Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): Initial PreK-12 ESOL Certification

Program Type
Master’s Program
Master of Science in Education (MSEd)
Mode of Study

Cost per credit hour

In-state: $445.
Out-of-state: $1,350. See details and other costs

Credit hours

39 required credit hours. Most courses are equal to 3 credit hours. Browse course list

Financial aid

Over 150 graduate assistantships available with stipend & tuition assistance, plus scholarship & fellowship opportunities. Explore aid


No GRE required. Apply for fall, spring, or summer term. View application process & deadlines

Program Highlights

  • Qualify for a career as a PreK-12 ESL teacher and earn your initial teaching license upon graduation.
  • Earn your degree on your terms: Study full-time and finish in as few as 18 months or study part-time and finish in 3 years and 6 months.
  • Take advantage of flexibility in our blended program, which includes a mix of in-person and online courses.
  • Acquire practical, hands-on ESL/EFL teaching experience through an immersive internship at a public PreK-12 school.
  • Study with supportive faculty who provide personal guidance and mentorship for your professional development and career path.
  • Join an alumni community that includes those who have been named a Maine Teacher of the Year, a Boren Fellow, and a Fullbright Fellow.
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In-depth internship

You’ll gain practical experience by participating in a 40-hour field experience in a PreK-12 public school in preparation for your 300-hour internship. During the internship, you’ll collaborate with your mentor teacher to develop lesson plans, experiment with instruction techniques, and lead your own lessons.

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Program requirements

We provide a rigorous curriculum to ensure you graduate with all the tools you’ll need to assess learners’ language skills and help improve their proficiency for second-language use.

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Global alumni network

Our graduates teach all over the world, including in the United States, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Belgium, and Egypt, among other countries.

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Certification and licensure

At the completion of the program, you’ll have the credentials to earn your initial teaching license and be employed as a PreK-12 ESL teacher.

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Diverse, expert faculty

Every full-time faculty member holds a doctoral degree in the field of Literacy, Language, and Culture. Our part-time faculty are experienced members of the professional education community and many are current practitioners in the field.

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Scholarship opportunities

Scholarships offer financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. We encourage students in graduate degree programs to apply for scholarship opportunities.

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National accreditation and state approval

This program is nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and state-approved by the Maine State Board of Education and the Maine Department of Education.

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Connect with us

Our monthly Graduate Information Sessions are an excellent way to learn more about the benefits of our program, as well as our admissions and financial process.

Register today
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Frequently Asked Questions

In this program, you’ll gain the practical knowledge and skills to help students develop proficiency and literacy in English as a Second Language (ESL) and/or English as a Foreign Language (EFL).

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Graduate student support

Our Office of Graduate Studies connects you with opportunities for professional development, scholarships, and graduate assistantships. They also foster our graduate student community through Peer Mentorship and the Graduate Student Board.

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One-of-a-kind program

The need for teachers with ESL certification continues to grow. We offer the only MSEd in TESOL in Maine that’s designed to meet the needs of pre-service teachers who live in Maine, out-of-state, and abroad.

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Next steps

Our graduate admissions counselors are here to answer your questions about the admissions process, our academic programs, and student support services.

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Meet us

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Admission information: MSEd in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): Initial PreK-12 ESL Certification

Application deadlines

We accept applications on a rolling basis and review them continuously.

Application deadlineFall term startSpring term startSummer term start
RecommendedMay 1October 15March 1
FinalAugust 1December 15April 15
International applicantsJune 1October 15Not available

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, and have earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in a baccalaureate degree program.

Applicants who do not have a 3.0 overall GPA must enclose a letter asking for special consideration, in which they provide evidence of an ability to complete graduate studies successfully. Without such a letter, applicants who fail to meet eligibility requirements may be automatically denied.

Applicants are required to provide the following materials:

General requirements

  • Application: Online application
  • Application fee:
    • In-state, out-of-state, and Canadian applicants: Free to apply
    • International applicants: Submit US $50 fee to apply
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, excluding the seven campuses of the University of Maine System (UMS transcripts are accessible to USM). A transcript is official when sent directly from the institution.
  • Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
  • Students whose first language is not English may be required to take one of the following: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) or Duolingo. Applicants must submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information regarding test scores and requirements.

Additional requirements

  • Essay: Type a brief essay (300-500 words) explaining your interest in pursuing initial PreK-12 ESL certification. How have your personal and professional experiences prepared you to pursue certification as an ESL teacher? What particular qualities do you possess that will make you an ESL teacher who can help students from all cultural and linguistic backgrounds experience success in a public school setting?
  • References: Names and contact information of three references who can speak to the applicant’s interest in pursuing teacher certification.
  • Recommendation: One letter of recommendation attesting to the applicant’s knowledge of current scholarship, capacity to connect theory and practice in posing and solving educational problems, achievement of excellence in educational practice, and demonstrated capability and motivation to engage in advanced graduate study.

Transfer Credit

Previously completed graduate courses may be approved for transfer into a graduate program within the Literacy, Language, and Culture programs if credits for the courses were earned no more than five years prior to matriculation, with grades of B or better.

For previous work completed through the University of Maine System, up to twelve credits may be accepted if the courses meet the requirements above and are equivalent to core courses or elective courses in the relevant USM program of study. Up to six graduate credits completed at institutions outside of the University of Maine System may be accepted if the courses meet the requirements above and are equivalent to core courses or elective courses in the relevant USM program of study. A syllabus for each course submitted for transfer credit from outside the University of Maine System must be provided upon application.

Transfer of more than twelve University of Maine System credits or six non-University of Maine System credits may be approved by the program coordinator and faculty. These credits may include certificate of graduate study program courses and professional development in-service graduate courses. Requests for the transfer of credits taken more than five years prior to matriculation may also be evaluated and approved by the program coordinator and faculty.

International student instructions

View additional application requirements

English proficiency test scores

View test requirements

Where to send application materials

Get our mailing address and email address