10 Most Affordable Master’s in English Language Learning Online in 2021

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Updated June 24, 2021

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Affordable online master's in English language learning programs make the Internet their classroom to conveniently give working, initially certified teachers the pedagogical tricks for instructing non-native speakers. Pursuing an online TESOL graduate degree is an elective, post-baccalaureate step that strengthens educators' competency for making immigrants and refugees of 6,000+ languages literate in English. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 4.6 million, or 9.4 percent of, public school students nationwide are ELLs who most abundantly speak Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Vietnamese. The median student-faculty ratio in ESL classrooms remains a worrisome 50:1, so demand is high. Master's teachers also have the motivation of a pay bump that averages $8,411 annually by Brookings Institution data. Online colleges are often faster, cheaper, and more accessible avenues where educators can master literacy methods and become cultural bridges for foreign pupils.

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

10 Most Affordable Master’s in English Language Learning Online in 2021

  1. Kennesaw State University

    Kennesaw, GA



    Celebrating the 20th year of its Owl Creed with 32,166 enrolled, Kennesaw State University is the third-largest public, coeducational USG constituent of the Atlantic Sun that bills our ranking's lowest in-state price of $4,734 for 79 academic programs at its 240-acre Cobb County campus near Marietta and online via D2L Brightspace. Washington Monthly noticed KSU for America's 141st highest research expenditures and 212th most service participation. Kennesaw State is declared the 334th most diverse university on Niche, 18th best college for international students by the IIE, and 89th top school for salary potential on PayScale. Building a Chalk & Wire portfolio is embedded within the CAEP-accredited Bagwell College of Education's Master of Education in TESOL Online. Organized by Dr. Linda Evans, the 36-credit, non-thesis curriculum adheres to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission for endorsement. Cohorts of teacher-leaders begin each Fall and graduate in six semesters after fully online courses for linguistically diverse K-12 classrooms. Those needing initial certification can take the 48-credit Master of Arts in Teaching TESOL route instead.

  2. Arkansas Tech University

    Russellville, AR



    Boasting 92 percent job placement with Tyson Foods Career Center services, Arkansas Tech University is a public, coeducational doctoral-level historically agricultural institute established in 1909 that's endowed for $29.1 million to serve 9,852 Bulldogs from a 516-acre rural Russellville campus and online via Blackboard. The Social Mobility Index placed ATU 68th among 1,363 surveyed universities nationwide. Arkansas Tech was also ranked for America's 224th best online graduate education by the U.S. News & World Report, 149th best free application on Niche, and 101st top teacher preparation value on College Factual. Hosting an SNEA Chapter, the College of Education run by Dr. Linda Bean launched the Online Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Accepting $40 applications until March 31st from 49 states excluding Massachusetts, the 30-credit, two-year program mandates minimum "B" averages for K-12 teachers to help multicultural students meet academic goals with ESL Endorsement. Online courses delve into modern composition, rhetoric, and literacy assessment with practicum at sites like ATU's English Language Institute.

  3. Western Governors University

    Salt Lake City, UT



    Granted the 2016 AAUA Exemplary Model Award for reducing debt by $400 million total, Western Governors University is proclaimed the "best-kept secret" among private, nonprofit virtual learning institutions that's grown since 1997 to instruct 86,303 Owls via the MyWGU Portal from its Great Basin headquarters. The National Council on Teacher Quality ranked WGU within the top 99th percentile for education. Western Governors was also lauded for America's 20th best programs on OnlineDegreeReviews.org, 112th most location diversity by College Factual, and #1 most affordable master's on College Choice. Current teachers can pursue the CAEP-accredited Teachers College's competency-based M.A. English Language Learning (PreK-12) Online. The efficient, 11-course curriculum headed by Dr. Francine Peterman pairs post-grads with mentors for customizing courses like assessment theory and grammar. Getting this cheap online unlocks ESL certification after 15 hours of classroom observation and a teacher work sample. There's also a six-month English Language Learning (PreK-12) Endorsement Preparation Program.

