Online Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
If you are interested in teaching English in post-secondary or adult English language programs in the United States or abroad, you'll need entry-level credentials from a well-known North American university respected throughout the world. At Penn State University, the Department of Applied Linguistics offers you a unique opportunity to earn a Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
This online TESOL certificate program provides graduate-level courses designed for candidates seeking entry-level English language teaching credentials. All 4 courses are delivered entirely online to give you maximum convenience and flexibility around your busy schedule. The program offers a flexible 12-credit course schedule, an interactive online setting, as well as access to Penn State’s vast academic resources. Enrolling in the online TESOL certificate program will allow you to earn a graduate certificate without having to relocate to Penn State.
All 12 graduate credits in the online TESOL certificate can be transferred in to the MA TESL program at Penn State. If you choose to enter the master's degree program, you will only have 2–3 semesters of on-campus learning.
One key component to the curriculum involves practical application and reflection of theoretical concepts addressed in the classes. This means that for each of the four courses, individuals will be required to have access to a community of nonnative speakers of English. For example, individuals may be required to do one of the following: tutor a nonnative English speaking student, teach and/or observe a class for nonnative English speakers, interview a group nonnative English speakers.
Find Out More and Apply
ABOUT THE GENERAL PROGRAM:
- How can I tell if the certificate in TESOL through Penn State online is for me?
- Who are the students in the program?
- Who are the teachers in the program?
ABOUT THE TESOL CERTIFICATE:
- What kind of jobs can I get with the TESOL certificate?
- Does the graduate certificate in TESOL give me certification to teach in public schools in the United States?
- What’s the difference between “certification” in TESOL and a TESOL "certificate?"
- Can I get both a certificate and a Masters in TESOL at Penn State?
ABOUT SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:
- Can I transfer credits from another institution and apply them to the online TESOL program?
- Will the credits I earn in the online TESOL program at Penn State transfer to other programs at other institutions?
- If I am accepted to the TESOL certificate program, can I apply for the MA TESL program offered at Penn State's University Park campus?
- If I successfully complete the TESOL certificate, can I apply these credits to the MA TESL program?
- What if I am already in the Masters program at PSU and I want to take one on-line course?
ABOUT PROGRAM & COURSE REQUIREMENTS:
- How much work is involved? Does it involve more work than in face-to-face courses?
- How much technology do I need to know?
- Can I see course content before I enroll in the course?
- Will I ever be required to come to Penn State's University Park campus for any of the TESOL certificate program?
- How long does it take to complete the certificate in TESOL?
- Who arranges the practicum activities in the courses?
- What is the e-portfolio that is required for completion of the program?
- What type of computer specs and software do I need?
ABOUT APPLYING TO THE PROGRAM:
- Do I need any experience or background in order to apply to the program?
- Are GRE scores required for admission into Penn State's certificate in TESOL program?
- What are the minimum TOEFL or IELTS scores for admission?
- How do I apply for the Online Graduate Certificate program?
- What are the application deadlines?
- Whom should I contact to see if my application materials arrived?
- When will I find out if I am accepted?
- Where can I find information for international applicants?
ABOUT REGISTERING FOR COURSES:
ABOUT THE GENERAL PROGRAM
How can I tell if the certificate in TESOL through Penn State online is for me?
The certificate in TESOL is designed for candidates who are seeking entry-level English language teaching credentials. Students are required to take four 3-credit graduate-level courses that contain integrated practical field experiences that enable them to gain essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions for teaching adult English language learners in diverse contexts throughout the world. It can be completed online from anywhere in the world and can be completed in as few as 2 or 3 semesters (9–12 months). [BACK TO TOP]
Who are the students in the program?
The students in the online courses come from different parts of the world, are different ages, and have different experiences and interests. Such diversity is essential in the collaborative learning environment that the online program facilitates. You will be communicating and collaborating in cyberspace with people who may think about and understand the course content differently from you, and this will only make your learning experiences all the richer. The only thing that all the students tend to share is their interest in learning something new and their commitment to challenging and expanding on their realms of professional as well as personal experience with an open mind. [BACK TO TOP]
Who are the teachers in the program?
The teachers of the four online courses have doctoral degrees in TESOL, Applied Linguistics, or related fields of study and have experience in teaching language to nonnative speakers as well as in training new language teachers. [BACK TO TOP]
What kind of jobs can I get with the TESOL certificate?
