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M.A. TESL Degree Program

The Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language (MA TESL) degree is designed for individuals seeking advanced professional preparation in the teaching of English as a second or foreign language with adult learners in the U.S. or abroad.  Our MA TESL is a non-thesis degree program.  Please note: This program does NOT provide certification to teach ESL in U.S. public schools.


There are two pathways to earn the 36 credits required for the MA TESL degree:

  • Campus Pathway. In this option, students complete all coursework, teaching and tutoring practicums, and other degree requirements while in residence at Penn State.
  • Hybrid Pathway (online + campus coursework).  This option allows students to begin their MA TESL studies by taking up to 12 credits of coursework online before moving to Penn State’s University Park campus to complete the degree. For students who are working or cannot relocate immediately, this option provides the opportunity to begin master-level studies from home. Click here to see the on-line courses available for this pathway.


Regardless of which pathway is chosen, all students must complete 36 credit hours, or 12 courses, in the following areas: Foundations, Professional Core, and Methods of Language Study/Research.

In addition to these areas, MA TESL students complete six credits of field experience in classroom and tutoring settings and choose elective courses in one or more areas of special interest. Two capstone projects are also required of all MA TESL students; an e-Portfolio and MA Paper.  Please note that our MA TESL is a non-thesis degree program.

Departmental Activities

A variety of department-sponsored activities enhance the intellectual and professional lives of both faculty and graduate students.

  • Regularly scheduled departmental roundtable sessions bring graduate students, faculty members, and visitors together for panel discussions, presentations about research-in-progress, and professional development activities.
  • Distinguished speakers from all over the world come to campus to talk about their latest research interests.  These events allow graduate students to meet and talk informally with leading figures in the field.
  • The graduate student body also organizes regularly scheduled social events that bring faculty and graduate students together in more informal settings to share ideas and develop affiliations.


For more detailed information on the MA TESL program, please see our MA TESL Handbook.

For information on how to apply to the MA TESL program, please click here