UAB offers an Educational Specialist degree (EdS) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). As a post-MA degree, this EdS-TESOL provides advanced training in the teaching and learning of English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL). This EdS-TESOL is targeted for educators who already hold a master's degree in TESOL or a related area; it is also targeted for K-12 teachers who already hold a master's level in education in any other teaching field. This EdS equips educators with state-of-the-art instructional strategies for meeting the evolving needs of linguistically and culturally diverse learners, with collaborative skills for serving as reflective practitioners to guide change, and with mentoring techniques for positively influencing student achievement and institutional improvement. This advanced TESOL degree prepares educators to assume mentorship and leadership roles to guide other educators in meeting the English-learning needs of their students in P-12 and adult settings. To that end, it prepares educators to become dynamic leaders and effective change agents by developing their capacity to serve as lead teachers, division heads, instructional coaches, professional development facilitators, and program specialists.

UAB's EdS-TESOL degree is classified by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) with code 13.1401 Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. In the NCES Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP), this code defines programs that "focus on the principles and practice of teaching English to students who are not proficient in English or who do not speak, read or write English, and that may prepare individuals to function as teachers and administrators in such programs." Within this code, UAB's EdS-TESOL program is unique in how it offers two distinct tracks: the certification track and the non-certification track.

Certification Track

This track is exclusively for teachers who hold the ALSDE's Class A certification in ESOL; all other educators will pursue this EdS-TESOL degree through its non-certification track.

Pre-Requisite for the EdS-TESOL's Certification Track: Class A certification in ESOL (P-12), Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE)
Delivery: Online courses plus course-related clinicals in one's own classroom and during English learner summer programs
Certification: Class AA teacher certification in ESOL K-12, issued upon completion by the ALSDE

The EdS-TESOL's certification track is for teachers who hold master's-level certification (i.e., Class A) in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) issued by the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). This certification track leads to the ALSDE's advanced teacher certification (i.e., Class AA). The EdS program's certification track follows a blended approach, which includes both on-ground and online courses. Because this certification track is exclusively for teachers who hold the ALSDE's Class A certification in ESOL, all other educators will pursue the EdS-TESOL degree through its non-certification track.

Non-Certification Track

The EdS-TESOL's non-certification track is for teachers and administrators who work with English language learners in a wide array of settings such as intensive English programs on college campuses, language institutes, workplace English, P-12 schools, and community centers.

Pre-Requisite: Master's degree in TESOL, in an area related to TESOL, or in education
Delivery: Online courses plus course-related clinicals in one's own classroom and during English learner summer programs

The EdS-TESOL's non-certification track is for educators who teach ESL to adult learners in one or more of this profession's diverse array of settings. Such settings could include intensive English programs on college campuses, English for Specific Purposes, workplace-situated English classes, community programs, and refugee centers. This non-certification track is also for P-12 teachers who have a master's degree in education and master's-level certification in a teaching field other than ESL or perhaps have ESL endorsement from another state. When pursuing the EdS-TESOL, most graduate students focus coursework on their own professional interests and/or the needs of their respective institutions. This student-centered focus for teaching adult language learners can range from rural community outreach and parent clinics to intensive English programs and post-doctoral writing. EdS students pursue this non-certification track by taking all online courses.

Because of its online delivery, the EdS-TESOL's non-certification track is accessible across Alabama, the Southeast, and beyond. Educators from states aligned with the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements can take UAB's online courses by paying the same graduate tuition and online fees as do their Alabama classmates. Gwyneth Dean-Witte, who lives and works in South Dakota, was the first TESOL educator to earn her EdS at UAB.

EdS in TESOL Information Packet

EdS in TESOL Advertising Flyer

Gwyneth Dean Witte

Gwyneth Dean Witte

UAB's EdS has provided me with a firm foundation in effective instruction and programming to better serve English learners and educators across South Dakota. As the state's Title III Coordinator, I have to be ready for all situations and any questions when delivering model lessons, doing instructional coaching, leading technical support EL Team Administrative meetings, and teaching ESL endorsement courses. Although I was a bit tentative to start a two-year online program with a two-week summer residency, the professors at UAB were extremely supportive, knowledgeable and responsive to my learning needs in regard to our state's individual context. I have been inspired by my instructors and classmates and have made life-long mentors and friends through UAB's ESL program.
South Dakota State-Wide Title III and Migrant Consortia Coordinator, Wessington Springs, South Dakota

Melissa Hawkins

Melissa Hawkins

I work in adult English language program administration and began UAB's EdS in TESOL after a 16-year hiatus since earning an MA-TESOL. My goal in pursuing the EdS was to have a formal opportunity to delve into current issues facing TESOL educators, as well as to prepare for the possible pursuit of a doctorate. My time in the EDS program was well-spent. The EdS gave me ample opportunity to professionalize my practice further and to identify my own research interests, especially since the professors were committed to personalizing the experience to meet each individual's goals and needs. I am now pursuing my PhD and I am thankful for the solid foundation that the EdS provided.
International Teaching and Learning Specialist in UAB's Center for Teacher and Learning

Melinda Harrison

Melinda Harrison

I applied to UAB's EdS non-certification track because I desired more coursework and knowledge regarding teaching adults and emerging adults in ESL and English, because I have always been intrinsically motivated to learn, and because I saw the EdS curriculum as a foundation for later seeking admission to the Education Studies in Diverse Populations PhD program. Throughout the EdS program, I had the opportunity to work with professors who encouraged me to augment or tailor assignments to my interests. This unique blend of directed and self-directed learning has allowed me to more effectively utilize research methods, to conduct my own teacher-research, and to become a much more effective teacher and teacher-leader - opportunities I did not necessarily have with just an MA.
Adjunct Instructor and Apprenticeship Supervisor at UAB; Lecturer, English Department, University of Auburn at Montgomery


For More Information, Contact:

Program Director: Dr. Susan Spezzini
spezzini@uab.edu