
Literacy Instruction for English Language Learners
Research and Advocacy in TESOL
Linguistics for ELL Teachers
In addition to the huge benefit of an online program, the University of North Dakota sweetens the deal by offering affordable tuition. In fact, students who are enrolled in the online program can benefit from the in-state tuition rate. That even applies to students who are out-of-state residents!
A strong regional institution, the University of Northern Iowa enrolls nearly 12,000 students. Over 90 percent of them are residents of Iowa. This year, the University of Northern Iowa was named the #1 Best Online College in Iowa by Best Value Schools. It also receives top marks for its online education programs.
At the University of Northern Iowa, you’ll earn an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This is an online program that qualifies you to teach English to K-12 students, adults, and everyone in between. Your courses blend together linguistic skills with instruction and methodology. Take a look:
Introduction to Linguistics
Cultural Aspects of Language and Language Teaching
Second Language Acquisition
Phonetics, Phonology, and Language Teaching
The University of Northern Iowa brings out the big guns for its online learning platform. You’ll use a combination of platforms – Adobe Connect, a desktop video conferencing system, and eLearning through Blackboard. Even more, you have access to a 24/7 support specialist if you run into technical problems at any point.
Located on the border of Minnesota and North Dakota, Minnesota State University Moorhead was established in 1887. It delivers nearly 250 academic programs, both on-campus and online. Each year, Minnesota State University Moorhead awards over $3.3 million in scholarships to its students.
Minnesota State University Moorhead takes a unique approach. It offers an online MS in Curriculum & Instruction with the choice to specialize in Teaching English as a Second Language. This gives you a solid foundation in theory, methodology, and research with the chance to apply it to your field. Some of the TESL classes include:
Second Language Acquisition and Language Teaching
Designing ESL Courses
Minnesota State University Moorhead offers a package that is hard to pass up. For one, its curriculum stands out for its numerous emphasis offerings. It also has an impeccable 100 percent job placement rate for its students post-graduation. This speaks volumes to the quality of the program at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
A member of the larger state university system, the University of Maryland – Baltimore County is home to around 13,600 students. UMBC consistently lands a spot on “Best Value College” rankings by Forbes and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. It also has been noticed for its rapid growth in research endeavors.
Delivered through the Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication, the University of Maryland – Baltimore County offers an MA in TESOL. This program can be completed online or in-person. The curriculum is strong in its varied course offerings. Here’s a look:
Instructional Systems Development
ESOL Testing and Evaluation
Cross-Cultural Communication for ESOL
The University of Maryland – Baltimore County designed a program that can fit a number of career needs. You can either complete a non-certification internship, K-12 Student Teaching experience, or a master’s thesis. Some internship experiences have taken students to Ecuador, South Korea, Bolivia, and beyond.
Originally founded as a teacher’s college in 1874, Worcester State University is now a vibrant liberal arts school in Massachusetts. The Princeton Review has praised it both for being one of “America’s Best Value Colleges” and a “Best Northeastern College.” The school offers 60 undergraduate degrees and 29 master’s programs.
Worcester State University brings you a Master of Education in English as a Second Language. It specializes in helping existing teachers specialize their license in ESL. The classes are offered both online and as evening courses to accommodate working adults. Some of the classes in your 34-credit-hour program include:
Speech/Language Development, Differences, and Diversity
Second Language Acquisition
Literacy Instruction for the English Language Learner
Teaching Adult ESL and SIFE
The curriculum at Worcester State University excels in giving you real-world settings to apply your learnings. Even though this is an online program, you have the option to step into the field for research, portfolio-building, and more. In fact, your final class will be an individual research project in which you tackle an existing issue in ESL.
A private university in Dobbs Ferry, NY, Mercy College began as a Roman Catholic institution but is no longer religiously affiliated. Mercy College was recently listed among the top 15 percent of New York colleges when it comes to return on investment.
