ESL Specialist Certificate

ESL teacher at board

Learn to teach English in the classroom to students from diverse backgrounds.

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. PDE has identified ESL as high-needs area with a shortage of qualified ESL teachers.

Achieve your goals with this flexible program

  • The 16-credit curriculum in this 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
  • Become an instructor, advocate, or leader for English learners
  • Special focus on critical language and pedagogy.

Continue to advance your career here or abroad...

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!

Students can also earn a TESOL Certificate, which enables you to teach abroad.

Want more information?

Visit our ESL Specialist Certificate FAQs page.

Learn to Lead

Apply Now

Learn More

Request Info


Admission Requirements

  • 3.0 GPA*
  • Instructional I Certification.

*Applicants are customarily expected to have a 3.0 grade point average, based on a four-point scale, in their undergraduate work. However, exceptions may be granted on a limited basis, in which there is substantial additional evidence of a student's academic competency. 

If your IELTS or TOEFL scores are lower than our requirement, you may be eligible for the Pathways Program. Please visit the ESL/TESOL Pathway Program page for more information.

Admission Materials

Duquesne University Online Application

Please submit all admission materials to:

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


Learn to Lead

Apply Now

Learn More

Request Info

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 application. 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.

Learn to Lead

Apply Now

Learn More

Request Info


Xia Chao

Xia Chao, Ph.D.

Program Director, ESL
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) is a faculty member of language and literacy education at the School of Education in Duquesne University. Her research, which is grounded in perspectives and methods from educational linguistics, critical applied linguistics, and anthropology, centers on investigating everyday language and literacy practices in schools, immigrant, refugee-background, and Indigenous families and communities as well as the preparation of teachers to teach multilingual learners.

Dr. Chao has published papers in the peer-reviewed scholarly journals including Journal of Literacy Research, Linguistics and Education, Language and Education, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Teacher Education Quarterly, Adult Education Quarterly, Urban Education, etc. Dr. Chao is the recipient of 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 Special Interest Group. Her work has been funded by the National Geographic Society and Duquesne University.

Learn to Lead

Apply Now

Learn More

Request Info