Skip to Main Content

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions here concern:

Frequently asked questions about ACADEMICS:

1. What are some of the strengths of the program?

  • Full-time Faculty: Members of the Program faculty belong to the Departments of Education and Modern Languages/Linguistics. They are international in make-up with expertise in applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, instructional systems development, psychology, research, ESL and EFL program development, methodology, curriculum development, and testing and evaluation. They have had considerable experience with P-12, adult, and university programs, both ESOL and bilingual, throughout the U.S. and abroad.
  • Internships in the U.S. and Abroad: The UMBC program has a strong internship component. With program connections to local school systems and a variety of international situations, students are provided with opportunities for practicum and internship experiences throughout Maryland and in such countries as Korea, China, Ecuador, Mexico, Bolivia, and El Salvador.  
  • Resource Center for Language and Culture: The program has its own Resource Center at the University. This unique center provides a wealth of materials in a place where students can meet and study. The Center's very large collection consists of cross-cultural, foreign language, and ESOL journals, texts, videos, and other materials.
  • Diverse Student Body: The students in the program come from various parts of the United States and from around the world. They bring a rich variety of academic and professional experience to the program. Many have been ESL/EFL learners themselves.
  • Program and Post-program Employment: Program students have many opportunities to tutor, teach, and work in ESL related settings. Opportunities exist in local P-12 ESOL programs, colleges/universities, English language institutes, special language programs, and ESOL/bilingual support centers. Salaries range from $25 to $65 per hour. Prospective employers seek out program students and graduates because of the program's reputation and theory to practice emphasis.
  • Broad-based Preparation: Besides providing a strong foundation in applied linguistics and ESL/EFL methodology, the program also places a strong emphasis on instructional systems development (ISD) and cross-cultural training. The ISD core of the program prepares students to analyze, design, develop, operate, and evaluate instructional programs. Because of this training, many graduates are hired for administrative jobs with instructional and/or training programs.
  • Accessible Faculty and Staff: The program faculty and staff pride themselves on maintaining open lines of communication with applicants, current students, and alumni.
  • Collaborative Environment: Our learning community is based on collaboration rather than competition.


2. Does the program prepare teachers for all levels of ESL and EFL?

Yes. Graduates of the program are prepared to teach both ESL and EFL at elementary, secondary, adult, and college levels. All courses are designed to incorporate both ESL and EFL at elementary, secondary, adult, and college levels. All courses are designed to incorporate both ESL and EFL theory, methodology, and practice. Students can choose to focus on any area in their outside assignments, special projects, and papers. The majority of the students prepare for teaching both ESL and EFL. Some focus on P-12; others focus on teaching adults.

3. How long will it take me to finish the MA TESOL program?

The basic program requires 12 courses to complete. Full-time students can complete the program by taking 3 courses each fall and spring and 1 or 2 courses in the summer. This would enable them to finish in a year and a half. Part-time students taking 2 courses per semester would need 2 and a half years to complete the program. Students interested in taking the certification option should expect to take an additional semester to complete the program. The internship experience requires a full academic year, and course loads in addition to the internship should not be too demanding. Students choosing the Thesis option often also require an additional semester to complete the program.

4. How large is the program?

The program has approximately 65 MA students and 25 certificate students. Approximately one half of these students are part-time (1-2 classes/semester). The program also offers cohort programs to current Maryland public school teachers.

5. What is the difference between the non-thesis and thesis options?

Students who choose the non-thesis option attend a project seminar class, undertake an internship, and take a written comprehensive exam at the end of the program. Thesis option students develop a research proposal and write a thesis under the guidance of an advisor and other faculty members. The thesis preparation takes the place of the project seminar, internship and comprehensive examination. The thesis option requires 3 more credits than the non-thesis option.

6. How difficult is it to be admitted into the program?

The program has high standards for admission. Applicants first must meet the University of Maryland Graduate School Baltimore admission requirements (see graduate catalog). All applications are screened by the program's admissions committee. Final decisions are based on the applicants' past academic experience, GRE scores, recommendations, and letters of intent. Though helpful, prior coursework in education linguistics is not required to be admitted to the program.We actively recruit students from diverse backgrounds and academic preparations. At present, approximately 10-20 new students are accepted each semester.