  4. Missouri Western State University

    St. Joseph, MO



    Occupying a 744-acre, 25-building Buchanan County campus north of Kansas City with 24/7 online access on Canvas, Missouri Western State University is a public, four-year teaching institution created in 1915 as St. Joseph Junior College that's now endowed for $19.4 million to serve 5,388 Griffons. The U.S. News & World Report ranked MWSU 62nd among Midwest regional colleges. Missouri Western State was honored for America's 456th best location on Niche, 205th best teacher preparation value by College Factual, and 141st highest bachelor's to PhD completion rate in Washington Monthly. Chaired by Dr. Daniel Shepherd in Murphy Hall, the CAEP-accredited Department of Education offers the Online Masters of Applied Science in Assessment with the TESOL Option. Including K-12 Missouri endorsement, the 33-credit degree takes two years with courses like reading techniques, ELL practicum, and capstone research. Post-grads with minimum 2.75 bachelor's GPAs can apply for the online master's in English language learning until April 29th for Summer, July 15th for Fall, and November 1st for Spring starts.

  5. Southeast Missouri State University

    Cape Girardeau, MO



    Featured in The Princeton Review's "Best Midwestern," Southeast Missouri State University is a public, civic-centric teachers college opened in 1873 that's endowed for $58.5 million to instruct 11,987 Redhawks on its 328-acre River Campus designed by Jerome Bibb Legg and online through Moodle. Washington Monthly recognized SEMO for the 209th highest master's graduation rate. Southeast Missouri State was named America's 58th best mid-size employer in Forbes and 299th top public school on Niche with the 403rd highest-paid grads on PayScale. Launching the EDvolution Initiative, the CAEP-accredited College of Education in Scully Building created the Master of Arts in TESOL Degree Online with funding like the $2,000 New Graduate Scholarship. Led by Dr. Diana Rogers-Adkinson, the 36-credit, non-thesis master's in English language learning online emphasizes practical theory application in K-12 classrooms. Post-grads with minimum 2.5 GPAs are immersed in virtual courses from intercultural competence to linguistics curriculum design with optional exchanges to universities like Vinnytsia State Pedagogical.

  6. Wilmington University

    New Castle, DE



    Hosting a Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society chapter, Wilmington University is a private, nonprofit CACC research hub founded by academician Dr. Donald Ross in 1968 that's endowed for $66 million to enlighten 20,522 Wildcats in 80+ degrees face-to-face at 12 Mid-Atlantic locations and online via Blackboard. The U.S. News & World Report congratulated WilmU with America's 118th best online graduate education. Wilmington was ranked 262nd for research in Forbes, 108th for campus safety on Niche, and 138th for teacher preparation by College Factual. Affiliated with the Teach for America Corps, the CAEP-accredited College of Education coordinates 1,000+ fieldwork hours yearly in 11 graduate programs, including the Online M.Ed. in ESOL Literacy. Directed by Dr. Alfred DiEmedio, the 33-credit, non-GRE major requires passing the Praxis II 5361 test for Delaware K-12 certification in English language learning before graduation. Eight-week courses like children's literature and language development could also be blended with the Dual Online M.Ed. in Reading Education/ESOL Literacy.

  7. Hamline University

    St. Paul, MN



    Partnered with the Universite Gaston Berger in Senegal, Hamline University is a private, Methodist liberal arts school that's budgeting $122.7 million annually to foster "Divinity, Writing, and Liberty" in 1,668 post-grad Pipers from its 77-acre Twin Cities campus and online by Moodle. Forbes magazine ranked Hamline the 235th best independent university with the 297th most satisfied alumni. Hamline has America's 92nd best standout academics on Niche and 27th top master's education in Washington Monthly. Offering $2,500 Academic Merit & Leadership Scholarships, the School of Education admits Fall cohorts into the CAEP-accredited Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Online. Coordinated by Marcela Kostihova, PhD, the 34-credit, cutting-edge curriculum produces collaborative practitioners who advocate for literacy development. Authorized in 50 states, the program takes five semesters with courses like applied phonetics, course design, and K-12 evaluation leading to the culminating professional project. There's also a Master of Arts in English as a Second Language Online.

