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ESL Degree Online

Earning an ESL degree online, also known as an English as a second language degree, can lead to an important occupation in a society that is becoming increasingly globalized. ...

Earning an ESL degree online, also known as an English as a second language degree, can lead to an important occupation in a society that is becoming increasingly globalized. Every day, first-generation American students are entering school systems and attempting to adjust to the language.i Individuals beyond U.S. borders are trying eagerly to learn English in efforts to further their lives professionally, acclimate to an English-speaking nation or in preparation to move to a different country.

As more people try to master the English language, accomplished ESL and TESOL educators are necessary to help these individuals along.i Many adult learners and children are trying to enhance their English. They want to develop their writing, speaking and reading skills to become productive members of society or merely help develop their social relationships. If you'd like to teach a classroom of adults taking night courses, begin working in a K-12 school or take your services abroad to help people pick up English in their native country, your journey to become an ESL teacher or TESOL teacher can benefit from an esl degree online.

We asked teachers: What are the joys of becoming a ESL Teacher?

"You teach someone to express themselves; is like creating a new life into a new world. But as a teacher we learn the students' world as well.. Its amazing!"

Lidia Aviles
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- Lidia Aviles, & Educator and Writer

What does it mean to be an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher? What is ESL education?

ESL stands for English as a second language.ii ESOL stands for English for speakers of other languages.ii Finally, TESOL stands for Teaching english for Speakers of Other Languages.iii  All of these terms refer to the use or studying English by speakers with a different native language. These terms are most commonly used in relation to teaching and learning English.

A glimpse into the realm of Online ESL Degree Programs and TESOL programs

There are many obstacles in teaching English as a second language.ii For one, educators may face many language barriers. Without a common language, ESL teachers must be creative in how they interact with the classroom.ii  It's the job of the ESL/TESOL teacher to overcome these barriers and help students speak, write and read English effectively nonetheless.

The subjects taught may also differ from traditional education. ESL teachers may focus on helping students with the vocabulary of everyday life, with the skills they need to acquire a job, and possibly even how to prepare for a citizenship exam.ii

Is pursuing and ESL degree online right for me?

ESL degree programs guide

ESL teachers may tend to share some important qualities that may help them excel in their careers. These might include:iv

  • Communication skills
  • Cultural respect and understanding
  • Patience

ESL teachers may also have a lot of knowledge in certain areas that might help them teach more effectively. You might want to consider earning an online ESL degree if you know a lot about:v

  • English language
  • Writing
  • Instructional methods
  • Human behavior
  • Mathematics
  • Computers

If you think this might be able to describe you, feel free to read on to find out more about pursuing a degree in English as a second language online.

What are the educational requirements to become an ESL teacher?iv

In the U.S., teaching requirements vary from state-to-state, but an ESL teacher may typically be required to hold a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. Bachelor’s degree programs may generally be available to those who have completed high school or equivalent education.  They might take about four years of coursework to complete, and offer both specific education as well as general

Additional coursework or a graduate degree, such as a master’s degree, may be required in Teaching English as a Second Language or Teaching English as a Foreign Language. A graduate degree might be required even for entry level positions at colleges and universities. At some levels, ESL teachers may also need teacher certification. Master’s degrees may usually be earned after students have completed a bachelor-level program, and could take about 2 years to complete.  Teaching certificate requirements might vary depending on the type of certificate and the state, so be sure to check these before applying to schools.iv

What are some courses I might take pursuing an ESL degree online?

While no two online schools offer the same exact curriculum, here are some common course topics you may find while pursuing your ESL Degree online:

  • Educational research
  • Instructional foundations
  • Community culture
  • Linguistics
  • Bilingual assessment methods
  • Multimedia instruction
  • Language and literacy integration

Employment Information for ESL Teachers

Although this data might vary greatly between schools, states and individual employees, the median annual salary for ESL teachers (categorized by O*Net as “Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers and Instructors”) was $50,280 in 2015.viii There were 78,000 people employed in this position (which includes adult basic education) in 2014.viii With average job growth expected, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 20,100 openings in the field between 2014 and 2024.viii

Getting Started

If you’re ready to begin your search, feel free to start right here on Check out our sponsored listings for online ESL degree programs and see if any might be perfect for you. Don’t forget to reach out to specific schools to request additional information!

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