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Master of Arts in TESOL

Have you always dreamed of exploring and experiencing other cultures and countries? Do you want to travel to teach English in the US or around the world? Do you want to be successful and make your dreams reality?

The Master of Arts in TESOL (MA in TESOL) program prepares future graduates for the world of work as language teaching specialists in the field of English language teaching. Graduates of the TESOL program are qualified to work in many different educational environments both in the US and abroad.

The program seeks to be a pioneer in the field of language teaching by building a curriculum that includes recommendations from employers.  This keeps our curriculum up-to-date and cutting edge, providing graduates with a needed edge in their job search.

The VIU difference is evident in the TESOL program in its commitment to the preparation of graduates with a solid foundation in the teaching of ESL/EFL.

Program Description

The MA in TESOL program prepares its students to work as English teachers in a world where the global need for English language skills is growing. Upon successful completion of the program, students will have a sound grasp of the structure of modern English as well as basic concepts of language acquisition and language pedagogy, and gain valuable classroom experience through observation and supervised teaching. Our graduates will be qualified to teach English in a variety of educational settings in the US and abroad, such as intensive language programs, and private language programs in non-English speaking countries.


The mission of the TESOL program at Virginia International University is to effectively educate and enable students to be successful and knowledgeable language teachers in a wide variety of contexts and among diverse student populations in the US and abroad by equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and experience to contribute and excel in an innovative and collaborative work environment.

Employment Opportunities

Upon successful completion of the program, graduates will be qualified to teach English in a variety of educational settings in the US and abroad, such as:

  • Intensive English programs
  • Private language schools
  • Adult education programs
  • English as a foreign language programs in non-English speaking countries

Please note that our TESOL programs do not provide the licensure required to teach grades K-12 in American public schools.

Academic Preparation

By completing our MA in TESOL program, students will be comprehensively prepared to:

  • Apply a solid linguistic and pedagogical base to their classroom teaching
  • Manage a variety of classroom scenarios effectively
  • Develop and create interesting and meaningful teaching materials
  • Evaluate and assess student performance
  • Use innovative technology in the classroom
  • Communicate effectively with students from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds

Degree at a Glance

World Class Faculty and Staff

The TESOL program boasts a history of highly skilled and dedicated faculty and staff who are ready to assist students along their journey through the program. The program's faculty bring experience in various areas including curriculum development and design, technology in the language classroom/program, language acquisition and student engagement.

In addition to providing top notch classroom experiences, the faculty at VIU are engaged in all aspects of the program including curriculum development, student advisement and development of programmatic resources among others.

Delivery of the curriculum is only one aspect of the programs at VIU. Come experience the personalized, accessible, engaging, and fun experience!

Program Overview

Benefits of a degree in TESOL include:

  • Gain a solid understanding of language acquisition principles and how to effectively teach based on how people acquire a language
  • Obtain practical experience through the Practicum course
  • Learn methods of incorporating technology and how to foster a nurturing and supportive learning environment
  • Gain practical skills to foster a class/campus culture supportive of various backgrounds and learning styles
  • Learn how to develop a classroom that focuses on student needs and ultimate goals through outcome-based course and lesson development

Program Features

  • Faculty with real-world ESOL/ESL, EFL, and ESP experience
  • A solid field-based curriculum built with feedback from employers
  • Receive a world class education in an engaging and supportive learning environment
  • Improve upon teaching abilities and qualifications
  • Faculty are available outside of the classroom for assistance
  • Program can be completed with courses taken online and on-ground
  • Dedicated program administrators for every student

Admission Requirements

Admission to the program does not require any previous course work in education. A bachelor’s degree or equivalent in any field is required for admission.

Candidates are required to submit a resume or curriculum vitae detailing current and previous work history and education, along with a minimum of 2 official letters of recommendation, written in English (or official translation), preferably from a current/former employer or instructor who can speak to the candidate’s academic abilities. Candidates are also required to submit a 500-word statement of purpose demonstrating an understanding of the program and VIU’s mission, and defining the applicant’s professional objectives, reasons for applying to the program, and areas of interest to be explored in the program.

Since the language of instruction at VIU is English, candidates will need to provide evidence of sufficient English language proficiency by obtaining academic-level scores on all components of the placement and exit test or submitting examination information from an approved standardized examination (examples: TOEFL, IELTS, etc.).


Virginia International University is an accredited institution of higher learning holding accreditation through the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) and is certified to operate by the Virginia State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). Additional information on accreditation can be found in the Accreditation and Certifications section of the academic catalog.

Tuition and Fees
The current tuition and fees for this program can be found on VIU’s tuition and fees page.

NOTE: Please note that this program does not provide the licensure required to teach grades K-12 in American public schools. In order to obtain teacher licensure, please contact the respective state Department of Education to determine eligibility and requirements.

