esl endorse 01

With the United States being a popular country for immigrants – in Fall 2020, there were nearly 5 million English Language Learner (ELL) students in public K-12 institutions alone –  there will always be a need for qualified ESL teachers.

Originally published: October 2018
Last updated: March 2024

Sharing the principles of TESOL that aims to teach English to non-native speakers, Being an ESL teacher also pays well – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ESL teachers can earn up to $97,010 per year. Indeed, earning an English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement from one of these outstanding online programs will jumpstart your career in education!

Table of Contents

  • Western Governors University
  • Wayne State College
  • Campbellsville University
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • Oregon State University
  • Concordia University Nebraska
  • Drexel University
  • Doane University
  • Olivet Nazarene University
  • Eastern Kentucky University


  • Affordability (1/3): We looked into the total cost of attendance for each program, particularly its tuition per credit, and compared it with the financial aid options. These online programs provided students with both reasonable tuition and financial aid resulting in attainable cost of attendance with effective financial planning.
  • Flexibility (1/3): We considered the flexibility-enhancing elements in each program including synchronous and asynchronous classes and embedded endorsement in the bachelor’s degree.
  • Academic Prestige (1/3): We factored in the overall reputation of the colleges and universities offering the endorsement credential from rankings and/or reviews of prominent education review entities such as US News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Many of these programs are also accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

The Top 10 Online English as a Second Language Endorsement Programs

1.) Western Governors University

WGU’s English Language Learning (ELL) Endorsement for PreK-12 program was selected for its affordable tuition and a self-paced format. Applicants must be licensed teachers who want to assist ELL students achieve their academic goals that, in turn, will contribute to their attainment of personal and professional goals.

The TESOL International Association- recognized program consists of eight courses with a time-to-completion between six and 20 months. You can work at your own pace and use WGU’s competency-based performance method to speed through the program. The eight required courses include:

  • Assessment Theory and Practice
  • Subject Specific Pedagogy: ELL
  • Language Production, Theory and Acquisition
  • Planning, Implementing, Managing Instruction
  • Theories of Second Language Acquisition and Grammar

Field experience is also mandatory. You will complete video observations and face-to-face ESL teaching experience.

You will also learn cultural awareness and sensitivity essential in effective ESL teaching, particularly in a multiculturally diverse classroom. Your skill sets will cover both technical and transferable skills that can be applied in a wide range of settings, from K-12 and adult education settings to corporate settings.

  • Location: Millcreek, Utah
  • Program Website
  • Delivery Format: Online courses and in-person activities
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 32:1
  • Tuition: $3,975/six-month term 
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

School Stats:

  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 64%
  • Retention Rate: 75%


  • The majority of students say that it’s easy to enroll in their desired courses and manage their workload.
  • The competency-based assessment format enables students to progress faster in their studies by applying prior learning.


  • WGU has neither a physical campus nor varsity athletic teams.

2.) Wayne State College

Students in WSC’s English as a Second Language (ESL PreK-12) teaching endorsement program receive excellent value in education, thanks to the combination of affordable tuition and quality instruction. You must possess effective time management, critical thinking, and communication skills to thrive because of the rigorous coursework.

The endorsement program consists of five 3-credit courses, namely:

  • Language and Human Behavior
  • ESL Programming
  • ESL Methods and Assessment
  • ESL Linguistics Theory
  • ESL Practicum PreK-12

During the course of your studies, you will develop the soft skills essential for success as an ESL teacher. You will learn intercultural communication including oral communication, facial expressions, and body language. You will also develop your leadership skills, research and data analysis skills, and adaptability.

  • Location: Wayne, Nebraska
  • Program Website
  • Delivery Format: Online and field experience
  • Requirements: 15 credit hours
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1
  • Tuition: $370/credit
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

School Stats:

  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 35%
  • Retention Rate: 72%


  • Students can participate in the nationally-recognized Service Learning Program and join student organizations, clubs and honor societies and, thus, enrich their college experience.
  • The affordable tuition and financial aid options made college life easier at WSC.


  • The transfer credit process wasn’t efficient for some students.

3.) Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University offers an outstanding English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching endorsement program that can be completed in one year. Each of the five courses has an eight-week duration, namely:

  • Language and Culture
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • ESL/EFL Assessment
  • Materials and Methods I
  • Materials and Methods II

You will learn the best practices and strategies in teaching ESL/ELL students as well as in communicating and connecting with them. Your courses, for example, will include discussions about sheltered and immersion English,  teaching ESL skill sets, and understanding cultural diversity among ESL students.