  8. McDaniel College

    Westminster, MD



    Established by Methodist Protestants in 1867, McDaniel College is a private, nonsectarian liberal arts school of the Centennial Conference that's endowed for $109.5 million to deliver 85 academic programs to 1,629 Green Terror in the Baltimore suburbs, abroad in Budapest, and online via Blackboard. The New York Times editor Loren Pope recognized McDaniel among the "Colleges That Change Lives." McDaniel has America's 157th best online graduate education on the U.S. News & World Report survey and 241st greatest tuition value on Niche. Reaffirmed by the CAEP in Spring 2016, the Education Unit admits post-bachelor's students with minimum 2.75 GPAs five times annually for the Online Master of Science in TESOL program. Headed by Dr. Margaret Trader in Merritt Hall, the 36-credit, non-thesis curriculum prepares for the Praxis II exam with eight-week courses like language acquisition, classroom management, and linguistics assessment. Already certified teachers could skip the master's by completing McDaniel's five-course TESOL Endorsement Prep Sequence Online too.

  9. University of Northern Iowa

    Cedar Falls, IA



    Publishing the Ozzie Gold Award-winning North American Review since 1968, the University of Northern Iowa is a public, coeducational MVC arts and science institution that's endowed for $107 million to confer 90 majors to 11,905 Panthers face-to-face in the Waterloo Metropolitan and online on Blackboard. Known for its CIEP Conversation Partner Program, UNI is ranked the 25th best Midwestern college by the U.S. News & World Report. Northern Iowa is applauded for America's 133rd top public education in Forbes, 63rd best teacher prep on Niche, and 54th most service participation by Washington Monthly. Chaired by Dr. Gaëtane Jean-Marie, the CAEP-accredited College of Education grants the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages M.A. Online with eight-week scheduling. Adhering to Quality Matters standards, the 36-credit, cohort-based program has synchronous online sessions on Thursday evenings and supervised practicum. Graduates have used courses like English grammar, applied linguistics, and language testing for ESL endorsement and instructional jobs in 25+ nations.

  10. University of Kansas

    Lawrence, KS



    Affiliated with over 350,000 alumni, including educators Juan Manuel Santos and Franklin David Murphy, the University of Kansas is a public, land-grant Big 12 AAU member that's budgeting $630.9 million annually to instruct 28,447 Jayhawks atop its 1,100-acre campus on Mount Oread and online via KU Connect. Washington Monthly named KU the 67th most research-intensive master's institution. Kansas also stands out for America's 68th best public education in Forbes, 238th top teacher's college on Niche, and 28th best online graduate education by the U.S. News & World Report. Located in Pearson Hall, the CAEP-accredited School of Education confers its Online Master's in Curriculum & Instruction with a TESOL Emphasis in 24 months part-time. The 30-credit degree directed by Dr. Lisa Ellen Wolf-Wendel has the Master's Teacher or Non-Teacher track based on students' interest in practicum and Praxis testing for TESOL endorsement. Eight-week online courses like linguistic analysis, multicultural education, and second language acquisition help develop LiveText portfolios for success.

Our Methodology, Explained

Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Which Careers Benefit from English Language Learning Master's Online Study?

