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Accredited Online ESL Certification Programs

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 9/4/2020
Quick Facts
Accreditation: CEA
Average Tuition: $26,377
Alumni Salary: $27,330

Aspiring teachers who want to work with English language learners must have a certificate in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). These certificates are available online at many universities across the country. After completing a certificate program, graduates can go on to teach English as a second language in schools or in organizations around the world. Below, we highlight the most popular accredited online schools offering ESL certificate programs. We also highlight the 17 best online master's in ESL programs, ranked based on their tuition costs and alumni salaries provided by PayScale.

When choosing an ESL program, prospective students should ensure the program is accredited. Students should look for schools that have both regional and programmatic accreditation to confirm they are receiving a quality education that will adequately prepare them for a career in the field.

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Most Popular Accredited Online Schools for ESL Certificate Degrees

Visitors to our site are most interested in these schools
Rank School Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
# 1 #1 Arizona State University $24,413 64% (112 reviews)
324 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
324 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Educating Multilingual Learners (Graduate Certificate)
# 2 #2 Grand Canyon University $17,800 50% (531 reviews)
298 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
298 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Teaching English to...
# 3 #3 Liberty University $11,700 57% (325 reviews)
761 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
761 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second...
# 4 #4 Regent University Online $18,620 38% (24 reviews)
398 Programs, 2 Certificate in ESL (view all)
398 Programs, 2 Certificate in ESL
  • Certificate of Graduate Studies in Education - Concentrat...
  • Certificate of Graduate Studies in Education - Concentrat...
# 5 #5 Indiana Wesleyan University Online $18,906 41% (32 reviews)
183 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
183 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Graduate Teaching Certificate - English as a New Language
# 6 #6 Western Governors University $6,670 72% (730 reviews)
97 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
97 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Endorsement Prep. Program in ELL (PK-12)
# 7 #7 Adelphi University $40,300 Add Review
45 Programs, 4 Certificate in ESL (view all)
45 Programs, 4 Certificate in ESL
  • Advanced Certificate in Clinically-Rich Intensive Teacher...
  • Post Master's Advanced Certificate in Bilingual Education...
  • Post Master's Advanced Certificate in Bilingual School So...
  • Post Master's Advanced Certificate in TESOL
# 8 #8 University of Arizona $11,800 75% (4 reviews)
240 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
240 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Lang...
# 9 #9 Colorado Christian University $33,434 47% (17 reviews)
154 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
154 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • TESOL Certificate
# 10 #10 University of Illinois at Springfield $21,338 100% (6 reviews)
78 Programs, 2 Certificate in ESL (view all)
78 Programs, 2 Certificate in ESL
  • Endorsement in English as a Second Language
  • Graduate Certificate in English as a Second Language (K-12)
# 11 #11 Murray State University $24,792 Add Review
91 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
91 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Endorsement in ESL Certificate for Kentucky Teachers
# 12 #12 Columbia University in the City of New York $61,788 Add Review
92 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
92 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Advanced Certificate in Bilingual/Bicultural Education
# 13 #13 Fitchburg State University $16,690 100% (1 review)
56 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
56 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Lang...
# 14 #14 Campbellsville University $25,400 0% (3 reviews)
114 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
114 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • ESL Endorsement (P-12)
# 15 #15 Ohio University - Main Campus $22,406 75% (4 reviews)
137 Programs, 2 Certificate in ESL (view all)
137 Programs, 2 Certificate in ESL
  • Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
  • Endorsement in Teaching of English to Speakers of Other L...
# 16 #16 Eastern Kentucky University $19,948 25% (4 reviews)
163 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
163 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Endorsement in English as a Second Language (P-12)
# 17 #17 Eastern Washington University $25,057 100% (1 review)
76 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
76 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Graduate Certificate - English Language Learners (ELL)
# 18 #18 Purdue University - Main Campus $28,794 100% (5 reviews)
109 Programs, 2 Certificate in ESL (view all)
109 Programs, 2 Certificate in ESL
  • Graduate Certificate in Teaching English Language Learner...
  • Graduate Licensure in English Language Learning (ELL)
# 19 #19 Sacred Heart University $43,070 0% (1 review)
46 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
46 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Certificate in English as a Second Language
# 20 #20 Boise State University $24,988 100% (1 review)
92 Programs, 4 Certificate in ESL (view all)
92 Programs, 4 Certificate in ESL
  • Endorsement in Idaho ENL/Bilingual
  • Graduate Certificate in Bilingual Education K-12
  • Graduate Certificate in English Language Development PreK-12
  • Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of O...
# 21 #21 Brenau University $31,084 Add Review
92 Programs, 2 Certificate in ESL (view all)
92 Programs, 2 Certificate in ESL
  • Graduate - ESOL Endorsement
  • Undergraduate - ESOL Endorsement
# 22 #22 University of South Florida Online $17,324 50% (4 reviews)
145 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
145 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Graduate Certificate in ESOL
# 23 #23 George Mason University $36,024 0% (1 review)
97 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
97 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Lang...
# 24 #24 Concordia University - Chicago $32,880 Add Review
96 Programs, 3 Certificate in ESL (view all)
96 Programs, 3 Certificate in ESL
  • Dual Endorsement in English as a Second Language & Biling...
  • Endorsement in English as a Second Language
  • Graduate Certificate in Teaching of English to Speakers o...
# 25 #25 Wilkes University $37,622 Add Review
59 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL (view all)
59 Programs, 1 Certificate in ESL
  • ESL Program Specialist Certification

