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Top Schools for ESL Teaching

Read about English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, which prepare elementary and secondary teachers to meet the language needs of their students. Learn about the degree options at three high-ranking universities, and find a list of other schools in the U.S. that provide training for ESL teachers.

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School Information

English as a Second Language (ESL) and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programs prepare teachers to instruct students who did not learn English as their first language. Some of the top-ranked schools offering ESL and TESOL include Columbia University, the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and the University of Pittsburg, and their programs can lead to a certificate, an endorsement or a graduate degree.

Top U.S. Schools with ESL Programs

1. Columbia University at New York, NY

The Teachers College at Columbia University ranked fourth on U.S. News & World Report's 'Best Education Schools' list in 2011. It also ranked second for its Elementary Teacher Education specialty and fourth on the Curriculum and Instruction specialty survey, as designated by USN&WR in the same year. The Teachers College offers a certificate program in TESOL, as well as master's degrees and a doctoral program in TESOL. Students who plan to teach in a New York State public school can complete a master's degree in TESOL with K-12 certification.

2. University of Hawai'i at Manoa

U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Hawai'i 35th on it 'Best Education Schools' list in 2011. The University of Hawai'i has one of the oldest ESL departments in this field and offers a bachelor's degree in second language studies. The master's and doctoral degree programs in second language studies allow students to specialize in language teacher or second language acquisition, among other areas.

3. University of Pittsburg in PA

The University of Pittsburg was ranked 23rd on U.S. News & World Report's 'Best Education School list' in 2011. It was also one of The Princeton Review's 'Best Northeastern Colleges' in 2012. Students attending the University of Pittsburg can complete the ESL Program Specialist endorsement and add it to an existing Pennsylvania teacher license. Alternatively, they may complete the TESOL Certification for Higher Education Program to prepare to work in administrative positions within ESL departments at elementary or secondary schools, school districts and colleges.

Ten Good Schools with ESL Programs

School NameDistinctionLocation
Arizona State UniversityTeachers can complete an elementary education degree with an endorsement in ESLPhoenix, AZ
Columbia UniversitySponsors the Community Language Program, where students teach English to adultsNew York, NY
Michigan State UniversityOffers a minor in ESL for both elementary and secondary education majorsEast Lansing, MI
Pennsylvania State UniversityStudents can earn an ESL Certificate through online coursework and a 4-week immersion experience in Ecuador University Park, PA
University of Hawai'i - ManoaOffers B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Second Language StudiesHonolulu, HI
University of Illinois - UrbanaEndorsements in bilingual education available for students seeking elementary education teacher certificationChampaign, IL
University of MinnesotaOffers minors and a master's degree in ESL Minneapolis, MN
University of PennsylvaniaOffers a Master of Science in Education with a TESOL specializationPhiladelphia, PA
University of PittsburghOffers a certificate program, master's degree and Ph.D. in ESLPittsburgh, PA
University of Southern CaliforniaTESOL program offered entirely onlineLos Angeles, CA
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