If you have any other questions about the TESOL Program, please contact us at (360) 650-4699 or email TESOL@wwu.edu.

Several courses (TESL 405, 420, and 421) require time spent working with English language learners as part of the course. You can definitely complete these in your home area! You will need to find a setting in which you can volunteer with English learners.

It is also very possible to complete the final “practicum” courses (TESL 432 and 435) in these same community/international locations.  You will need to be in early contact with the TESOL practicum coordinator to make sure the program has a mentor to guide you and is able to support you as needed during the practicum course, which is approximately 4 hours per week over 10 weeks, or at least 4 weeks with more hours each week in the classroom.

Yes! Students are able to take single courses with departmental permission. If interested, email TESOL@wwu.edu.


WWU’s TESOL program prepares you teach both immigrants in the U.S. and to teach English as a foreign language internationally. It is an “academic” program, which is preferred by international organizations who are looking for teachers with in-depth training and adequate classroom teaching practice.

For additional information on the program curriculum, visit the Curriculum page.

Students who take 8-10 credits per quarter may complete the certificate program in 3 quarters.  Students will be able to choose from both online and face-to-face courses.  Students may elect to take fewer credits per quarter, enroll in the Summer Intensive, and/or participate in the QuerĂ©taro program, these options will allow the student to fit the program to his/her schedule.  The shortest time to complete, face-to-face or online, would be 6 months.

For sample schedules and course offerings, see the Curriculum page.

Current tuition and fee information for the TESOL program can be found on the Tuition and Fee Information page.  

The ideal candidate for this profession is organized yet flexible, patient, creative, interested in and open to other cultures, empathetic, has good “people skills” and enjoys language.

The majority of participants in our program plan to teach English in the United States or abroad. Many hope to work with immigrants and/or international students.

The job market for certificate holders is wide-open internationally, and candidates for jobs who hold this academic TESOL certificate (rather than a generic TEFL certificate) are preferred for higher level, better paying positions internationally. The domestic work situation is more restricted, with MATESOL holders preferred for many full-time positions at community colleges and language schools, but WWU TESOL graduates have been very competitive in positions in community organizations that work with immigrants and literacy.

As an admitted WWU student, with 45 credits of coursework, preferably with a GPA of 3.0, you only need to turn in the TESOL program application under “how to apply” from the TESOL website:  www.wwu.edu/tesol

You should do this at least several weeks before registration starts for the following quarter’s classes.  The program fills on a first-come basis.

We recommend that you apply to the TESOL program as soon as possible and fill out a minor declaration form as soon as you are accepted. This will allow you to continue taking courses in the TESOL program even after you graduate as you ‘complete’ your TESOL minor. You will need to communicate with the TESOL program, admissions, and Financial Aid to let them know after you have graduated, that you will continue as a post-bac student.  It is important to not skip any academic quarters, except for summer, if you would like this option.

If that schedule does not work for you, you can also return to WWU after graduation, at any date, by filling out the program application form and an extension application form for admission to WWU. Both of these forms are found on the webpage under “how to apply” and can be filled out once you have graduated.

It is difficult to enroll for exactly six credits; in some cases you would take two courses that would add up to 8 or 9 credits.  With a little planning, it is possible to keep above 6 credits each quarter.

By the time you complete the TESOL certificate program, you need to have studied the equivalent of one-year college level study of a foreign language. The goal is not necessarily fluency—rather learning another language is an effective way to learn more about English and a way to understand what it is like to be a student in a language classroom. It makes you a better English teacher!  Most students have taken some language study in high school or college—one year high school is the equivalent of one quarter college level study. A few need to take additional coursework, either at Western, a community college, personal experience or study in another country in order to complete the requirement.  Ask for advising if you want to discuss your particular situation. Participation in our Mexico trip is a fun and effective way to meet the foreign language requirement, too.  We also have a Skype course with our Mexican language school partner for those who are looking for an online option.

Yes! The program was designed to allow students to take courses online and yet have the option to join us for face to face courses in Bellingham or Mexico in the summer.

Our program is a 27 credit academic program, so most students finish the program over 9-12 months.  Some do finish it more intensively, taking 13 credits online in the spring and then 14 in the summer.  Students motivated to finish quickly have been most successful taking courses over three quarters by starting in the spring or fall quarters. The most intensive program would begin Spring quarter with 13 credits, then add 14 credits in the summer. Participation in our Mexico faculty led program allows for up to 19 credits to be completed summer quarter, lightening the spring load. Please seek out advising from the director who can help you figure out the sequence of courses that would work best for you.

Successful completion of the program leads to a Western Washington University academic transcript and a TESOL certificate, which can be used internationally as proof of in-depth training in ESL and EFL.  The certificate program can also be declared as a minor for students with other majors at WWU. Two majors at Western allow students to incorporate the TESOL certificate into the major requirements: Linguistics and American Cultural Studies. 10 credits of TESOL can be used as elective credits in the Adult and Higher Education M.Ed. Program.  There is also an ELL endorsement program for those who already have or are seeking a Washington State teaching credential. There currently is no MATESOL degree at Western.

