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Master of Arts

English Language Learning Master's—ESL or ELL


This English Language Master’s Program Helps Teachers Earn a Degree and ELL or ESL Endorsement


Are you passionate about helping diverse students develop speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills in English as a second language? Are you eager to support the academic achievement of English language learners? If you're already a licensed teacher and are ready to enhance your offering and meaningfully impact the lives of students, a graduate program in English Language Learning could be the perfect fit for you. A master's in ESL can be instrumental in helping you connect with different students, become a better educator, and change your classroom and community for the better. ELL and ESL endorsements give you knowledge and credentials to enhance classroom learning for different students, making you a teacher who can make a difference.

This English as a second language master's program is a direct path to an ELL or ESL certification, preparing you to make a difference for individual students, diverse classrooms, and entire communities. You'll graduate from this online ESL master's program with the content knowledge, teaching skills, cultural background, and field experience you'll need to become a valuable educator. WGU’s Master's program in English Language Learning is nationally recognized by the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Association.

* This online ESL master's degree can lead to an endorsement in ELL or ESL, but only in those states that have such endorsements. The specific grade levels you will be eligible to teach depend on your state’s licenses and endorsements.

62% of students finish within 

17 Months

Use your experience as an educator to your advantage. WGU lets you move more quickly through material you already know and advance as soon as you're ready. The result: You may finish faster.

Tuition per six-month term is


Tuition charged per term—rather than per credit—helps you control the ultimate cost of your degree. Finish faster, pay less!

Graduates who recommend WGU


The vast majority of alumni say WGU delivered on its promises. In fact, over 50% of students found WGU thanks to a friend's recommendation.

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Next Start Date: March 1

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ESL/ELL Courses

Curriculum that ensures you’ve mastered the things ELL students need you to know.

WGU's online M.A. in English Language Learning degree program is an affordable, flexible path for current teachers who want to add an ELL or ESL certification or endorsement to their license (in states that have such an endorsement).

This ESL degree program is made up of the following courses, which you will typically complete one at a time as you make your way through your program, working with your Program Mentor each term to build your personalized Degree Plan. You’ll work through each course as quickly as you can study and learn the material. As soon as you’re ready, you’ll pass the assessment, complete the course, and move on. This means that you can finish as many courses as you're able in a term at no additional cost.

WGU’s M.A. in English Language Learning (ELL) online program was designed (and is regularly updated) with input from the experts on our Education Program Council. These respected authorities know exactly what it takes for a graduate to succeed at teaching English language learners who range in age from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Teacher Work Sample: The online M.A. in English Language Learning (PreK–12) degree program requires the successful completion of a teacher work sample. The work sample is a written project containing a comprehensive, original, lesson plan/unit designed to meet an identified educational need.

English Language Learning
Teacher Work Sample

11 Courses

Program consists of 11 courses

At WGU, we design our curriculum to be timely, relevant, and practical—all to ensure your degree is proof you really know your stuff.

Field Experience

Special requirements for this program

In addition to your online courses, you are required to complete a minimum of 15 hours of video observations at both the elementary and secondary levels. Additionally, a supervised face-to-face teaching experience with English language learners is required. (Minimum time requirements vary by state.) This experience allows for assessment of your reflection, planning, and research abilities in relation to meeting the needs of your individual students.

“My mentor ... was phenomenal! She was my own personal cheerleader and helped me get through my worries and anxieties. All of my instructors took the time to answer my questions, reach out to see how I was doing and explain things in greater detail as some of the wording in the assignments seemed a bit vague. I don't think that I could have done this program on my own. The school, my family and my co-workers all played a role in helping me to succeed and get through all of the obstacles in my life as I was working through my program.”

—Guadalupe Payne
M.A. English Language Learning

Why WGU?

You Aren't On Your Own

WGU has Program Mentors who work with you from the day you start, all the way through graduation. They help you chart your courses, answer your questions, and ensure you can go through your program. You're not alone when you choose an online degree at WGU.

Flexibility You Need

Students choose WGU for their online degree program because of its flexibility. Whether you already have a full-time job, have responsibilities as a parent, or just have a busy schedule, WGU can work for you.

Strong Alumni Network

When you enroll in the ESL master's degree program at WGU, you join an impressive network of education professionals. Over 13,000 students graduated from the Teachers College in 2021 alone, taking their skills and impacting the educational system all around the United States.

Accredited, Respected,

One important measure of a degree’s value is the reputation of the university where it was earned. When employers, industry leaders, and academic experts hold your alma mater in high esteem, you reap the benefits of that respect. WGU is a pioneer in reinventing higher education for the 21st century, and our quality has been recognized.


A Truly Affordable ESL Master's Degree

By charging per six-month term rather than per credit—and empowering students to accelerate through material they know well or learn quickly—WGU helps students control the ultimate cost of their degrees. The faster you complete your program, the less you pay for your degree.

