Master of Arts in TESOL (Online With Short Residencies in Vermont)


2 locations available

Program Description

Join a wave of teachers transforming English language education and expanding their impact on classrooms and communities.

As English becomes a global language, TESOL teachers must know not just how to teach a language but how to prepare their students to participate more fully in a dynamic and changing world. Students need teachers who can adapt to their learning needs. Teachers must increasingly engage in language policy discussions and look beyond the classroom to the communities in which they work.

A leader in TESOL for more than 50 years, SIT will give you the training to meet your students’ learning needs and promote positive change within communities. You’ll learn to think deeply about teaching and learning, using you examination of the major shifts in the field (systems thinking, chaos theory, ecological approach, multilingualism, and plurilingualism) to analyze and interrogate your beliefs. With this thorough background in theory and practice, you’ll be prepared to intelligently and compassionately serve learners.

A personalized approach

Join a learning laboratory of fellow teachers. Your first three-week residency builds your cohort of experienced teachers into a tight-knit, collaborative group learning from their own and each other’s experiences in the classroom. A faculty advisor will mentor you through every step of the rest of your first year. Your mentor will observe you in your own classroom and give you personalized feedback. You’ll further customize your learning experience by choosing one of four areas of specialization: teacher training, plurilinguistic pedagogy, teaching refugees and displaced persons, or teaching young learners.

Ideas you’ll explore

In this highly practical program, you’ll learn theory and how to use it. You’ll use tested tools and tap into your own creativity to develop new tools that work in your classroom. Some of the key topics you’ll cover include:

  • Personal, psychological, socio-cultural, biological, and linguistic factors that influence language development
  • The intercultural and identity dimensions of language and cultural learning
  • Multilingualism, linguistic and cultural diversity, and plurilinguistic pedagogies
  • The regularities, meanings, and underlying systems of language focusing on the phonology, grammar, and lexicon of English
  • The theory underlying the teaching of the “four skills” — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — and how to design course lessons that develop and integrate learning in these skills
  • A variety of approaches to language teaching, such as the Silent Way and Community Language Learning
  • How to integrate past and present learning and teaching experiences in a variety of contexts
  • How to design and assess curriculum

How it works

This innovative low-residency MA in TESOL program for practicing teachers utilizes SIT’s successful model of experiential, reflective learning and practice. During your first three-week residency, you’ll learn with and from other teaching professionals in your cohort as you are trained in the latest TESOL pedagogies and practices. Throughout the year, as you complete coursework online, you’ll apply your new learning in your own classroom. During a three-day supervised practicum, your faculty advisor will visit your classroom to provide individualized, practical mentorship.

During the second year of the program, move beyond the classroom to understand how your teaching can impact the community. You’ll choose one of four emerging challenges in the field — teacher training, plurilinguistic pedagogy, teaching refugees and displaced persons, or teaching young learners — as your area of specialization. Building on your work during the previous year, you’ll develop skills in leadership and advocacy.


With SIT’s experiential curriculum, you’ll learn how to put theory into practice. In addition to core courses, a broad range of elective choices let you focus on courses that will help you meet your career goals.

This program comprises online coursework, two three-week summer sessions on SIT’s campus in Vermont, an Interim-Year Teaching Practicum, an area of concentration, and an Independent Professional Project (thesis), for a total of 34 credits.

Phase one courses (26 credits)

  • Foundations (1 credit, online)
  • Approaches to Teaching Second Languages (3 credits, online and face to face)
  • Teaching the Four Skills (3 credits, online)
  • Intercultural Communications for Language Teachers (3 credits, online and face to face)
  • English Applied Linguistics (4 credits, online and face to face)
  • Second Language Acquisition (3 credits, online and face to face)
  • Curriculum Design and Assessment (2 credits, online)
  • Interim-Year Teaching Practicum (6 credits over two semesters, online and face to face)
  • Sandanona Conference (1 credit, face to face)

Phase two courses (8 credits)

  • Specialization Seminar (3 credits, online)
    • Plurilinguistic Pedagogy
    • Teacher Training and Teacher Development
    • Teaching Refugees and Displaced Persons
    • Teaching Young Learners
  • Independent Professional Project (5 credits, online)

The Independent Professional Project, or thesis, is the final component of this program. In addition to being a significant personal achievement, the project should be of interest and value to others in the profession and of publishable quality.

