Frequently Asked Questions

Students can only start the TESOL Certificate program in the fall term, so the application deadline is March 15. 

What is the difference between the two certificates?

The TESOL Certificate for Higher Education focuses on teaching ESL/EFL in higher education contexts, in the United States and overseas.

The ESL Specialist program is designed to enable individuals with Pennsylvania Instructional I certificates to earn Pennsylvania ESL Endorsement.

Is this certificate program for both graduates and undergraduates?

Both certificates are post-baccalaureate certificate programs. Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate courses can be taken concurrently with a graduate degree program or as a stand-alone certificate after completion of a bachelor’s degree from Pitt or elsewhere. 

An undergraduate interested in this field can take some of the courses (e.g., LING 1000, LING 1738) and volunteer to teach in the campus conversation courses, but cannot earn the certificate.

Who typically earns the TESOL certificates?

Most of the students in the TESOL Certificate for Higher Education program add it to an MA in linguistics; others add it to master’s degrees in foreign languages or education, or other graduate degrees. 

Most of the students in the ESL Specialist Program are teachers in K–12 contexts who are seeking to earn an additional PA endorsement. 

For what employment is the TESOL Certificate for Higher Education useful?

Graduates of this program in the past years have gone on to teach English as a foreign language or train teachers in Albania, Cambodia, Cote d’Ivoire, France, Germany, Japan, Tonga (for the Peace Corps), and the United Arab Emirates; teach English as a second language (ESL) in New Zealand and the United Kingdom; and teach ESL in various parts of the United States. Typically in the United States, they teach adults in different settings: intensive English programs, adult literacy, and private language schools. Other graduates work in ESL testing for the Educational Testing Service and in ESL publishing. 

Can I take the certificate courses in the evening?

Most of the TESOL certificate courses are evening courses, but some may be daytime. 

How long does it take to complete the requirements?

These are part-time programs. The courses are not offered every term. The minimum time required to complete either certificate is two terms for the certificate only, but students can extend that to three terms if they complete the practicum during the summer term.

For the TESOL Certificate for Higher Education and ESL Specialist Endorsement, refer to the of suggested sequence of courses.

Do I need to have English as a second language (ESL) teaching experience before taking these courses? 

Preference is given to applicants who have studied abroad, worked with international students, and/or have any EFL/ESL teaching experience (including volunteer); however, it is not required. 

How can I learn more about TESOL as a career? 

For general information on TESOL as a career, go to International TESOL Association and look for the links under "Starting Your Career." There is lots of good information about specific programs, jobs, and much more. 

What is the cost of the TESOL Certificate program?

The cost of the program depends on whether you are taking courses part-time, full-time, or as part of a graduate program. The cost also depends on your residency (PA or Out-of-State).  

View University of Pittsburgh tuition rates and mandatory fees.

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