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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

English Department

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Teaching English as a second language and/or at a primary or secondary level is a career path for many English majors. Below is important information related to these paths that can help you start to plan your progress toward these goals. Students seeking licensure information or just thinking about licensure should be in touch with EIO@educ.umass.edu or 413-545-2002. If you are interested in teaching English on the secondary level, we strongly encourage you to visit the School of Education at 121 Furcolo and speak with an advisor to discuss your goals as well as an advisor in the English undergraduate office. All of these paths require special course work and most lead to a Master's degree in Education, so the sooner you plan, the better prepared you will be.

Early childhood education is a path that requires a genuine interest in and commitment to the education of young children. Students embarking on this path may seek to acquire or extend their knowledge and skills in Early Intervention, Preschool Programming, Family Services, or Public Policy for Children and Families. There is a strong emphasis on the study of the child, individually and in groups, and with close attention to the cultural context. On campus, the Child Study and Early Education concentration does not lead to licensure. Early Childhood licensure is offered through the Collaborative Teacher Education Program (CTEP.)

If teaching English at the secondary level is your goal, you will need to fulfill a wide range of competency areas that require substantial coursework exceeding what is typically required for the English major. This coursework is an important foundation for both teaching at the secondary level and the Master's degree in Education, which you will eventually need to obtain. Therefore, it is critical to see advisors in the Undergraduate English Office and in the School of Education early in your undergraduate career so that you can plan your coursework in a timely way. Every semester the Undergraduate Office prepares a list showing which of our courses fulfill competency areas. This list is available both in the office and on our website's Undergraduate courses page, where it can be downloaded as a PDF from one of the top links of the page.

Certification is not required to teach English as a second language. However, it is strongly recommended as it will make you better prepared and more qualified for those kinds of jobs. There is no undergraduate degree available on campus for teaching ESL, but there are local opportunities to begin gaining important experience through volunteering. The School of Education does offer a Masters with a focus on bilingual, ESL and multicultural education, as well as a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) and preparation for ESL licensure. For more information on the CAGS program, go to http://www.umass.edu/education/academics/degree_programs.shtml#cags and http://www.umass.edu/education/downloads/cags_guideline.pdf

Other ESL certification programs:

Boston Academy of English

Boston University ESL Program


The Boston Language Institute

Center for New Americans (provides training for volunteers)

Clark Univeristy ESL Program

The International Language Institute of Massachusetts

The Jones Library ESL Center (provides training for volunteers)

Simmons College ESL Program

TEFL International




Information on the minor in Education

Education Licensure Overview

Preparing for and taking the MTEL

Information on the combined BA/MA in Education STEP program offered on campus


English STEP requirements

English as a Second Language (ESL) Program





Educator Licensure, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

ESL/TFL Career Guide

Massachusetts Tests for Licensure Home Page

Massachusetts Department of Education - Elementary and Secondary Teaching