A certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) is available to undergraduate students who wish to teach English as a foreign or second language, normally in positions abroad. Native English speakers must have the equivalent of four college-level semesters of one language, including its spoken form. For non-native English speakers, English is the foreign language. Non-native English speakers must have a score of at least 50 on the Test of Spoken English (TSE) or SPEAK and or 26 on the iBt speaking section and a TOEFL score of 100 on the iBt or 600 on the paper version. A score of 84 on the MELAB or 7 on the IELTS can be substituted for the TOEFL. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.000 based on all courses except for the TESOL Workshops, which are graded pass/fail.

How to Get in

Fill out the online application and submit to the ESL office. Students should apply as early as possible (after the sophomore year if they are undergraduates) to allow enough time to complete the requirements.

Download the Undergraduate Application.

Academic requirements for the program are:

For Undergraduates:  Enrollment in any one of the required certificate courses and a degree program at UW–Madison.

Native English speakers must show completion of four college-level semesters of one language (prior to or completed concurrently with certificate coursework).

Nonnative English speakers are required to show English language proficiency in the following ways:

  • A minimum score of 50 on TSE or SPEAK or an iBy score of 26 on the speaking section of the TOEFL
  • A minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL iBT or 600 on the paper-based version of the TOEFL or 7 on the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) can be substituted for the TOEFL.

Requirements for the Certificate

15 credits of course work include:

Foundation Courses
ENGL 314 Structure of English3
ENGL 415 Introduction to TESOL Methods3
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching Courses
ENGL 318 Second Language Acquisition3
ENGL 515 Techniques and Materials for TESOL3
Students must take 3 credits of TESOL Workshops.3
TESOL: Pedagogical Grammar I
TESOL: Pedagogical Grammar II
TESOL: Teaching Listening and Speaking
TESOL: Teaching of Reading
TESOL: Teaching of Writing
TESOL: Teaching Pronunciation
Total Credits15

Residence and Quality of Work

  • Minimum 3.000 GPA in all courses approved for the certificate
  • At least 8 certificate credits must be completed in residence

Undergraduate/Special Student Certificates

This certificate may be completed within the context of an undergraduate degree or as a Special student after an undergraduate degree has been awarded from any institution. The certificate may be completed in its entirety while enrolled as a Special student. Candidates are encouraged to contact the certificate coordinator to discuss course enrollment and the sequencing of certificate requirements. 

Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge in the historical trends in the field, the theoretical underpinnings and the role of English in society and as an international language.
  2. Become familiar with the sound and grammatical systems of English.
  3. Understand an apply basic principles in the teaching of reading, writing, listening and speaking.
  4. Understand the principles of second language acquisition.
  5. Construct and execute well-crafted lesson plans.

Advising and Careers

Undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in the TESOL Certificate Program can reach out to asktesol@english.wisc.edu for general advising issues.

For current certificate students, please email Joseph Nosek, TESOL Program Advisor, at joseph.nosek@wisc.edu or Vivian Ye, TESOL Program Coordinator, at jye83@wisc.edu.

L&S Career Resources

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.


Joseph Nosek (ESL Director, TESOL Certificate Advisor)

Andrea Poulos (ENG 515 Instructor)

Juliet Huynh (ENG 313/318 Instructor)