Master of Arts in English: Concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


  1. TESOL is one of three concentrations within the M.A. in English.
  2. The M.A. in TESOL provides students with a solid grounding in theory, research, and practice of teaching English as a second or international language to diverse language learner populations.
  3. Graduate courses focus on theoretical foundations of the field: second language acquisition, pedagogical grammar, teaching reading and writing, listening and speaking, adult literacy instruction, curriculum and assessment development, and reflective teaching practice. In the culminating experience class (ENG 895, students create a portfolio containing teaching materials, a statement of teaching philosophy, a capstone project paper as well as other materials relevant to their professional growth and careers. 
  4. The M.A. in TESOL prepares students for teaching in a variety of teaching and research positions. Most graduates of the program obtain positions teaching in community colleges, 4-year colleges, or universities both in the US and abroad. Some graduates also join programs such as the US State Department, ELFs, Peace Corps, and Fulbright ETAs. Graduates also work in a variety of language teaching centers, educational programs, and fields related to communication. 

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. English M.A. students will critically evaluate scholarship using knowledge of disciplinary history, foundational theories, epistemologies, and scholarly debates to participate in professional communities of Composition, TESOL, and Linguistics.
  2. English M.A. students will conduct principled inquiry (critical reflection, observation, and/or formal research) using appropriate methods and tools of analysis to address disciplinary questions and problems of practice.
  3. English M.A. students will produce effective written and oral presentations that follow professional disciplinary standards of Composition, TESOL, and Linguistics.
  4. English M.A. students will apply pedagogical knowledge and skills to the teaching of language, literacy, or linguistics.
  5. Students in the TESOL M.A. concentration will articulate a coherent teaching philosophy that has been informed by practical experience and knowledge of relevant teaching principles and research. 
  6. Students in the TESOL M.A. concentration will create appropriate lessons and curricula for multilingual English language learners. 
  7. Students in the TESOL M.A. concentration will produce critical reflections on teaching practices and materials and how they embody educational values of ethics, social justice, diversity, and globalization.

Admission to Program

Applicants submit all materials through the Cal State Apply portal (

Application materials include:

  • A 1 to 2-page statement of purpose. Using the suggested prompts, applicants should discuss their interest in pursuing the MA program; their relevant language learning or teaching or tutoring experience, if applicable; their readiness to meet the rigors of graduate-level coursework; and their future professional goals. 
  • A 5 to 10-page writing sample. This can be an academic paper and/or a sample of writing from a professional setting. The sample should demonstrate the applicant’s ability to produce clear, concise, well-polished prose.  
  • Letters of recommendation. Letters are optional; however, we encourage those students who have weaknesses in their prior academic record to submit one or two letters in support of their application.
  • Transcripts. The University requires transcripts of all prior postsecondary coursework. Applicants are expected to have an overall GPA of 3.0 or better. 
  • The GRE is not required.

Nonnative Speakers of English

Applicants whose native language is not English and whose B.A. was completed outside the United States must present evidence of English language proficiency through one of the following:

  • TOEFL iBT: 95 (writing score of at least 24)
  • TOEFL paper-based: 64 (writing score of at least 24)
  • IELTS (Academic): 7.0 (with 6.5 for each component) 

Applicants who do not meet this minimum TOEFL or IELTS requirement will not be admitted; there is no conditional admission. 

The TOEFL or IELTS is not required for non-native English speakers who completed their Bachelor’s degree in the U.S. or another English-speaking country.

However, applicants who obtained a B.A./B.S. from an American university in a major other than English/Linguistics might consider submitting a recent TOEFL or IELTS score as evidence that their language proficiency is strong enough to do graduate study in an English Department.

Recommended Courses

Applicants who need additional writing support may be advised to take ENG 670 or other academic writing courses.

Applicants whose major is not English/Linguistics or have not taken any Linguistics courses may be advised to take ENG 423 which provides an introduction to English language structures and focus on understanding cross-linguistic influences and strategies for responding to learner challenges in grammar and pronunciation. 

Written English Proficiency Requirement

All M.A. students must meet two University writing requirements: 

Level One

Proficiency is demonstrated through the student’s application materials.

Level Two

Proficiency is demonstrated through satisfactory performance in the culminating experience course for the M.A. (ENG 895 or  ENG 898).

Academic Standing

Graduate students must maintain a strong academic standing:

  • Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better.
  • All core and concentration courses must be taken for a letter grade; only courses in which the student earns a B minus or better may count toward the M.A. degree. 
  • Only one elective course may be taken on a credit / no credit basis.

Additional Information

English MA: Concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages - 30 Units

Required Core Courses (15 Units)

ENG 702Introduction to Graduate Study of Composition, Linguistics, and TESOL3
ENG 707Topics in Language Analysis3
ENG 728Topics in Sociolinguistics3
ENG 733Seminar in Student Teaching3
Culminating Experience3
Select one:
Field Study or Applied Research Project
Master's Thesis

Concentration Requirements (15 Units)

ENG 731Seminar: TESOL Listening and Speaking Skills3
ENG 732Seminar: TESOL Reading and Writing Skills3
ENG 734TESOL Curriculum and Assessment3
ENG 826Second Language Acquisition3

Electives (3 units)

Select one:

Seminar: Teaching ESL in the Community
Special Topics in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Pragmatics and Oral Skills

Culminating Experience Requirement

 A field study or research project, or a Master's Thesis, must be successfully completed by all candidates for the degree. The field study or research project, which investigates and/or applies knowledge acquired in the student’s program of study, must have the recommendation and approval of two faculty field study or research project advisors. All SF State specifications for completion of a field study or research project must be met. Students may take ENG 895 once. Students who fail ENG 895 will receive an Incomplete (I) grade; they may resubmit their project once for a passing grade. If their project fails a second time, they will be recommended for declassification. As part of the Culminating Experience requirement, students are required to present their projects at the end-of-semester graduate student conference. 

During the second-to-last semester in the program, students are required to complete a form called the Advancement to Candidacy (ATC), which lists those courses they are using to fulfill the requirements for the Master of Arts in English with a Concentration in TESOL. Students must earn an overall GPA of 3.0 and a B- or better in all courses listed in that document.