Graduate Certificate/M.A.T in Teaching English as a Second Language

Teacher working with students in classroomApply Now!

Experts estimate there are currently more than 1 billion people learning English worldwide. In the United States alone, around one in ten public school students is learning to speak English. If you want to develop the knowledge and skills to work with English learners (ELs) and to become a teacher advocate for this community, the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) program is the right path for you.

Under our new, streamlined format, students earning the Graduate Certificate take 18 credit hours to earn the “A” license in English as a Second Language in North Carolina (ESL). Coursework includes linguistics, teaching methods, assessment, language acquisition and planning for K-12 instruction.

Graduate Certificate Program Planning Sheet

After the completing the graduate certificate, students have the option to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language by taking 12 additional hours, which grants the “M” license after two years of teaching experience.

Why choose our program?

Flexible Study

Classes are offered 100% online, courses are self-paced and/or self-directed, and students can choose to do the program on a full-time basis or a part-time basis. The program culiminates with a semester of student teaching, which current teachers may complete in their own classrooms.

Cost Effective

Complete our newly approved graduate certificate at a reduced Distance Education rate per semester. Learn more about scholarship opportunities and financial aid here.

Licensure to teach ESL K-12 and beyond

The graduate certificate will allow candidates to obtain a NC state teaching license in ESL, K-12.

Emphasis on Equity, Advocacy and Social Justice

The program is built on social justice principles, with equity and advocacy at the center. The program draws on the most current research in linguistics, second language acquisition, curriculum design, and teaching methodologies.

Academic Excellence

UNC Charlotte has a strong reputation for academic excellence and is a leader in the field of TESOL/ TESL education.

TESL Alumna Named Dean of Greensboro College of Humanities

Career Options

Teaching English as a second language is a high-demand area that continues to experience growth in schools across the country. ESL is also identified as a high needs area in North Carolina as well as many other states. Currently, teacher candidates who enter programs in these high needs areas may qualify for loan forgiveness programs that can offset costs of tuition. Graduates may pursue careers in a number of areas such as:

  • Teachers in public or private K-12 schools
  • Teachers in private language schools
  • ESL instructors in English language training institutes
  • Individual tutors in schools and homes
  • Positions with multinational companies
  • Teachers of ESL abroad in countries such as China, Japan, and Korea
  • Instructors at non-profit organizations that serve immigrants and refugees
  • Consultants within federal and state government agencies



The Office of Teacher Education Advising and Licensure (TEAL) is an information and student success resource for current and potential teacher candidates.

The Center for Graduate Life provides the support and sense of community students need to meet the opportunities they will face throughout their graduate experience.

The University Career Center provides services, programs, and support for students and alumni. Services include such options as an Education Career Fair held each spring semester, individual appointments with career advisors and the Hire-A-Niner online job and internship database.

Student Success Stories

One of our outstanding graduates is Emily Francis, an immigrant from Guatemala. She was recently highlighted on the Ellen DeGeneres Show for her determination to complete her education and her drive to give back to the community. Emily is making a huge impact on children at Irvine Elementary School in Concord, North Carolina where she was honored as Teacher of Year for Cabarrus County. Click here to hear Emily’s inspiring story.

Michelle Plaisance completed our program in 2010 and is now the Program Director of the Master of Arts in the TESOL program at Greensboro College. She also completed her Ph.D. from UNC Charlotte. Click here to see her most recent accomplishment.

Faculty Accomplishments

Our faculty research efforts have garnered numerous grants to enhance the training of our students and provide services to the immigrant population. They are also passionate about teaching, their academic disciplines and their students. Faculty members also use their research and community service experience to bring new instructional methods and innovative educational trends into the classroom. Faculty members have received awards from the UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education for Excellence in Research, Excellence in Teaching, Excellence in Diversity and for their Sustained Service to Public Schools.

Are you ready to make a difference in the lives English learners? If so, click here to learn more about graduate student financial aid and the graduate application process.

For more information on the program please contact:

Dr. Joan Lachance

Director of the Teaching English as a Second Language Graduate Certificate Program