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Teaching English as a Second Language Programs

Purpose of Program

Why pursue an M.A. in TESL from UTSA?

Program Admission Requirements

Overview of Program


Resources for Current Students

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Purpose of Program

Students in Dr. Lindahl’s Special Topics course, Newcomers and Emergent Language/Literacy (ESL 6973)

The Master of Arts degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (MA-TESL) brings together students from a variety of professional, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds interested in teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) to children or adults in schools and programs in the United States or in international settings. The program emphasizes theory-to-practice connections, and the coursework pushes students to reflect on how classroom teaching is informed by TESL theories. The MA-TESL also prepares students for advanced study in applied linguistics. It is an interdisciplinary program where both veteran and novice educators have the opportunity to gain a broad understanding of the principles shaping applied/educational linguistics, sociocultural theory, second language acquisition theory, ESL/EFL program implementation, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language (TESOL) while getting hands-on experience with the latest second and foreign language pedagogies. The MA-TESL is unique in its relationship with the Department of Bicultural and Bilingual Studies, and is one of the few programs where sociolinguistics is a core component. The program can be tailored to students’ career goals, and offers specialized courses on technology for language learning, advanced literacy methods, content-area instruction, and communicative language teaching.

MA-TESL Brochure
MA-TESL-C Brochure 


Visit the Teaching English as a Second Language page on the Graduate School website.

See our suggested course sequence plan.

Request more information about the MA-TESL.

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Why pursue an M.A. in TESL from UTSA?



June Pugh giving a poster presentation in Dr. Sayer’s Second Language Acquisition Research class (ESL 6013) in Fall 2016

  • The MA-TESL degree is internationally recognized as the terminal degree in the field of Teaching English as a Second Language.

  • MA-TESL faculty have extensive teaching experience in K-12 and adult education contexts in the United States, Latin America, Asia, and Europe; are creative and talented teachers who possess expertise in the courses they teach; and are internationally recognized scholars who maintain active research agendas in the field.

  • MA-TESL students include current, former, and future K-12 teachers and adult educators from the United States and around the world.

  • Graduates of the MA-TESL program advance their careers and are able to

    Teach Adult ESL in community-based programs, college and university-based programs, U.S. military programs, private schools, and more!

    • Teach English language learners in K-12 schools with the MA-TESL-C degree

    Work in ESL and ELL program administrative positions in K-12 and adult education

    Teach in international ESL/EFL programs (K-12, adult, public and private schools, colleges, and universities)

    Work as private consultants and tutors



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Program Admission Requirements

Students completing a task in Dr. Christiansen’s Reading and Writing in a Second Language class (ESL 5033)

Students applying for unconditional admission must satisfy University-wide and College-wide graduate admission requirements, and be recommended for admission the Graduate Advisor of Record in the MA-TESL program. Applicants must have completed a Bachelor’s degree with 18 credit hours in field of study or in another appropriate field of study. Applicants must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 60 hours of undergraduate and graduate work. Official transcripts from all institutions attended are required. All international transcripts must be recorded in English or officially translated to English. Applicants must complete the Graduate School application; there is no departmental application.

International Students: International students and those with international degrees may be required to submit additional documents per our admissions policies and procedures. The Graduate School reserves the right to request any additional documents needed to fairly and consistently evaluate applicant credentials.International students who have a TOEFL score of 600 or greater on the paper-based exam or 100 or greater on the internet-based exam are exempt from the UTSA English Language Assessment Program (ELAP).

Minimum TOEFL Score: 550 paper/80 internet

Minimum IELTS Score: 6.5

Applicants who do not meet university-wide requirements for unconditional admission may be admitted conditionally if scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and/or previous work in the field provide evidence of academic potential. Students admitted with probationary status must be in good academic standing by achieving a 3.0 grade point average in their first semester in the MA-TESL program.

Application Deadline Dates

Domestic Applicants (Citizens and Permanent Residents):

  • Spring: November 1

  • Summer: April 1

  • Fall: July 1

International Applicants:

  • Spring: September 1

  • Summer: March 1

  • Fall: April 1

Apply Now!

Learn more about the general admissions process here.

Learn more about financial aid here.

