A TESOL master's degree is your passport to a career in English-language teaching—whether at home or abroad.

The TESOL master's program prepares you to teach English in college classrooms and other instructional settings where English is a second, foreign, or international language. Through in-depth, interdisciplinary coursework and field-based practice, our program equips you to identify and analyze learner needs, design language curricula, and deploy a variety of evidence-based teaching and assessment practices. At the heart of the TESOL M.S.Ed. program’s interdisciplinary course of study is a recognition that English-language education serves an array of academic, social, and political functions around the world.

What Sets Us Apart

 Qualify for ESL Program Specialist Certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education
  Gain valuable ESL teacher training through PEDAL@GSE, which provides free English classes to the Penn and West Philly community
More than 1,300 active alumni in one of the oldest TESOL programs in the U.S.

About the Program

As a student in the M.S.Ed. in TESOL program, you’ll participate in a broad range of coursework connecting theory with practice. Courses stress a deep understanding of English language teaching as it relates to the political and social climate of today’s world. The combination of theoretical and practical knowledge prepares graduates to teach English language in university, government, and community settings around the world.

Application deadline
Closed for Fall 2024. The application for Fall 2025 will be available September 1, 2024.
Entry term(s)
Course requirements
12 courses (8 required courses, 4 electives)
Typical course load
  • Fall: 3 courses 
  • Spring: 3 courses 
  • Summer: 1–2 courses 
  • Fall: 3 courses 
  • Spring: 1–2 courses (including TESOL Seminar)

Transfer courses accepted2 (as electives only)

  • Full-Time
  • Part-Time
Teacher Programs & Certifications

The TESOL M.S.Ed. program prepares language educators to tailor their approach to their students’ unique needs. The interdisciplinary course of study emphasizes the motivations and needs of international scholars and professionals, learners in countries where English is a second or foreign language, and immigrants who settle in English-speaking nations.

Experiential learningPracticum teaching in English as a second language (ESL) classes through the PEDAL program at Penn GSE and at our wide range of community partner organizations

Licensure offeredQualify for ESL Program Specialist Certificate in the State of Pennsylvania

Culminating experienceTESOL Seminar (includes a service project of 30 hours of ESL teaching) 


The M.S.Ed. TESOL program immerses students in rigorous coursework, field-based teaching practicums, and a 30-hour ESL teaching service project.

In keeping with the interdisciplinary nature of educational linguistics and TESOL, courses cover methods of teaching, evaluation and assessment, and curriculum and materials development. Additional courses provide a thorough grounding in linguistics, which includes work in the structure and development of the English language, first- and second-language development, and sociolinguistics. Course content is based on research into the nature of language learning and teaching, the needs of specific populations of language learners, language and intercultural studies, and pedagogical approaches.

In addition to two practicum courses, students have the opportunity to engage in fieldwork as a tutor, intern, and teacher in a number of core and elective courses. Student teaching is supported by one-on-one mentoring as well as group discussions designed to stimulate inquiry and reflection around issues of language teaching and learning. Students are required to teach English as a second language for the culminating service project.

For a full list of courses offered at GSE, visit Penn’s University Course Catalog.

Sample Elective Courses

  • Citizen Sociolinguistics
  • Linguistic Anthropology of Education 
  • Language Teaching & Literacy Development in Multilingual Contexts
  • Classroom Discourse & Interaction 
  • Indigenous Education & Language Revitalization
  • Teaching Performance Arts for Cross-Cultural Education (TPACE
  • Cross-Cultural Awareness (PACE
  • Selected Topics in Educational Linguistics
    • Conversation Analysis for Second Language Teaching & Research
    • Task-based Language Teaching 
    • Teaching Second Language Literacy 
  • Content-Based Instruction 
  • Experiential Learning Design for Intercultural Communication 
  • Language Assessment
  • Communication & Culture in Context 
  • Language Diversity & Education 
  • Curriculum & Materials Design for English Language Teaching 
  • Structure of English 
  • Issues in Second Language Acquisition
  • Genealogies of Race and Language in Educational Research

For more information on courses and requirements, visit the TESOL M.S.Ed. program in the University Catalog

Typical Program of Study

Year 1
Fall 1
  • EDUC 527
  • EDUC 537
  • EDUC 679
Spring 1
  • EDUC 542*
  • EDUC 546
  • EDUC 670


  • 1-2 Elective Course
  • EDUC 528
Year 2
Fall 2
  • EDUC 528 (if not taken in Summer)
  • Elective
  • Elective
Spring 2
  • EDUC 563
  • Distribution

* Course can be waived with Faculty approval and replaced with additional TESOL related electives. 

Accelerated Program of Study

Year 1
Fall 1
  • EDUC 527
  • EDUC 537
  • EDUC 679
Spring 1
  • EDUC 542*
  • EDUC 546
  • EDUC 670
  • Elective


  • 2 Elective Courses
  • EDUC 528
Year 2
Fall 2
  • EDUC 563
  • Elective Course
  • Distribution
Student graduates at end of this semester.

Note: These suggested plans of study are for full-time students; students enrolled part-time will work with the program manager and faculty to determine the best plan of study for their situation.

ESL Program Specialist Certification

ESL Program Specialist Certification in the State of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a state-approved certification program for the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s English as a Second Language Program Specialist certification.