Mercy College has rolled out an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages with two different tracks. Track I is for people who are seeking their first teaching certificate. Track II is for people with an existing teaching certificate seeking to add TESOL certification. Both degrees are attainable online, but Track I involves 36 credits while Track II is 33 credits. Here’s a look at some classes:
Linguistics and Language Development
Modern English Structure
Cultural Perspectives in Teaching Language
Teaching English as a Second Language
Another difference in the two tracks of this program is the final curriculum requirement. Track I candidates complete a 15-week student teaching experience in an area classroom. Track II candidates, however, only have to complete 20 days of a clinical practicum experience in an ESL classroom.
One of the 17 schools in the UNC system, the University of North Carolina – Wilmington offers over 90 degree programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Last year, around 16,500 student were enrolled. It boasts an impressive 87 percent retention rate. UNC Wilmington is a darling of the region and ranks well for its graduate programs.
The Watson College of Education at UNC – Wilmington offers a Master of Education in Teaching English as a Second Language. This is a 33-credit-hour online program designed for students who already have a teacher certification. The degree is divided into professional core classes, ESL core classes, and electives. Here’s a sample:
Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
ESL Issues: Culture, Policy, and Advocacy
Methods for Second Language Learners
Linguistics for Teachers
The University of North Carolina – Wilmington features an amazing loan forgiveness program. The Forgivable Education Loans for Service program makes it possible for you to get out of student debt faster by working as a teacher in North Carolina after graduating. This is a huge opportunity for you if finances are a concern.
The University of Missouri – Columbia began in 1839 and has become the largest university in the state. It is also the first public institution of higher learning that was founded west of the Mississippi River. Its main campus is located in Columbia, but the university also has branch locations in Kansas City, Rolla, and St. Louis.
The University of Missouri – Columbia sets you up with a 100 percent online M.Ed. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The majority of the students in this program attend part-time and still finish within two years. The degree includes 33 credit-hours that are organized into semester-based courses. Here’s a look at a few classes:
Language and Culture for Educators
ESOL Curriculum Development
Teaching ESL/EFL to Adult Learners
Working with English Language Learners with Special Needs
The University of Missouri – Columbia is a strong contender when it comes to financial support. In fact, three out of four students at the University of Missouri receive some form of financial aid. The average financial aid package is $20,307. There are also special scholarships for active duty service members who are attending online.
Kennesaw State University corners a significant portion of the higher education scene in Georgia. With a student body of over 35,800, it remains the third-largest university in the state. The school operates two campus locations, both just north of Atlanta. It has a hugely positive economic impact on the regional economy – to the tune of $1.4 billion.
At Kennesaw State University, you’ll earn a Master of Education in TESOL. This is an online degree that focuses on curriculum development, teaching strategies, and cultural communications. Most students complete the degree within 18 to 24 months. Here’s a look at the curriculum:
Language, Power, and Pedagogy
Applied Linguistics for ESOL Teachers
Teacher Inquiry and Research in TESOL
Content Area Reading & Writing for English Learners
There are huge perks to the program at Kennesaw State University. For one, students automatically receive an ESOL Endorsement after finishing two semesters in the program. You also are eligible for TEACH Grants, especially based on the shortage in TESOL educators in Georgia.
Located in the popular college town of Lawrence, the University of Kansas is a large public research institution. The school runs five campuses in Kansas, as well as an online campus. The University of Kansas has made significant commitments to affordable education. For example, incoming freshman pay a fixed tuition rate.
The online MSE in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Kansas includes a unique emphasis in TESOL. You can pursue a number of different avenues within this degree: the teacher track, the non-teacher track, or the endorsement-only track. While the number of credits differ between the three, you’ll find overlap in some of the classes:
Reading and the English Language Learner in K-12
Linguistic Analysis for TESOL Educators
Problems in Second Language Instruction
The University of Kansas is backed by reputable rankings, especially when it comes to this degree program. In the last two years, U.S. News & World Report has included it in two of its top rankings. It ranks in the Top 10 Best Education Schools among other public universities, and in the Top 20 Online Curriculum and Instruction programs.
Affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene, MidAmerica Nazarene University is a small liberal arts college based in Kansas. Aside from its on-campus degree programs, the school delivers online education in business, computer information systems, education, and more. It integrates faith teachings into each curriculum.
