English as a Second Language

English as a Second Language Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) Degree Only

About English as a Second Language

Open up a world of opportunity for your students and your career with an M.Ed. in ESL.

Earn a high-quality online master's degree in ESL education from California University of Pennsylvania - a university with a long history of producing top teachers in Pennsylvania and beyond. This graduate program is designed for certified teachers who want to expand their expertise and their careers with a master of education degree, but who are not seeking ESL teaching certification. If you are seeking ESL certification, Cal U offers both an ESL certification-only program  and a combined ESL M.Ed. plus certification program as well.

Cal U's ESL master's degree program will prepare you to teach ESL to both children and adults, and will help you develop professional relationships in one of the most in-demand teaching fields. This graduate program is aligned with Pennsylvania Department of Education ESL Program Specialist standards and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) standards.

Why should you earn your ESL master's degree at Cal U?

  • Fully online courses enable you to earn your degree from anywhere, and give you the flexibility to adapt your workload to your schedule.
  • You will build a community and collaborate online with fellow students who are completing the same classes as you.
  • Cal U offers personal academic and career advising via telephone and email.


Experienced Professors: ESL education professors at Cal U have top certifications, are actively engaged with international ESL professional development associations, and have years of real-world experience teaching ESL in the United States and around the world.

Fieldwork: Field-based components are an integral part of every ESL master's degree course and will provide you with opportunities and support to apply your skills with English language learners in K-12 and other classroom settings near you.

IU1 Agreement: Under a special agreement, Cal U offers savings for Pennsylvania teachers who take ESL courses through Intermediate Unit 1. Teachers must enroll in Cal U’s M.Ed. in ESL (degree only) program and complete four required courses before credits for IU1 courses “Introduction to Teaching ESL,” “Developing Cultural Awareness” and “Language Acquisition and Development” are awarded. Then teachers complete three more graduate-level courses to earn the master’s degree.

Learn more about applying.


U.S. News & World Report has named Cal U's graduate education programs among the "Best Online Programs" three years in a row, and counting …
$2 Million 
Cal U, in collaboration with Pennsylvania's Intermediate Unit 1, has received over $2 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education for ESL professional development initiatives.
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Degree Benefits

As an ESL master's degree student at Cal U you will benefit from:

  • Asynchronous online courses that enable you to complete assignments at any time from any location.
  • Instruction that focuses on research-based best practices in ESL education.
  • Involvement in a global community of ESL
  • Job-placement support from faculty, alumni and Cal U's Career
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Graduate Outcomes

Cal U's M.Ed. in ESL will prepare you to be an effective teacher for the growing ESL population. In Pennsylvania, there is a shortage of ESL teachers, meaning there are many job opportunities. Rewarding ESL career opportunities also exist throughout the United States and abroad, in both the public and private sectors. Cal U alumni have gone on to jobs as:

  • ESL teachers at public and private elementary and secondary schools and tutoring centers.
  • School counselors.
  • Reading specialists.
  • Speech pathologists.
English as a Second Language Master's Degree
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Professional Associations

As a graduate student studying ESL education at Cal U, you'll have the opportunity to engage with local and international professional ESL development communities such as western Pennsylvania's Three Rivers TESOL and the TESOL international association.

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Top Accreditation

Cal U's education programs have been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) since 1954, and we are continuing with the successor organization, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This program also meets Pennsylvania Department of Education requirements for the ESL program specialist certificate.

English as a Second Language Master's Degree Courses

This 33-credit master's degree program is delivered 100% online and takes into consideration the prior knowledge and background of individual learners. Program courses will prepare you to become an effective and versatile ESL teacher. All coursework can be used to complete continuing education requirements under Pennsylvania's Act 48 professional development program.



