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Certificate Programs: ESL and TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages)

Studen and Instructor speaking in library

Learn to teach English to students from diverse backgrounds both at home and abroad.

Program Info


The number of English Language Learners has increased by 110% in the last decade in the state of Pennsylvania alone, creating a high need for highly qualified, well-prepared specialists in Pennsylvania and across the country. This 16-credit program is designed for teachers who hold Instructional I certification and would like to become a certified ESL teacher in a K-12 setting. Classes are offered in the evenings, which allows students to hold a full or part time job. Admission is offered on a rolling basis. Students who are pursuing the Pennsylvania ESL Specialist Certificate have the option to further advance in their studies through the M.S.Ed. ESL program by taking 5 additional courses, which can provide additional financial aid opportunities!


The Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Certificate program can be taken concurrently with the M.S.Ed. English as a Second Language program, or as a stand alone post-bachelor's certificate. The program consists of 18 credits of graduate level curriculum. This program prepares candidates with a foundation in second language learning theories, English language structure, and practical instructional strategies based on TESOL standards. Evening classes are offered to accommodate students' busy schedules. Candidates can earn the certificate in as little as two to three semesters. This certification will allow graduates to hold jobs in a multitude of fields including:

  • ESL teaching in private schools in the U.S.
  • English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teaching in K-12 schools overseas
  • ESL teaching in language learning centers or university ESL classrooms both locally and internationally
  • Administration, curriculum development, research, and advocacy in educational organizations.
  • This program will also prepare graduates for Ph.D. programs in TESOL, Applied Linguistics, Linguistics, Education, and other related fields.

Admission Requirements


Admission Requirements

Minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA, or minimum 3.0 GPA on the most recent 48 credits

Instructional I Certification

Admission Materials

Duquesne University Online Application

Please submit all domestic and international admission materials to:

School of Education
Duquesne University
214 Canevin Hall
600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282




The TESOL program accepts students on a rolling basis for fall, spring, and summer semesters.

Application Materials

Duquesne University Online Application

Official transcripts from undergraduate and/or graduate course work (minimum of 3.0 GPA required)

Statement of purpose - 1,000 words describing your academic and professional goals

Send all domestic and international application materials to:
Duquesne University School of Education
Office of Graduate Admissions
214A Canevin Hall
600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282



International Applicants

Duquesne University requires submission of Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores for all non-native English speaking applicants.

Additionally, the English as a Second Language program conducts a review of each matriculated student upon arrival to determine individual needs for English instruction to support success in their chosen degree program.

Visit International Admissions for additional information and requirements.

Tuition and Aid

A Duquesne degree is an investment in your future and increases in value over time. Join one of the nation's top-tier universities with the best value, considering cost and academic quality, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. By making this investment in yourself, you will receive the highest level of academic quality from our highly regarded, diverse faculty who are at the forefront of the field of education. At Duquesne, you'll become part of a community of nearly 9,500 students studying at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.

In addition to graduate tuition rates, students may also incur fees for administrative services, room, and meals, if applicable. At Duquesne University, we believe that financing your education is a partnership between the student and the university. As part of that partnership, the School of Education offers financial assistance.

University-offered graduate assistantships are available for competitive applications. For graduate assistantships offered by the School of Education, please contact the Program Director or Chair of the Department for your desired program.

For further assistance, please contact the Duquesne University Office of Financial Aid.

Federal government financial aid options:

In addition to awards and scholarships, you may be eligible for financial aid with the federal government. The federal government has loan options that can cover education and living costs. Loan forgiveness options are also available for those working inside and outside of the classroom, these include:

  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

For further assistance, please contact FedLoan Servicing.


Laura Mahalingappa

Laura Mahalingappa, Ph.D.

Program Director
Associate Professor
Department of Instruction and Leadership in Education

101A Canevin Hall
Phone: 412.396.6111
Curriculum Vitae
Full Profile

Laura Mahalingappa (Ph.D., Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin, 2009) is an associate professor and serves as the Director of the M.S.Ed. ESL program as well as the ESL and TESOL certificate programs. Her research on learning and teaching in marginalized communities has included: grammatical and sociocultural aspects of bilingual language acquisition; teachers’ beliefs about teaching linguistically and culturally diverse populations; using virtual field experiences to prepare preservice teachers to work with English learners; notions of race, ethnicity and language in ESL teacher preparation programs; and supporting Muslim refugee students through community-based organization. Her research has been published in Teaching Education, Language, Identity, and Education; Language Learning & Technology; and the European Journal of Higher Education. She received the School of Education Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014 and Duquesne’s Creative Teaching Award in 2015.

Xia Chao

Xia Chao, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Instruction and Leadership in Education

110A Canevin Hall
Phone: 412.396.2329
Curriculum Vitae
Full Profile

Xia Chao (Ph.D., Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, University of Alabama, 2013) teaches courses in culturally and linguistically diverse learners, second language literacy, TESOL methods, and issues related to English language learners education. Her research focuses on the complex relationship between language, literacy, pedagogy, identity, and power in the settings of home, community, and school. Her work has been published in several journals including: Journal of Literacy Research, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Linguistics and Education, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, Urban Education, etc. Dr. Chao’s research contributions have been recognized through awards, including the 2015 J. Michael Parker Award of the Literacy Research Association and the 2016 Outstanding Early Career Scholar Award of the American Educational Research Association’s Adult Literacy and Adult Education SIG.

Nihat Polat

Nihat Polat, Ph.D.

Department of Instruction and Leadership in Education

106C Canevin Hall
Phone: 412.396.4464
Curriculum Vitae
Full Profile

Nihat Polat (Ph.D., Foreign Language and Applied Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin, 2007) has worked as an English teacher (ESL/EFL/ELA) and teacher educator in different countries. Currently, he serves as the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research. His research focuses on (1) L2 learning, teaching, and assessment, (2) teacher education, and (3) the education of immigrant populations and English learners. He has published two books, over 22 peer-reviewed journal articles, and numerous other scholarly works. In addition to his book “L2 Learning, Teaching, and Assessment: A Comprehensible Input Perspective”, his work has appeared in many journals such as Applied Linguistics, TESOL Quarterly, Modern Language Journal, etc. Currently, he serves as the consulting editor for the Journal of Educational Research and is an editorial board member for TESOL Quarterly.