Skip to main content

Program Overview

The purpose of BYU’s TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) MA program is to prepare students with linguistic, instructional, and cultural-awareness skills for professional careers as teachers, materials developers, curriculum designers, supervisors, administrators, and assessment specialists in the international field of TESOL. The program also provides a solid base for students who desire to pursue doctoral studies in TESOL, applied linguistics, language education, instructional design, language assessment, or related fields. The TESOL MA program provides professional-level preparation for careers in teaching English to speakers of other languages in any of the following areas:

  • Intensive English programs at universities
  • ESL/EFL courses for private companies
  • English as a foreign language (in non-English speaking countries)
  • Supervision/Administration of ESL/EFL programs
  • ESL/EFL teacher preparation
  • Community college and university-level ESL courses
  • Adult education ESL programs for immigrants and refugees

Completion of the MA TESOL program also provides a student with appropriate preparation for further study at the doctoral level.

Students graduating with the MA in TESOL from the Department of Linguistics develop knowledge in six domains:

  1. General English Language Proficiency: Proficiency in all skill areas (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) to be strong teachers of English.
  2. Linguistic Knowledge: Fundamental linguistic knowledge in the areas of phonology, syntax, and semantics.
  3. General Pedagogical Knowledge: General pedagogical knowledge in areas such as writing instructional objectives, planning classroom instruction, and assessing learning.
  4. Second Language Teaching, Learning, and Context Knowledge: The ability to utilize the linguistic knowledge and specialized language-teaching skills to effectively instruct English language learners in varying classroom contexts.
  5. General Research Knowledge: The ability to understand and evaluate empirical research reports of the types commonly published in the social sciences.
  6. Second Language Teaching and Learning Research Knowledge: The knowledge and skills to (1) ask appropriate research questions in line with academic and professional interests in TESOL and (2) design valid ways to find answers to these questions.

Learning Outcomes

The TESOL MA program is designed to achieve the following five program learning outcomes:

  1. Systems of Human Language: In support of their teaching knowledge and skills, students will demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the major systems of human language (phonology, morphology, lexicon, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics) and how these are integral to language learning.
  2. Language Learning Theory: In further support of their teaching knowledge and skills, students will analyze and apply theories of second language learning and acquisition.
  3. Teaching Knowledge and Skills: Examine second language teaching strategies and procedures and apply accepted principles of effective lesson planning, materials development, and language testing.
  4. Research: Students will analyze, perform, and communicate professional-levels of research associated with their sophisticated levels of teaching knowledge and skills, understanding of the systems of human language, and language learning theories.
  5. Advanced specialized language teaching knowledge and skills in one of the following four areas:
    1. Teaching
    2. Curriculum & Materials Development
    3. Program Administration
    4. Curriculum & Assessment.


The application window is from September 1st to January 15th each year. Students will be notified of the admission decision by June 1 at the latest and begin the program in the next Fall semester (or Summer term, for those who need to take the introductory linguistics course). Apply online here.

Admissions decisions are based upon:

  • Undergraduate GPA, by way of official transcript, (all international applicants must send all marksheets, transcripts and diplomas for a credential evaluation to IERF).
  • Letter of intent (including experience, commitment to the profession, and plans for the future).
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • GRE (must be taken within the five years prior to beginning the program)
  • Résumé
  • Applicants should submit a writing sample (peer-reviewed if possible) in English, no longer than 20 pages, that reflects their best single-authored work, preferably focused on some area of linguistics, language, or communication.
  • English language skills for all non-native speakers of English, whether or not they graduated from an English speaking school: A TOEFL score of 237 (computer), 580 (paper), or 90 (internet based – iBT with minimum scores of 23 in Speaking and 22 in Listening, Reading, and Writing). Further information for international students can be found online at The TOEFL must be taken within the two years prior to beginning the program.
  • Students begin coursework fall semester. However, if you have not previously had an introductory linguistics course, then you must come summer term to take Ling 401 – Introduction to Graduate Linguistics. If you believe you have taken an equivalent course at another university, please send that course syllabus to the department secretary for evaluation at
  • The number of students admitted to the TESOL MA program depends on its capacity (which is projected to be a total of 15 active students) and the number of students who exit the program each year.
  • Students admitted to the MA should plan to meet with their advisor to promptly identify a timeline for completing their project or thesis.


The project/thesis advisor is appointed when a student is admitted to the TESOL MA program. The advisor can also later serve as chair of the project/thesis committee for the MA student. The chair can assist the student in selecting other faculty members who could serve as committee members.


  • Completed thesis or project and successful defense.
  • Competency in one language other than English at the 200 level. This requirement may be fulfilled while taking program coursework; but those language credits do NOT count toward the total credits needed for the program.

The MA degree in TESOL at Brigham Young University requires successful completion of 37 credit hours which consist of:

  • Core Classes (22 credits)
    • LING 610: TESOL Methods and Materials Overview (3)
    • LING 611: TESOL Methods and Materials Applications (3)
    • LING 612: TESOL Practicum (3)
    • LING 620: Research in TESOL (3)
    • LING 631: Grammar Theory and Pedagogy (3)
    • LING 640: Language Acquisition (3)
    • LING 660: Language Testing (3)
    • LING 695: TESOL Seminar (1)
  • Project/Thesis
    • Project: 3 hours of project credit (Ling 698R) plus 3 hours of related internship credit (Ling 688R). The student who selects the Project option must also specialize in a related area (see Specializations below)
    • Thesis: 6 hours (Ling 699R)
  • Electives: 9 hours of elective credits from among the options below. All students must take at least one of the teaching skills classes (670 or 671).
    • L655: Culture Teaching and Pragmatics (3)
    • L670: Teaching Skills, Reading/Writing/Vocabulary (3)
    • L671: Teaching Skills, Listening/Speaking/ Pronunciation (3)
    • L677: Curriculum Development (3)
    • L678: Materials Development (3)
    • L679: TESOL Program Administration (3)
    • L688R Academic Internship (3)


The TESOL MA program offers four specializations:

  • Teaching (Ling 655, 670, 671)
  • Program Administration (Ling 679, 677, plus 670 or 671)
  • Curriculum & Materials Development (Ling 677, 678, plus 670 or 671)
  • Curriculum & Assessment (Ling 677, one faculty-directed elective, plus 670 or 671)

For more information on the TESOL MA Program, contact Troy Cox at 801-422-5755 or