Under the curriculum page, you can find sample syllabi for each of the courses.   Course content is delivered through video and audiotaped materials, plus assigned readings.  You are often asked to volunteer with an English language learner as part of the course requirements. You have several hours of work associated each week with each credit you take.  Some of this will be creating and submitting assignments, lesson plans, and projects.  Other times you will be discussing with other online students on a discussion board.  Sometimes you will need to video tape yourself practice teaching parts of a lesson or an activity, and share it with classmates. 

The courses do not require you to work at specific times, but work is scheduled to be turned in on a weekly basis. For the practicum, you will volunteer in a classroom in your community for about 4 hours a week, for a total of 40 hours.  You will work with a mentoring teacher in the classroom, and your WWU supervisor will coach you as you prepare and teach several full lessons to the class. If you are out of the Bellingham area, you will need to videotape two lessons and share them with your TESOL supervisor.

Like the language requirement, this is an exit requirement for the TESOL certificate program, which means you can complete it before or after you enter the program. Cross-cultural studies could be experiential (at least four weeks immersed in one place in a non-English speaking culture), growing up cross-culturally, or studying a course at the college level that focuses on one culture or ethnic group in which you learn to look at culture through a different “lens.”

The TESOL certificate program and the ELL endorsement program are now separate programs—each with their own courses and outcomes. 

The TESOL certificate program is for you if you want to teach English overseas or if you want to teach adults in the US, for example, if you would like to work with ELLs in IEPs (Intensive English Programs), in Community Colleges, or in GED programs.   The theory and methodology are focused primarily on adult learning.

The ELL endorsement is for you if you want to teach in the P-12 school system in the United States.  It is a secondary endorsement, meaning you also need to already have or are concurrently obtaining a teaching certificate in a content area in secondary education or some area within elementary education.  The purpose of this endorsement is to make you a more effective teacher in the ‘mainstream’ classroom.  You will have the ability to better support ELLs in your classroom access the subjects you teach.

If you would like more detail about the TESOL program, please contact Trish Skillman at Trish.Skillman@wwu.edu.  If you would like more detail about the ELL program, feel free to contact Dr. Jennifer Green at Jennifer.Green@wwu.edu.  We can set up a meeting or exchange questions and information via email.

Each summer, the TESOL program proposes a faculty-led program to Queretaro, Mexico. This is an opportunity to travel with a WWU TESOL faculty member to one of the safest, most historical parts of Mexico.  Participants can choose to take part in one or both four week sessions. For the first session, students take TESL 421 and a Spanish course.  In session two, eligible students complete their practicum courses, TESL 432 and 435, and Spanish. Participants live, dine and learn with host families and enjoy cultural fieldtrips. You can find additional information highlighting the program on the TESOL webpage.

You can apply to the program by filling in our online program application under how to apply. Everyone entering the program needs to complete the program application. Your electronic application is quickly reviewed and you will be sent acceptance information and further details about the program and procedures.

There is also a link to apply to the university to be an extension student.  It is important to complete both forms if you are not already a student at Western Washington University. This will allow you to register online for courses and be eligible to apply for financial aid.  Be aware that admission deadlines to the university are March 1 for Summer and Fall quarters, October 1 for Winter quarter, and January 15 for Spring quarter.

It is possible to start TESOL courses before you are admitted to WWU, if you miss application deadlines.  You will only be considered for financial aid, however, if you have applied and been accepted to WWU for this extension program.

Your first step is to apply to the program.  You can begin any quarter and can register up to the first day of classes, but if you need financial aid to pay for your courses you will need to follow the deadlines listed above.  Western follows the quarter system which is (approximately):

Fall quarter- the fourth week of September through the second week of December Winter quarter- the first week of January through the third week of March,
Spring quarter- the first week of April through the second week in June, and
Summer quarter- the fourth week of June through the third week of August.  


Current tuition and fee information for the TESOL program can be found on the Tuition and Fee Information page.  TESOL courses are self-sustaining, which means that you are billed per credit.  This is charged on your student account, and the tuition total will depend on the combination of costs for your state-supported and your TESOL courses.  You can estimate your costs using the Calculate your Tuition chart. Some students find that they minimize costs by grouping TESOL courses together in a few quarters rather than adding one TESOL course per quarter when they already have a full load of other WWU courses.

Financial aid may be applied toward the TESOL tuition for students who are formally admitted to Western, but we encourage you to talk to financial aid so that they can re-evaluate your financial “need.” Self-sustaining courses are not eligible for Western grant or tuition fee waiver funding. Please consult with financial aid if you have questions regarding the types of aid you have been awarded and any program limitations with your aid.