Graduate Certificate in TESOL

The graduate certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) is a 15 credit (5 course) post baccalaureate program. It is designed for individuals who wish to gain, or continue to develop, the professional knowledge, skills and dispositions that qualify them to teach learners of English as an additional language in the U.S. and/or abroad. This graduate certificate prepares teacher candidates to teach young learners, adolescents and adults in a number of contexts, domestic and abroad, including community-based programs, private language institutes, intensive English programs, and after school programs.

Course work prepares students with foundational knowledge in the structure of the English language, including the grammar, phonological systems, and concepts related to sociopragmatics, semantics, and morphology. Required Linguistics (TESOL) courses prepare students to design activities and lesson plans that target specific learning objectives fostering the development of English language learners’ macro- and micro-language skills (macro: listening, speaking, reading, writing; micro: fluency, pronunciation, vocabulary, comprehension). Field placements (praxis) allow for students to develop their identities as reflective practitioners as they make connections between theory and classroom practice.

Highlights of the 15-credit-hour Graduate Certificate:

  • LING -TESOL core of 3 courses (9 credit hours)
  • EDUC core of 1 course (3 credit hours)
  • 1 elective (3 credit hours) in subjects related to language learning, language teaching, and communication.

MA in Linguistics with TESOL Emphasis

The MA in Linguistics encompasses15 required credits and 15 elective credits. All MA students must complete 30 credits, including the following five required courses: LING 5030: Linguistic Phonetics, LING 5410: Phonology, LING 5420: Morphology and Syntax, LING 5430: Semantics and Pragmatics, and LING 5570: Introduction to Diachronic Linguistics.  Required courses count for 15 credits, while electives count for the remaining 15. 

Electives for the MA in Linguistics can be satisfied through the Graduate Certificate in TESOL with the following required courses: LING 5630: Principles & Practices in TESOL, LING 5610: English Structure for TESOL, LING 5620: Teaching Second Language (L2) Oral Skills, and EDUC 5615: Second Language Acquisition Theory plus one 3-credit elective from the list below. Two electives for the MA may be taken from outside the Department of Linguistics. 

This provides a pathway for a graduate degree in Linguistics with a TESOL emphasis requiring no additional courses or time. 

Application and Admission

Graduate Certificate in TESOL Application Form

Please complete the above-linked Graduate TESOL Certificate application form. This is an in-house form that we use to admit and track students in the program. Interested post-baccalaureate degree and non-degree students students may contact the Academic Program Director Dr. Rai Farrelly with any questions. The Director will also advise students on their course plans and successful Certificate completion. Note that earning the Certificate involves meeting the course requirements and receiving a grade of B- or better in all Certificate courses. Once we confirm that you have completed the requirements for the Graduate TESOL Certificate, we will award the certificate. It will post to your transcript and you will receive a certificate in the mail. 

*Note: Non-matriculated students will need to enroll through Continuing Education (CE) to acquire a student ID and an Identikey, which provides access to course enrollment, your student email account, your tuition bill, and more. Learn more about enrollment options for graduate certificate programs at the bottom of this page. 

Graduate Certificate in TESOL Curriculum Plan

15 credit hours 

Three Required Linguistics Courses with a TESOL focus (9 credit hours)

  • LING 5630 (3 credits). Principles & Practices in TESOL (Maymester or Fall)
  • LING 5610 (3 credits). English Structure for TESOL (Spring)
  • LING 5620 (3 credits). Teaching Second Language (L2) Oral Skills (Fall)

One Required Education Course (3 credit hours)

  • EDUC 5615 (3 credits). Second Language Acquisition Theory (Fall)

One Elective Course (3 credit hours) 
Choose any one course from the following:

  • COMM 6445 (3 credits). Intercultural Communication
  • EDUC 5425 (3 credits). Introduction to Bilingual/Multicultural Education
  • EDUC 5445 (3 credits). Curriculum for Bilingual/Multicultural Education
  • EDUC 5455 (3 credits). Literacy for Linguistically Diverse Learners
  • LING 5910 (3 credits). TESOL Practicum (Spring)