Across the globe, there are numerous opportunities in different types of programs and institutions for people who want to teach English. Some of these programs and institutions, especially overseas, do not require you to have a certificate or even a Masters in TESOL. Often, just being a native speaker of English is enough. However, these programs tend to offer lower salaries and tend to be less respected in the field. A certificate will give you a leg up on the competition for positions worldwide. Overseas, many private and public schools will see it as an advantage if you have a TESOL certificate. In the U.S. (similar to the UK and Australia), you can get a job in a community-based program or in a university-based English program as an adjunct teacher. University-based intensive English programs often look for people with Masters degrees in TESOL or those who are pursing such degrees, but they frequently consider people who have a teaching background in some related field along with the additional TESOL certificate. [BACK TO TOP]
Does the graduate certificate in TESOL give me certification to teach in public schools in the United States?
No. Each state has its own requirements for the certification of ESL instructors. This information can usually be found in each state's Department of Education. It is your responsibility to check on and fulfill these requirements. Public schools in the U.S. require a Masters degree and state certification in a specified content area and age level along with an additional specialization in TESOL. If you already have primary state certification in a specific content area, the TESOL certificate can serve as that additional specialization giving you that leg up on the job market. [BACK TO TOP]
What’s the difference between “certification” in TESOL and a TESOL “certificate”“?
The term “certification” usually refers to a credential issued by a U.S. state certifying that an individual has completed an extended program in the field of Teacher Education. The term “certificate” refers to a document certifying that an individual has completed a short-term program in Teacher Training. Which one is better? It depends on your professional goals and your level of commitment to the field. [BACK TO TOP]
Can I get both a certificate and a Masters in TESOL at Penn State?
Yes. You can complete the certificate program first and then have the credits you accumulate apply to your completion of the Masters TESOL program here at Penn State. You would need to first apply to the former program and then apply to the latter. [BACK TO TOP]
Can I transfer credits from another institution and apply them to the online TESOL program?
The admissions committee will consider transferring a maximum of one course that you want to transfer into the program. In this case, you must provide full documentation (e.g., institution white book course description, reading list, course syllabus, assignment descriptions, grade received, etc.) to support your argument that the course you wish to transfer is equivalent to a course in the online TESOL program at Penn State. The committee will carefully review such documentation and will make its decision regarding your case. [BACK TO TOP]
Will the credits I earn in the online TESOL program at Penn State transfer to other programs at other institutions?
This depends on the institution you want to transfer credits to. Our program cannot dictate to other institutions how and whether credits will transfer. [BACK TO TOP]
If I am accepted to the TESOL certificate program, can I apply for the MA TESL program offered at Penn State's University Park campus?
Yes. Individuals who successfully complete the certificate in TESOL program can apply to be admitted into the MA TESL program. Additional admission requirements include: (a) Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores; (b) 3 strong letters of recommendation from academic and professional references (e.g., one to two letters of recommendation can be written by the certificate in TESOL course instructors); and, (c) a strong statement of purpose describing the applicant's professional interests and reasons for wanting to pursue a master's in TESL. [BACK TO TOP]
If I successfully complete the TESOL certificate, can I apply these credits to the MA TESL program?
Yes. All 12 graduate credits in the certificate in TESOL program can be applied to the MA in TESL at Penn State. [BACK TO TOP]
What if I am already in the Masters program at PSU and I want to take one on-line course?
If you are a student at Penn State, accepted into any program even if you haven’t started classes yet, you can take online courses in any program the University offers. You can use your Penn State ID and password to register for online courses through eLion. Your online course work can transfer over to the MA program in TESOL. [BACK TO TOP]
ABOUT PROGRAM & COURSE REQUIREMENTS
How much work is involved? Does it involve more work than in face-to-face courses?
Online courses have the advantage of not having to physically attend classes on a day-to-day basis, but rather you can access the course according to your own work and life schedules. However, because online courses need to make up for the face-to-face time of the resident classroom, the same, if not more, online time is required. Also, in online courses, you will have to take responsibility for your own learning and this can be difficult for some people, especially those with busy schedules. For example, you will need to keep up with readings and assignments, diligently check your email and discussion boards, as well as work on assignments independently. Overall, we have found that students generally spend about 6–9 hours per week on online coursework, readings, and assignments depending on study habits. [BACK TO TOP]
How much technology do I need to know?
You certainly need to know how to use the basic applications on a computer (e.g., Word processing, email, the Internet, etc.). Any additional software applications you need to use will be explained to you in the program orientation, and you will be provided with opportunities for online help in accessing and using such software. [BACK TO TOP]
Can I see course content before I enroll in the course?