7. What is P-12 ESOL Certification? How could it be useful to me?

Obtaining P-12 ESOL Certification will enable you to be hired as an ESOL teacher in a Maryland public school system. ESOL teachers in Maryland teach English language learners in a variety of ways depending on their job placement. Opportunities are available at both elementary and secondary levels. ESOL teachers teach self-contained classes, pull-out classes and in inclusion situations depending on the system and placement they receive. Maryland ESOL Certification is recognized in many other states and in American schools overseas. Each state has its own requirements for certification and may require additional training, but Maryland certification standards are similar to and more rigorous than those of most other states.

8. How much more course work does it take to get the M.A. plus P-12 ESOL Certification?

The non-certification option requires 36 credits including a 3-credit internship. The certification option requires 42 total credits including 6 additional credits of internship.

9. Do I need to decide now if I want to pursue P-12 ESOL Certification in addition to the M.A.?

No. You can decide to pursue certification after you have started taking courses at UMBC. Once on campus, you can talk more extensively with your academic advisor and with students who are already studying for certification so that you can make a more informed decision.

10. Can I get credit toward the MA for courses that I have already taken?

Students can transfer up to 6 credit hours (2 courses) toward the master's degree. These courses must be of a similar nature to courses that are required for the degree and they must be at the graduate level. The courses can be from any accredited university or college, but they must not have been used toward any other degree. Students who have used such courses toward other degrees can request to have the program requirements for those waived. Students who have courses waived must still complete a minimum of 36 credits in the program.

Prospective students can take one or two courses in our program as non-degree students with the permission of program advisors. These courses do not assure acceptance into the program, but they can be counted toward the degree if the student is admitted.

11. What can I do with an MA TESOL or an TESOL Certificate?

See Career Opportunities:

Frequently asked questions about THE CERTIFICATE PROGRAM:

1. Can I use the UMBC ESOL Certificate for State Certification?

State TESOL Certification and the UMBC ESOL Certificate are not the same. The Certificate does not mean state certification. The state has a list of requirements for ESOL Certification which are addressed by the Program's MA w/P-12 Certification. However, for individuals who are currently certified by the State in another field, ESOL Certification may be added by passing the Praxis II Examination in ESOL. UMBC's Certificate program will help students pass Praxis II and prepare them to teach in ESOL classes in Maryland's public schools.

2. Can courses I take for the certificate be applied to the MA degree?

Yes! All Certificate courses can be transferred to the MA if a student is admitted to the MA program.

3. Are all Certificate courses offered online?

Yes, All certificate courses are offered both face-to-face and online. Students can choose to take all face-to-face classes, or all online courses or a combination. Students who take only online courses get a reduction in school fees.

Frequently asked questions about THE APPLICATION:

1. The application says that I need ETS codes for the universities I have previously attended. Do I need to fill these in?

No. You do not need to list ETS codes for any of the universities you have attended outside of the United States. 

2. What are the "Program Code" and "Track Code" that I need to fill in on the application forms?

The code for MA applicants is TESL ( face-to-face) or TESLO (online). 
The code for Certificate applicants is CESL (face-to-face) or CESLO (online).

3. Do I need to fill out the graduate school residency form?

The residency form is only for students who have lived in Maryland for an extended period and pay taxes to the state. If you have not lived in Maryland, you do not need to fill out this form. 

4. What is the Golden ID Program? The application asks if I would like to apply under it.

The Golden ID Program offers free tuition to Maryland residents who are over the age of 60 and not employed full-time. If this applies to you, check "yes". If you are not in this situation, check the box on the application form for "no." 

5. Should I send all of my application materials to UMBC together? If I send them separately, I am worried that some materials might become lost.

Your application materials will not get lost at UMBC if you carefully follow the directions for submitting application materials. These directions are contained in the Graduate School Application. In the case of GRE and TOEFL test scores, these should be sent directly from the testing authority to the university. 

