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Key words: TESL, TEFL, TESOL, ESOL, ESL, EFL, Teaching English as a Second Language, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, TEFL Certificate, ESOL Certification, Online TESL Program, Online TESL Certification, Online TEFL Program, Online TEFL Certification
Master of Arts inTeaching English as a Second LanguageWebster University

Webster Groves Home Campus * Kansas City Metropolitan Campus * Bangkok Campus (Coming Soon)
And Fully Online from Anywhere in the World!

Welcome to the information pages for the MA in TESL at Webster University

  • This page includes helpful information for both prospective and current TESL candidates.
  • Use the links to the left (under "All Pages") to find main categories.
  • Use the Search Wiki function to find particular information more quickly.

Program Description

The Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language (MA in TESL) at Webster University is designed for individuals who seek to develop the English skills of non-native speakers living either overseas or in the United States. The program allows candidates to develop a solid theoretical background in critical aspects such as culture, language structure, first and second language acquisition theory, curriculum and materials development, teaching methodology, assessment and research, while preparing them to become effective language teachers. Candidates may choose to complete their TESL program on the St. Louis Home Campus, at the Kansas City Metropolitan Campus, or complete the program online from anywhere in the world. The MA in TESL has been approved to be offered on the Bangkok Campus (more details will be posted when available).

Advantages to Webster University's MA in TESL Program

  • Degree Options. We offer two tracks: K-12 ELL Education emphasis and Adult (EFL/EFL) Education emphasis (the Adult [ESL/EFL] Education emphasis is only available at the St. Louis campus and online).
  • Locations. The MA in TESL is currently offered at both the St. Louis Home Campus (in Webster Groves) and Kansas City Metropolitan Campus campuses. The TESL program is also available fully online so that you may live anywhere in the world where you are connected to the Internet. The MA in TESL program has also been approved for the Webster Thailand Campus (in downtown Bangkok).
  • State Guidelines. Our program is aligned with the guidelines of both the requirements from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the standards from Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL).
  • Nationally Recognized. Webster's MA in TESL is the first and only TESL program in Missouri to receive national recognition through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This recognition is for both the St. Louis and Kansas City campuses, and as of February 2013 Webster University's MA in TESL is the only nationally recognized program in both the St. Louis and Kansas City metro areas.
  • Scheduling Options. We offer our courses around your busy schedule with both face-to-face classes on one night a week and on-line classes. Courses are offered in five eight-week terms throughout the year (Fall 1, Fall 2, Spring 1, Spring 2, and Summer). View the Academic Calendars for specific dates for these terms.
  • Flexibility. Many students have been able to complete their master's degree even after moving away from one of the Missouri campuses by completing their remaining coursework online. Some have even completed their degree after moving overseas!
  • Rolling Admissions. You may begin your master's program or certificate at the beginning of any of the five terms and you may also graduate at the end of any of our five terms. Click HERE to apply! You can usually be accepted provisionally in a few days, after which we can begin the registration process.
  • Respected Program. An MA in TESL from Webster University is well respected due to the high caliber of Webster University's School of Education, an NCATE-accredited institution.
  • Partnerships. The Segal AmeriCorp Education Award Matching Program offers scholarship funds for AmeriCorps member. More partnerships and special opportunities are being negotiated.
  • Stronger Employment Options. Program coordinators and program graduates have reported that an MA in TESL from Webster University has helped them on the job market and in their day-to-day instruction of English. Graduates have written back about full-time positions in various K-12 districts and jobs teaching adults or children in St. Louis, Chicago, Phoenix, South Korea, China, and Saudi Arabia.

Program Goals

The Master of Arts (MA) in Teaching English as a Second Language embraces Webster University’s mission to "transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence" through the School of Education goals and dispositions. The following program goals are built on a conceptual framework of knowledge, implementation, and reflection. Candidates will demonstrate knowledge of:
  • the English language system and its components (i.e., phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, etc.) and issues of linguistic variation (i.e., dialects, discourse, slang, humor, etc.);
  • the major theories, key concepts, and research in first and second language acquisition (SLA);
  • modern and traditional teaching approaches, as well as the legal processes and policies that have influenced the English as a Second Language field;
  • multicultural aspects and personal variables (i.e., background experiences, values, beliefs, gender) that affect the process of language acquisition and cultural integration;
  • effective learning and communications strategies;
  • curriculum design and appropriate materials and textbooks; and
  • current and historical aspects of assessment design and implementation, as well as their implication for various stakeholders.