Complete the Graduate Certificate in One Year

One Possible Sequence

(Maymester)* Fall Spring

LING 5630: SLA & TESOL Principles and Practices

*Not always offered

LING 5620: Teaching L2 Oral Skills

EDUC 5615: Second Language Acquisition Theory

LING 5610:  Pedagogical Grammar

Elective, e.g., LING 5910: TESOL Practicum


(When LING 5630 is not offered in Maymester)

LING 5630 - SLA & TESOL Principles and Practices

LING 5620 - Teaching L2 Oral Skills

EDUC 5615 - Second Language Acquisition (SLA) Theory

LING 5610 - Pedagogical Grammar 

Elective; e.g., LING 5910: TESOL Practicum


Career Potential with a Graduate Certificate in TESOL 

Individuals with a Graduate Certificate in TESOL are eligible to teach English as an additional language in a number of settings nationally and internationally. Opportunities include working for private and non-profit language programs in the U.S., tutoring learners face-to-face or online, and working as paraeducators in local schools. Internationally, there are many wonderful opportunities to combine a love of teaching with an interest in travel and living abroad. TESOL certificate holders will be attractive candidates for various English language teaching positions around the world with programs such as: 

Visit these online job boards for TESOL to see what other teaching opportunities are available:

TESOL Program director Rai Farrelly also created this Padlet with a host of resources related to earning a career in TESOL. 

In addition, the courses taken for the Graduate Certificate in TESOL are likely to be accepted for transfer into related graduate degree programs. Be sure to contact prorgram administrators and inquire about their policies related to limits on graduate transfer credits.

*Note: This graduate certificate does not count toward a PreK-12 teaching license or Colorado's Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Education endorsment, which is required to teach English as an additional language in U.S.-based elemntary, middle and high schools. To learn more about Teacher Licensure in the School of Education at CU Boulder, click here. To learn more about the CLD endorsment, click here.

Enrollment in Professional Graduate Certificate Programs

Option A: Standalone (Nondegree) Certificate Students

This option is for students who wish to complete a professional certificate or who wish to enroll in classes that are restricted to certificate students. Standalone Certificate students can enroll in classes shortly after matriculated students' enrollment window opens. 

Application and Enrollment

  1. Complete and submit the Online Enrollment Application. You will receive an email with your student ID number and instructions on how to enroll.
  2. After you have received your student ID, complete and submit the Graduate Certificate in TESOL application form. A CU email and student ID are required for the application. The program will notify you of your admittance.
  3. Register for classes via the student Buff Portal. As a professional certificate student, you may register for classes when the enrollment period begins for each semester (April for Fall term, October for Spring term, March for Summer term).


Tuition Rates for Standalone Certificate Students

Please note that there may be differences in tuition between Standalone Certificate rates and nondegree (ACCESS or Summer Session) rates.

Option B: Nondegree Students Not Officially Admitted into a Certificate Program

If you select this option, you will remain a nondegree student and register through Continuing Education’s ACCESS program (Fall/Spring term) or Summer Session (Summer term). Nondegree students registering through the ACCESS program may be eligible for a scholarship. If you wish to (1) declare the Graduate Certificate in TESOL after completing some courses as a nondegree student or (2) get the Certificate posted on a CU transcript once you have fulfilled all requirements, please email your request to the Program Director, Rai Farrelly ( Please include your student ID number. Please note that nondegree students enrolled through the ACCESS program must wait to register for classes until the Friday before the first week of classes. Enrolling as a Standalone Certificate student (Option A) minimizes the concern about gaining access to a course. 

Application and Enrollment

  1. Complete and submit the Online Enrollment Application. You will receive an email with your student ID number and instructions on how to enroll.
  2. Register for classes via the student Buff Portal. Students must wait until the Friday before classes begin each semester to enroll through ACCESS.


Tuition Rates for Nondegree Students: ACCESS (Fall & Spring Term)
Tuition Rates for Nondegree Students: Summer Session

Please note that there may be differences in tuition between nondegree (ACCESS or Summer Session) rates and Standalone Certificate rates.