[Attendance] [Textbooks] [Registering] [Dropping/Withdrawing] [Grades] [Academic Honesty] [Incompletes] [Directed Studies] [Practicum] [Credit by Exam]

Important Policies
Be certain to refer to the Graduate Catalog for all official Webster University policies. Please note that the Graduate Catalog includes all of the most recent and the official policies. This page is made available to help highlight those policies that most affect students in the TESL program and to help specify how these policies relate to the specific TESL programs. If you have any questions about these policies, please contact your academic adviser.

General Policies and Things to Consider

  • TESL courses are part of a master's program, which grants graduate credit and an advanced degree. TESL courses are not to be treated as Professional Development (PD). TESL courses require commitment and quality work.
  • MA in TESL students are expected to make their courses a priority. This means attending all classes and turning in all assignments fully completed and on time. Students must arrange their schedules so that they may arrive on time for the full eight-week term and schedule any outside engagements (work obligations, parental obligations, vacations, parties, etc.) around class time.
  • On rare occasions, a maximum of one conflict per term may be granted to a student. Be certain to discuss any potential conflicts with your instructor as early as possible to make arrangements. Note that missing two classes for any reason will result in receiving a non-passing grade (C or NC).
  • Even if you have teaching experience, your professors will challenge you to move beyond your level of proficiency and practice.
  • While you may enter a class or the program with strong opinions or preferences on how to teach, these courses are designed to present new ways of approaching classroom instruction. Students are asked to complete their assignments, lesson plans, and pedagogical materials according to the instructions given by the professor. You will have ample opportunities to change, modify, or assimilate these concepts and practices to your own pedagogical methods when you take them into your own classroom.
  • Many new students in the MA in TESL program find that graduate coursework, going back to school, or switching into a new field is very difficult. Most of the students find that within a few weeks, this overwhelming feeling can pass. In many cases the issue is that students come in with very high expectations placed on themselves to be able to perform at as high a level as they can in what they currently do. It is more than natural for the first term or two to feel very difficult (that means that you are learning!). If you find that you are struggling, speak to your professor as soon as possible.
  • Please always remember to silence or turn off your cell phone before entering the classroom. Your cell phone should never interrupt a class, a fellow student's presentation, your own presentation, a class that you are observing, or your Practicum classroom. As current and future teachers you must always be conscientious of your cell phone, iPad, laptops, and any other device that might make noise while a class or seminar is in session.

TESL Program and TESOL Field Expectations

In addition to the specific academic expectations placed on all graduate students, the following are expectations of both teacher candidates in TESL programs and professionals working in the field of TESOL:
  • Strong mastery of the eleven TESOL Standards (see the page on Key Assessments)
  • Strong professionalism both in and out of the classroom (these are assessed during the program as Professional Dispositions)
  • Strong time-management skills
  • The ability to follow, interpret, and explain directions
  • A high tolerance for ambiguity
  • Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to communicate respectfully and to manage conflicts
  • The ability to apply concepts, methods, and approaches to new and specific teaching and learning situations
  • Sensitivity to diversity and the ability to advocate for those who are different; note TESOL’s Position Statement Opposing Discrimination: “TESOL is opposed to discrimination that affects the ‘employment and professional lives of the TESOL members’ (TESOL Forward Plan, revised 1999) on the grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality, language background, disability, health/medical condition, including HIV/AIDS, age, religion, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation” (TESOL Board of Director, October 2001)
  • Strong fluency in Standard American English, especially English for academic purposes
  • Strong writing skills for researched papers, reports, proposal, and e-mail correspondence
  • Strong speaking and presentation skills for classroom instruction, individual conferences, presentations, and meetings
  • Knowledge of the major assessments that will affect English Language Learners (e.g., WIDA, TOEFL, CEFR, etc.)
  • Knowledge of major laws and policies affecting the education of English Language Learners in the United States (e.g., the Civil Rights Law of 1964, Lau v. Nichols in 1974, Proposition 227 in 1998, etc.)
  • Regular and consistent access to a computer with internet and e-mail
  • Strong proficiency using and access to Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point (these particular programs are important because you will need to share files for classes, for Practicum, and when teaching in the professional field)