6. What is the preferred method of having references submit their recommendations?

MA applicants can submit their references’ contact information with their online applications. Certificate applicants can request that their references send recommendations to the ESOL program by mail or to

7. What about my TOEFL scores? Will they arrive at the right place, too?

If you have listed the correct ETS institution code for UMBC (5835), your scores will arrive at UMBC's Graduate School. The Graduate School will retain the original score sheet and send a copy to the TESOL program. 

8. What is the minimum TOEFL score required by the program?

The minimum TOEFL score required for admissions consideration is 213 on the computer-based test. For the internet-based test, the minimum is 80. 

We also accept the IELTS (minimum score of 6.5) and the PTE Academic (minimum score of 53). 

9. If I send UMBC a photocopied TOEFL or GRE score report, do I still need to have my official scores sent to UMBC from (ETS)?

Yes. You may send a photocopied score report to the TESOL program to speed up the application review process; however, you must ensure that an official score report is sent to UMBC directly from ETS. 

10. Which institution code should I fill in on the GRE?

The ETS institution code for UMBC on the GRE is 5835. (This is the same institution code that you fill in on the TOEFL). 

11. The application says that I need to submit documents for certifying financial support. Do I submit these documents with my application?

No. The International Education Services Office at UMBC prefers that you send these documents after being notified of your acceptance to the university because the documents need to be as recent as possible. Please directly contact the International Education Services office (ies@ if you have additional questions about certifying financial support. 

Frequently asked questions about ADMISSIONS:

1. I have already submitted some of my application materials. Can you tell me early whether or not I have been admitted?

No. We are unable to make final admissions decisions until all the required application materials have been submitted. Because admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis, however (meaning that the admissions committee meets on several occasions to make admissions decisions), it is to your advantage to send us your application materials as early as possible. 

2. If I am admitted to the program, do I have to come to UMBC the following semester, or can I come at a later date?

Once you receive an official letter of acceptance to UMBC, you can request to defer your enrollment for up to one year from the time it is offered.

Frequently asked questions about HOUSING:

1. What will housing be like at UMBC?

UMBC has on-campus housing for graduate students. You can also find accommodations off campus. Graduate students usually rent rooms or apartments near UMBC with costs varying from $250 to $600 per month. It is common for students to share apartments. There is an office on campus that maintains a list of off-campus housing possibilities near UMBC, including those on campus shuttle-bus routes. (The campus shuttle bus provides free transportation for UMBC students to and from the university). Most international students choose to live in apartment complexes that are located on the shuttle-bus route.

2. Can I arrange for housing before I arrive on campus?

It is never a good idea to commit to a housing contract without actually seeing the accommodations in person. Therefore, it is best to arrange permanent housing AFTER you arrive in Baltimore. 

3. If I don't have permanent housing when if first arrive on campus, where can I stay?

The university offers temporary, relatively inexpensive on-campus housing for several weeks in August and January. This option provides you with a place to stay for a short period while you look for a permanent residence. The International Education Services Office will forward you more information regarding temporary on-campus housing once you have been notified of your acceptance by the university.

Frequently asked questions about FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE:

1. If I am an International student, can UMBC offer me any scholarships or financial aid?

UMBC has some support available for graduate students but nothing specifically for international students. It is very possible to find on-campus work. Once you arrive at UMBC, you can begin searching for on-campus jobs. The positions are advertised when they become available, and you will need to contact the individual campus offices sponsoring the jobs in order to apply. The Career Development and Placement Office on campus maintains a list of current on-campus job opportunities. Be mindful, however, that the income from on-campus jobs provides a small supplementary income for living expenses; it is probably not enough to support oneself. 

2. What about graduate assistantships? These are mentioned on the graduate school application.

The Education Department has several graduate assistant positions available each year, including one assistantship position with the TESOL program. These positions last the entire ten-month academic year. The graduate assistant positions are usually held by students who have already been enrolled in the M.A. program for at least one semester; however, prospective students may apply. The positions are advertised each March, and the details of the jobs and application procedures are available at that time.

© TESOL Program, Department of Education, UMBC, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore MD 21250
Phone: +1 410 455-3061 •