To be eligible for the ESL Program Specialist certification, you must:

  • Already hold a Level 1 PA certification


  • Be an in-progress student in the Penn GSE Urban Teaching Apprenticeship program, earning a Level 1 PA certification

Successful completion of the program will include:

  • Completion of required field practice hours
  • Satisfactory assessments of teaching competency and disposition measures
  • Maintaining academic good-standing in the specified courses:
    • Educational Linguistics
    • Approaches to Teaching English and Other Modern Languages
    • Language Diversity in Education
    • Language Assessment
    • TESOL Practice Teaching
    • TESOL Seminar

Upon completion of the program, candidates must register and submit an online application in the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Teacher Information Management System. Candidates will apply for the Program Specialist credential, with the subject being English as a Second Language.

ESL/Bilingual Education Certification in States Other than Pennsylvania

Students interested in ESL/Bilingual Education certification in states other than Pennsylvania should consult with the appropriate state certification department to inquire whether or not their M.S.Ed. in TESOL coursework meets certification requirements in the respective state.

For more information, please contact Katherine O'Morchoe

A screenshot of an interactive map of Philadelphia with different regions color-coded

Community Impact: ELX in Philadelphia

Community engagement and service-learning are integral to the TESOL M.S.Ed. specialization at Penn GSE. Service-learning fieldwork allows students to bridge the theoretical concepts learned in coursework with practical skills and experiences gained outside of the classroom. Our interactive map showcases TESOL student teaching and fieldwork sites in Philadelphia. To learn more about our work in the community, contact Jackie Lopez, our Fieldwork and Service-Learning Coordinator, at jlope@upenn.edu.

Students participating in PEDAL class.

PEDAL: Practical English for Daily Living

In PEDAL, TESOL students create and instruct communicative English lessons. As part of the TESOL program's dedication to experiential learning, all first-year TESOL students work as PEDAL assistant teachers during the course EDUC 542: TESOL Classroom Fundamentals. Second-year TESOL students can apply to be lead teachers in the PEDAL classrooms to gain more experience and fulfill their EDUC 528 and EDUC 563 practicum requirements. PEDAL lessons focus on the types of communication that English language learners encounter when navigating daily life in and around Philadelphia. Virtual classes allow us to open our Zoom classes to adult learners anywhere in the world who want to practice and improve their daily English language skills.

Our Faculty

Penn GSE Faculty Asif Agha
Professor of Anthropology, Penn Arts & Sciences
Ph.D., University of Chicago
Penn GSE Faculty Catherine DiFelice Box
Lecturer of Educational Practice
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Penn GSE Faculty Yuko Goto Butler
Ph.D., Stanford University
Penn GSE Faculty María Cioè-Peña
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., The Graduate Center-CUNY
Penn GSE Faculty Nelson Flores
Associate Professor
Ph.D., The Graduate Center of the City of New York
Penn GSE Faculty Christina Frei
Executive Director, Language Instruction, Penn Arts & Sciences
Ph.D., University of California at Davis
Penn GSE Faculty Nancy H. Hornberger
Professor Emerita of Education
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Penn GSE Faculty Iryna Kozlova
Lecturer of Educational Practice
Ph.D., Georgia State University
Penn GSE Faculty Yumi Matsumoto
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
Penn GSE Faculty Robert Moore
Senior Lecturer
Ph.D., University of Chicago
Penn GSE Faculty Anne Pomerantz
Professor of Practice
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Betsy R. Rymes
Penn GSE Faculty Santoi Wagner
Senior Lecturer
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University

Program Staff

Hannah Brenneman  
Associate Director of Fieldwork & Service-Learning  
(215) 746-8237  

Katherine O'Morchoe  
Program Manager  
(215) 898-5212  

Suzanne Oh
Program Assistant
(215) 898-6998

Eva Yuxiao Li, Penn GSE TESOL M.S.Ed., 2016

"The TESOL program gave me an opportunity to be in a classroom from day one, and created a safety net so I could try out the theories I was learning in class. I gained confidence in creating a lesson plan, managing a classroom, and meeting my learning objectives."

Eva Yuxiao Li

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages M.S.Ed., 2016

Our Graduates

Our graduates teach English to immigrants who settle in English-speaking nations. They prepare international scholars and professionals to communicate with English-speaking colleagues around the world. And they lead classrooms in countries where English is a second or foreign language. A number of our alumni enroll in doctoral programs to pursue in-depth research in fields such as applied linguistics and education.

Alumni Careers

  • Associate Instructor, Saint Joseph’s University
  • ESL Instructor & ESL Tutor Trainer, Delaware County Literacy Council
  • Chinese Teacher, Asia Pacific Language School
  • Director of Education Division, DENO International Education Consultant LLC
  • International Program Coordinator, FLS International
  • English Teacher, Zhejiang Yuying College of Vocational Technology
  • Instructor, Accelerated Learning Laboratory
  • Doctoral Candidate, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, Boston
  • Teacher, Shoushan Junior High School
  • Doctoral Student in Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
  • TEFL Advisor, Chinese American Planning Council
  • Research Associate, Frontier21 Education Solutions
  • Teacher, Auburn School District

Admissions & Financial Aid

Please visit our Admissions and Financial Aid pages for specific information on the application requirements, as well as information on tuition, fees, financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships.

Contact Information

Contact us if you have any questions about the program.

Office of Admissions and
Financial Aid

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania
3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-6415

Program Contact

Erica Poinsett
Program Assistant

Please view information from our Admissions and Financial Aid Office for specific information on the cost of this program.

Penn GSE is committed to making your graduate education affordable, and we offer generous scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships.