Differences among TESOL related Masters degrees

Determining which type of program to pursue for TESOL qualifications isn’t as simple as one might think.  English language teachers come from a variety of training backgrounds – all valid and useful for their specific purpose, but quite varied in actual training courses.  Before pursuing training, it’s important to determine what type of job you are most interested in to identify the type of degree you’ll seek.  Each of the degrees described below provides English teaching qualifications, but for different contexts and settings.

Applied Linguistics MATESOL M.Ed. / MAT


Those who want to use linguistics in a practical way Those who desire to specifically teach English around the world Those who seek teacher certification in the US
Sample Courses Linguistic theory:







First language acquisition

Second language acquisition








Linguistic Theory:





Second Language acquisition

Structure of English

Language analysis



Curriculum design




Teaching pronunciation


Linguistic Theory:


Linguistics for ESL teachers

Intro to linguistics



Second Language acquisition


Multicultural education



Assessment of language learners

Literacy for language learners

Technology in the classroom

Specializations Language teaching 




Language acquisition

Language planning and policy




English for specific purposes 


English for academic purposes




Content  based (e.g. math, science)

Professional Organizations Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) 


American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL)

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) 


International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL)

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) 


National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA)


The rundown Masters in Applied Linguistics are best suited for those who want to study linguistics as well as teach English in a non-public education (US) setting.  The degree can also be used in other types of linguistic careers. MATESOL degrees are best suited for those who want to teach English as a career.  Typically, jobs in intensive English programs at the university level and the better international jobs hire only candidates with an MATESOL. M.Ed./ESL degrees are specifically for certification to teach ESL in American public schools.  Regardless of degree/experience, if a candidate does not have ESL certification of some sort, a school system will not hire them as a full teacher (though in high need areas, provisional licensures may be given.) 




4 thoughts on “Differences among TESOL related Masters degrees

  1. This information is really helpful, but I have a different question related to the subject: Which is better if I want to teach at the university level–a M.A. in English with a concentration in TESOL, or a M.A. in TESL?
    Thanks for any help you might provide–I’m trying to decide between 2 graduate programs.

    1. Lots of jobs advertise for an MATESOL or related degree, so both would probably be acceptable. That being said, you’ll want to compare the type of courses the program offers to determine what they’re preparing you for. You’ll want to choose the course that focuses most intensely on TESOL itself.

  2. great article. I myself plan to follow a tesol course, but still wonder what kind of tesol course I should choose. my friends suggested me to take Tesol course in Bali to get the pleasure and inconvenience while learning, coz Bali is full of interesting places to visit. They said tesolindo.com is the best for me.

  3. Great goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you
    are just extremely magnificent. I actually like whatt you’ve acquired
    here, really like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it.
    You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it sensible.
    I can’t wait to read far more from you. This is
    actually a terrific web site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s