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Applied Linguistics/TESOL (Online Graduate Certificate)

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Welcome to the Applied Linguistics/TESOL Program at Georgia Southern University!

Please use the links below to find the answers to any questions you might have about our program and its requirements. Program Director Dr. Jinrong Li is happy to answer any questions from prospective students.


The Online Graduate Certificate in Applied Linguistics/Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Georgia Southern University can help students launch or speed up a career in language teaching both abroad and in the U.S. It gives current and prospective English language teachers an essential foundation for working with multilingual students in the U.S. and abroad.

What is applied linguistics/TESOL?

Applied linguistics focuses on practical problems of language and communication. In the early development of this field, the primary focus was language teaching: the emphasis was to connect theories of language learning to teaching and learning in the classroom. Language education is still a central part of the field, but today applied linguistics also includes many more areas, including lexicography, forensic linguistics, critical discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, and etc.

  • Language education seeks to understand processes and issues concerning language learning in order to inform teaching practices.
    • TESOL, as a subfield of applied linguistics, focuses on the teaching of English as a second or foreign language.
    • Teaching English as a second language refers to situations where English is taught in an English-speaking country (e.g., the United States); and teaching English as a foreign language refers to situations where it is taught in a country where English is considered as a foreign language (e.g., South Korea).
    • In addition to TESOL, scholars and practitioners also explore methods and challenges concerning the teaching of other languages as second or foreign languages (e.g., Spanish, German, Japanese, and Chinese)

For even more information and opportunities about applied linguistics/TESOL keep reading!

What do TESOL researchers and practitioners do?

Researchers and practitioners in TESOL consider questions such as:

  • How do we learn languages?
  • What cognitive and social factors affect language learning?
  • How do multilingual learners become more competent readers and writers in English?
  • How can teachers teach language more effectively?
  • How can technology improve the learning and teaching of language?
  • How should we assess multilingual language skills? 

What opportunities will I have with a graduate certificate in applied linguistics/TESOL?

Getting a graduate certification in TESOL provides you with opportunities to pursue a career working with educational institutions, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, and in specialized business and research environments. Take a look at the following career paths and sample job postings.

You can find more career opportunities in the TESOL career center.

Why choose the graduate certificate TESOL program at Georgia Southern University?

The graduate TESOL program provides you with a solid foundation in both theory and classroom practice to help you pursue teaching opportunities in different contexts in the United States and overseas; at the same time, this program allows you to develop specialization in the teaching and assessment of second language (L2) writing. With the increasing demands of L2 writing specialists in educational institutions at different levels, the graduate certificate program can help expand your career opportunities. This is also an online program and offers a flexible 18-credit hour course schedule.

Who should apply?

  • If you have an undergraduate degree and are interested in pursuing a career in language education, consider starting your application to our graduate TESOL program.
  • If you are a student at Georgia Southern and are within 9 credit hours of completing your degree requirements, you can take the TESOL courses for graduate credits. See the Senior Privilege policy for more details.

What are the prerequisites?

An introductory linguistics course (e.g., LING3630 Language and Linguistics Theory) or an equivalent is recommended.

What is required to complete the certificate?

The program requires 18 credit hours, all of which are offered fully online. To complete the program in one year, students should take two courses each semester, including summer. If you take one course per semester (including summer), you will complete the coursework in two years. The schedule of course offerings is flexible enough to allow alternative schedules and time frames.

You will earn the 18 credit hours by successfully completing the following courses (all courses 3 credit hours):

  • LING6233 Teaching English Internationally: prepares students to teach English in countries where English is not used as a native language. It introduces students to scenarios that future English as a Second Language or Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) teachers may encounter professionally, and prepares them to respond to different language learning needs effectively.
  • LING6133 Applied Grammar:  provides a foundation in English grammar with an emphasis on common issues for multilingual learners. It also considers current research and methods for teaching and assessing grammar.
  • LING6131 Applied Phonology: explores methods and strategies in teaching ESL pronunciation and speaking. Key concepts and tools in phonetics and phonology are explained and students are encouraged to major identify ESL pronunciation and speaking issues and create learning activities and provide suggestions accordingly.
  • LING6231 Language, Nation, & Globalization: introduces students to national and global language issues and linguistic globalization with a special emphasis on the role of English.
  • ESED 5234G Cultural Issues: considers the principles of culture and their link to second language learning as well as problems of teaching in a multicultural classroom.
  • ESED 5235G Methods for ESOL: an introduction to current second language acquisition theory and its application to curriculum development and instructional strategies. Participants in this course will design curriculum and learning activities that facilitate the use of English as a Second Language.

What are the admission requirements?

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or the equivalent from a recognized international university
  • A 2.75 (4.0 scale) cumulative grade point average (GPA) in undergraduate work
  • An online application form, application fee and transcript(s)
  • Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic and/or employment experience
  • A statement of career goals and objectives
  • International students must also provide official TOEFL scores which meet the following minimum scores:
    • Paper-based TOEFL: 600
    • TWE (Test of Written English): 5
    • Internet-based TOEFL:
      • 22 for reading,
      • 22 for listening,
      • 26 for speaking,
      • 24 for writing,
      • AND a total of 94 overall.

When should I apply?

  • If you want to begin in Fall semester, apply before July 1.
  • If you want to begin in Spring semester, apply before November 1.
  • If you want to begin in Summer semester, apply before April 1.

How do I apply?

What if I have more questions?

If you have more questions, please contact the program director! See below.

Contact information

Dr. Jinrong Li, Program Director


Office phone: 912-478-5263


Federal law requires colleges and universities to make certain disclosures to prospective students of these programs. These disclosures include information on the University’s authority to operate outside of Georgia, complaint processes, adverse actions, and refunds.

For required disclosures in general with regard to online programs offered by the University, visit the Office of Legal Affairs website.

Last updated: 8/3/2022