Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) (M.A., Licensure)

Requirements and Details


Complete admission and program requirements are found in the University Catalog.


The Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) program has two major pre-requisites:

  • An introductory course in linguistics
  • One year of college foreign language study or the equivalent

If you have met both of these pre-requisites and all your application files are complete, you can be admitted to the program without any conditions. If you have not met one or both pre-requisites, you can be admitted to the program on the condition that the pre-requisites are met as soon as possible.  After the pre-requisites are met, Graduate Studies will regularize your admission by removing the conditions.

If you have not completed an introductory course in linguistics, you can take English 361: an introduction to linguistics online at St. Cloud State. You can also take this course at another university and transfer the credits. Without completion of this course, you are not allowed to enroll in English 663, 664 or 666, the major linguistics courses in the program, but could take other courses in the program simultaneously with English 361.

For the foreign language requirement, you can meet this requirement by having taken one year, two semesters or three quarters, of a foreign language. Please note that American Sign Language would count as a foreign language. This requirement can also be met as follows: 

  • Two years of high school foreign language can count as one year of college foreign language, as it is considered an equivalent experience.
  • Bilingual, multilingual or international students can meet this requirement by listing a native language other than English.
  • Those who have studied and/or worked abroad can meet this requirement by writing a letter that describes their language learning experience if evidence that their experience would then be equivalent to one year of college foreign language.
  • Students can also complete the equivalent of two four-credit 60 hour college courses through tutoring or adult education foreign language courses, including online courses, as long as they can document a total of 120 contact hours of learning.

Program Length

Prospective students will choose to pursue the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) as either a Master of Art or a Master of Art with K-12 ESL licensure.

Your choice will affect the length of your program and whether or not you can complete the full program online.

Students with a previous Minnesota state teaching license in another area should be able to complete the course work for either program in the same period of time, but those seeking initial licensure would have additional requirements.

Students without a Minnesota teaching license in another area seeking licensure are required to take 26 graduate credits of education courses: most of which are on-campus courses without online equivalents. In other words, such students could not complete the K-12 ESL license completely online.

Transfer courses

Unless special arrangements exist, Graduate Studies allows only 10 credits to transfer.

These courses must:

  • Be graduate credits.
  • Come from a graduate program that is accredited by the national government of the country where the university is located.
  • Must not have counted for a previous graduate degree.
  • Fit into the Teaching English as a Second Language master’s program with names and course descriptions that match the courses for which they are being transferred.

Two other arrangements do exist:

  • Students who have completed graduate course work at other Minnesota State institutions can transfer up to 15 credits or five three-credit courses. The Minnesota State universities in Mankato, Moorhead and Winona have graduate course work in TESL, so students taking these courses at these institutions should be able to apply 15 credits of TESL related course work from their original universities to the TESL master’s program at St. Cloud State.
  • Students who are admitted graduate students at St. Cloud State’s international partner universities with dual degree program agreements can transfer up to 15 credits or five three-credit courses into the TESL master’s. St. Cloud State has a dual degree agreements with: 
    • Woosong University in Daejeon, South Korea
    • Kyunghee University in Jeonju, Korea
  • Under these agreements, students at partner universities could complete the St. Cloud State master’s by adding 15 more credits or five courses and a six credit thesis to 15 credits or five courses of TESOL MALL course work.

All transfer courses have to have been completed within seven years of when the student’s TESL degree is awarded.