Department of Languages and Literatures

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) M.A.

About the Program

TESOL MAThe Master's degree in TESOL is designed primarily for individuals who wish to teach overseas, at community colleges and intensive English programs, as well as for K-12 teachers wishing to upgrade their skills and employability. The TESOL professional not only provides an invaluable service but also gains a richer understanding of both language in general and the many different languages and cultures of our world. Perhaps no other academic program offers such a direct opportunity for multicultural and international experiences, as well as service to local communities. A graduate degree in TESOL prepares students for an exciting future. With an increasing demand for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, TESOL graduates will continue to have a wide variety of career possibilities. UNI graduates are teaching in more than 25 countries. 

This program is also available online in a cohort model, which is run on a separate timeline than the on-campus program. If you are interested in the distance option, click here or contact the TESOL Graduate Program office at (319) 273-5965. For more information, contact the Graduate Coordinator or Program Secretary

Click here for the M.A.-TESOL program of study (Word document; last updated Spring 2020).

Click here for current M.A.-TESOL requirements and course descriptions (Word document; last updated Summer 2020). ranked UNI’s M.A. in TESOL as one of the 2020 Best Online Master’s in English Language Learning Programs.

Recent Graduates Include

• Teachers of English in the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia

• K-12 teachers in the U.S. (licensure required)

• English teachers in community colleges and in Intensive English programs in the U.S. and abroad

• Professionals in government agencies and on grant-funded projects

• Students and graduates of doctoral programs in second language acquisition, curriculum and instruction, linguistics, and other fields

Notes for Applicants

Application Process

Students interested in this program must submit a completed Application for Admission to Graduate Study and should refer to their MyUNIverse Student Center To-Do list or contact the Department of Languages & Literatures for any other admission requirements. Graduate information and application for graduate admission can be found at Click here for information on assistantships within the Department of Languages & Literatures.

The Graduate Record Examination (General Test) is not required for admission to the program.

U.S. and international students whose native language is not English must have achieved a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 100 or an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 7 in order to demonstrate their proficiency in English. Students may be required to take additional English language improvement courses at the discretion of the TESOL/Applied Linguistics faculty. 


Program Policies

Only graduate courses (course numbers 5000 or above) will apply to a graduate degree, even if the undergraduate course number (4999 or less) is listed. No exceptions will be made.

This major is available on the thesis and non-thesis options, and requires a minimum of 33 semester hours for the non-thesis option, and 39 semester hours for the thesis option, which includes 6 hours of TESOL 6299: Research. The non-thesis option requires an approved research paper. A minimum of 15 hours of 6000-level course work is required for either option.

Successful completion of a teaching portfolio or presentation at a UNI-sponsored or other professional conference/symposia are required for both thesis and non-thesis options, as specified by the TESOL/Applied Linguistics faculty. See the TESOL Graduate Coordinator for details.

Students are required to meet with their advisors for a program approval interview. Students should complete this interview during the first semester of their course work. The department may require a student to complete course work in addition to the minimum of 33 semester hours required for a master's degree. In such cases, these hours will be specified at the time of the interview.

NOTE: Students who wish state licensure to teach at the K-12 level should request information concerning licensure requirements from the Director of Teacher Education, University of Northern Iowa or from the Department of Education in the state in which they plan to teach. The TESOL M.A. does not confer teacher licensure.

Contact Us

Interim Head: Dr. Jim O'Loughlin
Phone: (319) 273-2821

Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Aliza Fones
Phone: (319) 273-6911

Secretary: Ms. Kris Knebel
Phone: (319) 273-5965

Click here for information on assistantships within the Department of Languages & Literatures.