MA in Teaching English as a Second Language (MATESL)

Banner image for English as and International Language with double globes

The MATESL degree is intended to prepare candidates to be professional leaders in the many roles that teachers play: Students attending a Lectureclassroom instructor, peer coordinator, teacher preparation, curriculum and materials developer, program administrator, etc. To this end, the curriculum is designed to provide candidates with an understanding of the structure of the English language, a familiarity with the dominant theories of language learning/teaching, insights into how language proficiency is best developed in different individuals, and practical approaches and experiences that are central to the development of candidates as teachers of English as an international language.

Why Choose Illinois MATESL?

While the general orientation of instruction is toward practical matters, courses also have a significant theoretical component and give attention to relevant research. Students and faculty share the responsibility to integrate theory and practice as effectively as possible. Candidates can expect to become familiar with publications in the field and to be stimulated to keep abreast of recent professional literature, especially discussions concerning teaching methodologies, review of teaching materials, and other matters of pedagogical concern.

General Degree Requirements

The program of study leading to the MATESL degree requires candidates to complete a minimum of 40 hours with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or higher (B or better). Twelve of the forty hours must be taken from 500-level courses (that is, graduate only). These forty hours may include up to eight hours of thesis credit (EIL 599).

Applicants must satisfy prerequisites for entry into the program. All applicants for admission to the MATESL Program must have taken a college level introduction to linguistics and must have at least two years of a foreign language. In addition, applicants must have also taken a basic course in language teaching methods and materials. These prerequisites may be satisfied by courses taken after becoming a student at the university, if necessary; however, credit for courses taken to satisfy curriculum prerequisites does not count toward the 40 hours necessary for the MATESL degree itself.

EIL Courses

See here for EIL Courses.

How to Apply

Follow this link to the Application Page

Financial Aid

Nearly all of the UIUC MATESL students are the beneficiaries of some form of financial aid for at least part of the time they spend working on their degree. Most degree candidates with native or native-like competence in English receive appointments as graduate assistants teaching English in the ESL Service Courses or in the Intensive English Institute  for at least two academic years. In addition, there are a limited number of library and laboratory assistantships open to MATESL students; the assistantships offered nonnative English speakers require proof of near-native English speaking ability. If you are a non-native applicant for a teaching job in ESL, you must present a TOEFL Speaking Score (or an equivalent score in IELTS) of 26 (or greater) for full consideration. 

The most common form of Financial Aid for the MATESL program is in the form of a 33% Teaching Assistantship.  This means that students with the TA position will teach one section of ESL per semester (approximately 3 hours of teaching per week), with additional hours devoted to lesson preparation, grading, office hours, meetings, etc.  All Assistantships of at least 25% include a full waiver of the university tuition cost and almost all student fees.  They also include a monthly salary. 

There is a separate financial aid application process for each academic term. Fall and Summer applications are processed together, usually in March or April of each year. Spring applications are processed typically on October or November of the previous year. Please check back at this webpage from time to time, to see if new financial aid forms are posted for a forthcoming semester.

All newly admitted MATESL students are automatically considered for financial aid for their first semester of study. There is no separate financial aid application system as part of the admission application. After arrival, all MATESL students must re-apply for financial aid each semester, regardless of any guarantee of longer-term awards (e.g., in the admission letter). This re-application allows MATESL students to indicate if they wish to teach a different class.

The Department welcomes applicants from other campus degree programs.

Comprehensive Examination

The Illinois MATESL degree requires the completion of either a Master's Thesis or Comprehensive Examinations in order to complete the degree.  See here for Comprehensive Examination details.

MATESL Thesis Option

For information pertaining to the MATESL Graduate Program Thesis Option, please refer to the links below:

Specialization in Writing Studies

Within the pedagogical and research tracks, candidates may choose to use their elective units to develop a Specialization in Writing Studies (SWS), an option approved jointly by Linguistics and the Center for Writing Studies (CWS). The requirements for such a specialization are the following:

Course Requirements

  1. ENGL 505/C&I 563 Writing Studies I
  2. ENGL 506/C&I 564 Writing Studies II
  3. EIL 445 Second Lang Reading and Writing

Research/Elective Requirements

  1. Candidates who qualify for and choose to write a master's thesis under MATESL guidelines (See Master's Thesis document)
    • must include on their thesis committee, as thesis director, a MATESL faculty member affiliated with CWS;
    • must focus the thesis on a topic related to pedagogy, administrative problems, or research on a writing-related topic in the context of second language research. Students may develop and test instructional materials, design and evaluate an administrative procedure or program, or design and conduct a research project;
    • must prepare a formal proposal describing the research, to be submitted to a MATESL faculty member affiliated with CWS for approval at least six weeks prior to the start of the project;
    • must deposit the Master’s Thesis in the Writing Studies Office within two weeks of completion; and
    • must complete all requirements stated in the Master's Thesis document
  2. Candidates who do not write a master's thesis may choose one of the following two options:

    Option A: take one additional non-MATESL course in Writing Studies, chosen from the list approved by CWS and DEIL for the specialization in Writing Studies (see page 2 for this list)

    Option B: conduct a Master’s Project by completing a four-hour EIL 591 independent study under the direction of a MATESL faculty member affiliated with CWS. The EIL 591 independent study must result in a Master’s Project that, when completed, would be deposited in the Writing Studies Office within two weeks of its completion. The Master's Project must be related to pedagogy, administrative problems, or research on a writing-related topic in the context of second language research. Students may develop and test instructional materials, design and evaluate an administrative procedure or program, or design and conduct a research project.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)