Students must complete a 30-hour field experience, too. You can choose to earn the endorsement as a standalone certification, an add-on endorsement, or as part of a master’s degree in education. You must possess a current teaching certificate for admission purposes.

  • Location: Campbellsville, Kentucky
  • Program Website
  • Delivery Format: Online
  • Requirements: 15 credit hours
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1
  • Tuition: $310/credit
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

School Stats:

  • Acceptance Rate: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 29%
  • Retention Rate: 64%


  • The beautiful, clean, and spacious campus provides students with numerous places to meet up with friends, sit and study, and just enjoy the uplifting environment.
  • Students love the school’s cultural diversity, thanks to Campbell welcoming students from across the United States and the world.


  • As a Christian university, Campbell doesn’t allow alcohol possession and consumption even among students of legal age (i.e., dry campus).

4.) University of Northern Iowa

UNI offers an English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement program offered in conjunction with its M.A. in TESOL program. The courses are completed entirely online and within 12 months including the practicum/internship requirement. Synchronous classes are held every Thursday evening and via Zoom sessions and the Blackboard learning management system.

Applicants should be practicing teachers with a valid teaching license/certificate and with a keen interest in helping non-native speakers learn English. Once admitted, students must tackle the rigorous courses, namely:

  • Introduction to Linguistics
  • Language Teaching Methods I
  • Language Teaching Methods II
  • Seminar in Language: Bilingualism and Bilingual Education
  • Cultural Aspects of Language and Language Teaching

The program culminates in a TESOL practicum.

  • Location: Cedar Falls, Iowa
  • Program Website
  • Delivery Format: Online and practicum
  • Requirements: 18 credit hours 
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Tuition: $558/credit
  • Accreditation: HLC

School Stats:

  • Acceptance Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Retention Rate: 83%


  • The spacious campus has a warm and welcoming vibe that encourages students to meet new people, explore new places, and just enjoy the college experience.
  • The academic programs are designed with rigorous academics in mind but the expert professors make the learning experiences more enjoyable.


  • The on-campus residences aren’t party-friendly and some facilities need upgrades. 

5.) Oregon State University

OSU’s Graduate Certificate in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program prepares students for addressing the unique needs of K-12 students learning English as a second language. Applicants must possess a valid K-12 teaching license as part of the admission requirements; said requirement allows them to maintain their current employment while earning the endorsement.

Students learn the current principles and best practices in teaching English to non-native speakers with an emphasis on social justice and equity. You have the opportunity to make a positive difference in your ELL students’ lives and their families and communities with your newfound knowledge.

The required courses are:

  • Racial and Cultural Harmony in the K-12 Classroom
  • Foundations of ESOL Education
  • Instructional Approaches for ESOL Education
  • Partnerships and Ideologies in ESOL Education
  • Linguistics for Teachers

The culminating requirement is an internship completed in the State of Oregon for both in-state and out-of-state students.

  • Location: Corvallis, Oregon
  • Program Website
  • Delivery Format: Online courses and in-person internship 
  • Requirements: 18 credits 
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 19:1
  • Tuition: $560/credit
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

School Stats:

  • Acceptance Rate: 83%
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Retention Rate: 86%


  • Students say that the quick, helpful and courteous responses to their questions about admission, graduation and other matters demonstrated OSU’s commitment to exceptional services.
  • The academic programs, particularly in STEM disciplines, featured rigorous curricula that prepared students for success after graduation.


  • The large class sizes weren’t conducive to individualized attention.

6.) Concordia University Nebraska

CU Nebraska’s English as a Second Language/English Language Learners (ELL) endorsement program is widely recognized for its exceptional affordability, quality and flexibility. Students complete five courses in 10 months to earn the endorsement that can boost their career advancement opportunities as teachers.

Of the five-course program, the culminating requirement is a capstone experience. The four online courses are:

  • ESL/ELL Instruction
  • ESL Curriculum and Assessment
  • Linguistics for Educators
  • Language and Culture

At the end of the endorsement program, you will possess the knowledge, skills and competencies vital to becoming an effective ESL teacher in particular and an educator in general.

  • Location: Seward, Nebraska
  • Program Website
  • Delivery Format: Online
  • Requirements: 15 credit hours 
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
  • Tuition: $340/credit (in-state and Lutheran educators); $425/credit (out-of-state)
  • Accreditation: HLC

School Stats:

  • Acceptance Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Retention Rate: 78%


  • Students praise the welcoming community and vibrant campus life set within the peaceful and picturesque campus.
  • Professors are usually recognized for putting plenty of effort and expertise into their lessons and for connecting with students.


  • Seward is a small town that doesn’t offer plenty of entertainment and recreation options for college students.

