TESL/TEFL Graduate Certificate



The Graduate Certificate in TESL/TEFL consists of two prerequisites and 12 graduate credits. Courses are designed to provide basic preparation in teaching English to speakers of other languages in a variety of settings. Students may do a stand-alone certificate or apply to do a graduate certificate in addition to the masters or doctoral program.

Certificate Requirements

There are 3 sets of requirements for the certificate:

1. Admissions Standards

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • A GPA of at least 3.0
  • Minimum scores: 100 TOEFL IBT/ 600 TOEFL PBT/ 7.0 IELTS/ 63 PTE
  • Evidence of good oral and written English communication skills

2. Prerequisites

  • An introductory linguistics course  [e.g., ENGL/LING 219 (Fall, Spring) or ENGL/LING 511 (Fall, Sumer)]
  • An introductory grammar course [e.g., ENGL/LING 220 (Fall, Spring) or pass the ENGL/LING 220 test-out]

3. Courses

  • Required: Teaching English as a Second Language:  Methods and Materials (ENGL/LING 518) (Fall) Prerequisite: ENGL/LING 511 or an introductory linguistics course.

Three additional courses chosen from the following:

  • Introduction to Computers in Applied Linguistics (ENGL/LING 510) (Fall)
  • Second Language Assessment (ENGL/LING 519) (Spring)
  • Literacy: Issues and Methods for Nonnative Speakers of English (ENGL/LING 524) (Fall)
  • Methods in Teaching Listening & Speaking Skills to Nonnative Speakers of English (ENGL/LING 525) (Spring)
  • Supervised Practice Teaching in Teaching English as a Second Language. (ENGL/LING 588) (Fall, Spring, Summer)

Students applying for the program can transfer up to 9 credits taken at ISU beforehand as a graduate non-degree undeclared student (if grade of B or above). For more information contact Greta Levis, gmlevis@iastate.edu.

Application Deadlines

  • October 15 for Spring entry
  • March 15 for Summer entry
  • July 15 for Fall entry

How to Apply

All application documents are to be received no later than the deadlines stated above. The deadline represents the endpoint in the application process (i.e., the completion of your application file) rather than the beginning of the process.

Applicants are responsible for collecting the required documents and uploading them into the ISU application system to form a complete application by the appropriate deadline. We strongly recommend you complete the online application form and submit it early for transcript evaluations to be done and for email notifications to be sent to recommenders to upload their recommendation. You will not be able to edit the actual application form once it is submitted. However, other documents may be uploaded later, but no later than the deadline. This gives you time to work on and finalize the required supplemental documents (personal statement, writing samples, curriculum vitae) and upload copies of exam scores as they become available. If you have recently taken the TOEFL, IELTS or PTE exam as a nonnative speaker and scores are not yet available, please leave these areas blank on the application form and upload a PDF copy of your scores once you have online access to them or receive them from ETS.

In addition to the preferred and required minimum criteria (GPA, TOEFL/IELTS/ PTE scores), applicants are also evaluated on factors such as performance on writing samples, quality of the cover letter, letters of recommendation, and program match—all of which influence the applicant’s admission status.

If you are a current ISU graduate student or have previously graduated from any graduate program at ISU, you do not submit an online application or pay the application fee again. You instead complete the appropriate Graduate College form to add a certificate to your current program or to transfer from your current program to the certificate. However, all other application requirements below must be met. Please contact Greta Levis (gmlevis@iastate.edu) for specific instructions.

If you have questions about the online application system, please contact the Graduate Admissions Office (admissions@iastate.edu; 1-800-262-3810).  Application Instructions are also available to download from their website.


All of the following application components are required and must be uploaded electronically via the Iowa State University Office of Admissions online application system:

  • Graduate online application completion and fee payment
    (Note: Your application is not received by ISU until you click “Save and Submit” and pay the application fee.) We recommend you complete the application form in order to submit and upload documents as they are available or completed.
  • TOEFL, IELTS or PTE official scores of 100 IBT/ 600 PBT, 7.0 IELTS, or 63 PTE required (nonnative speaking applicants only) reported directly to ISU by ETS and a copy of exam scores uploaded into the online application system. Test scores are not required if the applicant has earned (or will earn before entering the graduate program at ISU) a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a country where English is the only official language. The Department of English required minimum scores are higher than those required by ISU in general. The department will only consider applications once the required minimum score is met and official scores reported directly to ISU. The department does not offer conditional admission to applicants not meeting the required minimum scores.
    Iowa State University Inst Code: 6306
  • Audio or video file demonstrating competence in spoken English (all nonnative speaking applicants only) sent electronically as an email attachment (to englgrad@iastate.edu). This file cannot be uploaded into the admissions application system. This speaking sample should include 3-5 minutes of extemporaneous speaking. You might, therefore, begin by talking informally about your educational background and your reasons for pursuing graduate study.
  • Scanned official academic transcripts and degree statements issued by the institution where you earned (or will earn) a degree for all undergraduate and graduate work.
    Preferred overall minimum undergraduate GPA: 3.25
  • Three letters of recommendation are to be submitted electronically using the electronic letter of recommendation option in the online application system. These letters should be from persons qualified to comment on your preparation for graduate study, experience and abilities. If a recommender does not wish to submit an online LOR, you must download the Letter of Recommendation form, complete the appropriate sections, and send the form to your recommender. You must include our email address (englgrad@iastate.edu) or postal address (Department of English, Graduate Studies Program, 227 Ross Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011-1201 USA) for the recommender to submit their recommendation directly to the program. The use of dossier services such as Interfolio is also acceptable for transmitting letters (to englgrad@iastate.edu).
  • Curriculum vitae including educational background, awards, accomplishments, and teaching/tutoring experience must be uploaded as a supplemental document into the online application system.
  • Statement of purpose and personal goals entered into the Statement of Purpose application field (if less than 500 words) or uploaded as a supplemental document into the online application system (make a notation “Uploaded as separate supplemental document.”). Double-spaced; 1-3 pages maximum. State preparation for graduate study, including reasons and objectives for certificate study.
  • Writing sample(s) are required from all applicants and are to be uploaded as supplemental documents into the online application system. Provide an expository writing sample (8-20 double-spaced pages) demonstrating critical analysis and research skills. Applicants typically submit an essay they produced for an undergraduate or graduate course in English or a related field.