Projects may take a variety of formats, allowing you to focus on a topic that will benefit you in your development as a second-language teacher:

  • An academic research paper
  • A classroom-based action research project
  • A materials development project

Degree Requirements

This is a two-year program. You must complete the program, including the Independent Professional Project (thesis), within the two-year timeframe. If this deadline is missed you may petition for an extension.

Areas of Specialization

This program gives you a choice of four areas of specialization to focus your learning in a way that best meets your goals.

Choose one of the following advanced seminars:

Plurilinguistic Pedagogy

In a world characterized by unprecedented mobility and diversity, people from developed and developing countries alike are increasingly part of new and changing professional, educational, and business communities. Thus, they need the skills to communicate across linguistic and cultural differences. Within this setting, English plays a key role as a lingua franca, seen by some as a major tool of empowerment while viewed by others as a killer language.

Explore how plurilinguistic pedagogy differs from other in addressing the needs of learners. In this seminar, you’ll learn how to:

  • Maximize learner empowerment while mitigating the negative impact of English in the ecology of languages
  • Evaluate language practices and policies through the lenses of language as a problem, language as a right, and language as a resource
  • Celebrate differences and move classrooms away from language hierarchy and marginalization of communities
  • Overcome deficits created by monolingual ideologies
  • Tap into the linguistic and cultural knowledge of teacher, students, and communities
  • Change assessment systems to encourage a plurilingual exploration of language

Teacher Training and Teacher Development

This seminar is for TESOL students with a minimum of two years’ teaching experience who have been involved in supporting or advising teachers (perhaps without having been trained to do so) or who hope to work with teacher education in the future. The primary focus of the course may be pre- service, in-service teacher training, or a combination, depending on class make-up. The seminar will focus on teacher education and training in multicultural and multilingual contexts and will address teacher training and teacher development in culturally and linguistically complex contexts.

The seminar will address the following components:

  • Various roles of teacher developer, trainer, educator, mentor
  • Core tasks of training teachers
  • Different ways to observe teachers
  • How to give feedback sensitively and effectively
  • How to set up and sustain a teacher development group in your school
  • Skills required in managing groups of teachers

You’ll develop a literature review, identify a problem or issue to address, create a training plan that exemplifies your beliefs about teacher education/training, and create a blueprint for advocacy, including implementation of a training/teacher education strategy in your workplace.

Teaching Refugees and Displaced Persons

As the number of displaced persons grows, language teachers find themselves increasingly serving students in different stages of displacement, repatriation, and resettlement. Teachers need to be able to design programs to temporarily or permanently address the needs of a displaced population. Students are often multilingual and multicultural, requiring cultural negotiation skills and mediation. Also, they often suffer from trauma and isolation. These challenges can hide students’ rich backgrounds, personal agency, and learning resources.

You’ll create an instructional unit or training workshop focusing on a region or context. Because teachers are a significant bridge between students and the larger society and community, you will develop a personal advocacy blueprint for your students and student communities. You and your cohort will contribute to each other’s learning through weekly sharing and peer-to-peer teaching. In this seminar, you’ll delve into:

  • Causes and experiences of displacement
  • Program types and curricula (from crisis intervention to resettlement)
  • The relationship between trauma and learning
  • Best practices for teaching ESL to displaced communities, including literacy instruction, psycho-social support in the classroom, online learning programs for displaced students, and transitioning students from ESL to workplace
  • Global realities presented through the daily UNHCR refugee briefing
  • Participatory principles that promote optimal educational experiences

Students not currently teaching in this context will be required to informally tutor (online or in their own community) during the course.

Teaching Young Learners

As countries around the world require English instruction in schools, teachers find themselves working in complex multicultural and multilingual settings with ministries of education, school administrations, parents, and students to determine the appropriate integration of languages — including mother tongue, English, and other national or regional languages — in school instruction. Teachers in these contexts must be able to work effectively within different philosophical approaches to education while advocating for optimal learning for their students.

In this seminar, you’ll learn to work with children in public and private schools, including bilingual/multilingual education, Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), classroom management, and child development and early literacy. You’ll also explore models for community and school partnerships and advocacy so you can understand and navigate through national language policy and program design to meet the needs of your students. As part of the seminar, you’ll write a literature review, develop a context and age focus for your study, and create practical teaching lessons and a blueprint for advocacy within this context. You’ll contribute to and learn from other members of your cohort in peer-to-peer dialogue around readings and assignments.

