Graduate TESOL Certificate Program

Graduate Certificate of Completion in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

Offered By: College of Education

Pursue Your Online TESOL Certificate at GCU

Grand Canyon University (GCU) offers the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate program for licensed teachers and administrators. The program is designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to teach English language learners of all ages and proficiency levels. Whether you are new to the field of TESOL or have some experience teaching English Language Learning (ELL), this program will provide you with a solid foundation in language teaching theory and practice in or out of the classroom.

The Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) is a comprehensive program offered by the College of Education. Its specialized coursework offers an opportunity to add to professional credentials and potentially open the door to future employment possibilities. You will engage in a variety of learning activities, including readings, discussions and practical teaching experiences, all designed to enhance your understanding of language teaching and to help you develop effective teaching strategies.

During this online TESOL certificate program, you will gain a foundation in ELL instructional programs and policies. You will explore curriculum design, assessments, multicultural education and the instruction of bilingual or multilingual individuals with exceptionalities.

GCU is a leader in online learning designed for modern adult learners. The TESOL graduate certificate program can fit your working schedule. Learn anywhere at any time from our instructors, who are experts in their fields. 

Earning a certificate in TESOL online offers a range of benefits for individuals seeking flexibility. With only 18 credits to completion, this TESOL certificate online program allows you to study at your own pace and from any location with internet access, making it easier to balance your studies with work, family and other responsibilities. Earning a graduate certificate in TESOL can provide you with the knowledge, skills and credentials needed to pursue a fulfilling career teaching English to learners around the world.

All courses of GCU’s online certificate program meet the standards of the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) and are also aligned with the Standards for the Recognition of Initial TESOL Certificate Programs in pre-K–12 ESL Teacher Education.

To apply for this graduate TESOL certificate program, you must have at least one year of teaching experience. It should be documented on the Teaching Verification Form or you may send in your current teaching certificate. You must also have access to a pre-K-12 classroom that includes ESL students. This is a requirement to complete the assignments and the practicum course. 

If you’re a non-native English speaker, you can still teach English but it’s important to have evidence of proficiency when applying for jobs. For most employers, non-native English speakers will need to demonstrate a proficiency level of C2, which is the highest level of language proficiency. 

Topics and Skills in the Graduate TESOL Certificate Online Program

With this advanced credential, you can prepare to become an impactful leader in ESL/TESOL initiatives at the building or district level. When you graduate from the TESOL certificate program at GCU, you will be taught an expanded, specialized skill set that you can use to become an educational leader. 

The focus of this graduate certificate in TESOL program is to examine the principles, theories and research pertaining to the most effective methods of teaching English to students who are English Language Learners (ELLs). You will acquire foundational knowledge in these core areas:

  • Essential building blocks for teaching English language learners
  • Cultivating collaborative relationships within schools, communities and family connections
  • Linguistics
  • Effective strategies for teaching ELL and bilingual students
  • Second language acquisition
  • Inclusive approaches to teaching and assessing ELL who may have exceptionalities
  • Curriculum development
  • Comprehensive design of effective assessments and tasks

The online TESOL certificate program provides you with the knowledge needed to assist ELL students in overcoming language barriers — enabling ELL students to achieve their full potential in and out of the classroom. 

Candidates will explore best practices in designing a culturally responsive curriculum, taking into consideration the societal, cultural and familial influences on a student’s learning. Candidates who pursue this TESOL graduate certificate will examine the core principles of linguistics and their integration into instructional practices.

Career Opportunities for Graduates With a TESOL Certificate

As a specialist in ESL/BLE/TESOL learning experiences, you may pursue work in a variety of areas including public or private schools, community colleges, universities, language schools or within school districts. Graduates may work with students at any grade level as an instructor of English as a second language. 

In addition to teaching, TESOL certificate holders may also pursue careers that require curriculum development, teacher training or professional development, program administration or educational consulting.1 Some even use their graduate certificate in TESOL to find opportunities to work abroad, teaching English in countries around the world.2 

TESOL Certificate Online Program FAQs

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about pursuing a TESOL graduate certificate. Whether you’re a teacher considering a career advancement in TESOL, or a current college student looking for more information about the program, we hope to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about your education and future career.

For those seeking to make a difference in the lives of language learners, this field is a promising one. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers have a median annual wage of $59,720 as of May 2021.

