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Online Academic English Certificate

Welcome to the online Academic English Certificate!

The online Academic English Certificate for Speakers of English as an Additional Language is a college-credit, stand-alone Certificate.

Anyone can sign up for classes, regardless of your location.

This Certificate is ONLINE and designed for students who are not currently UMass Amherst Undergraduates. The Certificate is designed to assist students in developing advanced level proficiencies in academic and profession registers. In addition to receiving recognition (and university course credit), the Certificate also serves as further evidence of your academic and professional English skills for future employers or educational institutions.

Students from any location in the world can complete the Certificate through our online classes. These are the same classes for the same college credit and Certificate that are offered to our on campus students, the delivery is just online; this means there is no difference in course quality, college credit, or your transcript. Since this is a Certificate program and not a full degree program, we can NOT issue a student visa to complete the program on campus/in person.


Please select a tab or a link below to learn more.


To complete the full Certificate program, you will need to complete 5 courses totaling 15 credits. The courses are all online and offered by the ESL program through UMass Amherst University Without Walls (UWW).  All of our courses are taught (and designed) by highly qualified faculty. There are no prerequisites for the courses (see information about sequencing below), but there are categories of courses that you must choose from to fulfill the requirements of the Certificate. 

Choose TWO Reading & Writing Courses (6 credits)


Course Number





Vocabulary & Comprehension of Academic English




Investigating Media & Academic English 




America through Academic Readings


Choose TWO Speaking & Listening Courses (6 Credits)


Course Number





Techniques of Oral Communication 




Techniques of Academic Presentations 




Oral Comprehension of Academic and Professional Genres


Choose ONE Elective (3 credits)

Select an additional 3 credit course from any course above or;

Select a UWW content course with a focus on language approved by our certificate coordinator* or;

Any transfer course (3 credit max) approved by certificate coordinator

*Our Certificate Coordinator is Andrea Dallas, 


Course Descriptions

Below you will find brief descriptions of all of our course offerings. To find out which ones are currently being offered, please select the link "Current Courses."

ESL125 Techniques of Oral Communication 

In this course, students will gain confidence in speaking English in the university setting by practicing speaking in a variety of academic contexts, including informal interactions with other students and staff/faculty, effective communication with professors during office hours, participation in class discussions, and delivery of class presentations. Students will also focus on improving pronunciation by using pronunciation software to model, then practice and record their production of English sounds, rhythm, stress, and intonation patterns.

ESL126 Vocabulary & Comprehension of Academic English

In this course, students will work on increasing their knowledge and production of highly frequent academic vocabulary found across academic disciplines. They will also improve their reading fluency and comprehension of university-level texts through practicing close reading techniques and performing fluency exercises aimed at improving more automatic word recognition. The students will also read and use vocabulary for a purpose through a series of three course projects.

ESL225 Techniques of Academic Presentations

In this course, students will develop skills as diverse as choosing an appropriate topic, creating effective visuals, and designing a speech opening. The overall goal of this course is to develop an awareness and use of common speech types and organizational strategies and to prepare university-level students to deliver presentations in an academic setting. Students will also work on pronunciation, so that speech delivery becomes more comprehensible in the university classroom and in professional settings.

ESL230 Oral Comprehension of Academic and Professional Genres

The course emphasizes the mastery of listening skills and note-taking with a focus on current topics and controversial issues presented in academic and professional lectures, as well as other oral genres. Students will listen to academic/professional lectures and other authentic listening materials and demonstrate comprehension and critical thinking through taking detailed notes, reflective writing, and participating in discussions. Students will learn various listening strategies to improve both comprehension and processing; these strategies include but are limited to: planning, focusing attention, monitoring, predicting and inferring content, dealing with distractions, understanding accents, understanding cultural references, and using background knowledge and context clues.

ESL235 Investigating Media & Academic English

In this course, students will explore current issues and discussions in popular media and learn to identify, evaluate and thoughtfully engage with the key ideas. They will also learn to communicate their opinions clearly and persuasively by creating, revising, and reshaping their ideas, thereby allowing them to develop insightful arguments that are both research-driven and well-expressed. This course encourages them to be informed and independent thinkers by emphasizing deep reading and critical engagement.

