English is a global language, a symbol of Western culture, ideals, creativity, and prosperity. It is a commodity in such high demand worldwide that nearly any speaker of English can sell this commodity with the right credential, the most common of which is the Certificate in TESL.

Note: The content, length, and instructors for a certificate are not regulated in the field of Teaching English as a second or foreign language. For this reason, certificates are distinguished by the institution awarding them and by the number of contact hours involved in earning the certificate. The Certificate in TESL from the Department of Linguistics at UIUC is a 300 contact-hour credential. See FAQs for more detail. Those wishing to teach ESL in a U.S. public school setting should see ESL Endorsement.

The following information describes the On Campus Certificate in TESL offered by the oldest TESL MA program in the United States and presented by TESL specialists of international stature. This fully-online Certificate in TESL for graduate students provides a solid foundation for teaching English as a second or foreign language in the U.S. or abroad.

If your questions are not adequately addressed here, the following Frequently Asked Questions may help. If questions still remain, please contact Randall Sadler, Program Director, at


The Certificate consists of six courses, three of which are required, and three of which are elective, chosen from a set of options. Except for the introduction to linguistics, only the courses listed below satisfy course requirements; no equivalence with other courses will be considered. Students must maintain a B average or better (3.00 on a 4.00 scale) for all UIUC courses in order to receive the Certificate.


Introduction to Linguistics:
( LING 400: Introduction to Linguistics or EIL 486 Linguistics for Language Teachers)

LING 489 Theoretical Foundations of SLA (Second Language Acquisition)

EIL 411 Introduction to TESL Methodology


EIL 422 Engl Grammar for ESL Teachers

EIL 445 Second Lang Reading & Writing

LING 450 Introduction to Sociolinguistics

EIL 460 Principles of Language Testing

EIL 487 Technology for Language Teaching

EIL 488 English Phonology & Morphology for TESL 


Online course are either eight weeks long or sixteen weeks long. During the summer, online courses are eight weeks long, beginning in mid-June. In the fall and spring, online courses are sixteen weeks long--in the fall, beginning in August, and in the spring, beginning in January. For information about when each course is offered, please see this listing.

The Certificate requires 20-24 hours of credit; each course provides 4 hours of graduate credit. Students are encouraged to complete an introduction to linguistics course before entering the Certificate program to satisfy the first requirement above. A transcript showing the course (completed within five years of starting the Certificate) and a syllabus of the course must be submitted at the time of application. If the course is accepted, then five courses (20 credit hours) remain to be completed. If an introduction to linguistics has not been completed before beginning the Certificate, then the candidate may use EIL 486 - Linguistics for Language Teachers, to satisfy this requirement.

Depending on the availability of courses, requirements for the Certificate in TESL can be completed in as little as one year or as long as five years.

A graduate student accepted into the MATESL degree program in the Department of Linguistics at UIUC may apply courses completed as part of the Certificate (and not used for another degree) to meet course requirements for the MATESL degree. Contact the Program Director for details.


Application documents should be uploaded to the online application form for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Linguistics’ Online Certificate in TESL Non-Degree Program, There is a $15 application fee which can be paid with a charge card.

Application documents should include: 
1.       Statement of Purpose
2.       Resume
3.       Three letters of recommendation
4.       Baccalaureate degree – please upload transcript and diploma with English translations where applicable
5.       For English language learners, a TOEFL iBT score report released to institution code #1836, dept. #00, with a total score of 100 or higher

An applicant who is an English language learner will be contacted in order to arrange a Skype interview with the Admissions Committee as the last step in the admissions process.

For fall courses, the deadline for full consideration is July 1. For spring courses, the deadline for full consideration is November 1. For Summer 2 courses, the deadline for full consideration is April 15. We will continue to accept applications until courses are filled.


The projected availability of online Certificate in TESL courses can be found on Online Courses..

Students accepted into the Certificate in TESL program must register through the Enterprise system as UIUC graduate students and sign up for the 10KS0299NDU section of each course. Detailed registration information is provided upon acceptance.

Financial aid from the Department of Linguistics is not available.


Certificate candidates are awarded a Certificate from the Department of Linguistics, signed by the Department Head and the Program Director. Because Certificates are the purview of Colleges rather than the university, they are not "transcriptable."  This means that Certificates do not show up on transcripts.  Of course, the courses taken do appear on the transcript.  In addition, the Certificate and the accompanying letter signed by the Program Director show the number of hours the candidate spent and also the specific courses taken.  The letter also describes the extent of materials covered in those courses. 

To receive the Certificate, the candidate must submit the following to the Program Director (contact information below):

a. An official UIUC transcript showing completion of all requirements for the Certificate in TESL
b. E-mail address
c. Phone number
d. Name as the candidate wishes it to appear on the Certificate 
e. Address to which the Certificate and letter of completion will be mailed


See FAQs


Randall Sadler , Ph.D. 
Program Director 
Department of Linguistics
3054 Literatures, Cultures & Linguistics
707 South Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 244-2734