7.) Drexel University

Drexel University’s CAEP-accredited certification in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) program satisfies the Pennsylvania state education requirements for aspiring ESL teachers.  The program features 10-week accelerated quarters and four required courses, namely:

  • Language Learning & Teaching
  • Structure and Sound System of the English Language
  • Design and Assessment
  • The Intercultural Learner

Applicants must possess a current initial teacher license to be considered for admission; the credential is an add-on endorsement to their license. Note that it’s the most expensive program on our list, not just in terms of the tuition per credit but also because financial aid isn’t available for graduate students in the program. Drexel alumni, members of Drexel’s partner organizations, and military members can apply for special tuition rates.

Students must also complete 30 hours of field experience in an approved ESL setting.

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Program Website
  • Delivery Format: Online courses and in-person field experiences
  • Requirements: 13.5 quarter credits 
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Tuition: $1,079/credit
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

School Stats:

  • Acceptance Rate: 80%
  • Graduation Rate: 31%
  • Retention Rate: 89%


  • Students say that the quarter system is challenging with its fast-paced 10-week courses but it also means being more focused on their studies.
  • The combination of academic rigor and real-world applications, particularly in its co-op programs, prepares students for success after graduation.


  • Financial aid may not apply to some academic programs.

8.) Doane University

Doane University offers an English as a Second Language Teaching Endorsement program that can be earned as part of a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Note that there’s a seven-year limit in completing the endorsement program since starting a graduate program. Students must also complete the required paperwork to add the endorsement to their initial teaching license.

The required courses include:

  • Linguistics
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Methods in Secondary Education

Students are required to complete a semester of foreign language, a series of practicum experiences, and an ESL clinical practice.

  • Location: Crete, Nebraska
  • Program Website
  • Delivery Format: Online courses and clinical practice
  • Requirements: 15 credit hours 
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
  • Tuition: $380/credit
  • Accreditation: HLC

School Stats:

  • Acceptance Rate: 76%
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Retention Rate: 70%


  • The small class sizes enable professors to provide students with individualized attention that contribute to their academic success.
  • The small campus feels safe and secure while the small campus community means everybody knows everybody.


  • Financial aid isn’t always aplenty or easily available.

9.) Olivet Nazarene University

Olivet offers an outstanding ESL and Bilingual Endorsement certificate program with a 13-month time-to-completion. We selected it for its affordability, convenience, and quality of instruction, too. Note that students can choose to pursue just the ESL endorsement the Bilingual endorsement or both endorsements.

If you choose to earn both endorsements, you must complete seven courses including:

  • Assessment of the Bilingual Student
  • Methods and Materials for Teaching ESL
  • Cross-Cultural Studies for Teaching Limited-English Proficient Students
  • Contemporary Issues in Education English Language Learners
  • Theoretical Foundations of Teaching ESL and Bilingual Students

Your career advancement opportunities will definitely be better if you earn both endorsements.

  • Location: Bourbonnais, Illinois
  • Program Website
  • Delivery Format: Online
  • Requirements: 22 credit hours 
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
  • Tuition: $450/credit
  • Accreditation: HLC

School Stats:

  • Acceptance Rate: 60%
  • Graduation Rate: 57%
  • Retention Rate: 77%


  • The small student body means small class sizes that, in turn, enable professors to get to know their students and provide them with individualized attention.
  • Despite its small campus, Olivet offers many extracurricular activities and networking opportunities.


  • Due to its conservative Christian culture, Olivet isn’t a good fit for leftists, feminists, and LGBTQ+ members and allies, as well as believers in the widespread presence of systemic racism

10.) Eastern Kentucky University

EKU’s ESL (Grades P-12) Endorsement program is among the most affordable on our list but it doesn’t compromise on academic rigor. The required courses are:

  • Linguistics in the Curriculum
  • Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching
  • Methods for Multilingual Learners
  • Assessment for Multilingual Learners

You must also pass the Praxis II exam before the teaching endorsement can be added to your teaching license.

  • Location: Richmond, Kentucky
  • Program Website
  • Delivery Format: Fully online
  • Requirements: 12 credit hours 
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1
  • Tuition: $530/credit (Military discounts are available)
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC

School Stats:

  • Acceptance Rate: 98%
  • Graduation Rate: 39%
  • Retention Rate: 76%


  • The professors and academic advisors are invested in student success even going as far as creating customized programs of study for students dealing with personal challenges.
  • The academic programs are diverse while the campus community fosters a strong sense of community.


  • Diversity in the student body needs improvement (i.e., a predominantly white institution).


  • US News & World Report
  • US Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Statista