Catalog: The TESOL Certificate Program

The undergraduate TESOL certificate provides CU Boulder students with foundational knowledge and skills for English teaching while also incorporating the broader perspectives of culture, language use and language learning. Housed in the linguistics department, the 18-credit certificate is open to all interested students, and may be of particular relevance to students from social science, humanities, speech/language, foreign language, international affairs and communication programs or backgrounds. Recent graduates and others who hold a bachelor’s degree may enroll as Access students through Continuing Education.

The widespread role of English as an international lingua franca opens up many opportunities for trained English teachers globally. Increasingly, EFL (English as a foreign language) providers want to hire individuals with relevant training—not just those who are native or near-native speakers. In conjunction with their bachelor’s degrees, students completing the certificate will have the credentials to be able to tap into professional opportunities in the dynamic world of English language teaching–globally and domestically.

The program is focused on the teaching of English to young adults and adults; students with an interest in teaching younger children can apply relevant elective courses from education. Electives also include courses in anthropology, communication, foreign languages, and speech/language. A one-semester practicum experience involves teaching or tutoring with an English language service provider at CU or within the local community. 

Highlights of the 18-credit-hour Certificate:

  • LING-TESOL core of 3 courses (9 credit hours)
  • 3 electives (9 credit hours) in subjects related to language learning, language(s), communication, culture and society.

Changes to our TESOL Certificate Program (Fall 2020) 

As of Fall 2020, we are no longer offering the undergraduate TESOL Certificate. This will have no impact on current TESOL Certificate candidates. Individuals interested in pursuing teaching opportunities within the field of TESOL are encouraged to explore our new TESOL track (for Linguistics majors) or TESOL minor (for non-Linguistics majors). Learn more about each here. Each of these options will include a TESOL Certificate awarded through the Department of Linguistics. For more information about these options, please contact the TESOL Director Dr. Rai Farrelly. The Director will also advise students on their course plans. The Linguistics undergraduate academic advisor Dr. Allison Sedey can also assist students fitting courses into their degree plan. 

Certificate Completion

For those who were declared as TESOL Certificate candidates prior to Fall 2020, you may continue toward completion of the certificate. Note that earning the Certificate involves meeting the course requirements and receiving a grade of C or better in all Certificate courses. Enrollment is approved on the basis of an unofficial transcript, plan of study, and the information provided on the application form. To apply for certificate completion once you have satisfied all certificate requirements, you must fill out and submit the Certificate Completion Form. We will notify you of your completion status as soon as we have all of the necessary information provided through the completion form below. If you have successfully met all requirements, your participation in the certificate program will be noted on your official CU Boulder transcript.

If you are interested in converting your TESOL Certificate plan over to the TESOL track (for Linguistics majors) or the TESOL minor (for non-Linguistics majors), please contact Dr. Rai Farrelly or academic advisor Dr. Allison Sedey.

TESOL Certificate Curriculum Plan

18 credit hours (for a printable PDF of the certificate requirements, click here)

Three Core Linguistics Courses with the TESOL focus, including Practicum (9 credit hours)

  • LING 4630 (3 credits). Principles & Practices in TESOL
  • LING 4610 (3 credits). English Structure for TESOL
  • LING 4910 (3 credits). TESOL Practicum


  • LING 4630 had been listed as LING 3630 prior to Fall 2020.
  • LING 3630 was offered earlier as LING 3800: Open Topics: Introduction to TESOL. Students who took LING 3800 will be able to apply this course to the Certificate.
  • LING 4910 cannot be applied to either the Linguistics major or minor, however it is required for the new TESOL minor and TESOL track within the Linguistics major.

Three Elective Courses (9 credit hours)
Choose any three courses below from at least two subject areas. Only ONE course may be cross-listed with LING.


  • Students should be aware of prerequisites that may apply for upper level courses listed below.
  • Electives besides those listed below may be considered. Students can propose their alternative electives to the Certificate Academic Director for approval.

Language Learning/Teaching and Literacy

  • SLHS/LING 4560 - Language Development
  • EDUC 2625 - Teaching English as a Second Language
  • EDUC 4125 - Secondary World Language Methods
  • EDUC 4222 - Language Study for Educators 
  • EDUC 4425 – Introduction to Bilingual/Multilingual Education

Language, Culture, Society

  • ANTH 1170 - Exploring Culture and Gender through Film
  • ANTH 2100 - Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • ANTH 4735 - Contemporary Cuban Culture: Race, Gender and Power
  • ANTH/LING 4800 - Language and Culture
  • ARAB 1011 - Introduction to Arab and Islamic Civilizations
  • ARAB/WMST 3410 - Gender, Sexuality and Culture in the Modern Middle East
  • ASIA 3300 - Sex and Gender in Asian Film and Literature
  • CHIN 1012 - Introduction to Chinese Civilization
  • CHIN 2441 - Film and the Dynamics of Chinese Culture
  • COMM 2400 - Discourse, Culture & Identities
  • COMM 3410 - Intercultural Communication
  • FREN 3700 - French-American Cultural Differences
  • FRSI 1011 - Introduction to Persian Civilization
  • GRMN 1601 - Germany Today
  • GRMN 3520 - Open Topics in the Cultural Context (taught in German)
  • GRMN 3514 - German Film & Society After 1989
  • HIND 1011 - Introduction to South Asian Civilizations
  • ITAL 1500 - That's Amore: An Introduction to Italian Culture
  • ITAL 4030 - Contemporary Italian Culture, Politics, and the Media
  • ITAL 4290 - Italian Culture Through Cinema
  • ITAL 4300 - Multiculturalism in Italy
  • JPNS 1012 - Introduction to Japanese Civilization
  • JPNS 2441 - Japanese Culture through Film and Anime
  • JPNS 3851 - Studies in Japanese Popular Culture
  • KREN 1011 - Introduction to Korean Civilization
  • KREN 2441 - Film and Korean Culture
  • KREN 3851 - Studies in Korean Popular Culture
  • PORT 2800 - Brazil: Past and Present 
  • PORT 3220 - Latin American Culture: Spanish America and Brazil
  • RUSS 2221 - Introduction to Modern Russian Culture
  • RUSS 3701 - Slavic Folk Culture: Ideals and Values in the Contemporary World
  • SOCY 4132 - Gender, Islam and Modernity
  • SPAN 3200 - Spanish Culture
  • SPAN 3220 - Latin American Culture: Spanish America and Brazil
  • WGST 2600 - Gender, Race, and Class in a Global Context
  • WGST 3410 - Gender, Sexuality and Culture in the Modern Middle East
  • WGST 4471 - Women in 20th-21st Century Russian Culture

Career Potential with a TESOL Certificate

Individuals with a TESOL Certificate 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 such as: 

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