Course Credits
Required Courses 24
EDE 701  Standards Aligned Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction  3
EDU 704  Foundations of ESL Education 3
EDU 709  Sociolinguistics 3
EDU 712  Content-Based ESL Instruction 3
EDU 713  Language Acquisition and Development 3
EDU 714  Language Assessment 3
EDU 719  Supporting Second Language Learners, Families and Community 3
RES 800  Methods of Research OR ADP 673 Supervised Field Project/Research and Evaluation 3
Elective Courses (select two) 6
EDU 702  Instructional Design and Strategies for Gifted Education 3
EDE 765  Foundations of Integrative Stem** 3
ESP 610  Special Education Foundations 3
MSE 643  Content Area Literacy 3
MSE 656  Methods of Foreign Language Teaching* 3
MSE 740  Advanced Instructional Technology 3
MSE 750  Online Technologies in Education 3
MSE 755  Constructivist Instructional Strategies 3
MSE 771  Strategies for Inclusive Classrooms 3
PSY 702  Psychology of Childhood 3
PSY 713  Psychology of Growth and Development 3
Total 30

* Summer-only course

** Speak with program coordinator

Program Notes:

  • ESL courses require field experiences.
  • This is not an initial teaching licensure program. Pennsylvania requires initial licensure before the ESL program specialist certificate can be added on. 


Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements (Regular)  

  • Bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.80 or a 3.00 in last 48 credits earned (Students with a GPA below 2.80 may apply for conditional admission)
  • Official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution
  • Master's with certification  AND Certification Only: Copy of teaching certification
    • Applicants in other states will have six months after admission to secure and submit evidence of PA Department of Education certification
  • Master's Only:  Resume will be evaluated on the basis of prior studies and/or significant professional experience
  • International Global Online Applicants

Conditional Admission Requirements

  • Conditional Admission may be granted with the following modifications of the Regular Admissions Requirements.  Those admitted conditionally based on missing document/s have up to a maximum of two semesters to satisfy these requirements:
    • Bachelor's degree with a GPA under 2.80 will be reviewed for a decision
    • Official transcripts

Intermediate Unit 1 Teachers: Agreement for Transfer of Credits

In addition to regular admission requirements, Pennsylvania teachers seeking to transfer credits from ESL courses offered by Intermediate Unit 1 must submit a letter from IU1 attesting to successful completion of all ESL coursework for:

  • EDE 704: Introduction to Teaching English as a Second Language (3 credits).
  • EDE 709: Developing Cultural Awareness (3 credits).
  • EDE 713: Language Acquisition and Development (3 credits).

All ESL coursework from IU1 must be completed before candidates enroll at Cal U. Credits will be transferred after the student completes four required courses (12 credits) at Cal U with a grade of “B” or higher in each course.  

How to Apply:

  • Complete the Graduate School Application
  • Under Planned Course of Study:
    • Select "Teacher Education (MEd)" and then choose "English as a Second Language (MEd without Cert)" as the designated program. (Candidates seeking to transfer credits from ESL courses taken through Intermediate Unit 1 should select this option.)
    • Or select "Teacher Education (MEd)" and then choose "English as a Second Language (MEd with Cert)" as the designated program
    • Or select "English as a Second Language (Cert Only)"
  • Submit the nonrefundable $35 Application Fee
  • Mail official transcript to:

School of Graduate Studies and Research
California University of Pennsylvania
Box 91
250 University Ave.
California, PA 15419

  • Submit unofficial transcripts and other documents by mail (using the address above), email (gradschool@calu.edu) or fax (724-938-5712)

For additional information:
Email: calugo@calu.edu
Phone: 1.866.595.6348 

Out of State Students:
All students who will be seeking certification outside of Pennsylvania are responsible for securing and following the certification requirements in the state in which they intend to apply for certification.

English as a Second Language Degrees and Certificates

  • English as a Second Language Master's Degree plus Certificate Program
    A master of education degree for teachers who wish to simultaneously pursue an M.Ed. and ESL teaching certification.
  • English as a Second Language Certificate Program
    A certificate-only program for teachers who are seeking an ESL teaching certificate but do not intend to earn a master's degree.


English as a Second Language Faculty

Dr. Susan Morris-Rutledge
Associate Professor and ESL Program Coordinator


View profile

As of Summer 2018, per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, if you are certified to teach in Pennsylvania you will no longer be required to complete the Chapter 49 Special Education Requirements for the ESL programs. These included ESP 610, ESP 612 and/or ESP 701.  For questions, please contact Dr. Morris-Rutledge for advisement.