Online Colleges for English as a Second Language (ESL)

Globalization and immigration have fueled the demand for accessible English language training; as a result, there is an increased demand for candidates with degrees in this field. Online ESL certificates are available for those who want to utilize their English fluency in other careers. There are many career tracks within the field of ESL, such as teaching English as a second or foreign language to tutoring, curriculum development, interpreting and translating. Whatever path you choose, remember that an education can be helpful in advancement and an online ESL degree can be an asset if you already work in education and wish to expand your skill set.

English as a Second Language Program Info

A degree enabling you to help students who primarily speak another language may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of ESL programs. You can find such degrees online but typically at the advanced level. Master's, Doctor's and PhD's in ESL are all potential pathways, as are closely related advanced degrees such as the the Master's degree for Teaching English Language Learners.

When you are investigating an online program, be sure to understand the approach and who your student population will be. While some literacy degrees are designed to help instructors teach K-12 students, others are more geared toward adult learners. The approaches can be quite different since young students are still learning about other subjects in school and need to be able to progress in these as well, while adult learners are often simply interested in quickly improving and advancing their English comprehension and speaking skills. If you are interested in a shorter path to training and already have a bachelor's degree in teaching, you can look for online endorsements or certifications in ESL or literacy that can avail you to working with student groups.

English as a Second Language Career Overview

Most ESL careers involve teaching, and as such, require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, and typically, state licensing (see online colleges for education for more degree options). However, the classroom can also extend out of that day setting for young students into that night-time setting for adult learners. ESL teachers can also slip into other unique career opportunities such as teaching abroad or working part-time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for teaching ESL are expected to grow about as fast as average, 9 percent, from 2012-2022. Continued immigration to the U.S. should help drive demand as will need for more adult education programs. Those working in ESL education earned mean annual wages of $49,590, according to May 2014 BLS data, while those in the top 10 percent earned as much as $81,990.


  1. Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers and Instructors, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes253011.htm
  2. Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/adult-literacy-and-ged-teachers.htm#tab-6

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