MidAmerica Nazarene University takes a different path to English language learning. You’ll earn a Master of Education with a certification as a Reading Specialist. This curriculum considers a instruction from a number of different worldviews. This is a degree you can apply nearly anywhere with classes like:
Ethical Worldviews for Educations
Emergent Literacy (K-2)
Diagnostic Literacy Practicum
MidAmerica Nazarene University has a number of ways that you can save on your education. For one, the school is generous in offering a payment plan that fits your specific needs. MidAmerica Nazarene University is also partnered with a number of area companies and organizations in order to offer a Family Education Discount.
Known as the second-largest evangelical university in Michigan, Spring Arbor University is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. It was established in 1873. Spring Arbor University has been recognized by numerous sources as one of the Best Value Christian Colleges in the Nation.
Offered 100 percent online, Spring Arbor University brings you an MA in TESOL. It splits the curriculum into two camps: K-12 or Adolescent and Adult Education. That way, you can specialize your degree to a demographic. Both tracks require 33 total credit-hours. Here’s a look at a few classes:
Cross Cultural Competence in Communication
Assessment & Evaluation of Language Minority Students
Linguistics for Teachers of English
TESOL Methods and Materials for Second Language Acquisition
This year, Spring Arbor University was praised by SR Education Group for being the #14 Best Online College for ESL Teaching Degrees. The program is unique in that it teaches TESOL from a faith-based perspective. You’ll encounter classes like Integrity in Teaching English as Mission.
One of the nine schools in the Concordia University system, Concordia University – Nebraska is based in the town of Seward. It is divided into three academic schools, one of which is the College of Education. Concordia University – Nebraska also delivers over 40 unique online programs.
Concordia University – Nebraska is all about making its M.Ed. in TESOL work for you. That’s why you’re able to complete this 36 credit-hour program on either a part-time or accelerated basis. Most students finish the degree anywhere from 18 to 24 months. At the end of the program, you’ll complete a 45-hour practicum. Here are some classes:
ESL/ELL Curriculum and Assessment
Language and Culture
Word Study: Decoding, Comprehension, and Fluency
Linguistics for Educators
Concordia University – Nebraska has a commitment to a “hassle-free master’s degree.” This means the school goes out of its way to make you feel at home. Here are some examples: you’ll be assigned to an enrollment specialist to get signed up for classes, your textbooks will be free, and you’re not required to take the GRE to apply.
A nondenominational Christian school in Grand Rapids, MI, Cornerstone University is a small but mighty school in the Midwest. It was originally founded through the Baptist Church, and still requires students to abide by a “Lifestyle Statement” that is rooted in the Christian faith. CU Online offers degrees in business, ministry, and education, just to name a few.
At Cornerstone University, you’ll embark on a 33 credit-hour MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This program makes it easy to match up your life schedule with your class schedule. You have the option of attending online or through a blended format. Some of the classes you’ll take include:
Issues in TESOL
Second Language Acquisition
The degree program at Cornerstone University makes sure that you recieve education beyond the classroom. That’s why students in the online program are required to attend two TESOL conferences. Students in the blended program are required to attend two one-week residencies on the Grand Rapids campus.
Originally founded as a teacher education college, Concordia University – Chicago has grown into a fully versatile private university. It is affiliated with the larger Concordia University system and upholds the Lutheran teachings of its past. It is located just 10 miles from downtown Chicago. Online students can choose from a wide range of degrees.
At Concordia University – Chicago, you’ll be earning an online MA in TESOL. This degree spans 30 total credit-hours and can be completed in 12 to 24 months. Your curriculum will prepare you to teach English to a wide range of ages, from children to adults. Some of your highlight classes might include:
Applied Philology and World Englishes
TESOL Curriculum Planning and Methodology
Issues in Second Language Rhetoric and Composition
Language and Linguistics
Concordia University – Chicago has received praise from all over. This year it was awarded as an Illinois College of Distinction, a Christian College of Distinction, and an Education College of Distinction. It also performs well for its students. Over 90 percent of CUC students are employed within six months of graduation.
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