Updated November 21, 2022

Due to the continued influx of non-English speakers into the United States, online TESOL master's degrees are becoming more popular ... 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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By BVS Staff
May 2018

Due to the continued influx of immigrants and non-English speakers into the United States, online TESOL master's degrees (TESOL stands for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) are becoming more and more popular. Whether schools label this degree as an ESL (English as a Second Language), ELL (English Language Learners), or TESOL program, they all have the same goal: to train teachers to provide instruction in English to children and adults from other countries.

That being said, all schools differ somewhat in their instruction, including whether or not they provide teacher licensure or certification. The good news is that if you choose distance education, you are practically guaranteed at least one significant benefit: cheap tuition. Online colleges often provide students with reasonably inexpensive prices, and in fact, public institutions sometimes offer in-state rates to all online learners. Combine this with convenient scheduling, flexible admission requirements, and asynchronous learning, and it's no wonder so many teachers are choosing online education.

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Cheap Online ESL Master's Programs Ranked

  1. Arkansas Tech University

    Russellville, AR



    At Arkansas Tech University, you'll find everything you'll need to become a successful TESOL instructor. The flexible program caters to a wide range of students by offering not only online classes, but also evening and weekend courses. If you live locally and can make it to campus occasionally, you might also consider applying for a graduate assistantship. GAs receive tuition waivers and small stipends for the work they do, which could include working in the Writing Center, helping with test prep, or even teaching in ATU's English Language Institute. But even if you can't make it to campus, you'll benefit from the robust, focused, elective-laden curriculum that helps make ATU home to best cheap online TESOL master's degrees.

  2. Arizona State University

    Phoenix, AZ



    Given all the great options on this master's in English language learning online ranking, why should you earn your degree from Arizona State? Well for starters, it has one of the cheapest programs on this list. But aside from its low cost, ASU also boasts an extraordinarily high-quality education program. U.S. News & World Report has even recognized the quality of ASU's graduate education degrees in its own rankings. For the TESOL program in particular, perks include accelerated classes (just 7.5 weeks each), experienced faculty, and an added focus on curriculum and instruction.

  3. Hamline University

    Saint Paul, MN



    At Hamline, TESOL education is about more than improving students' English skills. It's also about promoting social and economic equity by giving non-native children the resources they need to succeed. As such, this MA in TESOL goes far beyond teaching methodologies. Indeed, the program also aims to help TESOL teachers become experienced researchers, culturally-sensitive mentors, and advocates for diversity in the classroom. This is also a top master's in ESL online for anyone looking to cut their tuition costs. Between special TESOL scholarships, alumni discounts, and employee partnership discounts with businesses across Minnesota, Hamline is a master at helping their students save money.

  4. Greenville University

    Tigerville, SC



    Greenville University provides an opportunity for you to earn your degree completely online while training for a booming career path. The only in-person requirement is that you participate in a 100-hour field experience, as this is mandatory to obtain an ESL Endorsement in Illinois. However, you only need to complete a practicum if you are a licensed teacher who wants to earn an endorsement. Otherwise, you can swap out the practicum for another ESL class. But regardless of your career plans, you'll also have to take a research course and tackle a comprehensive capstone project before graduating with your master's in ESL online from Greenville.

  5. Saint Cloud State University

    Saint Cloud, MN



    It may be online, but Saint Cloud's TESL program nonetheless offers an immersive, culturally diverse experience. For example, roughly half of all program members are either international or from a diverse U.S. background. SCSU achieves this cultural balance by being a school that celebrates diversity at every turn; the university even supports an English for Academic Purposes initiative and has an Intensive English Center on campus to promote research in ESL strategies. Saint Cloud is also one of just a few schools on this online TESOL master's degrees ranking to offer graduate assistantships to help defray the cost of tuition.

  6. University of Texas of the Permian Basin

    Odessa, TX



    UTPB takes a unique approach to its English language learning program. Whereas most schools on this online master's in TESOL ranking lump ESL and bilingual education together, the University of Texas of the Permian Basin actually splits them apart. Students who choose the Bilingual Education track are typically proficient in Spanish who want to work in a truly bilingual environment (such as an international school). In contrast, the ESL track offers more traditional training for instructors who plan to teach non-native English speakers in a U.S. (English-speaking) classroom. The latter option prepares graduates to take the ESL supplemental test in Texas.

  7. Southeast Missouri State University

    Cape Girardeau, MO



    At Southeast Missouri State, faculty understands that not all students in the same program have the same career goals. This understanding extends to the school's MA in TESOL degree, which is as flexible as it is accommodating. While enrolled in this top online master's in English language learning program, you'll enjoy the freedom to attend courses throughout the summer and, if you live locally, even attend class on campus. You can also adapt the course content to serve your individual needs. For example, you'll design a program of language instruction specifically adapted to your desired occupational setting, be it an elementary school classroom, community college, or adult education center.

  8. Spring Arbor University

    Spring Arbor, MI



    Spring Arbor's cheap master's in ESL online program is full of perks for busy adult students. Not only is the coursework available 100% online, but the application doesn't require a GRE or GMAT score. What's more, the curriculum includes two separate tracks to accommodate specific career goals. If you're a certified public school teacher and want to earn your ESL Endorsement in Michigan, opt for the K-12 Track. Otherwise, take the Adolescent and Adult Education path - this will prepare you to teach overseas or in a community-based or college setting. But while the details of each track differ, the core curriculum is equally strong in both, covering a crucial set of topics in linguistics, culture, and language evaluation.

  9. Webster University

    Saint Louis, MO



    When it comes to effective teaching strategies, Webster University leads by example. Even in its online program, TESOL classes are small and interactive to encourage lively discussion amongst classmates. While earning an accredited online TESOL master's degree from Webster, you'll also benefit from the use of technology. Blogs, video conferencing, and discussion tools not only enhance your personal learning experience, but also provide examples for how you can incorporate technology into your own classroom one day. Also note that this degree comes with two tracks: K-12 ELL (designed for licensed content area teachers) and ESL/EFL Education (for future overseas and/or adult educators).

  10. Western Governors University

    Salt Lake City, UT



    Like all Western Governors' programs, this MA in English Language Learning features a competency-based approach. That means that you'll earn credit as you demonstrate your understanding of course material (by taking tests), not by running out the clock in a classroom. The degree primarily caters to already licensed teachers who want to boost their knowledge of ELL curriculum design and pedagogy. As such, students enrolled in WGU's accredited master's in English language learning online study everything from culture to language production to assessment theory. And like most top programs, the curriculum incorporates research courses and hands-on field experience.

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 30 top cheap Master's in English Language Learning online programs!

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See also:
Teaching English as a Second Language Scholarships
Top 10 Cheap Online Master's in Educational Assessment and Evaluation Degree Programs

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