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Connect with us!

Got questions? Connect with one of program coordinators to make sure you have the information you need to pursue your future as a teacher.

English Program Prerequisites

Applicants for the English program must demonstrate specific criteria to be accepted, such as a relevant undergraduate degree, certain coursework or experience, and GPA requirements.  

 Non-US Graduates: Review the graduate school’s application requirements for specific information about comparable degrees in your country and which academic documents are required. 

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Earn a Relevant Undergraduate Degree

Applicants need to have (or have completed by June of the year they enter the program) a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or a comparable degree from an international institution with a major or a minor in one or more of an area associated with the certification area. 

These include: 

  • English 
  • Comparative literature 
  • Linguistics 
  • Theater & Drama 
  • Other areas available upon review- (e.g., media studies, journalism, gender studies, African studies, social sciences) 

To discuss your eligibility or to send us a statement and a copy of your transcript, email Danny Miller at dmiller38@wisc.edu

Demonstrate Competency in Relevant Content Domains

Prior to admission, applicants must demonstrate competency within certain areas of their chosen subject. This may be demonstrated through coursework or significant life experiences. 


  • Applying language to fit a variety of audiences and purposes 
  • Study of the structure or history of language, typically found in linguistics 
  • Exploring the interrelatedness of language arts, including reading, writing, speaking, listening, creating, and responding to media 


  • Writing as a recursive thinking process (e.g., pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, publishing, and presenting) 
  • Writing, speaking, and creating media for a variety of audiences and purposes 


  • Literature is broken into genres and connects to the world around us 
  • The breadth of literary exposure includes culturally rich and diverse (broadly speaking) representative works of major writers that can span Classic, Contemporary, and Futuristic genres from the United States and around the world 

Achieve Academic Standards and Qualification Benchmarks

Applicants must demonstrate academic and content competency through coursework, examination, or a portfolio of evidence. 

  • For admission to Graduate School, a minimum undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours (approximately two years of work) or a master’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 is required. 
    • If this benchmark is not met, the program may request special approval for a candidates 
    • It may be necessary for the candidate to take a standardized test such as the GRE, ACT, or SAT 
  • To be eligible for certification, candidates must have a GPA of 3.0 or above within their content area. 
    • If this benchmark is not met, 
      • the student would need to pass a content exam, or 
      • prepare a portfolio of evidence showing their competency in the content domains 

English Proficiency

Applicants whose first language is not English or or whose undergraduate instruction wasn’t exclusively in English are required to submit an English proficiency. 

Non-native English speakers will also be required to demonstrate their proficiency in verbal communication, sufficient for teaching, through an interview with a member of the ESL instructional team prior to starting the program. 

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English Proficiency Test Requirements

  • Acceptable tests include TOEFL (minimum 92 iBT), IELTS (minimum 7.0), and Duolingo English Test (minimum 125 for spring 2025 term onwards).
  • Scores must be within two years of their anticipated enrollment term.
  • UW–Madison Graduate School Policy

Applicants may be exempt if

  • English is the exclusive language of instruction at the undergraduate institution. 
  • You have earned a degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university within five years of the anticipated semester of enrollment. 
  • You have completed at least two full-time semesters of graded coursework, exclusive of ESL courses, in a U.S. college or university, or at an institution outside the U.S. where English is the exclusive language of instruction. Completion of graded coursework cannot be more than five years before the anticipated semester of enrollment. 
  • An exemption is contingent on the teacher education program’s discretion.

Verbal Communication Evaluation for ESL Certification

  • If the candidate is favorably reviewed by the content area admission team, a member of the ESL staff will reach out to schedule a virtual meeting
  • The aim of the interview is to assess verbal communication skills adequate for the instruction of English to English Language Learners.

Get the Added Value of a Dual Certification/ESL Certification

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Our program is infused with a philosophy that teachers must be able to engage and value all students in the classroom. Our approach allows you to work with a wide range of students that engage in US public schools. For the secondary content areas, this also includes skills and techniques to work with students learning English, including the opportunity to earn a dual English as a Second Language (ESL) Certification along with your content. This certification increases your potential impact as a teacher and gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.

ESL Teacher Certification Pathway

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Program Overview

  • The certification pathway integrates 4 ESL instructional courses, 4 content area instruction courses, and 5 teacher education courses with a practical fieldwork component in Dane County schools.
    • CURRIC 736 Educating Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners
    • CURRIC 737 Linguistics for Educators
    • CURRIC 673 Learning Second Language and Literacies
    • CURRIC 674 Advanced Methods in Teaching English as a Second Language

Certification and Licensing Insights

  • Completing our program earns you an ESL K-12 certification, aligning with Wisconsin’s ESL license (number 1395). This certification qualifies you to teach English to speakers of other languages across all K-12 levels, supporting academic subject instruction.
  • For those seeking a bilingual license, additional steps are needed: a specific bilingual methods course, bilingual fieldwork, and proof of language proficiency.
  • For more detailed information on licensure requirements and licensing in Wisconsin, please visit the Wisconsin DPI pages on Teaching License pathways​.