Candidates will practice in their classroom:
  • various standards-based instructional strategies to support effective educational practices that value individual and cultural differences;
  • standards-based curriculum designed on modern teaching theories and meaningful, authentic content, and language materials (i.e., experiences that model social and academic contexts by integrating all language skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing);
  • multiple culturally-informed, valid, reliable, authentic, pragmatic, and non-biased assessment techniques that measure learning progress and teacher/program/content effectiveness; and
  • technology-centered activities that promote content and language learning, following a constructivist model that allows ample language input and practice.

Candidates will reflect on:
  • the roles educators take in collaboration with colleagues, school administrators, paraprofessionals, parents, and community members to advocate for the needs of their community of learners and their direct access to resources;
  • personal growth through on-going participation in personal development activities;
  • effectiveness of instructional and assessment approaches in the classroom with the view of achieving equitable education for their ELL students;
  • curriculum appropriateness in compliance with national and regional standards, as well as program expectations and diverse student needs, preparedness, resources, and ability; and
  • the need to support and encourage ESOL students and families in their journey of social, cultural, and linguistic accommodation.

Admission Requirements
  • Native speakers need a GPA of 2.5 or above. Two semesters of a foreign language (with grades of B or above) is also strongly recommended (see the Admission section of the graduate catalog for more information on admissions).
  • Non-native speakers need to pass the TOEFL with a paper-based score of 575 or above (230 on the computer-based test or 89 on the internet-based test), an Academic IELTS score of 6.5 or higher, or a Pearson score of 53 or higher. International students should also see the graduate catalog for more details (see the section "Application for International Students" under Admissions).

Applying to the Program

  • Applications may be completed online through the Graduate Admissions page. For Student Type please select Graduate. For Campus Options please select St. Louis Campuses (for the face-to-face program on the Webster Groves campus), U.S. Campuses (for the Kansas City face-to-face program), or Online (for the Online program). For Campus Location please select St. Louis Home Campus, Kansas City Metro, or Online. For Academic Program please select either Education - Teaching English as a Second Language/Emphasis in Adult Education or Education - Teaching English as a Second Language/Emphasis in K-12 Education.
  • Note: Online TESL Candidates must also complete the Online TESL Program Application (in addition to the online application). Online TESL Candidates must also read the Online TESL Practicum Handbook before applying to the program.
  • Careful: There are numerous options on the menu for programs. Please select the correct program of study and note the difference between Teaching English as a Second Language/Emphasis in K-12 Education (which requires a Missouri Teaching license) and the Teaching English as a Second Language/Emphasis in Adult Education (which does not require prior teaching experience). Please also note the difference between the TEFL certificate, which is listed as Teaching English as a Foreign Language (Certificate) (and which may limit your employment possibilities), and the full MA in TESL - Adult Track (which includes the TEFL certificate and will maximize your employment possibilities for teaching adults).
  • We ask that all candidates apply as full degree-seeking students in "Teaching English as a Second Language," even those students who only wish to pursue a certificate.
  • Essay requirement: Your application is not complete without the following essay (which should be submitted online with your application). Here is the essay topic: Describe your teaching philosophy in terms of the kind of knowledge and values that will make a teacher a more effective English as a Second Language/English as a Foreign Language instructor.
  • Most applicants will receive a provisional acceptance within 48 hours. After receiving this acceptance, you may contact your academic adviser (Dr. DJ Kaiser or Dr. Yin Lam Lee-Johnson for the Webster Groves campus and Lisa Davis for the Kansas City campus) to set up an advising appointment. Please have your student ID number (which you should receive with your acceptance) ready to facilitate the advising process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between the Missouri ESOL Certificate and the MA in TESL?
A: The Missouri ESOL Certificate is granted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and it is the certificate that most schools in the state of Missouri will want K-12 teachers to have in order to teach English Language Learners (ELLs). The certificate is often enough for K-12 teachers who want a position that requires certification to work with ELLs. Many teachers who already have a master’s degree decided to only get the certificate. If you are a teacher seeking to advance your career, the full MA in TESL may help you advance (specifically in terms of salary). Speak with your principal or district supervisor about the potential benefits of both the certificate and the full MA in TESL.