Attendance for Face-to-Classes

  • Face-to-face classes only meet eight times a term in four-hour sessions. Students are expected to attend all courses, including the first and last class for the full period of time.
  • Students who miss the first class will automatically be dropped from the course and may not be allowed to rejoin the class.
  • Students are expected to schedule all work, childcare, travel, and other obligations around class time (this is why class only meets one night a week, to allow you six other nights in the week to take care of things).
  • Missing one class is missing more than 10% of the course. Some instructors do not allow absences. Check with your instructor about specific attendance policies and penalties for absences and/or tardiness.
  • If you absolutely must miss a class or arrive late (or leave early), it is your responsibility to contact your instructor before class meets and as soon as you know that you might miss or be late for class to make proper arrangements. Your professor may lower your final grade an entire letter grade for an unexcused absence or give you a failing grade. This includes missing the first class.
  • If you miss two or more classes (for whatever reason), you may be asked to withdraw from the course (because you have missed 25% of the course).
  • If you must miss classes due to medical reasons you will still need to withdraw from the course. If you are concerned about the financial aspect of withdrawing for medical reasons, contact Dawna Moore (dmoore@webster.edu) about the process for withdrawing due to medical reasons. Instructors are asked to treat all absences equally for the purposes of fairness. Determinations on special circumstances or granting tuition reimbursement for withdrawals due to medical reasons will be handled at the administrative level. If you have a medical issue arise during class, please alert your instructor as early as possible.
  • Treat attending classes like you would a teaching job. If you found that you were unable to make it to teach your class (especially on the first day of class) you would certainly contact your principal or program coordinator. You may need your professors to write a letter of recommendation for you. Keep this in mind when it comes to class attendance.

Attendance for Online Courses

  • Online courses open up to students the Friday before the term begins. Students should log into the WorldClassRoom within the first few days to read the course syllabus, begin their course work, and begin participating in the discussion boards.
  • Students who do not log in to an online course by Friday of the first week will automatically be dropped from the class and not allowed to rejoin.
  • If you are unable to participate online for an extended period of time (that will negatively impact your grade) due to medical reasons you will need to withdraw from the course. If you are concerned about the financial aspect of withdrawing for medical reasons, contact Dawna Moore (dmoore@webster.edu) about the process for withdrawing due to medical reasons. Instructors are asked to treat all absences equally for the purposes of fairness. Determinations on special circumstances or granting tuition reimbursement for withdrawals due to medical reasons will be handled at the administrative level. If you have a medical issue arise during class, please alert your instructor as early as possible.
  • Online classes require regular and frequent participation, especially in the discussion board sections. Be certain to review the guidelines set out by your instructor.
  • Remember that face-to-face classes meet four hours a week, so less than four hours of online participation is not sufficient and may negatively impact your grade.
  • If something will prevent you from being able to participate online for a few days, be certain to let your instructors know ahead of time and as soon as possible.


  • Textbooks for face-to-face classes (one the Webster Groves campus) may be purchased in the campus bookstore, which is located at 554 Garden Avenue. You may check the bookstore hours at the Bookstore website or call the bookstore at 314-968-5936 for their hours. You may look up what books you will need to purchase for face-to-face classes using the Textbook Search tool.
  • Textbooks for online courses and for classes held on the Kansas City Metropolitan campus may be purchased through the Webster University Online Bookstore. Some online classes may have the readings for the first week or two available in the online classroom under the Textbook eReserves tab under Course Content.
  • Please get your textbooks as quickly as possible. If you are ordering your books online, please order them early so that they arrive more quickly. Do not wait until the end of the first week or until your first assignment is due; that will be too late.
  • If you choose to acquire your textbooks through other means, please do so early and choose a faster delivery option. Note that while purchasing used textbooks online through third party vendors may save you money, it may delay you getting your textbooks.
  • Always be certain to check the edition being used. Many textbooks have multiple editions. Textbooks used in our field tend to change significantly when a new edition is printed. This means that older editions of textbooks in nearly every case will not be sufficient.
  • Your instructors are not required to make photocopies or PDFs of course reading materials that have been made available through the bookstore. Do not ask your instructors to do so.
  • If you do not have your textbooks in time for the beginning of classes or assignments, it is yourresponsibility to find a way to access those materials. Some options you may consider:
    • Ask to borrow a fellow student's books to make copies until your books arrive.
    • Go to the library to see if there is a copy of the textbook at the library. You may need to request a copy from another library, which means that you will need to wait several days or weeks to receive this book. Please note that many libraries do not carry textbooks or they may carry an older edition of the textbook.
  • If you are unable to purchase textbooks because you are waiting on financial aid, Student Affairs has emergency loans that students may be able to get for up to $300 to help cover textbooks. Call 314-968-6980 to discuss this option with the Student Affairs staff.
  • In all cases, it is your responsibility to get your textbooks on time to be able to complete reading assignments and other assignments that require the use of course material. "I don't have the textbook yet" is not an acceptable excuse.

