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M.A. in TESOL and Intercultural Studies
TESOL Teacher in Classroom
M.A. in TESOL and Intercultural Studies

Why Pursue a M.A. in TESOL and Intercultural Studies ?

The M.A. in TESOL and Intercultural Studies provides teachers with a solid foundation in the field of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Designed for both novice and experienced English language teachers, this program is the standard professional degree for positions in universities, language institutes, community colleges, and adult education programs. 

Three Levels of Professional Training

ESL Ministry Conference, Wheaton College and Moody Bible Institute

A one-day conference focusing on high-quality training for volunteers and professional teachers, held in September at Moody.  A plenary address followed by four workshop blocks, with workshops taught by professors and experienced ESL professionals.

ICCT (Institute for Cross-Cultural Training) Programs: Reach Out with English (ROWE)

  • One-week courses during the first two weeks of June, for non-credit or credit, on Wheaton’s campus, linked to remote locations (Instructor: Dianne Dow)
  • Specialized workshops  for teachers in the fall and spring

Certificate in TESOL for TeachBeyond (ICCT)

  • A 100-clock-hour certificate in TESOL for new teachers with TeachBeyond who are specializing in English language teaching overseas.
  • Includes the two June ICCT courses, a third course specializing in K-12 EFL instruction, a practicum involving teaching children, and TeachBeyond’s Pre-Field Orientation, all on Wheaton’s campus during the month of  June.
  • Professors for these courses include Dianne Dow, Claudia Root, Alan Seaman, and the EFL Directors for TeachBeyond: Jessica Weaver and Hope Rozenboom.
  • ICCT website >

Certificate in TEFL for ELIC/Pinnacle (Wheaton College)

  • A 150-clock-hour certificate in Teaching English as Foreign Language (TEFL) which includes four credits of graduate coursework (INTR 601, 613) for new ELIC teachers. 
  • Classes are held on the campus of Colorado State University over a two-week period in July, followed by a semester of intensive mentoring on a university or school campus.
  • Instructors are qualified Wheaton guest faculty who are based in Asia, the Middle
    East, and North Africa.
  • Second-year teachers take an additional two credits of graduate coursework online in applied linguistics: INTR 606 (Foundations of English Grammar) or INTR 616 (English Phonology).

Undergraduate ESL and Bilingual Endorsements (LING courses)

  • Elementary, middle, and secondary education majors  seeking licensing through Wheaton’s Teacher Education Program (WheTEP) take 18-20 credit hours of coursework to receive an endorsement from the Illinois State Board of Education to teach ELL or bilingual education.  This  is a state-approved program which also meets the endorsement requirements of most other states
  • These courses cover five areas mandated by the Illinois State Board of Education: Theoretical Foundations, Linguistics, ESL/BIL Methodology, Cross-Cultural Learning and Teaching, and Assessment.  Students also complete 100 clock hours of contact with ESL/BIL classrooms through practica and student teaching placements.
  • Professors are highly-qualified Wheaton TESOL faculty.

Graduate ESL and Bilingual Endorsements (INTR courses)

  • Licensed elementary, middle, and secondary teachers can receive this endorsement by completing the 24-credit Graduate Certificate in TESOL, which covers all of the endorsement areas and the practicum.
  • MAT students seeking licensing at the elementary or secondary levels can receive the endorsements by completing 18 -20 hours of coursework during the  year and in the summer while they are in the MAT program.

The M.A. in TESOL and Intercultural Studies


Residential MA in TESOL

  • Students take courses in the fall and spring semesters (full-time or part-time) in classes on campus, usually offered in the late afternoons and evenings.  Students may also take summer intensive classes in June and July.
  • Benefits of this model: access to faculty mentoring, local and overseas internships, campus community and events, presentations at conferences.

TESOL Flex – Summer/Online MA in TESOL

  • Students take courses in the summer session (June-July) and during the year in online format. Summer classes meet daily in an intensive format. Online classes are blended with residential classes and are taught by regular Wheaton faculty.
  • Teachers and others who are working full -time outside of the Chicago area can complete the program in little over two years (three summers). Benefits include a sense of community during the on-campus sessions and access to Wheaton faculty throughout the year in high-quality online courses.
  • More information on TESOL Flex >

Field-Based MA in TESOL  (ELIC-Pinnacle)

  • ELIC teachers (and others based in Asia and the Middle East) take courses in Thailand each January and on Wheaton’s campus each July, earning the degree in 2 to 2.5 years.
  • Benefits include a cycle of coursework, teaching, and reflection over an extended period of time, in community with other long-
    term EFL teachers. Graduates often move into leadership positions in their agencies. Ministry-related courses are taken on
    campus (rather than online) to avoid security concerns for teachers in Creative Access countries. Projects can be tailored to specific teaching contexts

Why M.A. in TESOL and Intercultural Studies at Wheaton?

The required courses for this program meet the standards for professional preparation established by TESOL, the international agency for English language teachers.

Graduate students in the M.A. in TESOL program

  • Are able to tailor the program to their personal goals, which may include specific areas of teaching (business English, elementary ESL instruction, higher education) and areas of the world (Thailand, Bolivia, Hungary);
  • Can select from a variety of teaching and administrative internships in the Chicago area and overseas;
  • Are mentored by experienced faculty who have served internationally and have published key books in the field of TESOL;
  • Have opportunities to make conference presentations and publish professional articles while in the program;
  • Enjoy a rich range of cross-cultural activities in the Chicago metro area, including field trips to ethnic communities and opportunities for teaching and tutoring in a host of local ESL programs;
  • Benefit from the department’s broad network of connections to schools, universities, and agencies throughout the world as they prepare for work after they graduate.

Whether students are planning on teaching overseas or in downtown Chicago, the degree equips students for the extensive TESOL opportunities that are available worldwide.

  • Opportunities in the U.S. include teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in colleges and universities, language institutes, company-sponsored programs, and centers for immigrants and refugees in the U.S. or another English-speaking country.
  • Opportunities abroad include teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in colleges and universities, elementary and secondary schools (K-12), language institutes and international schools.

By earning the MA degree, already-licensed K-12 teachers can add an endorsement in ESL and bilingual education and expand their horizons.

The M.A. in TESOL and Intercultural Studies has teamed up with two of the largest teaching organizations to train educators around the world. Through an agreement with the English Language Institute of China (ELIC) and TeachBeyond, the M.A. in TESOL is able to provide professional TESOL training at a more affordable option. 

Q&A with Dr. Cheri Pierson

Tune in to a Q&A session with Dr. Cheri Pierson, Associate Professor of TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language). 

See What We're Doing

Learn more about how TESOL faculty serve worldwide.

Possible Careers for M.A. in TESOL and Intercultural Studies Students

Most alumni of the M.A. in TESOL and Intercultural Studies program are teaching and working as administrators.  Some work as teachers in universities, intensive English programs, and community colleges. Others hold administrative positions or have gone on to doctoral studies.

The Wheaton College Graduate School M.A. in TESOL prepares students for teaching positions in universities, community colleges, community-based adult education programs in the U.S. and in most countries. Our graduates are serving as teachers, department chairs, and program administrators in these professional contexts throughout the world.

Opportunities in the U.S. include teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in colleges and universities, language institutes, company-sponsored programs, and centers for immigrants and refugees in the U.S. or another English-speaking country.

Opportunities abroad include teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in colleges and universities, elementary and secondary schools (K-12), language institutes and international schools.