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Applied Linguistics & Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Applied Linguistics & Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

In the Department of Arts & Humanities

Admissions > FAQ


What is the difference between the TESOL and Applied Linguistics?

TESOL concentrates more on pedagogy and Applied Linguistics is more focused on theory and language research. These, of course, are interrelated and that is reflected in the course requirements for both programs.

What's the difference between the M.A. TESOL K-12 track and the M.A. TESOL General track?

These two options have many of the same classes as their foundation; however, the M.A. TESOL K-12 track is designed to meet the requirements of New York State teacher certification. If you do not wish to pursue teacher certification, your goals will likely be met through the M.A. TESOL General Track.

I am an international student, but I went to college in the U.S. Do I need to take the TOEFL?

Please note: Our policy differs slightly from the college policy. Our policy is that all non-native English speakers who did not go to junior high school, high school, and university consecutively at an English-medium school in an English-speaking country must take the TOEFL iBT or IELTS. These test scores must meet our minimum scoring criteria found under "Application Requirements" under the "Admissions" section on the horizontal menu. The scores must also be less than two years old.

What is the difference between the M.A. and the Ed.M.?

The defining difference between the M.A. and Ed.M. is that the M.A. requires between 36-41 credits (depending on your concentration) and the Ed.M. requires 60 credits. The Ed.M. is generally used as a stepping stone to the Ed.D.

What are the unique features of the Teachers College M.A. TESOL and Applied Linguistics degrees?

Most courses described in the Teachers College catalog are offered each year. The courses listed include semester-long courses which usually meet for an hour and forty minutes once a week. Most of these courses are on weekday evenings between 5pm-9pm. Other courses are offered over a portion of the semester at varying times, and 0-1 point intensive workshops often meet over a weekend.

Practical Experiences in Teaching
Practica are an integral part of the M.A. programs in TESOL and Applied Linguistics. Students spend a minimum of four hours per week in teaching and observation time, in addition to accompanying seminars, planning time and critiquing sessions. All students teach in Teachers College's Community English Program (CEP) which provides English instruction to adult learners of diverse nationalities while functioning as a pedagogical laboratory for students in TESOL and Applied Linguistics. Those interested in New York State PreK-12 certification fulfill part of their practica requirement teaching in New York City public schools.

Support Services
Students have access to a full range of instructional and research support services including films, videotape equipment, and a computer center with multimedia facilities. In addition, there is a broad collection of TESOL books and visual-aids in the Gottesman Libraries.

What kinds of financial aid and assistantships are available?

Every student's situation varies. If you wish to be considered for financial assistance, you should apply for a Fall semester term and submit your application to the admissions office no later than the priority deadline for admissions - usually in January. All students who apply to Teachers College within the priority deadlines are considered for financial aid.

In order to apply for financial assistance, you must fill out the financial aid form with your application. You may also contact the financial aid office at (212) 678-3710 regarding scholarship and/or loan information. Once you begin your first semester here, you may investigate other possibilities, which can include tuition scholarships, work-study, program assistantships, and on-campus jobs with tuition waivers. Scholarship information is also available through the admissions office web site.

Students are also encouraged to look to outside sources for funding.

Can I apply to begin in any semester or do I have to apply for the Fall?

For all our program degrees, we only accept applications for students planning to begin in the Fall semester.

How long will it take me to complete my M.A.?

It depends on how many classes you choose to take each semester. Full time students can complete the M.A. in 2 years.

How many M.A. candidates are there?

There are approximately 150 students pursuing their M.A. degrees in the TESOL and Applied Linguistics programs. At least one-third come from outside the United States. M.A. candidates include experienced as well as inexperienced teachers, and many work part or full time in addition to studying.

Can I complete the program online?

Due to the nature of our program, students are expected to attend classes held at Teachers College, Columbia University. While some distance workshops and out-of-program (breadth) requirements can be taken online, it is impossible to complete the program entirely online.

Is the GRE required for admission?

No. The GRE is not required.

Can I enroll in both the TESOL and Applied Linguistics degree tracks at the same time?

No, this is not possible. Teachers College requires that students only submit an application for one program. In our department, the TESOL and Applied Linguistics programs are very closely linked, so regardless of which program you choose, you should be able to take courses which interest you.

I have my MA. May I apply directly for the Ed.D, or must I apply for the Ed.M?

Most M.A. students seeking a higher degree apply first for the Ed.M. program. However, depending upon their academic background and past work experiences, some students do opt to apply directly for the Ed.D. It is recommended that you apply for the Ed.M. and wait to see if you would like to apply for the Ed.D. once you are here

How many letters of reference do I need for my application?

At least two.

Is a writing sample required with my application?

If you are applying for the Ed.M. or Ed.D., an academic writing sample is required.

What is the TESOL Certificate Program? How is it different from the M.A.?

The certificate program is designed for people who want an introduction to TESOL. It is like a sampler and takes about 6 weeks in the summer. The M.A. program is the regular Masters Degree, requiring from 36-41 credits. Up to 6 points from the certificate program may be transferred to the M.A.

See the TESOL Certificate Program website for more information.

Can I transfer from an MA in TESOL/Applied Linguistics at another school to complete my MA at Teachers College?

The Applied Linguistics and TESOL Master of Arts program do not accept transfer students. Upon completion of an MA at another school, however, students may apply to the Ed.M. program as transfer students.

My MA is from another school. Will my credits transfer to the Ed.M. or Ed.D programs at Teachers College?

Ed.M. applicants in TESOL or Applied Linguistics may transfer up to 30 points from previous graduate study at an accredited institution. Ed.D. applicants may transfer up to 45 points.

Do I have to major in English as an undergraduate to apply?

No. Our students come from a wide range of disciplines and have diverse academic interests.

Do I have to be fluent in a language other than English to apply?

It is not a requirement to be proficient in another language. It is, however, recommended that applicants have had language learning experiences.