Registering for Class

  • Registration must be completed before the first class meets or before the Friday before the term begins for online courses.
  • If you miss the first class, you may enroll in a face-to-face class within six calendar days of that first class meeting only with the permission of the instructor. Note that an Add Slip must be filled out and signed by the course instructor.
  • New students must meet with their adviser to sign up for classes the first time.
  • Returning students may register for classes themselves through Connections. (See the FAQ for help with Connections.)
  • When registering, be certain to look under Current Option Settings and set Program to "GRAD," and Session and Year to the semester for which you are attempting to register for. Click Set Options to change these settings.
  • current_option.png
  • If you cannot register online, send an e-mail to your adviser and include ALL of the following information in your e-mail:
    • Your name
    • Your student number
    • The class(es) in which you want to be registered along with the section number (e.g., TESL 5311 W1, TESL 5230 01)
    • Your method of payment (Financial Aid, Bill to Employer, Self Pay, etc.)
  • Registration cannot be completed without ALL of this information.

Dropping or Withdrawing from a Class

  • Note that the drop period for each term ends the Friday of the second week of the term. Paperwork must be processed by 4 PM CST that Friday. This means that sending an e-mail or a note right before (or after) this time is not sufficient. Your adviser can help with this process, but please plan ahead. The deadline for withdrawals seeking a tuition refund must also be processed before 4 PM of each respective week.
  • To drop a face-to-face class during the first two weeks of a class, a Drop Slip must be signed by the course instructor and student, and then submitted to the School of Education office.
  • During the drop period, students in online classes may fill out a drop slip from within Canvas (please see these instructions).
  • After the second week of class and before the Friday of the sixth week of the term, a student may withdraw from the course using the Withdrawal Petition for face-to-face classes. Online students should use the online form in Canvas to withdraw. Withdrawals are marked in student records as a "W" and become part of a student's permanent record.
  • Refunds are calculated according to the following table. These periods refer to when the proper paperwork is submitted, not from the last date attended.
  • refunds.png
  • Students may not withdraw from a class during the final two weeks of the term.
  • It is always the student's responsibility to take care of the drop or withdrawal process and paperwork. Informing your instructor does not drop you from a class.
  • If you need to withdraw from a class due to medical reasons, contact Dawna Moore (dmoore@webster.edu) in the School of Education office. Instructors are asked to treat all absences equally for the purposes of fairness and do not handle withdrawals for medical reasons. Determinations on special circumstances or granting tuition reimbursement for withdrawals due to medical reasons will be handled at the administrative level.


  • The School of Education only uses the following grades: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C, NC (No Credit), and ZF (Failing).
  • Webster University approved a new grade of "WF" (Unofficial Withdrawal) beginning the summer of 2012. Your instructor will assign a grade of WF if a student stops attending and does not complete enough work to be give a grade for the course.
  • Students are expected to maintain a B average (3.0) in all of their coursework.
  • A student will be placed on academic probation if he or she receives an NC, WF, or ZF, or two grades of C. A student must successfully complete six credit hours with a B or higher to be taken off of academic probation.
  • A student will automatically be dismissed from the program if he or she receives a grade of C and a grade of ZF, WF, or NC; or two grades of ZF, WF, or NC; or three grades of C. See the graduate catalog for more information on policies for Academic Warnings, Probation, and Dismissal. The graduate catalog also includes information on Reinstatement.
  • If you find yourself struggling, contact your adviser right away and/or the staff in the Academic Resource Center for assistance. Everyone at Webster wants to see you succeed.

Academic Honesty

  • As current and future educators, all MA in TESL students are expected to adhere to academic honesty.
  • Plagiarism in any form will not be tolerated and may result in dismissal from the course, program, and university.
  • Be certain to to cite all direct quotes, paraphrased quotes, and consulted sources in all assignments. See the Writing Center's Writing Tips for advice on avoiding plagiarism and properly citing sources.
  • Purdue's Online Writing Lab also has many great resources on citing sources and research.
  • If asked to submit a lesson plan, a unit, or pedagogical materials, consult your instructor if you plan to use or consult any published materials, colleague's materials, other student's materials, or materials that you had developed or used prior to class.

