Join the World

The Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) will prepare you to begin or advance your career in teaching English as a second language or English as a foreign language in the US or abroad. With a communicative approach to language teaching and a focus on authentic teaching activities, our expert faculty will help you become a participating and contributing member of the TESOL profession.

Our program is designed to cater to a diverse student population by providing you the flexibility to fit an MA into your schedule and to customize your course of study to fit your needs. We offer both thesis and non-thesis options and a wide range of courses. You will enjoy a sense of community with your peers and with your professors, who are among the leading professionals in the field.

At AU, we put principles into practice, blending application and theory to produce world-class educators who exemplify the best in both TESOL theory and practice. Our faculty members use a combination of advanced academic knowledge and practical experience gained in the United States and abroad with students of all ages and proficiency levels to provide academically based, pragmatic guidance. The knowledge, skills, and experience gained in this program will build your confidence and competence as a teacher.

Teaching in the Classroom & Community

In this 36-credit program, you will develop a solid foundation in the teaching of English with a 27-credit core. You can choose to pursue the master’s thesis option, in which you will create your own original research project, or the non-thesis option, in which you will broaden your knowledge base with elective courses.

An AU TESOL education goes beyond the classroom. Our program combines theoretical foundations with experiential learning. Students observe courses, tutor and volunteer teach, plan lessons, design assessments, and develop curricula and materials for English language classes. Students gain practical, hands-on teaching experience through involvement with local ESL institutions, schools, or community-based volunteer teaching programs. In addition to reaching out to the community, we bring the TESOL community to you by hosting a variety of professional development events and conferences that are attended by students and professionals in the field.

You can complete the program on a full-time or part-time basis. Our flexibility and evening classes make the TESOL MA ideal for career-switchers and working professionals. See complete Admissions & Course Requirements.

Learn from Expert Faculty

Among the first in the United States to offer a TESOL master’s degree, our department has earned a reputation for expertise in adult education, higher education, and English as a foreign language. Our faculty members are respected leaders in the field, specializing in applied linguistics, second language acquisition, language teaching methods and teacher education, instructional design, and cross-cultural communication. They draw on their extensive and diverse teaching experiences, knowledge of contemporary research, and intercultural expertise to provide students with the academic and practical knowledge to become successful TESOL professionals.

A Community of Learning in a Global City

A truly global city, DC contains hundreds of embassies, cultural organizations, enclave communities, educational institutions, and advocacy organizations. The unparalleled intellectual and professional opportunities the capital city offers make AU an ideal place to live, learn, and make connections.

The AU TESOL program believes in the importance of creating a community of learners as well as connecting our students to the expanding ESL community in the DC metropolitan area. Our students gain practical, hands-on teaching experience and get a head start on their careers by working with local ESL institutions, schools, and community-based volunteer teaching programs. Through its professional development events, working relationships, and alumni network, our program has become an integral part of the ESL community in the DC metropolitan area.


A World of Opportunities

Our program prepares students for a wide variety of ESL/ EFL teaching and related careers, including teaching English as a second language in various post-secondary settings and English as a foreign language at all levels of English language education. Our alumni are teachers, program directors, curriculum developers, assessment specialists, and teacher educators who work in various language education institutes and programs.

This is the terminal teaching degree in our profession, but many of our graduates have gone on to PhD programs at prestigious universities all over the world.

With an MA in TESOL you will be qualified to teach English almost everywhere in the United States and abroad, including university intensive English programs, community colleges, private schools, and adult education programs. Students wishing to pursue licensure to teach K-12 in US public schools should consider the Master of Arts in Teaching ESOL program. However, the MA in TESOL is a good choice for those wishing to teach elementary, middle, or high school outside of the US.

Alumna Spotlight

I credit this program for jump-starting my career in the field of TESOL.

While pursuing her MA, Mindy Corriher taught business English courses at the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in downtown DC. She also worked as a graduate assistant in the School of Professional and Extended Studies’ intensive English Language and Training Academy (ELTA). After graduation, she became ELTA’s assistant director.



Get a look inside the American University MA in TESOL Program. Faculty, program alumni, and current students say what sets this program apart.