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Overview of Program

Students doing group work in Dr. Huang’s Second Language Acquisition class (ESL 5013)

The Master of Arts degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) is a 36 credit hour program. Students take courses in Teaching English as a Second Language and Bicultural-Bilingual Studies. Upon completion of at least 30 semester credit hours of coursework, degree candidates are required to pass a written and oral comprehensive examination. Students are also required to take 3 credit hours of a teaching practicum where they can apply what they have learned while student teaching under a mentor. The M.A. degree offers three program options: Elective Track (non-thesis), Thesis Track, and Certification Track (MA-TESL-C).

For a complete list of degree requirements, please see the Graduate Catalog

For an overview of what courses are being offered, please see the MA-TESL 2-year Schedule.

Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language – Elective Track

The MA-TESL Elective Track is a specialized professional degree that prepares you for a career in the field of English language teaching. Whether you seek the excitement of teaching multilingual students learning English as a Second Language (ESL) or adventures abroad teaching English as a foreign language (EFL), the program of study for the MA-TESL offers you the opportunity to engage with methods, techniques, and strategies that will help you design and deliver effective programs and lessons for students of all ages, kindergarten through adult.

A distinctive emphasis of the program is a holistic view of the English language as a component of a student’s bi-/multilingualism. Dynamic and hands-on courses explore how humans learn second languages, social and political implications of English in a globalizing world, and best practices for an approach to language teaching that values linguistic and cultural diversity.

View the MA-TESL Brochure

MA-TESL Elective Program Worksheet (PDF)

MA-TESL Elective Program Worksheet (Word)

Visit the UTSA Graduate Catalog to learn more about the MA-TESL.

Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language – Thesis Track

The MA-TESL Thesis Track provides students with the same innovative and rigorous program as the MA-TESL Elective Track, but culminates in students designing and carrying out an original research study under the supervision and guidance of three members of the faculty. Students who plan continue their studies at a doctoral level or who have a desire to conduct independent research should consider the Thesis Track.

A Master’s thesis is a highly rigorous process, resulting in a study of publishable quality. Students who opt for the thesis are advised that substantial self-study in research methods appropriate for the thesis work is normally required. Implementing an original research study and the thesis writing process require a considerable time commitment. It is not uncommon for thesis students to take an additional semester (sometimes more) to complete the MA-TESL degree. Students who wish to do a thesis should inform their academic advisor that they wish to follow the thesis option program of study no later than the beginning of their second semester in the program. Students who opt for a thesis should take BBL 6063 (Research Methods) as soon as possible. All Master’s students are required by the University to take a comprehensive examination. Whenever possible, an MA-TESL student’s comprehensive examination committee will be comprised of the thesis committee members.

View the MA-TESL Brochure

MA-TESL Thesis Program Worksheet (PDF)

MA-TESL Thesis Program Worksheet (Word)

The Thesis Process

Intent to Write Thesis

Appointment of Thesis Committee

Visit the UTSA Graduate School Thesis Information Page to learn more about thesis requirements.

Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language – Certification Track (EC-6 ESL/Generalist Teacher Certification) (6-12 upcoming)

The Masters of Arts with Initial Teacher Certification Program (MA TESL-C), is a 36 semester-hour, non-thesis, field-based program intended for individuals who wish to obtain a Texas teacher certification as part of their Master’s degree. The TESL-C degree program provides candidates with the opportunity to acquire a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Teaching English as a Second Language, and initial certification in early childhood through 6th grade general education. This track is designed to meet the requirements set by the state of Texas for teacher certification.

Admissions Information: Students who are interested in joining the MA-TESL-C must first be accepted unconditionally to the MA-TESL, and then turn in all application materials for the MA-TESL-C to the Bicultural-Bilingual Studies Department during their first semester of enrollment. Important: the applications to graduate school and to the teacher certification program are two separate applications. Admission to the graduate school does not automatically enroll a student in the teacher certification program. Students interested in applying for the MA-TESL-C track should meet with their advisors during the first semester enrolled in the MA-TESL program.

View the MA-TESL-C Brochure 

MA-TESL-C General Information

MA-TESL-C Admissions Procedures and Forms

MA-TESL-C Program Worksheet (PDF)

MA-TESL-C Program Worksheet (Word)

MA-TESL-C Checklist and Requirements Sheet


Visit the UTSA Graduate Catalog to learn more about the MA-TESL-C

Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (CertTESL)

The 15-credit hour graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (CertTESL) offers specialized training for people who would like to begin working in the field of English language teaching (ELT), either as a first job or a mid-career change. In keeping with professional norms and expectations for certificate-level training in the field of ELT, the CertTESL provides a general foundation in theory and practice for teaching English language learners of all ages. Completion of the certificate prepares individuals to work in areas including, but not limited to, community-based language schools for immigrants and refugees, private language schools abroad, corporate training/consulting, missionary/aid work, private tutoring, or as additional training for K-12 teachers.