Overview of Online ESL Degrees

The training involved in becoming an ESL instructor depends on the academic level that the individual wishes to teach. To teach English as a second language at the elementary and secondary level requires the same certification that is required for any teacher- a minimum of a bachelor’s degree as well as state certification. To teach adult literacy and GED classes, one needs a bachelor's or master's degree, but not necessarily a certification. Doctoral degrees in ESL are also available, though this level is only required for those who want to teach at the university level or go into research.

Online Certificates in ESL

There are many online options available to those looking to earn a certificate in teaching English as a second language. An online ESL teaching certificate program can be found at various universities, and most are available at the graduate-level. A certificate program will typically take a year or two to complete. Some schools allow students to complete this type of certificate while also working on a graduate degree in education.

A certificate by itself is not enough to qualify a graduate to gain teaching licensure but those with just a certificate may be able to find work teaching in private settings, like private language schools or businesses. Teachers who already have licensure may wish to earn this type of certificate in order to teach a wider variety of classes and students. Students will learn how to create lessons and develop the skills they need to effectively teach ESL learners of various ages how to speak, read, and write English.

Requirements for Becoming an ESL Teacher

As with any teaching profession, those who work as ESL teachers in the Pre-K through 12th grade setting will need to be licensed. Licensing varies from state to state, but usually an aspiring ESL teacher will need at least a bachelor's degree. They will also have to go through teacher training, either as part of their undergraduate program or during a master's or certification course, and student teaching will be required. A certification test will also likely be required.

ESL is also widely known as ELL (English Language Learners), so a student who is interested in teaching ESL will also find value in ELL programs. However, it should be noted that earning a degree in ESL and becoming a licensed ESL teacher is different from earning a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or similar certificate on its own. This type of certificate will qualify an individual to teach English overseas in private language institutes, but not in public schools in the United States. Program descriptions should be read carefully.

The Importance of Accreditation for ESL Programs

One thing to keep in mind when choosing a degree program is accreditation. One important type of accreditation is regional accreditation, which is the most highly regarded and most widely accepted accreditation for higher education institutions. Regional accreditation means that the school has been evaluated by an outside organization which has determined that the school meets certain educational standards. This type of accreditation is important for a variety of reasons, including that credits earned through that school will transfer to other schools and also that students will have access to federal financial aid.

Another important type of accreditation is programmatic accreditation. This is when an organization specializing in a particular subject accredits programs that teach that subject. For many years, NCATE, or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, was the main professional accreditation agency for education programs, along with The Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). As of July 1, 2013, NCATE and TEAC merged to form The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP uses a set of five Standards to evaluate programs, with criteria including the quality of the professors and the kinds of practical experiences, such as student teaching, that a student has access to. Those who wish to become an ESL teacher should find a program that has received programmatic accreditation from CAEP or NCATE, because this will give them assurance that they are receiving a quality education that will prepare them for their future careers.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.

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