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Master's Degrees | English as a Second Language (ESL)

English as a Second Language (ESL)

Entrance Exam: GRE
College of Education

The English as a Second Language (ESL) K-12 Education Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program is an accelerated teacher licensure program that leads its graduates to both an initial teaching license and a master’s degree in as little as a year and a half (full-time).

Read more about Professional Licensure.

In the ESL MAT program, students grow in knowledge and impact as they learn how to integrate practice with theory in today’s culturally diverse and technology-enhanced classrooms.

The MAT program follows a hybrid model, consisting of online, on-campus and face-to-face off-campus classes, also held in Raleigh.

Please note that the MAT’s focus is on preparation to teach in K-12 schools rather than an advanced credential for practicing teachers or a precursor to research-oriented doctoral studies in education.

The English as a Second Language (ESL) K-12 Education MAT program in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences prepares candidates to teach English as a second language in grades K-12.

The program includes several methods courses, clinical work related to working with English Language Learners (ELLs), and a full-semester student teaching experience with an ESL teacher.

Successful completion of the program, including the PRAXIS II for ESL, results in a North Carolina ESL licensure for grades K-12.


Applicants must have:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a college or university that holds regional accreditation from a recognized accrediting agency such as SACS;
  • 3.0 GPA or higher in prior work, as required by the Graduate School;
  • The GRE is no longer required for admission to the Elementary MAT program if you have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. If your GPA is below 3.0, a combined Verbal and Quantitative score of 300 on GRE is required. Scores should be no older than 5 years prior to the date of admission;
  • Minimum passing score of 100 on the TOEFL AND an official course-by-course evaluation from an accredited foreign credential evaluation service required for applicants with non-U.S. degrees*;
  • Meet the specific requirements of content area or grade level. See specialty coursework under curriculum for content standards.

In the absence of a content degree, 24 semester hours/credits in content relevant to the area in which you wish to teach are needed. Candidates who are missing content area courses can take them at a local college or university or as a PBS (post-baccalaureate student) at NC State prior to admission.

If an applicant does not have the 24 content area credits needed to be accepted into the program, he or she can still enroll in the first graduate classes as a Non-Degree student (NDS) while completing the full 24 content-specific hours and transfer those credits into the degree program. Up to 12 credit hours with a grade of “B” or better can be transferred into a master’s degree program (either completed as an NDS student or at another institution).

* Please note that the Master of Arts in Teaching is a Distance Education program, so students on university-sponsored visas are not eligible for this program. Please contact the Office of International Services with any questions.

Plan of Study

MAT participants can undertake this program full-time or part-time. Depending on the content area, the program is approximately 30 credit hours, including a full-semester student teaching experience.

Career Prospects

ESL teachers work in a wide variety of environments, from elementary, middle, and secondary schools to community organizations such as nonprofits and migrant education programs. ESL teachers also work internationally in primary and secondary schools.