Admissions Criteria

We strive to create a diverse and experienced student body to enhance the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom. To be considered for admission to this program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • US bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • Demonstrated English language ability (see details below)
  • Intercultural experience
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to use experience as a source of learning
  • Experience or familiarity with instructional technology, distance learning, and/or independent learning
  • An understanding of the structure and philosophy of the program
  • Current experience in the field of second-language teaching is expected, but previous or anticipated experience may be considered

English Language Ability

Applicants whose first language is not English and who did not graduate from an English-speaking institution in a country whose official language is English must submit test scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), or the PTE (Pearson Test of English). (Applicants can access free TOEFL and IELTS practice tests online.)

  • Applicants taking the TOEFL must receive a minimum score of
    • 600 on the paper-based test (PBT)
    • 250 on the computer-based test (CBT), or
    • 100 on the internet-based iBT.
  • Applicants taking the IELTS must receive a score of Band 7.0 or higher.
  • Applicants taking the PTE must receive a minimum score of 68.

These scores are considered the minimum proficiency needed to undertake graduate-level work. Scores must be dated within two years of the start date of your academic program at SIT.

Our admissions staff works one-on-one with every applicant to facilitate a highly informed and multidimensional admissions experience: you are encouraged to talk with SIT faculty and staff and hear from current students and alumni. As you become familiar with the attributes of an SIT education — grounded in the experiential learning model and focused on social justice and leadership skills in intercultural environments — you will determine for yourself in what ways SIT can help you meet your educational and career objectives.

SIT welcomes students from all economic backgrounds. Students commonly fund their SIT degree through a variety of sources including federal and private loans, SIT grants and scholarships, scholarships from other sources, and personal and family funds. SIT Graduate Institute’s Financial Aid Office provides information on all aspects of funding an SIT degree.

We recommend that you begin the process of applying for financial aid as soon as possible, even before you are accepted for admission.

Alumni Careers

Students in this program go on to work in the field in a variety of areas including study abroad offices, NGOs, nonprofits, and government agencies. Find out some of the career paths that may be open to you.

The SIT TESOL network is an effective and dynamic professional tool with global reach. SIT TESOL graduates are working around the world in universities, language institutes, nonprofits, government agencies, and the private sector. More than 3,000 alumni have built a reputation you can count on. Employers look for teachers who have been trained at SIT.

The program prepares working professionals to be leaders in the field of TESOL in a variety of capacities. The list below provides examples of the diverse careers of some of our alumni:

  • Regional English Language Officer (RELO) in Asia, U.S. State Department
  • ESL Instructor, Milwaukee Technical College, US
  • ESOL Professor, Lone Star College-Kingwood, US
  • President of IATEFL
  • President of TESOL
  • Director of English Language Studies, New School
  • Chief of Staff and Chief Learning Officer, Marlboro College
  • Director, American English Language Center, Morocco
  • Head of Language Acquisition and Project Based Learning, MiSK International School, Riyadh
  • Acting Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • U.S. State Department English Language Specialist
  • TESOL Training Manager, World Learning, Washington, DC
  • Founder, Centro Espiral Mana, Teacher Training and Education Center, Costa Rica
  • Director of International Programs at WIDA
  • English Language Fellow, Argentina
  • Visiting Professor, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea
  • ESOL Professor, Dulwich College, Suzhou, China
  • Professor of Intensive English, Kansai Gaidai University, Japan
  • ESL Instructor, University of Texas Austin, US
  • English Language Fellow, U.S. State Department and Georgetown University Center for Intercultural Education and Development, Washington, DC, US
  • English Teacher, Universal American School, Kuwait
  • MA TESOL Program Chair, Marlboro College Graduate & Professional Studies, Brattleboro, VT, US
  • Language Training Specialist at Peace Corps
Last updated Mar 2019

About the School

SIT Graduate Institute offers internationally focused master's degrees, certificates, and professional development programs in the fields of conflict transformation, international education, sustainab ... Read More

SIT Graduate Institute offers internationally focused master's degrees, certificates, and professional development programs in the fields of conflict transformation, international education, sustainable development, and TESOL. Since 1964, SIT has been preparing professionals to be successful in intercultural and international environments. Read less
Brattleboro , Washington , Oaxaca , Johannesburg + 3 More Less