Bilingual, ESL, & Multicultural Education M.Ed.

The Bilingual/English as a Second Language/Multicultural Education M.Ed. program is a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive learning community where teachers prepare to help students of all ages, in schools, community settings, and workplaces, acquire additional languages and literacies while supporting their native language and cultural development. Our students become leaders in second language education and multicultural education and have the option to obtain teaching licenses in E.S.L. or bilingual education.

We approach the study and practice of language development holistically, exploring the philosophic, historical, and theoretical foundations of multilingual/multicultural learning and teaching. We envision educational practices that help build an equitable world and multicultural nation and develop curricula that are responsive to racial, cultural, linguistic, and social class differences and facilitate learning. We prepare educational leaders to promote intercultural communication and cooperation and to critique and challenge existing social and educational structures and practices that exclude non-dominant groups and denigrate native language and culture.

student presenting

Course of Study

Students ground their programs of study in bodies of knowledge that cross cultural and disciplinary boundaries. These include:

  • diversity, pluralism and the ecology of power in institutions and society
  • the history, policy, theory, and practice of multilingual/multicultural education
  • language and communication in pluralistic societies
  • first and second language and language and literacy development
  • teaching, learning, and assessment
  • curriculum development, implementation, evaluation, and reform
  • using materials and technology in curriculum development
  • current practices in instruction, and assessment practices
  • student's personal and cultural perspectives and beliefs

Our courses blend theory and practice, providing opportunities to plan, teach, reflect, evaluate, advocate, research, and lead in the schools, community, and at the university. They are rich and complex enough to support learners from diverse backgrounds, with diverse goals and at varying stages of development. Students from the diverse cultures and perspectives are important resources in the program, helping us to better understand learning and teaching in a pluralistic world.

Together, our students and faculty engage in research and critical reflection on the form and substance of learning and teaching in order to understand the factors that impede change, to imagine the possibilities for change, and to take leadership roles in implementing and evaluating change. We critique our personal perspectives and practices, the structures and practices in schools and communities, and the practices and structures of the program of study itself. 

All students are required to upload assessments to their master’s- and/or licensure-related online portfolios (i.e. TK20).

33-34 credits total (depending on the licensure or the non-licensure pathway)

Courses required by both Bilingual, ESL, & Multicultural Education M.Ed. and Reading and Writing M.Ed. 

Course Description Credits
EDUC 615L Seminar in Crosscultural Communication* 3
EDUC 677 Foundations of Bilingual, ESL and Multicultural Education* 3
EDUC 615S Language, Literacy Policy, and Planning 3
EDUC 681 Teaching Reading & Writing for Content & Language Learning 3
EDUC 687 Language Development and Literacy 3
EDUC 692L Workshop on Leadership Project Development 3

*Seminar in Crosscultural Communication (EDUC 615L) OR Foundations in Multicultural Education (EDUC 677)

ESL License Courses

Course Description Credits
EDUC 533 Theories and Methods for Sheltered Instruction 3
EDUC 611 Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation in Bilingual and ESL Education 3
EDUC 616 Principles of Second Language Learning and Teaching 3
EDUC 698LA Pre-Practicum 1
EDUC 500L Practicum 3 - 6
2 Electives**

ESL Non-license Courses

Course Description Credits
EDUC 697W Critical Innovations: World Language* 3
EDUC 533 Theories and Methods for Sheltered Instruction* 3
EDUC 611 Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation in Bilingual and ESL Education 3
EDUC 616 Principles of Second Language Learning and Teaching 3
EDUC 698AP Field Experience 3 - 6
2 Electives**

** Students determine program courses and electives in consultation with their advisor.

ESL License requirements upon completion:  

  • Linguistics (3 credits)
  • Psychology (3 credits)
  • Foreign Language (6 credits)
  • Communication & Literacy MTEL
  • ESL Subject Matter MTEL

EDUC 615S Language, Literacy Policy, and Planning

This is an introductory course in the field of language planning and policy which is situated in the broader field of sociology of language.  Selected case studies will provide a basis for critically examining issues such as:  ideology and language planning efface, language education policies, literacy movements, and language shift and death.

EDUC 692L Workshop on Leadership Project Development

Designed to provide support for developing an original curricular or research leadership project integrating principles derived from theoretical premises central to the BEM, Reading and Writing, and LLC concentrations.

EDUC 533 Theories and Methods for Sheltered Instruction

This course aims to prepare ELL and mainstream teachers to address the challenge of helping bilingual and emergent bilingual learners succeed in regular academic content classes.  We will consider research supporting the view that second language acquisition is enhanced by rigorous academic content instruction.  We will also explore instructional practices aligning English Language Proficiency Benchmarks and Outcomes for English Language Learners with those of science and other content areas.

EDUC 611 Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation in Bilingual and ESL Education

This course is designed as an introduction to the field of testing, assessment and evaluation in second language education (bilingual, foreign language, and ESL settings).

EDUC 616 Principles of Second Language Learning and Teaching

Introduction to the theories of second language acquisition.  Critical examination of language learning to develop the ability to analyze classroom discourse and to work collaboratively as an expert and leader in classroom second-language learning.


We require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 (on a 4.0 scale). The program admissions committee may consider applicants with an undergraduate GPA below 2.75, only if their personal statement clearly describes how they overcame obstacles and how they will be able to handle rigorous academic work. 

We look for students who have worked with diverse populations, either as teachers or in other roles, and experience with bilingualism/multilingualism, biculturalism, and cross-cultural learning. We are also seeking international students who are experienced language teachers in their own countries. Our goal is to create a cohort with a broad range of experiences and backgrounds.

Application Requirements

  • Online Graduate Admissions Application
  • A minimum of two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcript(s) from all colleges/universities you’ve attended.
  • A personal statement that articulates your interest in our program, your prior credentials and professional experiences, your professional or research interests, and your future career goals
  • For Advanced Practitioner candidates: evidence of teaching experience in formal and/or informal settings such as experience planning and teaching lessons in your own classroom or a similar setting
  • For career changers (e.g. individuals with significant experience in a prior career path): a one-page explanation of how your prior experiences will inform your career in education
  • If English is not your first language, evidence of your ability to speak and understand English: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) with a minimum score of 80 or IELTS Academic (International English Language Testing System) with a minimum score of 6.5)
  • Application fee
  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) are not required.

Rolling deadlines exist until cohorts are filled. Please submit all required application materials by the preferred deadline of January 2 for Fall semester admission. Spring semester admission is currently available only for U.S. non-ESL licensure candidates and part-time ESL-licensure candidates. Applications will continue to be considered until the cohort is filled.

For more information about the application process, visit Graduate School Admissions.


This program leads to initial teacher licensure in Massachusetts. Because of reciprocity agreements between states, you may be able to transfer your license to another state. However, the College of Education at UMass Amherst makes no guarantees that this program meets teacher licensure requirements in any state other than Massachusetts. If you are seeking licensure in another state, click on the link below for the program of your choice for more information.  For assistance in determining whether this program will be appropriate for you, send your inquiry to the program contact identified in the program description.  Access to your state’s licensing agency is available on the Teacher Licensure Agency Directory.


For general questions about the program, contact the program advisor: Rosa Medina Riveros.

For more information about the bilingual, ESL & multicultural education master's program, contact Dr. Theresa Y. Austin, the Language, Literacy, & Culture Concentration Coordinator, at