Certificates in TESOL

Certificates in TESOL

Enhance Your Career with a Certificate in TESOL

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Are you interested in living and working abroad?

Consider teaching English.

English teachers are needed in many countries around the world. A certificate in TESOL prepares you to begin this journey and launch your career.

The TESOL Program at Hawaii Pacific University offers 2 certificates:

  1. The Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certificate consists of 15 undergraduate credits and provides fundamental training for HPU undergraduate students who are interested in teaching English to speakers of other languages abroad. With 160 hours of in-person instruction including feedback on teaching practice, HPU's TEFL Certificate exceeds the minimum entry-level requirement to teach English in most countries.
  2. The Graduate Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Certificate consists of 18 graduate credits and offers hands-on, practical training with a balanced and rigorous curriculum. 

Both certificates are designed with courses in three areas: linguistic theory, pedagogy (teaching methods), and practicum. With this balanced curriculum, students can prepare themselves for ESL/EFL teaching in the United States or overseas.

Consider taking the TEFL Certificate if you are an undergraduate student interested in:

  • adding teaching English to your skill set to live and work abroad
  • working with English language learners, international students, or immigrants in the United States
  • taking electives to fulfill your major requirements while also earning a certificate

With a Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate, students who are earning or have completed a bachelor’s degree can obtain knowledge and skills to teach English in the United States or abroad. The TEFL Certificate makes an excellent combination with degrees in International Business, Communication, English, Education, International Studies, Tourism and Hospitality, and others.

The TEFL certificate program may also be used as preparation for graduate work in TESOL, language education, or linguistics.

The TEFL Certificate is awarded upon completion of at least 15 undergraduate credit hours of specified courses. For those who have finished an undergraduate degree, the work can be accomplished in no less than two semesters or can be spread over a longer period. For undergraduate students, the work is normally spread over more than two semesters. Students earning the BA in TESOL may not later take the TEFL Certificate since the certificate is built on a subset of the same courses; however, transferring from one plan to another is possible during the course of study. 

Students who complete the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certificate will be prepared to demonstrate A.S.K.:

  • ATTITUDES of a professional: They are collegial toward their peers, enthusiastic toward the profession, and thoughtfully reflective about their teaching practices. They display personal, professional, and cultural sensitivity toward their students.
  • SKILLS of an effective language teacher. They possess excellent spoken and written English skills. They can, at a basic level, evaluate ESL or EFL texts, prepare and teach lessons, apply general principles in assessment and feedback, and respond to student needs in a given class. 
  • KNOWLEDGE of the English language, language learning processes, and pedagogical principles: They can base their teaching on knowledge of the English language; the stages of second language learning; and communicative language teaching methods.

The TEFL Certificate requires 15 credits, to be earned in the following courses:

  1. AL 2000 Introduction to Linguistics (part of General Education)
  2. AL 3110 English Sound System, AL 3120 English Sentence Structure, AL 3160 Teaching Vocabulary, or another course on applying linguistics knowledge to teaching
  3. AL 3760 Teaching English to Children and Youth, AL 4710 Teaching Listening and Speaking Skills, AL 4720 Teaching Reading and Writing Skills, or another course on teaching methodology
  4. AL 4960 Practice Teaching
  5. Another upper division AL course or a course in a related field or a course with an international focus, such as communication, education, international studies, psychology, or world languages to be approved by the TESOL program chair. Examples include:

INTR 3000 International Relations

INTR 3100 International Political Economy

PSY 3235 Cross-Cultural Psychology

COM 3300 Intercultural Communication

PSCI 3500 Comparative Politics

The TEFL Certificate is awarded upon or after the student’s graduation from a bachelor’s degree. 

Consider taking the Graduate TESOL Certificate if you are:

  • college graduates who wish to enter the field of TESOL at the graduate level but do not wish to obtain a master’s degree
  • graduate students with a master’s degree in another field and wish to expand their career options to include language teaching
  • in-service teachers who wish to further their professional development
  • exchange students from partner schools with HPU

With a GRADUATE TEACHING ENGLISH TO SPEAKERS OF OTHER LANGUAGES (TESOL) CERTIFICATE, students can gain graduate-level training to prepare themselves for ESOL teaching in the United States or overseas.

