Explore UAB


Courses, Programs, and Degrees

What ESL courses does UAB offer?
Go to the Course Descriptions 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 P-12: See Master of Arts in Education: English as a Second Language.

  • Traditional Track - for teachers with B-level certification in any teaching field
  • Alternative Track (Alternative Masters Program/Fifth year) - for prospective teachers with a bachelor's degree in English or a foreign language

Master of Arts in Education/ESL without teaching certification (for teaching ESL to adult language learners)

  • MA-TESOL (formerly called the International/Adult track)
  • MA-TESOL plan of study for international students in the INTO UAB Pathway

Educational Specialist (EdS): Certification Track and Professional (non-certification) Track. See EdS in TESOL.

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

See Admission Process. 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. 

Application and Admission

NOTE: The following questions are primarily targeted for domestic students. International students should see International Students.

What do I need to do in order to be admitted to the UAB Graduate School?
Follow the step-by-step instructions on the Admission Process page. If students wish to start taking classes before completing this admission process, they can apply for non-degree status. 

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. You must also submit a Non-Degree Acknowledgement form to the Graduate School.

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?
After all required documents have been received by the Graduate School, it usually takes 2-10 weeks for an application to be fully processed. UAB's goal is to process as soon as possible.

How do I know that I have been admitted to the right program, that of ESL?
Your admission letter will list your student number, your program and concentration, and your status as an Alabama resident or non-resident. If your program and concentration are 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) for admission to the Alternative Master's Program. This regulation is set by the Alabama State Department of Education. Fortunately, the ALSDE now permits applicants with a 2.5 GPA to seek admission to the AMP if they obtain a higher Praxis score. Applicants with a 2.5 GPA can seek admission to the MA-TESOL.

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 Information Packets. If you wish to teach ESL to adults and/or teach EFL overseas, you should pursue the MA-TESOL 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 P-12 certification. See the MA-TESOL Advising Packet and Program Checklist on the Information Packets page. 

Admission Tests

What test do I need in order to be considered for admission to the Alternative Master's Program?
The ESOL Praxis #5362 (score 155) See Exam Preparation.

What test do I need to take in order to be considered for admission to the MAEd's Traditional MA Track, the MA-TESOL, or the EdS?
No tests are required. 


What does Alabama's State Department of Education require for teaching ESL?
Go to MA in Education/ESL for an overview and to Information Packets for specifics.

How long does it take to qualify for ESL certification?
The Master's degree 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.

Can UAB alumni with ALSDE's ESL certification teach in another state?
Yes. However, in order to teach in another state, ALSDE-certifiied teachers must meet the state's reciprocity requirements for teacher certification or licensure.

Internship, Practicum, and Field Experience

What is required for the Internship/Practicum/Apprenticeship?
This depends on your MAEd/ESL program. See Information Packets.

If I am a fulltime content area teacher, how can I accumulate the required hours of internship for certification?
Most of the fall and spring field experiences can be done when teaching English learners in your own classroom, or during your prep period in your school's ESL classroom, or with English learners after school, perhaps at a nearby school. Most of the internship hours at the other grade level can be done during the English Learner summer programs. More details will be provided by your ESL advisor.

Master's Degree

Is the MAEd/ESL intended just for ESL teachers?
Go to MA in Education/ESL.
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 MA-TESOL Track is intended for current and 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. This degree will also help teachers with career advancement.

When P-12 teachers earn an MAEd/ESL or EdS, they become eligible for a higher salary bracket, even if they remain as content-area teachers.

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 P-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 30 credit hours for my MAEd/ESL?
Many students have used EESL 650 "Strategies for Teaching Math & Science to ELLs" as their elective. See the Traditional MA Info Packet on the Information Packets page.

Does UAB offer an EdS in ESL?
Go to EdS in TESOL.
Teachers with Alabama Class A certification in ESL may pursue Class AA certification in ESL through the EdS-TESOL's certification track. Other teachers can pursue the EdS-TESOL's non-certification track.

Available Support

Is any financial assistance available to help me pursue an MAEd, either with or without ESL certification?
Go to Cost and Aid.
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. Current and future P-12 teachers should also seek information from UAB's Financial Aid office about the Federal TEACH Grants for teaching high needs subjects (e.g., ESL) in high needs schools.

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 spezzini@uab.edu.

Does UAB offer any ESL graduate courses that are designed to accommodate the needs of graduate students who live far away from Birmingham?
Yes. UAB's MAEd/ESL and EdS/TESOL are now fully online.

ESL Classes for Adults

Are there any ESL classes available for adult ELLs to improve their English?
Yes. Go to Community English Program and also INTO UAB English Language Programs.

Other Information

What are the options for parking close to the School of Education?
Due to construction in Spring 2023, the parking lots have changed. Click here for instructions and a parking map.

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, monolingual educators 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 in schools?
Yes. Go to Laws and Court Cases under Teacher Resources.

Where do alumni teach?
About 90% of our alumni teach in Alabama. Some alumni teach in other states and some teach overseas.