TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


A teacher standing at a white board.The University of Southern Maine (USM) program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) is dedicated to improving the lives of English language learners and other culturally and linguistically diverse students.

We prepare our students to serve as multicultural educators in Maine, elsewhere in the U.S., or overseas.

Our degree and certificate programs include:

  • The only master’s degree in TESOL in the state of Maine: 
    • Practicing teachers: You can choose to complete the degree online or through a blend of online and on-campus courses.
    • Pre-service teachers: You can earn your initial K-12 ESL certification (English as a second language).
  • A Certificate of Graduate Study that leads toward state ESL certification.
  • A self-directed Certificate of Advanced Study.

Program Benefits

  • Advance your career: TESOL, TESL, and TEFL (English as a Second and/or Foreign Language) instructors are in high demand in the state of Maine, across the U.S., and abroad.
  • Focus on teaching: Our graduates are prepared to teach in K-12 schools or adults in the community. Each degree and certificate program includes experiential learning through volunteer, practicum, and internship opportunities. Learn more [Links to Field Experience page].
  • No GRE requirement: Our master’s programs do not require the GRE to apply.
  • Study where you are: We offer online program options for the MSEd in TESOL and the Certificate of Graduate Study.
  • Study at your pace: Each of our programs can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis. 
  • Schedule helps accommodate working professionals: 
    • On-campus and blended courses are held on weekday evenings. 
    • We offer rolling admissions — you can begin your studies in the fall, spring, or summer.
    • Courses in the fully online master’s program can be completed at any time each week.

Our Faculty Support Your Success

In our supportive learning community, faculty provide guidance and mentorship for your academic and professional success. Each 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. 

Among our faculty’s scholarship, you’ll find that they are actively involved with presenting work at national conferences, having their work published in journals, serving as members of national committees, and engaging with the Northern New England TESOL Association.

Meet our faculty.

Our Alumni Teach Locally and Abroad

Our graduates teach all over the world, including in the United States, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Belgium, and Egypt, among other countries. Our alumni are frequently named Maine Teacher of the Year and have also been named a Boren Fellow and Fulbright Fellow.

Curriculum Aligned with Professional Standards

  • Our curriculum is aligned with TESOL Professional Teaching Standards, which emphasize:
    • Language
    • Culture
    • Planning, implementing, and managing instruction
    • Assessment
    • Professionalism 
  • Our program is based on the International Literacy Association’s Professional Standards for Reading Professionals, which emphasize:
    • Foundational knowledge
    • Curriculum and instruction
    • Assessment and evaluation
    • Diversity
    • Literate environment
    • Professional learning and leadership

Convenient for International Students

We offer fully online programs that you can complete from your home country, as well as programs that offer you an opportunity to join us on campus and study in the U.S.

National Accreditation and State Approval

Our MSEd in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): Initial K-12 ESL Certification is nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and is also approved by the Maine State Board of Education and the Maine Department of Education.

Department of Literacy, Language, and Culture

Our Department of Literacy, Language, and Culture includes the TESOL program as well as the Literacy Education program. Many of our faculty teach in both programs, and several courses are offered to students studying in each program. 

The Department is a part of the School of Education and Human Development, which is housed within the College of Management and Human Service

Embracing Diversity 

The Department of Literacy, Language, and Culture celebrates, welcomes, and embraces the diversity of students, faculty, staff, families, and the community. We recognize that, as lifelong learners, we must continuously explore, study, analyze, and critically discuss matters of culture, equity, access, and diversity. We welcome learners of all backgrounds, including culturally and linguistically diverse students as well as English language learners. We offer an inclusive environment and a culture of mutual respect that fosters an atmosphere of collegiality and kindness. We are a multicultural and international community. Recognizing the challenges that learners face today, we seek to address such challenges and create solutions for today and tomorrow.