 An advantage of the Graduate Certificate in TESOL is flexibility:

  • Students can select graduate courses (for 18 graduate credits) in linguistic theory, pedagogy (teaching methods), and practicum that suit their needs, interests, and goals.
  • The Graduate Certificate in TESOL can be completed in a shorter amount of time compared to the MA TESOL Degree.
  • A full-time student can finish the program in an academic year or one academic year plus a summer session. Part-time students can move through the program at their own pace.
  • Finally, Graduate Certificate students may opt to switch to the MA TESOL Program during the course of study to gain further training and credentials.

TESOL Graduate Certificate students take courses in the MA TESOL Program and have the opportunities to interact with a diverse student body from Hawaii, mainland US, and other countries. They are taught by faculty who are excellent mentors and experienced educators. In addition to teaching English and other languages at all educational levels in K-12 schools, public and private schools, and in various universities and corporations, MA TESOL faculty have taught English to speakers of other languages in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Russia, Romania, and Guatemala, as well as on the U.S. mainland.

Students who complete the Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages will be prepared to demonstrate A. S. K.:

  • ATTITUDES of a professional. Towards colleagues and students, Graduate TESOL Certificate holders will demonstrate teamwork and sensitivity. Towards the discipline, Graduate TESOL Certificate holders will demonstrate a spirit of inquiry and reflection. Towards the global community, Graduate TESOL Certificate holders will demonstrate cultural sensitivity and global citizenship.
  • SKILLS at a proficient level in spoken and written communication, in information literacy, in academic or pedagogic research, and in teaching including materials development, lesson planning, or assessment.
  • KNOWLEDGE at a proficient level of the major subfields of linguistics, the theories of second language acquisition, and the principles of language teaching methods.

Graduate TESOL Certificate candidates must take the following:

  • Prerequisite Course: AL 5990 Introduction to Linguistics for Language Teachers
  • Practicum Course (required): AL 6961 Practicum I in TESOL
  • Elective Courses: 5 graduate courses in Applied Linguistics (AL) or closely related fields (as approved by the program director).

Transfer Credit: Students may transfer in as many as 6 credits in lieu of required credits in the HPU Graduate TESOL Certificate. The courses must substitute appropriately for courses in the certificate.

F1 students in the Graduate TESOL Certificate program are not eligible to enroll in AL 7099 Practicum II. Contact OISS for details and restrictions.

How to apply

For the TEFL Certificate:

Current HPU undergraduate students will need to complete a change of program form after applying for the certificate program as a "returning student"  in order to add the TEFL Certificate to their current bachelor's program.  Please work with an academic advisor or email tesol@hpu.edu for help with this process.

Non-HPU students, please email tesol@hpu.edu.


For the Graduate TESOL Certificate

Admission requirements:

  • Application
  • Transcripts
  • Résumé
  • One Letter of Recommendation (optional)
  • Statement of Purpose (optional)
  • Application Fee 

Apply for Graduate TESOL Certificate

TEFL Certificate

Factors to Consider

Graduate TESOL Certificate (GTC)

3000 and 4000-level, a subset of courses taken by BA TESOL majors

Course level and degree of rigor

6000-level, a subset of courses taken by MA TESOL candidates

Applied linguistics, language teaching methods, and classroom-based practicum

Course content

Applied linguistics, language teaching methods, and classroom-based practicum

Required language classroom experience and student teaching

Practicum experiences

Required language classroom experience; student teaching optional

Access to all TESOL program events, professional development activities, and faculty advising

Additional benefits

Access to all TESOL program events, professional development activities, and faculty advising

If desired, student can switch from GTC to MA degree

Undergraduate tuition rate


Graduate tuition rate

15 credits, which can be part of 120 used for Bachelor's degree. May be finished in one year if 6-9 credits for the certificate are taken each semester.

Time needed to complete

18 credits, usually completed in one academic year (fall + spring) as a full-time student (may also be completed part-time over a longer period)

Undergraduate students adding value to a  their BA degree

Volunteer, mid-career, or In-service teachers desiring background in working with English language learners

Typical student

Students who need or desire graduate-level work for personal or professional reasons

For more information, contact tesol@hpu.edu.