Program Outcomes

In working to achieve the mission of the program and those of the School of Education, the following outcomes will be achieved:

Program Outcomes

PO-1: Understand the nature, structure, and uses of human language and theoretical models of language acquisition.
PO-2: Critically analyze current research regarding language learning and teaching, and demonstrate knowledge of research findings and how to apply them.
PO-3: Demonstrate the ability to design English language courses, curricula, assessment practices, and learning environments that enhance learning and reflect the needs, goals, and values of students and other stakeholders.
PO-4: Make principled use of established, new, and emerging technologies to promote access, engagement, and success in learning both within and beyond the classroom.
PO-5: Utilize critical-thinking skills to problem-solve issues faced by language learners and educators.
PO-6: Use community, institutional, and technological resources to demonstrate use of proper academic communication, ethics, and professionalism.

This program requires completion of a portfolio. You can find information here.

Students in this program will take part in a practicum experience. Information about the practicum experience can be found here.

Degree Requirements

VIU's TESOL program offers you high quality instruction from skilled and experienced professionals in the fields of TESOL, linguistics, and second language acquisition to equip you for a successful career in the growing field of English instruction. Our MA in TESOL program places strong emphasis on practical experiences as our TESOL students can observe our ESL teachers in VIU's ESL program. Our MA in TESOL students also have the ability to interact with our ESL students and teachers as well as the possibility to teach in our ESL program to gain practical experience.

Upon completion of our program, students will be comprehensively prepared to be English language teachers in a wide variety of settings and educational levels in the US as well as abroad

Please note that our TESOL programs do not provide the licensure required to teach grades K-12 in American public schools.

Program Details

  • Students will take 12 courses (36 graduate credits)
  • Program can be completed in four semesters of full time study
  • Can be completed part-time or full-time
  • Can be completed online or on-ground
  • Very affordable tuition
  • Convenient location and schedule
This program can be completed within four (4) semesters of full-time study and is offered in both the online and residential formats. A total of 36 credits (12 courses) are required for graduation. The required minimum cumulative GPA for this program is 3.0. The program consists of seven (7) core courses (21 credits) and five (5) elective courses.

Area # of Courses Credit Hours
Core courses 7 21
Elective courses 5 15
Total 12 36

MA in TESOL Core Courses (will take all of the following)

Course Code Course Name Clock Hours Credit Hours
APLX 500

Prerequisite: None
This course is designed to provide students with a general introduction to the scientific study of language. The goal is to familiarize students with linguistic terminology, teaching both the methods of linguistic analysis and how to apply them. The course focuses on an introduction to the nature of the language faculty, speech (including physical and mental aspects), the structure of language (including morphology and general syntax), and how language is used. The course also provides an introduction to language acquisition principles, language processing in the brain as well as language change and variation. For students studying a linguistic concentration, it provides the background needed to succeed in other linguistic courses.
45 3.0
APLX 510

Prerequisite: None
This course introduces students to the main theories of language acquisition and their relevance to language teaching. Students will become familiar with the key concepts that inform the study of L2 acquisition through the review of relevant literature on second language acquisition. The course will also develop students' ability to relate their understanding of how learners acquire second language to language pedagogy.
45 3.0
APLX 530

Prerequisite: None
This course is an introduction to the modern theories and current practices of second language pedagogy. Students will learn methodologies of lesson planning, skill integration techniques, course and program development and classroom management. This course provides students with a framework to develop course and programmatic curriculum defined by outcomes centered on an integrated approach to language teaching.
45 3.0
APLX 540

Prerequisite: None
Internship/CPT Qualified
This course introduces the students to a needs-based, learning-centered approach to designing courses. Through needs assessment, students identify curricular goals and course objectives. From these they determine an appropriate syllabus structure, develop a course unit outline, plan and create materials for lessons, determine training needs for course instructors and devise a system of evaluation.
45 3.0
APLX 550

Prerequisite: None
Internship/CPT Qualified
This course examines in depth the major categories of language assessment. The main topics include approaches to evaluating language sub-skills (vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation) and communication skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing); models of language assessment; examination of standardized tests and their appropriate application; and research-based framework linking assessment to instruction.
45 3.0
APLX 615

Prerequisite: None
Internship/CPT Qualified
This course provides an overview of the structure of language drawing upon the theoretical perspective of generative grammar, cognitive sciences, systemic-functional, and corpus linguistics to illuminate how grammar operates at the morphological, syntactic, and discourse levels. The course provides insight into the nature of the human capacity of language via means of a concentrated focus on the structure of language. Students will explore and analyze the internal structure of words, phrases and sentences as well as gain a foundation in understanding how language is structured but also how it is changeable over time.
45 3.0
APLX 665 *

Prerequisite/Co-requisite: APLX 530
Credit Hour Breakdown: 115 hours of practicum, 15 hours of seminar/lab
This course is designed to provide an experiential exposure to an actual second language classroom setting. It serves as a practical experience to observe and provide personal and professional development for a student's actual teaching experience applying the skills learned in the program. The course provides opportunity for observation, cooperative planning with a language teaching professional and supervised teaching to an actual class. Additionally, students will fine tune existing skills learned while taking courses in the program through periodic seminars and journal assignments. Throughout the course, students will build a professional teaching portfolio used as the final requirement for graduation from the program.>
130 3.0

