TESOL Graduate Certificate [Online]

The online Graduate Certificate in TESOL prepares students to be competent, professional, knowledgeable, skillful, and biblically-minded teachers of English to speakers of other languages.



Credit Hours


Years (Avg.)

Next Start Date

March 13, 2023

Class Type
100% Online,  7-Week Terms, Asynchronous




In the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program, you will learn how to teach English through a study of linguistics, culture and community, grammar and pronunciation, and methods courses. The program helps lay the foundation to work with immigrants, refugees, and international students. It also enables you to explore opportunities for missions work through the path of teaching English and be competent in intercultural communication and cross-cultural environments.

  • Program can be started in any semester and completed in as little as a year and a half.
  • 20% tuition discount for educators working in Christian schools.
  • Field experience integrated into all courses.
  • Students near campus can practice teaching English by volunteering at the University’s weekly Community English Language Program.

Students who have or are pursuing Pennsylvania Instructional I certification may be eligible to receive an ESL Program Specialist (PK–12) certification with the completion of coursework.

Why Cairn Online?

Faith and Truth Matter

Cairn University is committed to the centrality of Christ and the Word of God and is reflected in the curriculum and instruction. At Cairn, faith and truth do matter. We teach our students accordingly, challenge you to think deeply on these things, and strive to make you ready to serve Christ in the church, society, and the world as biblically minded men and women who not only give assent to truth but think and live in light of it.

Community Happens Here

Community is about more than simply taking classes together. It’s more than having a similar experience. Community is powerful, instructive, encouraging, and biblical. And at Cairn, community is intentional. It’s attended to closely as an outworking of the University’s biblical commitment and understanding that in Christ, we are one.

Programs Begin Every 7-8 Weeks

Cairn Online enrolls new students in early September, October, January, early March, May and early July. A term is typically only 7 weeks long. Start when you’re ready, instead of rushing (or waiting) for the traditional semester enrollment. Students are eligible to enroll up to two weeks prior to the upcoming term.

Committed Faculty Mentors

Our online courses are taught by faculty who are committed to your professional and spiritual growth. In addition to the carefully crafted learning activities, our faculty are substantively engaged throughout the course delivery. Students don’t just have professors, they have mentors who invest in them throughout the program and often remain connected long after graduation.


Cairn University students earn more than a professional credential – you develop a solid foundation for all of life and learning. Wherever you go after you graduate from Cairn, you go prepared and ready to make a difference in your workplace, your community, your church, and around the world. And our competitive tuition rates and financial aid packages help to keep your education costs reasonable.

Educators working in Christian schools also receive a 20% tuition discount.

Program Curriculum

The Graduate Certificate in TESOL program has been designed with input from our expert faculty in the School of Education, ensuring you graduate with the in-demand skills and knowledge that employers are looking for. The program requires 18 credits from the core curriculum and 3 credits in Bible/theology. View a sample curriculum sheet for snapshot of the courses you will complete.

* Students eligible for PA PK-12 ESL Program Specialist certification should take TSL 692; All others should take either TSL 693 or TSL 694.

TSL 611 – Foundations of Teaching English Learners (3 credits)
A foundational course designed to prepare mainstream classroom teachers to work with English Learners (ELs). Students gain an understanding of the linguistic, social, cultural, and academic needs of ELs, as well as research-based strategies to adapt instruction and assessment to meet those needs. Two hours of field-based observation are required.

TSL 641 – Linguistics and Language Learning (3 credits)
A course which provides a foundation in the analysis of language and the language learning process. The first part of the course addresses topics of phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, focusing in particular on the features of English in relation to other languages and subsequent implications for classroom instruction. The second part examines the linguistic, cognitive, social, and affective factors involved in second language acquisition and development. Ten hours of fieldwork are required.

TSL 642 – English Grammar and Pronunciation (3 credits)
A course that provides an in-depth examination of the form, meaning, and function of English grammatical structures, as well as an overview of the English sound system. Emphasis is on analyzing features of English in comparison with other languages and on developing the language awareness and teaching techniques necessary for effective contextualized teaching of English grammar and pronunciation within a communicative framework. Ten hours of fieldwork are required.

TSL 643 – Advanced ESL Methods and Assessment (3 credits)
A course that examines the critical link between instruction and assessment in improving support for English Learners. Emphasis is given to methods and techniques used to teach reading, writing, listening, and speaking across proficiency levels to promote growth in both literacy and oral language development. Both large-scale and classroom-based assessments are addressed as students gain understanding of issues surrounding language testing and practice developing authentic assessments. Ten hours of fieldwork are required.

TSL 644 – Language, Culture, and Community (3 credits)
A course that examines issues pertaining to multilingual/multicultural schools and communities. Students gain an understanding of topics in sociolinguistics and multiculturism pertinent to English Learners, as well as past and present ways that US schools have addressed linguistic diversity. Emphasis is on using this knowledge to strengthen students’ professionalism in their future role as English Program Specialists in meeting the needs of ELs and their families, strengthening home/school connections, serving as a resource to colleagues and the larger school community, and advocating on behalf of ELs and their families. Ten hours of fieldwork are required.

TSL 692, TSL 693 or TSL 694 (3 credits) 
Students eligible for PA PK-12 ESL Program Specialist certification should take TSL 692; All others should take either TSL 693 or TSL 694.