The TESOL International Association considers English language learning master's online terminal degrees that give geographic flexibility when unlocking virtually all of the field's careers besides university professor. Finishing an online TESOL master's proves linguistic abilities to domestic or international employers and state certifying boards. For example, New York State requires a master's, edTPA exam scores, and three years of full-time ESL classroom experience to receive the Professional Certification for English to Speakers of Other Languages. Sometimes master's education is even supplemented with the four-week, globally recognized Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) from Cambridge Assessment. Here are five great careers where an online master's in English language learning is advantageous:

K-12 ELL Teacher- NPR reports that the graduation rate for ELLs is only 63 percent, so elementary and secondary teachers are needed to boost student achievement with intensive, pull-out English instruction. ELL teachers work with culturally diverse small groups to test English competency, write individualized plans, adapt K-12 curriculum, implement literacy activities, model proper communication, monitor student progress, advise general classroom teachers, respond to non-English parent inquiries, and direct teacher aides.

Online English Tutor- Educational technology platforms, such as Blackboard, Moodle, and Desire2Learn, are increasingly used by online academies to support ELLs from the comfort of home. Online English tutors telecommute via computer screen to assess assigned students' needs, plan supplementary lessons, lend academic support, build confidence, teach good study skills, give constructive feedback, consult with teachers, and keep virtual office hours.

College ESL Instructor- Online master's in English language learning grads could teach basic English to college-aged students, including at the U.S. News & World Report's biggest ESL schools of SUNY Buffalo, Saint Leo, Bentley, Marquette, and Syracuse. Instructors teach remedial for-credit courses, develop syllabi, employ apt pedagogical methods, revise curriculum, celebrate cultural diversity, mentor non-native speakers, grade student assessments, assist with TOEFL testing, attend faculty meetings, and pursue professional development.

Traveling TEFL Trainer- Knowing a foreign language could help master's in English language learning online graduates live abroad and practice as traveling TEFL trainers. Most have fixed-term contracts of nine to 24 months for teaching English to children or adults in their homeland, preparing literacy exercises, dictating vocabulary, producing audiovisual aids, organizing cultural activities, proctoring tests, and keeping student progress records.

Adult Literacy Educator- The Census Bureau discovered that 7 percent of U.S. residents spoke English "not at all," which is why there are ESL programs helping adults aged 18+ integrate into society. Adult literacy instructors could be self-employed or employed by educational non-profits to teach common English phrases, adapt based on students' weaknesses, create vocabulary games, grade writing assignments, check linguistic progress, prepare for citizenship exams, and assist with job placement.

What's the Salary ROI for Cheap Online Master's in English Language Learning Degrees?

According to Forbes, an English language master's is the #2 worst graduate degree with early- to mid-career pay growth of just 46 percent and high stress at 71 percent. Though teachers have notoriously modest salaries, cheap online master's in English language learning study can reap decent returns. The U.S. Department of Labor reports median pay of $55,490 for elementary, $56,720 for junior high, and $58,030 for high school teachers. Adult literacy instructors are paid less with a mean wage of $50,650; however, postsecondary ESL teachers bring home $75,430 on average. Outside America, high-paying countries like Saudi Arabia and Japan offer monthly salaries of $2,500 to $5,000 after currency changes. Glassdoor displays median base pay of $87,380 and cash compensation of $10,235 for ESL program directors with master's-level administrative power.

How's the Job Outlook for Master's in English Language Learning Online Graduates?

The Federal Student Aid Office classifies bilingual and ELL education as a high-need field eligible for its $4,000 TEACH Grant. One NCES report showed that 27 percent of principals say ESL teaching vacancies are "very difficult or impossible" to fill. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 10-year job growth by 7 percent in elementary and secondary education. Kindergarten teachers face great hiring outlooks for an 8 percent jump of 12,200 jobs by 2026. Postsecondary ESL teaching will grow by 15 percent thanks to increasing international enrollment, but adult literacy instructors can expect a 6 percent decline to 64,300 total jobs. Remember that teaching abroad is another bright opportunity with the International TEFL Academy choosing China, Spain, South Korea, and Taiwan as the top nations. Online master's in English language learning programs are accessed affordably 24/7 to boost job prospects.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.

This concludes our ranking of the top 10 affordable master's in English language learning online programs.

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GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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