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UAB offers a Master of Arts in Education (MAEd) degree for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). Its MAEd/ESL program is identified by the national Classification of Instructional Programs with the 13.1401 code, Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. 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."

UAB's MAEd/ESL degree has three tracks - traditional, alternative, and TESOL. In the traditional and alternative tracks, teacher candidates earn a master's degree from UAB and certification from the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) for teaching ESL in Alabama schools (grades P-12). To pursue this track, students must be living in Alabama. In the TESOL track, students earn a master's degree for teaching ESL to adult language learners in the United States and for teaching English to children and adults in other countries.

UAB teacher candidates in the traditional and alternative tracks have consistently earned high scores on the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Praxis test, from the Educational Testing Service. From 2016 to 2020, 161 candidates took ESOL Praxis #5362. Their 177 average far exceeded 155, which is the score required by the ALSDE for ESOL certification. From 2011 to 2016, 208 candidates took ESOL Praxis #5361, and their 164 average exceeded 144, which was the score required by the ALSDE. And, from 2005 to 2010, 239 candidates took ESL Praxis #5360. Their 690 average far exceeded the 540 score required to become certified in Alabama. Since 2005, a total of 608 UAB candidates have take the ESOL Praxis as a requirement for seeking ESOL certification from the ALSDE.

Laura White at whiteboard

UAB alumna Laura White had the amazing opportunity of conducting workshops for teachers in Guatemala.

Traditional Track (for Teaching P-12)

  • ESL certification: Applicants must have Class B certification in any field (elementary, secondary, or special education). Upon completing the Traditional Track (30 credit hours), they can apply to the ALSDE for Class A Certification in ESOL. This track can be completed fully online.
  • Dual certification: Teachers with Class B certification in Spanish or French (and who have passed the Praxis in Spanish or French) may pursue the dual certification Traditional Track (42 credit hours). They will obtain Class A certification in ESL and also Class A certification in Spanish or French.

Alternative Track (for Teaching P-12)

The Alternative Track is also called the Alternative Master's Program (AMP) and the Fifth-year Program.

  • ESL certification:Applicants must have a passing score on the Praxis in English for Speakers of Other Languages. Upon completing the Alternative Track (44 credit hours), they can apply to the ALSDE for Class A certification in ESL. This track can be completed entirely online except for one or two general education courses which meet twice a month in the evening.
  • Dual certification: Applicants who meet admission requirements to the Alternative Track in ESL and have passed the Praxis in Spanish or French may pursue dual certification. Upon completing the dual certification Alternative Track (53-56 credit hours), they obtain Class A certification in ESL and also Class A certification in French or Spanish.

TESOL Track (for Teaching Adults)

The TESOL Track was previously called the International/Adult Track.

  • The TESOL Track (33 credit hours) prepares candidates for teaching English to adult language learners. Although certification is not usually needed for teaching adults, most local and international employers require a master's in ESL or TESOL. This track can be completed entirely with online courses. Most students opt to earn UAB's graduate certificate in Teaching Multilingual Learners.
  • International students who have been admitted through the INTO UAB Pathway program will need to complete 39 credit hours of ESL graduate coursework. To meet the requirements of their student visas, they take several of their courses with on-ground attendance.


Mr. Courtney Jeffries and Mr. Michael Shenk, apprentice teachers in the MAEd/ESL program TESOL Track are meeting with their apprenticeship supervisor Melinda Harrison and with the institutional partners hosting the ESL writing class that our UAB interns will be teaching. Also pictured are our institutional partners, Stephanie Lyas from The Literacy Council and Stacey Thompson from Jeff State Community College.

ESL Certification through the Certification by Test (CBT) Route

UAB courses prepare teachers for the ESOL Praxis. Prior to enrolling in courses, prospective CBT candidates should consult with UAB's ESL program coordinator regarding courses that may also apply towards an advanced degree. For more information about the CBT (also called the Additional Teaching Field Approach), teachers should consult the ALSDE website.

Certification Renewal (in Other Teaching Fields)

By taking EESL 610, EESL 612, EESL 613, and/or EESL 630, many teachers have successfully renewed their certification in elementary/early childhood education, secondary education, and/or special education. Moreover, the same courses that are taken for certification renewal have also served towards an MAEd in ESL and/or for UAB's Graduate Certificate "Teaching Multilingual Learners". NOTE: Teachers with lapsed certification should consult the ALSDE.