MA-TESOL Program Information

Degree Requirements | Coursework | Teaching | Timelines

Degree Requirements

Students will be required to complete 30 semester hours for the degree: 21 hours of required courses and 9 hours of department-approved electives; for students who choose the thesis option, 6 of the elective hours will be of thesis research.

Students who choose the non-thesis option will be required to pass a comprehensive examination towards the end of their coursework; the examination is normally given once a year, in late February. The examination will cover all the major areas of study, including Second Language Development, Linguistics, and Language Teaching Methodology.

An optional thesis may be written under the guidance of the Applied Linguistics/TESOL faculty.

To earn the degree, native speakers of English must demonstrate proficiency in a second language; consult the program coordinator for further information.  Students whose native language is not English must demonstrate satisfactory proficiency in spoken and written English.

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30 credits are required for completion of the degree (7 required courses and 3 electives; for students who choose the thesis option, 2 of the elective courses will be thesis hours).


(Please see the suggested sequence of courses below in Time Lines)

Students writing a thesis will take 6 thesis hours (EN 599). Students not writing a thesis will take nine credits of electives to acquire the 30 credits needed for completion. Electives are to be chosen in consultation with the coordinator from available courses, typically in the following departments or colleges: English, Education, Anthropology, Romance Languages and Classics. Directed studies are also an option.

Students on an assistantship as a co-teacher for EN 120 or EN 121 are required to take EN 617 in the spring (the second semester). In all subsequent semesters of a teaching assistantship involving EN 120 or EN 121, MA-Applied Linguistics/TESOL students are required to attend a weekly meeting, day and time TBA.

MA-TESOL students on an assistantship as co-teacher for EN 101 or EN 102 will follow the requirements as specified below.

Academic Probation

If your GPA drops below 3.0 because of incompletes, the Graduate School will notify you that you have 2 weeks to complete them before being put on probation. Once you are on probation, you must bring your GPA up to 3.0 by the time you take 12 more hours. If after 12 more hours your GPA is still under 3.0, you will not be allowed to register for the following semester. The same policy applies for actual grades that pull your GPA below 3.0, except that you obviously are not given two weeks to complete anything before being put on probation.

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Comprehensive Exam

MA-TESOL students are tested in three areas: Second Language Development, Linguistics, and Language Teaching Methodology.

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Teaching Opportunities

The MA-Applied Linguistics/TESOL Program prides itself on offering its students an unusually large variety of supervised teaching opportunities to build valuable experience in a range of contexts.

Teaching Composition in an American University Context

Students with teaching assistantships will be able to teach first-year composition to non-native English speakers (EN 120/121). In their first year in the program, students will co-teach with second year MA Applied Linguistics/TESOL students as the teachers of record. Teaching assignments are made by the English Department upon the recommendation of the MA-Applied Linguistics/TESOL coordinator. During graduate advising each semester the coordinator solicits students' preferences concerning their future assignments.

Students with teaching assistantships will also have the opportunity to teach composition to native English speakers (EN 101/102) while taking EN 533 and EN 534 and attending a workshop conducted by the First-Year Writing Program.

Tutoring in the University Writing Center

Following an extensive orientation to the art and skill of tutoring, students with teaching assistantships will typically work ten hours a week in the University Writing Center as part of their teaching assignments.

Doing Apprenticeships at the English Language Institute on Campus

Students will be given the opportunity to be apprentice teachers at the English Language Institute on campus for one semester during their second year of study. This apprenticeship experience is intended to be a time of significant professional growth, a time for students to reflect on the learning experiences. It is also meant to provide a way of helping students to improve their teaching competency and to determine future directions for improvement and growth. Prior to the apprenticeship, a student must complete the following courses: EN 610, EN 613, and EN 617 with grades of A or B. The typical schedule followed by MA-TESOL apprentices at the ELI is the observation of classes and tutoring during the first 8-week session (Fall 1 or Spring 1) and the teaching of a class during the second 8-week session (Fall 2 or Spring 2). A core ELI faculty member will be assigned to work with you during your semester at ELI, especially during the teaching session. However, in some cases due to a variety of factors, the schedule may not include the teaching of a class. In lieu of such teaching, you may work as a teacher assistant or tutor. Your responsibilities in such a capacity will be determined by the needs of ELI, the core teacher, and you and will differ from those listed below that apply only to those who are teaching a class.

Local Opportunities to Gain Teaching Experience

Paid and volunteer opporunities are available through the English Language Institute's External Programs and in the community through the Tuscaloosa City Schools. Private tutoring in the community is a frequent possibility.

Professional Associations

The MA-Applied Linguistics-TESOL Program encourages students to join our professional associations and fosters participation in conferences at the local (Alabama-Mississippi TESOL), regional (Southeast TESOL) and national levels. Funding for students making presentations is often available through the English Department and through the Office of Student Life of the University.

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These time lines have been created to act as a guide for you as you plan your study in the program. We acknowledge that sometimes there are circumstances that make it difficult to follow this timeline exactly, but we would like you to use this guide as closely as possible.

MA-TESOL Timeline (by semester) Thesis, Plan I

  1. EN 524
    EN 613
    EN 620
  2. EN 610
    EN 617
    EN 612 or an elective
  3. 2 courses with one being thesis hours
    Language requirement fulfilled by now
  4. 2 courses with one being thesis hours
    Thesis defense in March

MA-TESOL Timeline (by semester) No Thesis, Plan II

  1. Same as above
  2. Same as above
  3. 2 courses
    Language requirement fulfilled by now
  4. 2 courses
    Comps* (in February)

Comprehensive Exam

Students are tested in three areas: Second Language Development, Linguistics, and Language Teaching Methodology.

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