Q: What is the difference between the TEFL Certificate and the MA in TESL?
A: If you are looking to teach in the United States in a university, community college, or in an intensive English program the most common minimum requirement is an MA in TESL or Applied Linguistics. Some schools overseas (usually private English schools) will ask for the TEFL Certificate. If you choose to only pursue the TEFL Certificate, this may significantly limit your employment possibilities. If you complete the MA in TESL as an Adult Track candidate you will also receive the TEFL Certificate (this is a graduate certificate granted by Webster University). This will maximize your employment possibilities because you can market yourself as having both the MA in TESL and the TEFL Certificate. If you choose to only pursue the TEFL Certificate, you should research job announcements for the countries where you might want to work to see if the TEFL Certificate will be sufficient. Your adviser will recommend the full MA in TESL because it will provide you not only with more coursework to make you a stronger ESL/EFL teacher, but also open up more job opportunities.

Q: Can I complete my TEFL Certificate faster than my MA in TESL?
A: The TEFL Certificate has seven required courses. Due to the way that these are scheduled out, it usually takes approximately the same amount of time to complete the TEFL Certificate as it does the MA in TESL. The reason is that courses required for the TEFL Certificate are offered in the same rotation as those offered for the MA in TESL.

Q: Where can I find my adviser's office?
A: Always contact your adviser ahead of time to set up an appointment. On the Webster Groves Main Campus, DJ Kaiser and Yin Lam Lee-Johnson share an office in room 240 of Webster Hall. Webster Hall is located at 470 E. Lockwood (it is the old building with all of the flags along the circle drive). On the Kansas City Metro Campus, go to 1200 E 104th Street; Suite 100; Kansas City, MO 64131 (this is near I-435 & Holmes).

Q: Where do I get my student ID?
A: First of all, you need to be registered in at least one class in order to get a student ID card. On the Webster Groves Main Campus you can get your student ID at the Office of Public Safety at 572 Garden Avenue (see the campus map). For Kansas City Metro Campus students, please contact your campus office for information on student ID cards (816-559-8897 or kansascity@webster.edu).

Q: Where are classes held?
A: On the St. Louis campus, most classes are in Webster Hall. Check your class schedule in connections and if you have a class in different building, check the campus map. Classes at the Kansas City Metropolitan Campus are held at 1200 E. 104th Street in Suite 100 (at 1-435 and Holmes). Online courses do not meet at any particular location.

Q: Why do online courses cost more than face-to-face classes?
A: Online courses come with additional resources and staff working behind the scenes. In addition to your professor, a whole team from the Online Learning Center has worked with past and current professors on the online materials to make them accessible to you.

Q: I signed up for a class and I want to find out what the books will be/what the first assignment will be/what is on the syllabus/I have a question/etc.
A: Check your class schedule in connections and you will find the name of your instructor for your class. You can search for your instructor's e-mail address from the bottom of http://www.webster.edu. Type in your instructor's name in the Search field and then select "Faculty/Staff Directory" from the drop down menu. Note that the phone number listed for any adjunct faculty will be for a campus office. You should always try use e-mail to contact professors (and please understand that it may take 24-48 hours to receive a response). Note than many professors will be making last-minute changes to their syllabus and will not e-mail it ahead of the first class. You can always check what books are required for your classes 24/7 online (see this link for more information). You may also see what the final assignment for Key Assessment courses on this website.

Q: How good are the employment opportunities in TESL?
A: At present the field is much better for K-12 teachers in terms of job opportunities. Teachers with ESOL certification are often in high need in many school districts. ESL instructors seeking jobs teaching adults in the United States often need to start out teaching part-time at two or more schools while waiting for a full-time position to open.

Q: Does Webster University do job placements for TESL candidates?
A: Webster University has a Career Center to help you with job search strategies. Perhaps the best resource for the field of TESL is TESOL’s career center. Faculty can also provide you a lot of helpful advice on searching for jobs.