ESL240 America through Academic Readings

In this course, students will explore various key topics in American life through academic readings to hone both their reading comprehension skills and to develop a deeper understanding of culture and context. Using close reading strategies to uncover what stated and implied in texts, students will engage with the current academic conversations being held on the values and norms of American life. Using an intercultural approach, they will be invited to thoughtfully consider their individual reactions to and interactions with such themes, and express these ideas in both discussion and writing.

Suggested Certificate Course Sequencing

There is no required or suggested sequence for completion. Our Certificate is very flexible in that students can start it in any sequence they desire; however, not every course is offered each semester, so if a course is available that you would like to take, we suggest taking it in that semester. To see the list of currently offered classes, please click the link "Current Courses" below.

Apply Now

To apply/register for the Certificate Program, complete the following steps:


Fill out the following link letting us know that you would like to enroll in the Certificate or need more information:


You only need to do this once. This information allows us to keep you updated on our course offerings, workshops, etc., and to track your progress at fulfilling the Certificate requirements (only fill out this link if you are enrolling in one of our courses or plan to complete the entire the Certificate program).

If you are not ready to enroll in a course and have general questions about the Certificate or our courses, please fill out the link above and choose that you need more information.  


Wait for a Welcome Email from our Certificate Coordinator in response to your Application or Request for More Information.  


Register for your Online Courses.

Our online courses are offered through University Without Walls (UWW) and are listed under English as a Second Language courses. Visit and read instructions carefully. As a UMass Amherst UWW student, you should enroll in the Univ+ sections of the courses.

If you have never taken courses at UMass Amherst, you should follow the registration path for “New Students.” It takes about 2-3 days to receive your student ID and access our UMass Amherst’s course management system (SPIRE) after you fill out their forms. You also need to request a UWW enrollment appointment, which is explained on the same webpage.

If you need assistance enrolling in the program through UWW, please contact UWW Registration Help at 413-545-3653, 800-922-8211 ( 

Costs & Fees


A 3-credit college course at UMass Amherst costs $1,575.  

If you complete the entire Certificate, you'll take approximately 5 different classes of 3 credits each, totalling approximately $7,875 (information as of Spring 2023).

Payment & Financial Aid

All questions regarding payment should be directed to UMass Amherst’s Office of the Bursar (

There is no financial aid available for short-term Certificates at the university if you are not enrolled in an Undergraduate or Graduate Degree Program. However, UMass Amherst offers a payment plan (monthly installments) for courses and short-term programs:

UWW also offers limited numbers of scholarships to help fund students’ education. For more information: 

Current Courses

CLICK HERE for a list of courses that we are currently offering online. 

Other Info

Certificate Award/Completion

To receive the Certificate, students must have earned 15 or more credits from the list of courses indicated in the certificate overview and must pass these courses with a grade of C or higher.

Once you have completed all five courses, write to the Certificate Coordinator (Andrea Dallas, to receive the completion form. Follow the direction on the completion form. In addition to the Certificate appearing on your transcript, a paper certificate will also be issued to those who complete the program. 

UWW International Students

Students taking our online courses from their countries of residence (Outside of US; whose official language is not English) must fill out the registration from above regarding current English proficiency and at least high school education. It is important that you fill out the registration form yourself. Our courses are upper intermediate/lower advanced level, academic English courses and are not for beginners; you need a minimum intermediate level of English level to perform well in courses (CEFR scales - minimum B1). We will review your registration form to let you know if we need any further information to establish your proficiency level. We can also arrange for remote testing if there are any concerns. Please contact the program coordinator (Andrea Dallas, for additional information.

Since this is an undergraduate certificate, the U.S. educational prerequisite is a high school diploma (or GED). If you are an international student, please make sure you forward a copy of your high school diploma (or higher degree) to certificate coordinator, Andrea Dallas (

Contact Us

For questions or further information, please contact our Certificate Coordinator: Andrea Dallas,