A TESOL graduate certificate requires a total of 18 credits for completion. Most of the classes are six weeks in length. This certificate in TESOL may provide you with the necessary skills to advance in your career or pursue a new professional direction. Fill out the form on this page to speak to an admissions counselor to better understand how long it takes to earn your graduate TESOL certificate online.

Deciding between a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or a TESOL certificate largely depends on your career goals, teaching context and the type of students you wish to teach. For example, TEFL certificates are generally for those who want to teach English to non-native speakers in countries where English is not the primary language, such as in Asia or South America. In a TEFL program, courses are often focused on teaching practical, communicative English skills to students who may have little or no exposure to English.

TESOL certificates are typically more comprehensive and cover a broader range of topics related to language acquisition, instructional methods and language assessment. TESOL certificate programs are usually more suitable for individuals who wish to teach English to non-native speakers in a variety of contexts, including in their home country or in international schools, colleges or universities.4 Consider researching both options and consulting with experts in the field to determine which certificate is best for you.

While the coursework can be challenging, particularly for individuals with limited prior experience in teaching or linguistics, many TESOL certificate programs are designed to be accessible to individuals from diverse educational and professional backgrounds. Most TESOL certificate programs require a minimum number of coursework hours, including lectures, readings and practical teaching experience. Some programs may also require additional assignments, projects or exams. Additionally, TESOL certificates online offer greater flexibility and convenience, allowing you to work at your own pace and from any location with internet access.

1 Indeed (2022, June 24). 9 Jobs You Can Do With a Master’s Degree in TESOL. Retrieved on May 22, 2023.

2 Parsons, Tyler (2023, Feb. 9). Will My Master’s Degree Help Me Teach English Abroad? International TEFL Academy. Retrieved on May 22, 2023. 

3 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Adult Basic and Secondary Education and ESL Teachers as of May 2021, retrieved on March 27, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachers. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates. 

4 Montrose, Brett (2023, March 24). TEFL, TESL, TESOL — What’s the Difference? Go Abroad. Retrieved on May 22, 2023. 

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Total Credits: 18
Online: 6 weeks
[More Info]
The University will accept one course of the total certificate requirements in transfer.
Online: $605 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Course List

18 credits
Degree Requirements:
18 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course provides foundational knowledge of policies and instructional programs for English language learners (ELLs) in the United States. Emphasis will be placed on understanding, comparing, and evaluating current language models. Educators will be introduced to instructional strategies and professional development opportunities. Focus will be placed on advocating for bilingual education (BLE), ELLs, and families.

Course Description

In this course, educators will explore school, community, and family culture. Emphasis will be placed on the major goals, principles, and concepts of multicultural education, including understanding individual needs and learning differences. Research is utilized to investigate the social, community, cultural, and familial contexts that influence learning and development. Focus will be placed on creating a positive classroom environment through culturally inclusive teaching. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: TSL-532.

Course Description

In this course, educators become familiar with the fundamentals of linguistics. Emphasis will be placed on psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and first and second language acquisition. Educators will synthesize research-based methods of incorporating linguistic principles into their teaching practice. Prerequisite: TSL-550.

Course Description

In this course, educators will review curriculum and methods appropriate to the teaching of subject areas in bilingual and English language learner instructional settings. Emphasis is placed on linguistic, cognitive, developmental, and sociocultural considerations when exploring methods and materials to design multicultural curricula for use in language arts and content area classrooms. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: TSL-550.

Course Description

In this course, educators will explore the principles of (or for) evaluating and structuring assessments. Educators will examine assessment for the purposes of identification, placement, and instructional delivery. Emphasis will be placed on learning ways to integrate assessment procedures into any curriculum and designing assessment tasks that allow for improved learning of all students. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: TSL-558.

Course Description

In this course, educators will be introduced to the teaching and evaluation of English language learners (ELLs) with exceptionalities, including students with special education needs and gifted students, who receive bilingual/native language and/or English language instruction and support. Emphasis will be placed on researching the complexity of disproportional representation of ELLs in gifted and special education programs or services. Educators will explore cultural and linguistic considerations in identifying bilingual/ELL students with exceptional needs and examine appropriate instructional support. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: TSL-558.


GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.