University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Linguistics Letterhead

Adult/University-Level TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Undergraduate Certificate

The Adult/University-Level TESOL Undergraduate Certificate Program is designed to meet the needs of students who wish to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to adults or university-level students abroad. The program is open to undergraduates with at least junior standing to post-baccalaureate special students, and to those who do not plan to pursue a college or university degree (non-degree students) but who have a strong interest in this subject. Graduate students or post-baccalaureate non-degree students should pursue instead the “Adult/University-Level TESOL Graduate Certificate Program.” Training in the graduate certificate program is more rigorous, and some credits earned can be transferred to the Linguistics Department M.A. program.


Students who wish to apply to the program should submit the following materials to the TESOL Certificate Program coordinator in the Department of Linguistics:

  1. Adult/University-Level TESOL Undergraduate Certificate Program application form (available from the TESOL Certificate Program Coordinator);
  2. Transcripts of all college-level academic work, with evidence of a GPA of 2.5 or better;
  3. A statement of purpose;
  4. Two letters of recommendation from persons knowledgeable about the applicant’s recent academic and/or work experience.

Applicants who are not native speakers of English also should submit scores of at least 550 on the TOEFL exam and 45 on the TSE.

Credits and Courses

Students are required to complete the six courses (18 credits) plus teaching internship (3 credits) outlined below. All credits must be completed with a GPA of 3.0 or better.

  • Linguis 350: Introduction to Linguistics
  • Linguis 410: Literacy, Grammar, and Methodologies in ESL Education (title change in progress)
  • Linguis 420: Introduction to Second Language Acquisition
  • English/Linguis 565: Introduction to Adult/University-Level TESOL
  • English/Linguis 569: Internship in Teaching ESL to Adult Learners

One of the following two courses:

  • Linguis 430: Language and Society
  • Anthro/Linguis 570: Issues in Bilingualism

One elective selected from the following:

  • English 404: Language, Power, and Identity
  • Linguis 415: First Language Acquisition
  • Linguis 460: Sounds and Sound Systems
  • Linguis 464: Word and Sentence Structure
  • Linguis 468: Language in its Various Forms: (Subtitle)
  • Linguis 470: Historical/Comparative Linguistics
  • Linguis 560: Advanced Phonology
  • Linguis 564: Advanced Syntax

Students must complete a three-credit internship. The student is expected to complete approximately 50 hours of supervised teaching over the course of the semester. Placements are made by the TESOL program into one of the internship institutions affiliated with the certificate program.

Undergraduate students concurrently completing a bachelor’s degree receive the certificate upon completion of their degree requirements; post-baccalaureate special students receive the certificate upon completion of the required course work and internship.

Students who previously have taken any of the required courses while enrolled as non-degree undergraduate students or students in other undergraduate programs at UWM may transfer the credits earned into the certificate program, so long as the courses have been taken within the last five years. Students who have taken comparable undergraduate-level courses at other institutions may be allowed to transfer in up to 6 credits of course work, upon approval of the certificate program coordinator.

There is a time limit of three years from initial enrollment for completion of the certificate.

Gainful Employment

The Adult/University-Level TESOL Undergraduate Certificate Program is subject to gainful employment regulations.

See: Gainful Employment Certificate Disclosure Information.