Incomplete Process

  • Sometimes students are unable to complete all of their work by the end of the term. Webster University's policy for Incompletes is as follows:
  • "A grade of incomplete (I) may be assigned by the instructor in situations where the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course, and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling. The instructor determines the appropriateness of a grade of I, establishes the remaining requirements, and determines a deadline for course completion. These requirements for resolutionof the I grade are documented with a "course incomplete" form." (from the Graduate Catalog)
  • A student needs to have successfully completed at least 70% of his or her coursework by the end of the eighth week, have been in good standing throughout the term, and have attended a minimum of seven of the eight class periods to qualify for an Incomplete.
  • If you feel that you need to take an incomplete, you must contact your professor before the end of the term (if you miss the final deadline and ask for an Incomplete extension after the deadline, your instructor may penalize your grade for the assignment).
  • Incomplete deadlines are negotiated between the instructor and the student, but are set by the instructor (using an Incomplete grade report).
  • Other students will be completing the same amount of work within the eight-week time period. This means that granting extensions for incompletes will be short. It it not realistic to expect a month or two of extra time for an assignment that other students completed during the confines of an eight-week term.
  • Students are responsible for completing all negotiated coursework by this extended deadline (additional extensions will not be granted).
  • Students who miss the deadline on their Incomplete grade report will be assigned an NC or a NF.

Directed Studies

  • In some cases, a directed study can be set up if a student needs a required course to graduate, but it is not being offered.
  • Directed Studies are handled on a case-by-case basis and must be set up by the academic adviser.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to take all of their required coursework before their electives (whenever possible) to avoid a situation where a final course they may need is not being offered.
  • Please plan ahead because it is not always possible to find an instructor to work with a student on a directed study.


  • Both the K-12 ELL Track and Adult Education Track require a Practicum in ESOL (TESL 5040).
    • K-12 track teacher candidates need to register for Practicum through Tk20. (To do this you will need to Complete an Application in Tk20.)
    • Adult track teacher candidates need to fill out the Practicum Application and make an appointment to meet with their academic adviser.
    • All online teacher candidates must review and fill out the Online TESL Program Handbook.
    • For Summer and Fall terms the deadline for Practicum Applications is mid February
    • For Spring term the deadline for Practicum Applications is mid September
  • Practicum through Webster University is only available to candidates who have successfully completed at least three TESL courses through Webster University, and at least two of those courses must be from the following three: TESL 5230, TESL 5139, and TESL 5220.

Credit by Exam

  • Some students may qualify to complete their practicum through the process of Credit by Exam (CBX).
  • Below are the eligibility requirements for doing Credit by Exam:
    1. For candidates pursuing the MA in TESL - K-12 ELL Track: One full academic year of ELL teaching experience. Or 135 hours (45 hours per credit hour) of ELL classroom teaching experience (work as an aide, assistant or substitute is acceptable). Most recent work will be submitted in the form of Unit Plans/Lesson Plans in a CBX Portfolio.
    2. For candidates pursuing the MA in TESL - Adult Education Track: One full academic year of ESL experience in the U.S. at an academic ESL program (i.e., Community College, University); experience teaching at least 2 different language levels and 2 different academic ESL courses (i.e., ESL Grammar, Conversation, etc). Most recent work equaling one semester (at least 2 different courses/levels) of classroom teaching will be submitted in the form of Unit Plans/Lesson Plans in a CBX Portfolio.
    3. Acceptance to a degree program or classification as a non-degree seeking post-baccalaureate certification (PBC) student or a non-degree seeking graduate certificate student at Webster University.
    4. Good academic standing (GPA of 3.0 or better).
    5. Successful completion of most coursework towards the MA in TESL degree, Webster TEFL Certificate or Missouri ESOL certification and approval of Academic Advisor. (Practicum as Credit by Exam through Webster University is only available to candidates who have successfully completed at least three TESL courses through Webster University, and at least two of those courses must be from the following three: TESL 5230, TESL 5139, and TESL 5220.)
    6. For candidates pursuing the MA in TESL - K-12 ELL Track: Confirmed teacher certification status at Webster University.
  • If you meet the eligibility requirements for Credit by Exam, contact your academic adviser or Dr. DJ Kaiser to initiate the process.
  • See the Credit by Exam Handbook for more information (note that the Credit by Exam Handbook is for candidates in all TESL programs).

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