Online ESL PhD Programs

Doctorate in English as a second language through distance learning

An online ESL PhD or a doctorate degree in English as a second language, is the next step after earning a Masters degree in English as a Second Language.

Many students choose to earn their doctoral degree in ESL online so they can continue working while furthering their education.

With a doctorate degree in English as a second language, you will be able to work with students learning English as either a teacher or an administrator. You might work with this group in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, adult education settings and even abroad.

Individuals with doctorate degrees can also take on responsibilities beyond teaching, including curriculum design, language assessment and testing, and teacher training.

Some online ESL PhD programs, like Northcentral University online ESL doctorate, offer specialized classes that focus on topics including curriculum development, student diversity and linguistics.

What you should know about earning an online ESL PhD

  • As this field is so specialised, not many schools offer a doctorate degree in English as a second language, and even fewer offer an online option.
  • Different schools use alternative names for their doctoral ESL degree. A PhD in ESL may be also known as a PhD or EdD (Doctorate in Education) in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), or TESOL( Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
  • In order to ensure that your education is recognized, you should enroll with an accredited institution. The online colleges listed here all offer accredited PhD degrees online.
  • Before applying to an accredited PhD degree online program, you need to complete your Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in an associated field. Many programs also require a GRE Score, TOEFL score from ETS (Education Testing Service), recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose.
  • You will be able to communicate with other online ESL PhD students and your professors using message boards, chat programs, e-mail and access libraries and course material through the learning management system set up by the college of your choice. Some classes may also include working in online groups to complete assignments.
  • As an online PhD student, you will have access to internships and research materials as if you were on campus.

Colleges with Online ESL Doctorate Programs

Northcentral University

  • PhD in Education - English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - English as a Second Language (ESL)

What to expect from an online ESL PhD program

  • It may take upto 7 years to earn an accredited PhD online, depending on the program and pace of study.
  • Required courses, such as Bilingual Instructional Methods and Developing Curriculum for ESOL Learners, are designed to test and develop your theoretical and research skills.
  • Examples of core classes that you would be required to take include Language Theory, Advanced Linguistics and Applied Statistics.
  • Many programs required students to complete an in-person practicum or internship in their chosen specialty.
  • You will need to complete a dissertation containing unique research and defend your thesis in front of the doctoral board as you near the end of your studies.
  • Students are also required to complete a doctoral comprehensive exam, which tests the student’s understanding of all the doctoral coursework, before graduating.

What can you do with your online doctorate degree in ESL?

Most individuals with a doctorate degree in English as a second language education work directly with students in schools, adult learning institutions, and remedial learning centers. According to BLS, the field of adult literacy and remedial learning is expected to grow by 15% through 2018.

Teachers of English as a Second Language are expected to be in especially high demand as immigration continues and immigrate groups seek English education. ESL teachers who have earned an accredited PhD degree online are expected to find the most work in states that have large groups of individuals with poor English skills, such as California, Texas, and New York.

Other careers options for individuals with a doctorate degree in English as a second language education include education administration, program director, linguist, translator, and educational consultant.

Related language degree choices

Doctoral Degree in Applied Linguistics: A PhD in Applied Linguistics student studies how language form, meaning, and context, including syntax, phenology, and semantics. An individual with a degree in this area might work as a linguist, translator, or teacher.

Doctoral Degree in FSL: Students studying French as a Second Language study the French language, as well as learn how to best teach students who are bilingual and multilingual. This leads to careers involved with teaching students French, whether in elementary and secondary schools, in colleges and universities, or oversees. Individuals with this degree may also work to develop curriculum, assessments, and learning materials for students learning French as a second language.

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