TSL 692 – ESL Practicum
A capstone course for the ESL program which surveys current research and methodology related to classroom instruction and materials development. Students synthesize and apply program content as they teach in a supervised field placement and develop materials appropriate to their teaching context. Emphasis is on professional growth and development as students engage in self-analysis, practice reflective teaching, and receive constructive feedback. Sixty hours of fieldwork, including classroom instruction and all other activities related to the ESL teacher’s role, in a PK-12 classroom setting are required.

or TSL 693 – Teaching Experience I
A course designed to give students practical classroom teaching experience where they can implement their knowledge of content, pedagogy, curriculum design, and assessment strategies, blending together theory and practice. Students teach an entire course lasting a full semester or session. Students are responsible for all aspects of course delivery and maintenance as per program placement policy.

or TSL 694 – Teaching Experience II
A culminating course designed to give students practical classroom teaching experience where they can implement their knowledge of content, pedagogy, curriculum design, and assessment strategies, blending together theory and practice. Students teach an entire course lasting a full semester or session. Students are responsible for all aspects of course delivery and maintenance as per program placement policy.


BIB 621 – Biblical Integration for Educators
A course designed to develop the ability of educators to integrate the Bible into their teaching and their own lives.

or THE 601 – Overview of Christian Theology
An introduction to the major doctrines of the Bible.

Cairn Online Frequently Asked Questions

The tuition for post-secondary education has become expensive in general. However, Cairn Online programs rank amongst the most affordable online bachelor’s and master’s programs. While the tuition costs vary by program level, the rate is typically $425 per credit or 12K per year for A.A. and B.S. programs and $300-$725 per credit for graduate programs. 

The current tuition rates are available from this page. Scholarships and financial aid are also available. 

Currently there are over 6 million online learners in the United States, and those numbers are growing every day. Online degrees that have regional accreditation are held to the same standards as traditional universities, ensuring that students earn a valuable degree that will prepare them with the skills and credentials for their career. Do research to find an online degree that is accredited and reputable, such as those offered at Cairn University.

Cairn Online courses based on Cairn’s 100+ years tradition of excellence in biblical education. Our on faculty has carefully designed them taking into consideration what works best for the online learner. The modular design and asynchronous delivery enable you to complete your studies while you pursue your career, ministry and spend time with your family.

Courses typically contain seven units and are delivered in 7-week terms*. Each unit contains 5-7 modular activities. Each learning activity includes instructional videos accompanied by reflections, quizzes, discussion forums and other assessments. Courses also utilize adaptive learning technologies such as Cerego for long-term retention of concepts and VoiceThread for enhanced collaboration.

The asynchronous delivery provides flexibility around your daily busy schedule. In most courses, interactive activities are typically due by Wednesday while the rest of the unit’s work is due by Sunday night. The MBA, M.A. in Music and Criminal Justice programs use the 7RD2 process and require the completion of certain activities daily to optimize learning.

Our own Cairn faculty intentionally participate in the course throughout the week to provide you with an incarnational experience.

*Few capstone courses are intentionally offered in 14 weeks to optimize student learning.

A.A. programs usually take 2 years and B.S. and B.A. programs typically take 3-4 years to complete.

Graduate programs vary in length by program. As an example, Cairn’s traditional MBA typically takes 20 months to complete but then there is also the accelerated One-Year MBA that you can complete in 12 months.

If you are looking to complete your program sooner, you can consider taking more 7-week courses at a time. 

All courses are developed by one or more course developers and taught by our own faculty. The instructors are also intentionally involved in the course throughout the week by providing direction in the course activities, participating in the forum discussions, grading the student work and providing substantive feedback. Most courses also offer optional office hours weekly via Zoom or similar video conferencing tools.

Our instructional design team works very closely with the course developers and carefully plans the courses to balance the technology requirements. Most courses use the eLearning platform for hosting the course materials, Panopto for video capture and storage, VoiceThread for enhanced discussion forums, and Cerego for adaptive learning. Zoom is used at times for virtual office hours. These sessions are optional.

Except for the Hebrew and Greek language courses for the B.S. in Biblical Studies program, typically there are no required meeting times for the completing the course activities.  

The course transfer depends on where you are transferring from, and what program you are transferring to. If you are coming to Cairn Online from another institution, it is very likely you will have some credits that will transfer. Because there are so many options, we encourage you to talk to an enrollment counselor. If you are transferring out, Cairn is a regionally accredited school and some credits should transfer with relative ease. Each college sets their own transfer criteria, so be sure to check their policies for specifics.

Cairn Online offers a variety of options for prior learning and experience. You can receive up to 6 credits for prior learning for graduate programs. At the discretion of the program advisor, three to six credits for prior learning (CPL) can be awarded for students with extensive background in areas addressed by specific courses. Additionally, advance standing may be granted for Bible or theology credits earned at an accredited Bible college, Christian liberal arts college or university, or seminary. Credits will be granted on a course by course basis.

Cairn is approved to offer financial aid because of its regional accreditation. There are many options available and typically students qualify for at least one type of federal aid. Many students receive scholarships and grants that make earning their degree even more affordable. Cairn offers a variety of scholarships and discounts in addition to options for loans and grants. Please refer to this page for details. 

The requirements depend on the program you are considering. Please refer to this page for details. 

Program Details

Additional Information

NC-SARA Approved InstitutionCairn Online has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), which regionally oversees postsecondary online education.

Additional Accreditation Information