Tuition Calculator
Pay less by completing your program faster

A Master's Degree Is Within Reach

There is help available to make paying for school possible for you:

The average student loan debt of WGU graduates in 2019 (among those who borrowed) was less than half* the national average.

Most WGU students qualify for financial aid, and WGU is approved for federal financial aid and U.S. veterans benefits. 

Many scholarship opportunities are available. Find out what you might be eligible for.


A Different Way to Learn: Education Degree Programs Designed to Fit Your Life—and All the Demands on Your Time

At WGU, we understand that you have professional responsibilities, family obligations, and personal commitments. That’s why we offer a personalized, flexible approach to higher education. If you commit to the hard work and the challenge of a rigorous program, WGU makes it possible for you to get a solid, career-focused education that fits your life. Complete your coursework online, anytime and anywhere your schedule allows, and move through assignments and assessments at an accelerated pace if you’re able.

"WGU is for people with real-world experience. A lot of the time, that real-world experience can really help you in your assignments and courses.”

—Lissete Rico
M.A. English Language Learning


Dedicate Your English Teaching Career to Breaking Down Barriers: Specialize in ELL

A nationwide shortage of ESL/ELL teachers has created a demand for educators with the knowledge and training to help students for whom English is not their first or native language. WGU's M.A. English Language Learning (PreK–12) degree program is specifically designed to prepare you to teach English language learners. (The specific endorsements you earn and grade levels you will be eligible to teach depend on your state.).

Some 5 million American students speak a language other than English in their homes. For these students, the language barriers they face can stand in the way of their ability to learn and succeed in the classroom—but they don’t have to. You can make a difference in the lives of these students, helping them learn and communicate effectively. This ESL masters degree online will prepare you to teach effectively in ELL or ESL settings, helping you connect to diverse learners and enabling you to rise as a leader in your school and community.

Return on Your Investment


At least one in four schools with vacancies in ESL, foreign languages, or special education have found them very difficult or impossible to fill.

—National Center for Education Statistics

WGU  Alumni Teach in Schools Across the Country

Graduates of WGU's online Teachers College have found meaningful, rewarding education careers at:

  • Inclusionary K–12 classrooms
  • Middle/junior high schools
  • High schools
  • Private and charter schools

Impressive Class of Graduates

Graduates of the WGU Teachers College include recipients of many professional honors, including:

  • Gates Millennium Scholars
  • Intel Grant for Mathematics and Technology
  • Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction Award
  • Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award
  • Association of Public Charter Schools Educator of the Year Award

Focused on Equity and Accessibility

The WGU Teachers College is in the top 1% for granting degrees for Black and Hispanic/Latinx educators at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. It is second in the nation for combined graduate and undergraduate degrees and credentials for students of color, according to the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).


Master's Degree in English as a Second Language/English Language Learning Admission Requirements

If you enroll in a program that also includes a special endorsement, (such as the M.A. English Language Learning, PreK–12) and you plan to eventually apply for the endorsement, the following is required of you:

  • A copy of a valid teaching license.
  • Official transcripts that demonstrate you have earned a bachelor’s degree from a recognized accredited university.

An Enrollment Counselor will instruct you as to when and how to submit your teaching license prior to starting your program. 

Get Your Enrollment Checklist

Download your step-by-step guide to enrollment.

Get Your Questions Answered

Talk to an WGU Enrollment Counselor.

More About the M.A. in English Language Learning

For many current teachers, a master's degree in ESL or ELL can be a great way to enhance your abilities as an educator. Many ESL and ELL endorsed teachers are able to make more money, take unique classes, and have increased security in their school and district. 

There are many career opportunities for those with a master's degree in ESL or ELL, including:

  • ESL instructor
  • ESL program director
  • Academic advisor
  • Textbook or curriculum creator

For teachers who want to enhance their license, move into a unique education position, or take on additional classes which can increase job security and pay, an ESL license is a great way to go. An ESL license can help teachers make more money, be prepared to take on additional classes that increases their job security, or move into a unique education career path focused on helping diverse learners. 

If you want to become an ESL or ELL licensed teacher, you'll need a degree program that offers that licensure. Most licensure programs for ELL and ESL are in addition to your current license, so you'll need a bachelor's degree to prepare you to teach elementary or secondary grades, and then an ELL and ESL endorsement as well. WGU offers a master's degree in ESL and ELL endorsement that prepares licensed teachers for this additional credential.

WGU is approved to offer federal student aid. You will need to apply using the FAFSA, which is used to determine your eligibility for aid. WGU’s FAFSA school code is 033394.

Scholarships are available for new WGU students and returning graduates. This video shows more about scholarship opportunities and how they can help you pay for school. Get information on:

  • How to apply
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Examples of scholarships
  • What happens after you apply
  • FAQs
  • Other financial aid options

WGU's tuition is a flat rate that is charged every six months. You can take as many courses as you are able in that six-month term—with no extra cost. You simply pay for the term and do as much work as you can or want to during that time. This means that finishing faster helps you save money—a major benefit you won't find at most other schools. 

Ready to Start Your WGU Journey?