Elective Course Options:

MA in TESOL Elective Courses (will take five of the following)

Course Code Course Name Clock Hours Credit Hours
APLX 572

Prerequisite: None
Internship/CPT Qualified
This course examines the use of technology as a teaching tool for the traditional classroom. Students explore methods of implementing technology into the classroom/curriculum and how to discern the efficacy of digital/online resources to provide an engaging and authentic learning environment.
45 3.0
APLX 620

Prerequisite: None
Internship/CPT Qualified
This course is a comprehensive introduction to pronunciation pedagogy. This is a two part course including a theoretical look at the sound system and practical application of phonology/pronunciation in the second language classroom and curriculum. Students will study the anatomy and mechanics of speech as well as principles/practices and realistic resources and technology for application in the classroom.
45 3.0
APLX 623

Prerequisite: None
Internship/CPT Qualified
This course introduces students to the pedagogical approaches to second language reading and writing in the framework of current theoretical perspectives on second language reading and writing processes, practices, and authors. Students gain practical knowledge in the areas of phonemic awareness, vocabulary and text comprehension, tactics for improving reading fluency and teaching writing in contextual exercise.
45 3.0
APLX 630

Prerequisite: None
Internship/CPT Qualified
This course introduces students to theoretical principles governing social and linguistic variation, the methodology used to study it, the patterns and systems that underlie language variation in use, and the ways in which alternations between different language varieties index personal style, social power, and national identity.
45 3.0
APLX 635

Prerequisite: None
Internship/CPT Qualified
This course also serves to introduce students to key issues of intercultural communication, core American and foreign cultural concepts, and ways in which culture affects language teaching and learning.
45 3.0
APLX 655

Prerequisite: Permission from the Academic Dean
Internship/CPT Qualified
This course covers topics of current interest selected by the faculty before each semester. Special topics courses are developed to cover emerging issues or specialized content not represented in the main curriculum, but deemed to be of special interest to language teaching professionals.
45 3.0
BUSS 301
Prerequisite: None (For SED students permission of the advisor and successful completion of 18 credits in the program.)

This course surveys the theories and practices of management, including quantitative and behavioral approaches.

45 3.0
BUSS 302
Prerequisite: None (For SED students permission of the advisor and successful completion of 18 credits in the program.)

This course examines the role of marketing in society and the economy, the role of marketing in business operations, and the management of the firm's marketing effort.

45 3.0
BUSS 312
Prerequisite: None (For SED a student permission of the advisor and successful completion of 18 credits in the program.)

This course examines how knowledge of individual and group behavior is applied in an organizational setting. Topics include motivation, leadership, group formation and behavior, dysfunctional behaviors, job/task behaviors, and job enrichment/enlargement. The course also examines the ways in which firms recruit, select, train, evaluate, and compensate employees. Current practices in industry are discussed as well as theories and labor law.

45 3.0
EDUC 590

Prerequisite: APLX 530 and successful completion of or concurrent enrollment in APLX 540
Internship/CPT Qualified
This course provides an in-depth perspective of the administrative requirements of a language program including how to effectively lead and manage a program. Students gain a behind the scenes view of what occurs outside of the classroom environment including the areas of people management, curriculum and programmatic development, customer service and the logistics of managing a program. The course explores the lifecycle of the student from admission to graduation; the lifecycle of faculty members within the program; and the administrative role of managing a curriculum.
45 3.0
EDUC 640

Prerequisite: APLX 530 and APLX 540
Credit Hour Breakdown: 40 hours of Lecture; 10 hours of Lab
This course covers quantitative and qualitative methods of designing and implementing research in a classroom or institutional setting. It prepares students to conduct and prepare independent research from design to publication.
50 3.0

* APLX 665 must be taken either after or together with APLX 530

Information for Students on an F-1 Visa
Please note that students on an F-1 Visa are responsible for maintaining their own visa status. Students with an F-1 Visa are required to take the practicum course (APLX 665) with at least one other on-ground course in order to remain in-status. Further information on requirements for students holding an F-1 Visa can be found through the International Student Services Office.

Sample Schedule

The following is a sample schedule of a likely sequencing of courses in the MA in TESOL program. A listing of actual courses being offered each semester is available through the registrar's office.

Code Course Name Credits
Fall Semester
APLX 500 Introduction to Language and Applied Linguistics 3.0
APLX 615 Pedagogical Grammar for Communicative Classrooms 3.0
APLX 510 Introduction to Language Acquisition 3.0
Spring Semester
APLX 530 Language Teaching Methods 3.0
APLX 550 Language Assessment 3.0
Fall Semester
APLX 540 Language Curriculum and Materials Design 3.0
Spring Semester
APLX 665 TESOL Practicum 3.0