World Languages

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

World Language Program Prerequisites

Applicants for the World Language Education program must demonstrate specific criteria to be accepted, such as language proficiency scores, certain coursework or experience, and GPA requirements. 

Non-U.S. 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.While there is no prerequisite major requirement some majors that transition well into world language education are:
    • African Studies
    • American Indian Studies
    • Folklore
    • Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Studies
    • International Studies
    • Linguistics

    To discuss your eligibility or to send us a statement and a copy of your transcript, email Jason Smith at

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

World Language Proficiency

To apply for the World Language program, candidates must demonstrate proficiency in the language of certified instruction. This can be achieved through one of the following pathways:

  • Completing an undergraduate degree with a major in the language of certification from an accredited institution within the last five years.
  • Earning a degree from an institution where the primary language of instruction matches the language of certification.
  • Achieving an ACTFL score of Intermediate High or above in both the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and the Writing Proficiency Test (WPT) for the language of instruction. Scores must be obtained within two years prior to the start of the admission term

Note: For candidates who earned their degree at an institution that did not exclusively instruct in English, the UW-Madison Graduate School requires a TOEFL and IELTS score. Please review the process on the Graduate School website.

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​.