TESOL Certificate Overview

Introduction and Rationale

The University of Virginia is pleased to offer a TESOL Certificate supported by the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Linguistics Program and the Center for American English Language and Culture (CAELC). This Certificate is designed to provide candidates with the opportunity to learn essential aspects of linguistics and language education while gaining ESL classroom observation, tutoring, and teaching experiences.

As English continues to expand as a medium for global communication, the demand for qualified English language instructors increases. Likewise, as non-native English-speaking immigrant populations increase in this country, teachers of English as a Second Language are needed to provide linguistic and cultural training. These developments have raised the awareness of the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) among students at the University of Virginia.

This strong interest in English as a Second Language teaching among UVA students is evidenced by enrollment in TESOL-related courses across the University. As UVA students look into language teaching opportunities after graduation, many of them have asked whether their applied linguistics related study can be recognized by the University through conferral of a TESOL certificate. Many job opportunities and graduate-level programs are dependent on TESOL certification, and even though such students often have the necessary knowledge and skills for these opportunities, without a certificate, these UVA graduates struggle to compete with other applicants whose institutions provide this certification. The UVA TESOL Certificate provides students with the knowledge and certification to help them meet the needs of English language learners.

Candidate Eligibility

The UVA TESOL Certificate appeals primarily to students in linguistics, foreign language, and other humanities majors, but the Certificate is open to both undergraduate and graduate students from any program of study at UVA. By completing a prescribed set of courses that provide students with knowledge and experience in the field of language teaching, candidates for the Certificate demonstrate that they have met the academic standards required to earn the TESOL Certificate recognition on their University transcripts.

The TESOL Certificate differs from a degree program in that the Certificate is a concentration that students can take in addition to their major or minor. The Certificate provides candidates with specialized knowledge in the field of English language teaching, but is less extensive than a Master's in TESOL program. It should also be noted that the TESOL Certificate does not replace (or provide) K-12 certification or endorsement in ESL; students interested in such should contact the UVA Curry School of Education. The TESOL Certificate is designed primarily for those who wish to teach English abroad, or who wish to work with non-K-12 populations in the USA. In these contexts, candidates will benefit from a solid knowledge of language fundamentals paired with pedagogical training and teaching experience.

An undergraduate student MUST complete one of the certificate courses with a grade of B- or higher before applying.  A graduate student MUST complete one of the  certificate courses with a grade of B or higher before applying.

Please note: The TESOL Certificate is an add-on certificate available only to current UVA students. All applicants must be matriculated into an undergraduate or graduate degree program at the University of Virginia. UVA alumni are not eligible.

Components of the TESOL Certificate

Research into the quality of TESOL training highlights three important components to a successful TESOL Certificate program: applied linguistic and sociocultural knowledge, pedagogical training, and practical teaching experience. The UVA TESOL Certificate program includes core courses that require exposure to each of these three components: Applied Linguistic Knowledge (primarily through LING 3400), Pedagogical Training (primarily through LING 3090 for undergraduate students and LING 5090 for graduate students), and Practical Teaching Experience (primarily through LING 3101, 3102 & 3103 for undergraduate students and 5101, 5102, & 5103 for graduate students). Students then further their training in language use with two required electives from an approved list of relevant courses. It should be noted that because of sequencing of courses and the hours required for the practicum (5 classroom and 33 practicing hours per 1 hour credit, for a total of 15 classroom hours and 99 practicing hours), that the TESOL Certificate cannot be completed over two semesters; therefore, you will need a minimum of three semesters to complete the certificate.

Please note the grade requirements below for TESOL Certificate students:

  1. Undergraduate Students: An undergraduate student MUST earn a grade of B- or higher on ALL certificate courses in order to successfully earn the TESOL Certificate. Update 4/26/2021: During the COVID-19 periods of Spring 2020-Spring 2021, if a student elects to receive a grade of "Credit" for any of their TESOL Certificate classes, the courses for which they have earned credit will be counted towards their TESOL Certificate.
  2. Graduate Students: A graduate student MUST earn a grade of B or higher on ALL certificate courses in order to successfully earn the TESOL Certificate. Update 4/26/2021: If your graduate program offered the Credit (CR)/General Credit (GC)/No Credit (NC) grading option for one or more of the TESOL Certificate classes during the Spring 2020-Spring 2021 COVID-19 periods, the courses for which you have earned Credit (CR) will be counted towards your TESOL Certificate.