No. The content for each course is uploaded to ANGEL, Penn State’s online course management system, and in order to access these materials, you need a Penn State ID as an officially enrolled student. Further, once you have the Penn State ID and password and have registered for the course(s), then you can go to ANGEL and see the link to access the materials. [BACK TO TOP]
Will I ever be required to come to Penn State's University Park campus for any of the TESOL certificate program?
No. The only program requirements that will be completed offline are the field experiences and observations that are arranged by you and approved by your instructor. [BACK TO TOP]
How long does it take to complete the certificate in TESOL?
The time to complete the certificate in TESOL depends on how many courses students take per semester. Generally, students take 1–2 courses per semester because of family and work commitments. Students may take as few or as many courses as they want per semester, as long as the program is completed within 5 years. If you plan to study part-time, we recommend you take no more than 2 courses per semester. [BACK TO TOP]
Who arranges the practicum activities in the courses?
You are responsible for identifying a place or set of places where you can tutor, teach, observe, or interview (depending on the requirements of the course you’re taking) in your area. Universities, public schools, places of worship, and community resource centers (such as the library or YMCA) often have English classes of some type. [BACK TO TOP]
How is the practicum arranged, approved, and evaluated?
Each course requires that students engage in a set of practical experiences (e.g., tutoring, teaching, observation, etc.). Each student in the program is responsible for identifying, obtaining permission or approval from, and interfacing with representatives from a program or set of programs. These practicum experiences are evaluated by the teacher when students submit written reflective or analytical assignments, usually in response to some assignment prompt. [BACK TO TOP]
How are TESOL students evaluated (tests, papers, assignments, etc.)?
The required assignments vary by course, but in general they are written assignments, online quizzes/polls, discussion boards, chat rooms, and video/audio presentations. [BACK TO TOP]
What is the e-portfolio that is required for completion of the program?
Go to the program orientation page
Go to the program orientation page
ABOUT APPLYING TO THE PROGRAM
Do I need any experience or background in order to apply to the program?
You only need to have completed a Bachelors degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 from an accredited university in order to apply to the program. You do not necessarily need to have any teaching experience or explicit knowledge of English grammar. The program is designed to meet the needs of people who are new to English language teaching as well as those who may have some experience and background in the field. [BACK TO TOP]
Are GRE scores required for admission into Penn State's certificate in TESOL program?
No. Penn State does not require GRE scores for admission to the graduate-level certificate program in TESOL. [BACK TO TOP]
What are the minimum TOEFL or IELTS scores for admission?
International students may take either the TOEFL or the IELTS. The minimum requirements for the TOEFL are 600 on the paper test, 250 on the computer-based test, and 100 on the Internet-based test, with a minimum score of 23 on the speaking section. Applicants taking the IELTS must score at least 7.0. [BACK TO TOP]
How do I apply for the Online Graduate Certificate program?
There are several steps you need to go through in order to apply to the program. Start by going to the online application web site and fill out the online form as a “non-degree student.” You will be contacted about the next few steps in order to get an ID number and password as well as how to register. [BACK TO TOP]
What are the application deadlines?
Applications are accepted throughout the year, however, courses are offered on a typical North American semester basis beginning in the fall (late August) and spring (early January) semesters. For current course registration deadlines, please see the listing on the Registrar's Web site. Review the course schedule for information on which courses are currently offered. [BACK TO TOP]
When will I find out if I am accepted?
We make decisions about certificate in TESOL applicants as the applications arrive. You should hear about your acceptance 2 to 3 weeks after your application materials have been received. [BACK TO TOP]
Where can I find information for international applicants?
The University Office of Global Programs at Penn State provides assistance for international students in all administrative, regulatory, and legal matters. It also provides a variety of educational, cultural, and social programs to help international students adjust to campus life. For more information, visit the University Office of Global Programs website. [BACK TO TOP]
ABOUT REGISTERING FOR COURSES
How do I register for online classes?
In order to register for online classes, you need a Penn State ID and password. You will receive these after you apply to the program and have been contacted by the Graduate School. Once you have your ID and password, you can register for online courses by going to eLion ] and logging in as a student. Be sure to indicate that the Campus where the online course(s) for which you are registering is “World Campus,” and not “University Park.” The latter is for resident courses offered at the main campus. [BACK TO TOP]