What ESL courses does UAB offer?
Go to the Courses webpage for course numbers, names, and descriptions.

What are the various programs and degrees in ESL Education that are available through UAB's School of Education? 

Master of Arts in Education/ESL with Class A certification for grades PK-12: Go to MA Degree & Certification.

  • Traditional Track – for teachers with B-level certification
  • Alternative Track (Alternative Masters Program/Fifth year) - for prospective teachers who have a GPA of at least 2.75 on their undergraduate degree
  • International Track - For teaching ESL to adult language learners
EdS in the following concentrations: Teacher Leadership, ESL, Elementary Education, and Secondary Education. Go to EdS Degree & Certification.

Can a student take ESL teacher education courses without pursuing a degree?

Go to Admission. Yes, non-degree seeking students can take up to four graduate courses (12 credit hours) without being admitted to a degree program and even without having the intention of eventually applying. NOTE: Only 12 hours taken with non-degree status can be included in a degree-seeking program. The non-degree application is available at the Graduate School website.


What do I need to do in order to be admitted to the UAB Graduate School?
Go to Admission. Students should apply as a degree-seeking student. They need a score of 388 (35 raw score) on the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or 850 on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), official copies of transcripts from all colleges/universities attended (even for just one course), 3 letters of recommendation, and a completed application form with $45 ($65 for international students).  If students wish to start taking classes before completing this admission process, they can apply for non-degree status. This application is available at the Graduate School website.

What program do I apply to?

  • Education-English as a Second Language Traditional (MAEd): for teachers who are certified to teach any subject in Alabama (includes ESL certification from the ALSDE)
  • Education-English as a Second Language 5th Year /Alternative (MAEd): for prospective ESL teachers of K-12 students (includes alternative ESL certification from the ALSDE)
  • Education-English as a Second Language International/Adult (MAEd): for prospective ESL teachers of adult students (does not include certification to teach in Alabama schools)
  • Education-English as a Second Language (EdS): For teachers with Class A certification in ESL who wish to pursue an Educational Specialist degree and Class AA certification.

Can I start taking courses before being admitted to the degree program?
Yes. You can start taking courses as soon as you are granted non-degree student status. However, in order to do so, you will first need to meet with your ESL program advisor and request a course registration override.

Once I submit the non-degree application form, how long do I have to wait in order to start taking classes?
It usually takes only a few working days for you to be granted non-degree status and thus be eligible to take classes.

How long does it take to get admitted to the degree-seeking program?
Once you have completed the application process, it usually takes from three to five months to receive a letter from the Graduate School.

How do I know that I have been admitted to the right program, that of ESL?
You will receive an email from the Graduate School admitting you to a graduate degree program. This letter states your major as English as a Second Language. If this information is incorrect, you should immediately contact your ESL program advisor and complete the form "Request for Change in Graduate Major in Education."

What is the lowest possible GPA for admission to UAB Graduate School?
The cumulative GPA on the transcript from the degree-issuing undergraduate institution cannot be lower than 2.75 (unrounded) under any circumstances. This regulation is set by the Alabama State Department of Education. NOTE: In spring and summer 2015, a GPA of 2.5 will still be acceptable.

Can I complete an MAEd/ESL even though I am not a certified teacher?
Yes. If you wish to become certified to teach ESL in grades K-12, you should pursue the Alternative Track (5th year)-- See the info packet on the Program Information page. If you wish to teach ESL to adults and/or teach EFL overseas, you should pursue the International Track.

What do I need to do if I plan to teach ESL to adults and/or overseas?
In order to teach adult ELLs or to teach ESL overseas, you need an MAEd/ESL but not the K-12 certification.
See the International Track info packet on the Program Information page.


What tests do I need in order to be considered for admission to the Alternative Master's Program?
AECTP Basic Skills and either the MAT or the ESOL Praxis #5361 (score 144)

What tests do I need to take in order to be considered for admission to the Traditional MA Track, International MA Track or EdS?
Miller Analogies Test (MAT): 35+  (388+ scaled score)
Graduate Record Exam (GRE): 850+

I have already taken the MAT (or GRE). Can I use this score for admission to UAB?
Yes, if you took the test within 5 years prior to submitting your completed degree-seeking application and if you obtained an acceptable score. If you obtained an acceptable score more than 5 years ago and still have your score report, you should scan it and send it as an email attachment to the ESL program director and request a waiver to the 5-year limit.

How can I best prepare myself for the admission exams?
See the Exam Preparation webpage.


What does Alabama's State Department of Education require for teaching ESL?
MAEd in ESL (34 credit hours) if you have Class B Certification in any teaching field.
Alternative Masters Program in ESL ("5th year program") (44-47 credit hours) if you do not already have teacher certification.
Go to MA Degree & Certification fo an overview and to Program Information for the Info Packets.