Q: What will help me get a job?
A: Here are a few suggestions to help with job networking:
  • Contact schools where you would like to teach and ask to sit in on and observe their classes.
  • Ask about volunteer or tutoring opportunities with various programs.
  • Create a strong teaching portfolio of materials from your TESL courses that you can include with letters of inquiry to schools about possible employment possibilities.
  • Work hard and be professional in all of your TESL courses (you may need your professors to write you letters of recommendation).
  • Stay in touch with graduates of the TESL program so you can help each other network.

Q: I want to teach in particular country. How can I find a job there?
A: Many people pursue a degree in TESL with the hope to move overseas to a particular country. It is easier to find jobs in some countries than in others. Due to visa regulations, it is very difficult for Americans to find full-time work in European countries (though you can go on a student visa to “get your foot in the door” there). South Korea and Saudi Arabia both appear to be countries hiring many American ESL teachers. East Asia, the Middle East, and South America are currently the easiest options for overseas employment. The best resource for overseas jobs is TESOL’s career center. You may also consider applying to be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant or an English Language Fellow through the U.S. Department of State.

Q: I don’t have a teaching license for K-12 but I would like to teach ESL in a K-12 school. Is that possible?
A: The K-12 track of the MA in TESL requires a teaching license because our program does not provide an initial teaching certification to teach in K-12 state schools. Some private schools do not require a teaching degree or teaching certification, but rather will allow qualified teachers with a master’s degree to teach for their school (but you would need to check with individual schools). If you do want to teach in a K-12 state school but do not have an initial teaching certification, you would need to first complete an MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching). Some candidates choose to complete the MAT in addition to the Missouri ESOL Certificate or a sequential master’s in TESL. See http://www.webster.edu/education/academics/masters-programs.html for more information on MAT program from the School of Education.

Q: What is the difference between ESL and EFL?
A: ESL stands for English as a Second Language and is most often used in reference to teaching non-native English speakers how to speaker English in an English-speaking country (e.g., the United States). In many educational setting, the term “ESL” has become dispreferred and more professionals in the field are using ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) and ELL (English Language Learners). EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language and is most often used in reference to the teaching of English in a country where English is not primary language of the population. You may also hear the distinction between TESL and TEFL, which refer to teaching ESL and EFL, respectively.

Q: Are there opportunities to do my practicum overseas?
A: At present, are not set up to make practicum placements overseas. This possibility has been discussed and if and when it becomes available it will be announced on the website. Online TESL candidates may complete their degree anywhere in the world, but online TESL candidates are also responsible for finding their own Practicum placement.

Q: Are there opportunities to do part or all of my TESL program overseas?
A: Beginning Fall 2013, the entire TESL program will be available online. Any candidate may switch to the online program to move overseas and complete his/her program. You will then be able to complete your coursework from anywhere in the world where you have good access to the Internet and ESL/EFL classrooms in which you may observe and complete your practicum. As of right now, the only campus where you may complete TESL coursework face to face is the St. Louis Home Campus and the Kansas City Metropolitan Campus. If any special partnerships are made with other campuses or universities, they will be announced on this website.

Q: Is it possible to receive credit for my TESL degree by doing foreign language coursework?
A: Foreign language study can greatly help you as an instructor in the field of TESL; however, foreign language courses do not count as electives for TESL degrees or programs. The full list of approved elective courses may be found here.

Q: Where can I park? Do I need a parking pass?
A: On the St. Louis home campus a parking pass is needed to park in any of the campus parking lots (including after hours). Parking passes are available through Campus Safety. After hours, however, there is usually plenty of street parking on Lockwood (in front of Webster Hall) and neighboring streets. For short, daytime advising appointments there a few Visitor Parking spaces that you may use. The Kansas City Metropolitan Campus has ample parking. Note: Do not parking in neighboring church parking lots; you will be ticketed and/or towed.

For more information on TESL Programs at Webster University please contact

DJ Kaiser, PhD

Associate Professor and Coordinator of Teaching English as a Second Language

Webster University

470 E. Lockwood Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63119
Office in Webster Hall, room 240
djkaiser@webster.edu (best method)
314-246-7153


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