Students who should apply

TESL Master's Program

The TESL MA online program is designed for students who are not able to take the TESL MA on-campus in St. Cloud, MN.  Quite frankly, while our online courses cover the same material as our on-campus, online students miss the learning that comes from classroom interactions between a full class of graduate students and their professor.  And so, we strongly encourage students who can attend our on-campus program to do so.  But, we fully realize that some students cannot come to St. Cloud two or four days a week to access our on-campus.  For these students, online courses are the best alternative.

Typically, the students who we anticipate taking this program are individuals who are teaching ESL or EFL but who do not have the professional credentials to do. For example:

  1. a Minnesota K-12 teacher teaching ESL on a variance;
  2. Someone who would like to teach ESL in adult education programs;
  3. a graduate student from a university who is an international partner with SCSU;
  4. a community or technical college English professor teaching ESL students or ESL courses without academic preparation in TESL;
  5. a TEFL teacher from an English speaking country who has gained employment teaching English in non-English speaking countries throughout the world:  East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Africa;
  6. English teachers throughout the world who teach English as a second or foreign language in their own countries at the elementary, secondary or college level and who would like a graduate qualification in their chosen profession.

Teaching ESL in the K-12 system in Minnesota on a Variance

TESL Master's Program

The first student group for whom the TESL MA online program was designed is: K-12 ESL teachers teaching on variances without K-12 ESL licensure. These non-traditional students typically have a Minnesota teaching license in a non-ESL area but have been selected as an ESL teacher by a school district and are teaching ESL through a variance.  In Minnesota, these teachers are able to teach outside their licensure area for up to three years on a variance.  This means that the teacher has three years to complete the required course work for the K-12 ESL license, complete the Praxis requirements, and to complete student teaching.  One could say that the TESL online program was primarily designed to serve these students and to extend the K-12 ESL license at SCSU to the borders of the State of Minnesota.

Adult Education ESL Teachers

Just as the immigrant population has increased the number of ESL students in K-12 schools, so this population has increased the demand for ESL instruction in adult education programs.  And so, individuals who would seek teaching positions in Adult Education ESL might find that the TESL MA online also gives them an opportunity to improve themselves professionally.  In Minnesota by statue, an individual with a TESL MA can be hired to teach adult education ESL classes by the school districts that offer this program.  In practice, many adult education job announcements in Minnesota require the K-12 ESL license.  Also, in practice, it is not uncommon for Adult Education programs to hire non-ESL licensed teachers to teach ESL.  This TESL MA program online should be a good fit for all these individuals in providing an open access professional development program that does not require a specific time schedule.

Dual Degree Programs through International Partners

The second target population for this TESL MA online comes from students who seek professional qualifications to teach ESL or EFL and who come from universities through which SCSU has dual degree programs.  For example, we have a dual degree program with the TESOL MALL MA program at Woosong University in Daejeon, South Korea.  Graduate students in the Woosong program may apply to SCSU for our TESL MA and then transfer 15 credits from Woosong University to SCSU for the 36 credit TESL MA.  These students would then complete five SCSU TESL MA courses online, complete a six credit thesis, and then receive their TESL MA degree from SCSU.  Woosong University is also able to transfer a similar number of SCSU credits to their TESOL MALL MA and to award their graduate degree too.  Thus, we have a dual degree program through an international agreement.

Community and Technical College English Professors

Increasingly, more and more ESL students are attending community and technical colleges in order to begin their academic studies toward two or four year degrees.  As a result, more job descriptions for English professors at community and technical colleges require experience with ESL students.  Professors with an MA in English can be admitted to the TESL MA online and so qualify themselves professional to teach ESL.  For example, in Minnesota, completion of 16 credits of TESL related courses with an MA degree in another area would qualify a professor to teach ESL at the community or technical college level.  Additionally, with 21 TESL credits, the major Pedagogy and Linguistics courses in the TESL, but without the research and elective components of the TESL MA, one can have transcribed a second major equivalent in TESL:  the individual has a second major in their MA degree and that this second major then is equivalent to the TESL MA for employment purposes.

International TEFL teachers

Throughout the world, college graduates from countries such as the US and Canada have applied for and been accepted in positions where they teach English as a foreign language even though their previous academic course work does not include TESL/TEFL academics or linguistics.  South Korea is reported to have over 17,000 such teachers and more than half do not have degrees in TESL.  Japan has a similar number of foreign English teachers.  The US government Peace Corps program also selects, trains and places several thousand volunteers each year to go around the world to teach English as a foreign language.  These teachers throughout the non-English speaking world find that at one point or another their career or job possibilities shrink or plateau without the proper academic credentials.

English teachers in non-English speaking countries

More than likely throughout the world, the number of English teachers who teach English as a foreign language far exceed those who teach English as a first language.  With over a billion people, China must have more English teachers than any other country in the world.  Sometimes these individuals quit their jobs and come to the US or another country to get an advanced degree in TESL/TEFL to continue their professional development.  But, oftentimes, these English teachers have jobs, families, children, mortgages or other monthly financial commitments that make it very difficult to take two years out of their lives to come to the US to do graduate studies.  For these students, the TESL MA online offers them a professional development opportunity but yet they can keep their jobs, not be separated from their family, and to continue paying the bills.  Individuals may also choose to complete half of the TESL MA online and half on-campus with the support of generous Graduate Assistantships to complete their degree programs.

For more information email the TESL Director, Jim Robinson at:

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