Program goal

This program is designed to prepare professionals to work with K-12 students for whom English is not their native language. The course sequence meets the Virginia Department of Education requirements for endorsement in ESL. Note that endorsement requires that individuals have an active teaching license in Virginia.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate foundational knowledge needed to support ESL students’ literacy learning
  2. Effectively plan lessons that attend to linguistic proficiency of learners in various settings
  3. Create assessments that assess ESL student competency in communication and content learning
  4. Demonstrate a disposition of tolerance and appreciation for linguistic and cultural diversity
  5. Demonstrate a range of teaching strategies and approaches that lead to ESL student learning

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online at

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
Certificate Fall Feb 1
Spring Oct 1
Summer Feb 1

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following requirements represent the minimum acceptable standards for admission:

  1. Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate discipline including education, social work, psychology or human services
  2. Three letters of recommendation addressing the student’s potential for graduate study in education
  3. Student’s written statement concerning career interests
  4. Transcripts of all previous college work

Note: Endorsement requires a valid Virginia teaching license.

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students are required to complete course work in core and elective courses.

  1. Credit hour requirements: Students are required to complete a minimum of 18 credit hours.
  2. Grade requirements: Receipt of a grade of C or below in two courses constitutes automatic dismissal from the program. Courses with a grade below C cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements.
  3. Prerequisite or corequisite requirements: Students must have taken a class in linguistics and six hours of a modern foreign language.
  4. Endorsement requires a valid Virginia teaching license.

Curriculum requirements

As prerequisites or corequisites to the certificate program, students must have taken a class in linguistics and have taken six credit hours of a modern foreign language. These courses are part of the endorsement requirements and may be taken at the undergraduate or graduate level. The certificate program consists of 18 credit hours of graduate course work as follows:

Course Title Hours
ENGL/LING/TEDU 552Teaching English as a Second Language3
TEDU 561Reading Foundations: Sociological/Psychological Perspectives3
TEDU 562Reading Instruction in the Content Areas3
TEDU/FRLG 575Intercultural Communication3
TEDU 683ESL Assessment and Trends3
TEDU 675Internship in ESL3
Total Hours18

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 18

Graduate program coordinator
Valerie Robnolt, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Department of Teaching and Learning
Phone: (804) 828-1305

Additional contact
Julie Gorlewski, Ph.D.
Associate professor and chair, Department of Teaching and Learning
Phone: (804) 828-1305

Program website: