Our dedication to Racial Equality and Social Justice (RESJ) spans decades. Learn more about our RESJ Initiative

time exposed photo of headlights in urban center

English as a Second Language

  • Credits for Licensure:
    (4-5 terms)
  • Credits:
  • Degree:
    Master of Education
  • Program Approved:
    Massachusetts Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education

Program Description

Learn to teach English as a second language (ESL), in this flexible, affordable graduate program designed for working professionals. The ESL master’s degree program meets all state regulations for licensing of Teachers of English as a Second Language, with the Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Endorsement. The program is approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Cambridge College English as a Second Language Master’s Degree Program Highlights

English learners are one of the fastest growing groups of students in the United States. The master’s degree in teaching English as a second language prepares you for careers in this high-demand field, offering benefits such as:

  • Career-focused learning. Courses present nationally recognized research-based models for first and second language learning, address curriculum mandates, and explore the developmental characteristics of students in grades 5-12 and adult levels.
  • Real-world skill development. The English as a Second Language master’s degree program includes a practicum and seminar guided and evaluated by a licensed/certified ESL teacher in the classroom and a Cambridge College ESL supervisor.
  • Diverse experiences. At Cambridge College, you’ll work with other adult learners from all over the world, gaining diverse viewpoints and enriching your educational experience in the process. In fact, we were recently ranked among the Most Ethnically Diverse Colleges in America by Best College Reviews.
  • Flexible schedules that fit your life. Offering convenient day, evening, weekend, and online class options designed for adult learners, Cambridge College provides the flexibility you need to complete your graduate degree while balancing work and family time.
  • Exceptional value. Cambridge College is one of the most affordable four-year private nonprofit colleges in the United States, giving you greater value for your education. In addition to providing low tuition, we offer a wide range of scholarships and other financial aid opportunities.
  • Great location. All Cambridge College classroom locations are close to major highways and public transportation, and/or provide free parking for students throughout the year.

According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, about 9 percent of all public school students in the United States are English language learners. By the year 2025, it’s projected that nearly one out of every four public school students will learn English as a second language.

English as a Second Language Learning Outcomes

Using research-based approaches and best practices, graduates of the ESL master’s degree will be ready to apply effective teaching strategies that support the linguistic and academic development of students for whom English is a second language. Topics covered include:

  • Language acquisition and literacy development.
  • First and second language differences for reading instruction.
  • Practices for developing listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills at different proficiency levels.
  • English phonemic awareness for students not literate in their first language.
  • Effect of first language literacy on second language learning.
  • The role of community, families, and schools in ESL education.

Careers for English as a Second Language Teachers

Graduates of the 5-12 licensure program are able to teach English as a second language in a variety of educational settings, such as:

  • Public, private, and charter schools
  • Educational collaboratives
  • Community programs

Licensure graduates are also eligible for the Massachusetts SEI Teacher Endorsement.

Non-licensure master’s degree graduates are able to provide ESL support and tutoring in schools, and to teach or tutor ESL in other settings including:

  • Higher education intensive ESL
  • Other countries
  • Immigrant support programs
  • Workplace ESL

Example English as a Second Language Courses

In this program, you’ll learn how to teach English as a second language with classes such as:

  • Linguistics and Language Variations
  • Teaching Content to ESL Learners
  • Technology for Linguistically Diverse Classrooms
  • ESL Practicum

Download the English as a Second Language master’s degree program sheet.

English as a Second Language Scholarships and Financial Aid

You may qualify for grants, scholarships, loans, and other types of financial assistance to help pay for your master’s in teaching English as a second language. Learn more about applying for financial aid at Cambridge College.

Many companies also offer tuition assistance programs that can help to pay for education. Find information about getting your company to help.

Related Programs at Cambridge College

If you’re still exploring degree options, you might be interested in learning more about these programs at Cambridge College:


Please note: This program is currently non-licensure only at Cambridge College locations outside of Massachusetts

ESL Courses
Program Portfolio Integration
EED 735

Students are required to enroll in this 0-credit course during the first semester of their program experience. Enrollment in this 0-credit course activates student access to the Tevera portfolio which facilities the tracking and storage of essential documents required for program completion.

Introduction to Education for English Learners
ESL 500 1 credit(s)

This course provides the new student with an initial introduction to the academic, linguistic, and cultural world of English learners. Building on the student's prior knowledge, this course will enable the student to read, observe and interact with English learners in academic settings, analyze what they see, and discuss issues that provide a foundation for understanding the academic and pedagogy content of future courses.

Linguistics and Language Variations
ESL 610 3 credit(s)
Participants are introduced to language and linguistics (system, functions, registers, variation, change). They consider language structure (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse, social/academic language, registers, writing conventions). They discuss language acquisition and literacy: significant theories/practices for English first-language reading skills and comprehension at different grade levels, and the relevance of linguistic differences between first and second language for reading instruction in English. They understand socio-cultural and socio-emotional considerations in teaching ESL: regional, socioeconomic, and developmental factors influencing language variation and bilingualism/multilingualism
Methods and Materials for English as a Second Language
ESL 615 3 credit(s)
In this introductory course, participants reinforce and apply knowledge of structure and nature of language (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse, social/academic language, registers, writing conventions). They discuss and model instructional approaches and best practices for teaching ESL (instructional foundations, theories and sheltered strategies for developing English language skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing for English language learners in bilingual/multilingual classes from primary grads on and research-based practices for English language development.
Teaching Reading and Writing to ESL Students
ESL 620 3 credit(s)
Participants apply understanding of language and linguistics, reinforce knowledge of language acquisition and literacy: theories/practices to develop reading skills/comprehension in English as a first language at different educational levels; linguistic differences between first/second language for English reading instruction; differences in initial instruction for students not literate in their first language; first language literacy effects on second language literacy; formal/informal measures for assessing skill development with ESL learners; developing listening/speaking/reading/writing vocabulary; approaches for developing writing skills and use of writing tools; writing process and formal writing elements; English oral/aural fluency; social/academic English and content language; metalinguistic skills and vocabulary appropriate to cognitive, academic, and language proficiency levels.
Technology for Linguistically Diverse Classrooms
ESL 625 3 credit(s)
Participants develop knowledge of language and linguistics functions and registers of language, discourse varieties, aspects of social/academic language, rhetorical registers, and writing conventions. They reinforce knowledge of practices for development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing vocabulary, approaches for developing writing skills and use of writing tools. They reinforce knowledge of social/academic English and academic language for content areas. They apply knowledge of planning/implementing standards-based ESL and content instruction. They develop knowledge of instruction, assessments, resources, research, and advances in the field of ESL.
Equitable Assessment for ESL Learners
ESL 630 3 credit(s)
Assessment of English Language Learners (ELLs) is affected by federal/state regulations, including state-wide adoption of the WIDA ACCESS Test for ELLs. Course participants will understand laws and issues pertinent to the education of ELLs, and user of tests, performance tasks and self-assessments for identification, placement, and reclassification of ELLs. They will learn to interpret ACCESS results, consider the effects of socio-cultural, psychological, political, and individual learning variables, and apply these to design differentiated assessment measures that enable ELLs to use academic language in demonstrating content knowledge and English proficiency. Participants will have the opportunity to observe and interact with ESL students in field-based classroom situations.
Second Language Acquisition and Culture
ESL 631 3 credit(s)
Participants in this introductory course develop knowledge of language and linguistics: system, functions, registers, variations, changes. They discuss language acquisition theory/research; cultural/linguistic differences affecting reading instruction; ESL socio-cultural, socio-economic, socio-emotional, and developmental factors influencing bilingualism/multilingualism; cultural intersection with teaching and learning; cultural/racial/ethnic/linguistic identity; inter-cultural communication, role of community, families, and schools in ELL education. They apply theoretical, political, historical foundations of education for ELLs, and strategies for school collaboration, family outreach, and community.
Sheltered Instruction and Assessment
ESL 635 3 credit(s)
This course is designed for teachers and administrators experiencing the challenge of meeting the academic needs of multilevel, diverse classrooms PreK-12 that require sheltered instruction techniques and state mandated assessment instruments for English language learners (ELLs). This course will provide participants with multiple opportunities to learn and apply sheltering content instruction strategies to enable ELLs to meet grade level academic standards by utilizing the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) as demonstrated in national research on best practices for effective instruction. Pre-practicum hours of directed field-based training required.
Identification and Instruction of ESL Learners with Disabilities
ESL 640 3 credit(s)
This course will provide a framework for developing a comprehensive system for the assessment and instruction of ESL learners preK-12 with disabilities and/or limited or interrupted formal schooling. Participants will gain an understanding of the second language acquisition process, literacy development in the second language, culture, alternative assessment measures, and appropriate instructional methodology for ESL learners with disabilities and/or ESL learners with limited or interrupted formal schooling. They will identify key issues in the assessment and instruction of ESL learners with disabilities and/or limited or interrupted formal schooling, including under-representation and over-representation in special education, appropriate assessment measures, and legal responsibilities. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss the use of alternative assessment measures for distinguishing between disability, literacy development, and developmental process of second language learning. They will also develop appropriate second language instruction for ELLs with disabilities and/or limited formal schooling.
Teaching Content to ESL Learners
ESL 650 3 credit(s)
This course provides educators working with second language learners a theoretical and practical framework for integrating academic language development into content area instruction in grades preK-12. Students will be presented with an overview of instructional concepts and approaches that recognize the role that language plays as the major medium of instruction and learning including language across the curriculum, CALLA (cognitive academic language learning approach), process writing, cooperative learning and cognitive instruction. Participants will have guided practice in using and applying effective teaching strategies that support the linguistic and academic development of ESL learners within the context of the content area classroom. They will learn how to plan and deliver instruction to help ESL learners understand academic content, develop academic language, increase higher order thinking skills, and strategically apply learning strategies.
Practicum Prerequisites
  • Pass all teacher tests required by Massachusetts for this license: Communication & Literacy and English as a Second Language (MTEL). Take English as a Second Language test (MTEL) in Spring term.
  • Pass all required courses.
  • Submit Practicum Application and Practicum Placement Approval form.
  • Pre-Practicum — Successfully complete program-specific hours in diverse settings (0 credit)
  • EDU704    Practicum Readiness (1 credit)
  • Submit Practicum Application and Practicum Placement Approval Form.

Guided and evaluated by a licensed/certified ESL teacher in the classroom and a Cambridge College ESL supervisor. Practicum locations are subject to ESE regulations and must be discussed with the program chair and approved by the pre-practicum/practicum coordinator.

Practicum Readiness
EDU 704 1 credit(s)

This course is specifically designed to determine readiness for the practicum. It will assist the teacher candidate to develop his/her skills to be ready to assume the role of student teacher from the first day of practicum. Students will understand the requirements of CAP by engaging in and completing the forms for each of the "essentials" and completing their own goals. All of the Tevera components, other than the practicum documents, will be completed. MTELs will be completed. Those having difficulty with the MTELs will be directed for support. Fieldwork assignments will be required.

Practicum & Seminar

Guided and evaluated by a licensed/certified ESL teacher in the classroom and a Cambridge College ESL program supervisor. Practicum locations are subject to DESE regulations and must be discussed with the program chair and approved by the pre-practicum/practicum coordinator.

ESL Practicum 5-12
ESL 794B 2 credit(s)
The practicum is a supervised field experience in which teacher candidates demonstrate proficiency in the Professional Standards for Teachers. The program supervisor and the supervising practitioner collaborate to help the candidate complete the minimum 300 hours, with a minimum of 100 hours of full teaching responsibility, at the practicum site. The practicum student is supported by the Practicum Seminar, ESL791, which is taken concurrently with this course. Each teacher candidate is assigned a supervisory team. Assessment follows the mandated Candidate Assessment of Performance (CAP) that includes a minimum of two announced and two unannounced observations, a mid-way formative assessment and a culminating summative assessment. An application is required.
ESL Practicum Seminar
ESL 791 2 credit(s)
The seminar for classroom experience supports students' growth as they assume the teaching role. It is the setting for students to interpret their field-based experiences and transform them into skills, knowledge constructs, attitudes and values. The seminar provides a cohort/support for students to address problems and find solutions, while utilizing current academic research and practices. They master understanding and practice of their state's curriculum frameworks and become familiar with the current reforms and changes in state regulations on educator licensure.

Program Chair

Core Faculty

Senior Instructor



  • Admission Test:

    No standardized graduate school tests required for admission into non-licensure programs

  • Admissions Office:
  • Application Form:
  • Application Fee:
    $50 ($100 for international students)

Program Requirements

This program accepts students for the Fall term. Although the School of Education accepts applications on a rolling basis, program applications will not be accepted for the Fall in the four weeks prior to the start of the Fall term.

Health Requirements for Massachusetts Students 

The Massachusetts Health Department and Cambridge College require the following of students in Massachusetts:

Immunizations – All students in Massachusetts are required to get certain immunizations before you can register for your first term. See form

Health Insurance – In Massachusetts, undergraduate students taking nine or more credits/term and graduate students taking six or more credits/term must enroll in the College’s health insurance plan. Students who have insurance with comparable coverage may request a waiver. See information and enroll or waive.


School Requirements

International Students 

International students need to provide supplemental documentation:

  • Official demonstration of English language proficiency
  • Supplemental documentation for issuance of I-20
  • International transcripts, evaluated by an accepted evaluation service

Transfer Credit 

Please complete the transfer credit request form if you wish to have prior course work evaluated for transfer. Learn more about transferring credits.



  • Credits for Licensure:
  • Credits:
  • Cost per credit hour:
  • Application Fee:
    $50 ($100 for international students)
  • Health Insurance Fee:
    $3,940 - Required for Massachusetts students only. See waiver details on Tuition & Fees page.)
  • Internship/Practicum Fee:

Note: Rates are as of July, 2022, and are subject to change without notice. Rates apply to all students, unless otherwise noted.

Financial Aid

Cambridge College offers financial aid to students in our degree programs who are enrolled at least half time. Undergraduate students must be enrolled in at least 6 credits each term. Graduate and doctoral students must be enrolled in at least 4 credits each term. Learn more

Grants, Scholarships and Loans

Cambridge College welcomes the opportunity to support your efforts to pay for college.  Federal, state and local resources in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study, including Cambridge College Scholarships, are available to help defray the cost of tuition. Learn more

Getting Your Company to Help

Many companies have tuition assistance programs, designed to help their employees with their professional development. Learn more

Take the Next Step Toward Your Master's in English as a Second Language