How long does it take to qualify for ESL certification?
The Master's takes from two to three years, depending on how many courses the student takes each semester. Many students study part-time, taking one course in fall and spring and two courses in the summer.


What is required for the Internship/Practicum?
This depends on your MAEd/ESL program. See the Traditional, Alternative, and International Track info packets on the Program Information page.

If I am a fulltime content area teacher, how can I accumulate the required hours of internship for certification?
Most of the internship hours at the other grade level can be done during an ESL summer program. More details will be provided by your ESL advisor.


Is the MAEd/ESL intended just for ESL teachers?
Go to MA Degree & Certification.
The Traditional Track of the MAEd/ESL is intended for content-area teachers as well as for ESL teachers at both the elementary and secondary levels.
The Alternative Track of the MAEd/ESL is intended for future ESL teachers at both the elementary and secondary levels.
The International Track of the MAEd/ESL is intended for future ESL teachers of adult language learners.

If I am a content area teacher, how would an MAEd/ESL help me?
The MAEd/ESL will help you work more effectively with the many English Learners that you will have in your classrooms now and in the future. Such knowledge and skills will also prove helpful in working with all students who need accommodations and differentiated instruction.

Once you obtain your MAEd/ESL you will be eligible for a higher salary bracket, even if you remain as a content-area teacher.

I have already completed some graduate coursework in education. Can I use any of these courses for my MAEd/ESL at UAB?
Any graduate course in education can count as an elective in the traditional MAEd program, if it was taken less than 5 years prior to completing the MAEd; if it was not taken to satisfy a previous certificate or degree; and if it has been approved by your ESL advisor.

Can I transfer a course from another institution?
If you are pursuing K-12 certification, all program courses must be taken at UAB. Electives can be taken at another institution.

What elective should I take to complete the 34 credit hours for my MAEd/ESL?
Many students have used EESL 650 "Strategies for Teaching Math & Science to ELLs" as their elective. Other potential electives are: EESL 617, EESL 627, EESL 637, EESL 647, and EESL 657.  These courses help teachers be better prepared to work with older adolescents, with the parents of their ELLs, and with the greater community.  See the Traditional MA Info Packet on the Program Information page.

Does UAB offer an Ed.S. in ESL?
Go to Ed.S. Degree and Certification
Teachers with Alabama Class A certification in ESL may pursue Class AA certification in one or more of the following concentrations:  Teacher Leadership, ESL, Elementary Education, and Secondary Education. If your undergraduate degree is in elementary or secondary education and your MAEd is in ESL, then you can pursue an Ed.S. in the same teaching field as your Class B certification. UAB offers the Ed.S. degree in the following areas: Early Childhood, Elementary Education, Language Arts, Social Studies, Science and Math.


Is any financial assistance available to help me pursue an MAEd with ESL certification?
Go to Paying for College.
Full-time students (i.e., 6 semester hours of graduate courses) might be eligible for financial aid if they have been admitted to a graduate degree program.

Is there anyone I can talk with about my goal of becoming an ESL teacher?
Yes, you should make an appointment by contacting Dr. Susan Spezzini, ESL Program Director, at 205-934-8357 or by email

Does UAB offer any ESL graduate courses that are designed to accommodate the needs of graduate students who live far away from Birmingham?
Go to Innovative Design.
Yes, at UAB the ESL teacher education program features an innovative design with a distance-friendly delivery. Courses are delivered via totally online platforms, one week summer institutes, professional learning communities, Saturday instruction, and evening classes. However, all distance students will also be required to come to campus in the summer as well as a few times during the academic year.


Are there any ESL classes available for adult ELLs to improve their English?
Yes. Go to Community English Classes and also the English Language Institute (ELI).


What are the options for parking close to the School of Education?
Go to Driving Directions & Parking.
Part-time students usually do not purchase parking decals, especially if their courses are all in the evening. Metered spaces can be found along 13th Street and 14th Street, between University Boulevard and 10th Avenue. Metered spaces are also available along 10th Avenue South and in the parking deck at the corner of 13th Street and University Boulevard. The parking meters are usually checked until 5:00 pm. Unmetered spaces are found further south.

I don't know any languages other than English. Can I still become an effective ESL teacher?
Yes. Although it does help to be bilingual, monolinguals can become very effective ESL teachers. Most ESL teachers in the United States do not speak another language.

I am confused by the many acronyms. What do they stand for?
See Acronyms under Teacher Resources.

Are there any laws governing the provision of accommodations for English language learners?
Yes. Go to Laws and Court Cases under Teacher Resources.