At UAB we offer three graduate degrees and a graduate certificate for the teaching and learning of English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL). These degrees are a Master of Arts in Education (MAEd) in English as a Second Language (ESL), Educational Specialist (EdS) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Educational Studies in Diverse Populations. Our graduate certificate is called Teaching Multilingual Learners. The MAEd, EdS, and graduate certificate can be completed fully online.

Each degree has its own webpage as does our graduate certificate. Other webpages feature International Students, Alumni Testimonials, Voices from Overseas, Faculty and Staff, Hall of Fame, Advisory Council, and Peace Corps. Highlights about our program's History, Impact, and Global Engagement are provided below. Our website also hosts an extensive teacher resource section for ESL and mainstream teachers. Such resources include information about professional conferences and other career-related opportunities. We hope that you enjoy our ESL teacher education website and look forward to hearing from you.

Susan Spezzini, Ph.D.
Program Director and Professor of English Learner Education
(205) 934-8357


In 1999, UAB offered its first ESL methods course. Committed to serving the region's growing international workforce, UAB systematically proceeded in developing a curriculum for the training of ESL teachers. When this curriculum reached full cycle in 2001, the first three UAB students obtained ESL teacher certification from the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). Shortly thereafter, an unprecedented surge of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the public schools was mirrored by a corresponding surge of graduate students in ESL teacher education. Untrained in the teaching of linguistically diverse students, teachers at all grade levels were eager to learn how to incorporate ESL best practices into their content classes for more effectively supporting ELLs' linguistic and academic development. As of December 2020, 788 UAB students will have earned ESL certification and/or a graduate degree for teaching ESL, with an average of 49 graduates per year over the past ten years. With 665 completers from ALSDE-endorsed ESOL certification programs, UAB leads the state in the preparation of ESL-certified teachers.

Program Outreach

UAB has made a difference in the teaching of ESL throughout the state. Albeit concentrated in central Alabama, alumni and students of UAB's ESL teacher preparation program have taught in 64% of the counties - from Mobile in the southwest to Huntsville in the northeast. UAB's outreach is best exemplified by Baldwin County where, at 250 miles from UAB, its ESL Supervisor and 16 out of 26 ESL teachers completed our ESL certification program. The ALSDE's Title III specialist and five of its state ESL coaches are also UAB alumni. Other UAB students and alumni, those who specialize in adult learners, teach ESL in a variety of post-secondary programs ranging from rural community outreach to post-doctoral academic writing. Our alumni have taught in 32 states and 42 countries

Global Engagement

UAB's ESL education program openly embraces global engagement initiatives and, by doing so, furthers the university mission of preparing local and international students for the globally connected world. Global engagement is a two-way process; international students come to UAB to pursue the ESL master's degree, and local students and alumni go abroad to teach English.

A) International students have been admitted to our ESL master's degree program since 2005. Our international students and also immigrant students have come from Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea (South), Mexico, Moldova, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Taiwan, Turkey, Vietnam, Venezuela, and Yemen. With the arrival of INTO UAB in 2016, international students have had the privilege of being able to initiate their graduate students through an MA-TESOL Pathway offered by the English Language Programs.

B) Many of our local alumni have gone overseas to teach English upon completing their master's degree. Others have opted to do their teaching apprenticeship at an overseas site. To date, alumni and students from our ESL graduate program have worked in the following 42 countries: Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Honduras, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Korea (North and South), Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Paraguay, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tonga, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.

EESL690 class picture
EESL 690 Internship Seminar with course instructor Laura Johnson. Seated L-R: Emily Arrington, Jordan Stanley, Diana Prutzman, Katie Watkins, Tasheka Smith, Melissa Ward, Laura Galindo, Christina Dennis, Charity Jackson