CertTESL Program Worksheet (PDF)

CertTESL Program Worksheet (Word)

Visit the UTSA Graduate Catalog to learn more about the CertTESL.

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Students preparing their multimodal projects during Dr. Christiansen’s CALL class (ESL 5073) in Spring 2015 & Spring 2016



Dr. M. Sidury Christiansen, Assistant Professor

Dr. Kathryn Henderson, Assistant Professor

Dr. Becky Huang, Assistant Professor

Dr. Juliet Langman, Professor



Dr. Kristen Lindahl, Assistant Professor

Visit the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies Faculty page

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Resources for Current Students

Students presenting their sociolinguistic research for Dr. Sayer’s Sociolinguistics in Education class (BBL 5123)

For students already enrolled in the MA-TESL program, please find below resources for the teaching practicum, comprehensive examination, class substitution, and graduation. If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact your advisor.

Teaching Practicum (formerly called “Internship”)

The Teaching Practicum gives students an opportunity to transform theory into practice and apply what they have learned throughout their studies. For novice educators, the Practicum is an opportunity to develop their teaching skills, approaches, and philosophy; it gives students the chance to figure out exactly what kind of teaching contexts they wish to work in upon graduation. For veteran educators, the Practicum helps fine tune and modify previously developed skills, and can give them the opportunity to teach in contexts different from their previous experience. Students typically do their Teaching Practicum in their final semester, but may do it at any point after completing 15 credit hours. For students with teaching experience, the Practicum may be waived and an elective taken; students looking to waive the Practicum should talk with their advisor.

Teaching Practicum Application Form (PDF)
Teaching Practicum Application Form (Word)

Teaching Practicum Waiver Form (PDF)
Teaching Practicum Waiver Form (Word)

Comprehensive Examinations

The Comprehensive Examination is required for all Master’s students (MA-TESL Elective, MA-TESL Thesis, MA-TESL-C). The Exam is designed to assess students’ general understanding of the foundations of TESL. Preparation for the exam helps students put the pieces together from everything learned during their studies. Students may take the Exam upon completion of 30 credit hours, which is typically during the last semester in the program. Students must attend the Comprehensive Exam Orientation and choose a Supervising Committee during the semester in which they will be sitting for examinations. Students must be registered during any semester or term in which they are taking required examinations. If registered for no other courses, students must enrolled in (ESL) 6961 - Comprehensive Examination.

The Comprehensive Examination is a 4 hour written exam followed by an oral defense. The written portion requires students to answer 3 mandatory essay questions on Second Language Acquisition, Sociolinguistics, and Language Teaching Methods. A fourth required essay question is chosen from 3 options designed by a student’s Supervising Committee. Students

Review the MA-TESL Guide to the Comprehensive Examination

View the Second Language Acquisition Comprehensive Exam Study Guide

View the Sociolinguistics Comprehensive Exam Study Guide
View the Language Teaching Methods Comprehensive Exam Study Guide
View the Assessment Comprehensive Exam Study Guide

Comprehensive Exam Orientation Slides


Graduation Requirements

All students must apply for graduation. At the beginning of the semester in which students plan to graduate, students must submit an application for graduation through UTSA ASAP.

Click here to find out more about applying for graduation.

Click here to read the Office of the Registrar’s general information on graduation and commencement.


International Programs

MA and PhD TESL students and their advisors Dr. Sayer and Dr. Huang,  celebrating the completing of the annual TEXLER conference 2016

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College of Education and Human Development - UTSA - University of Texas at San Antonio

Upcoming Events

MAS Social Studies Teachers Academy

June 25-29, 2018

TIME: M-Th: 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.; F: 8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.


BLDG: Institute of Texan Cultures

MAS Decolonial Epistemologies Symposium

June 29th

TIME: 6 - 9 p..m.

LOC: DT Campus

BLDG: Aula Canaria, Buena Vista Building 1.326

Writing back to you:  Caregiver Writing Program

Saturday, June 30, 2018

TIME: 9:00 a.m. to Noon

LOC: DT Campus

BLDG: Buena Vista Building BV 1.312

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