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TESOL: Home or away?

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Are you considering studying for a master's in TESOL and want to learn more about your options? We've designed our MA TESOL course to be as flexible as possible in order to meet the needs of our diverse student population.

The MA TESOL is available to study on campus at Sunderland or as an online distance learning course, allowing you to qualify from anywhere in the world. Read on to find out more about which route towards a master's in TESOL is right for you.

What is TESOL?

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, or TESOL, is an internationally recognised qualification which will enable you to teach English to non-native speakers at home and overseas.


You may have come across the term TEFL, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, which tends to relate to teaching English in countries that don’t already speak it as their official language. TESOL typically – though not exclusively – refers to teaching English to non-native speakers in a country where English is the native language. So, if you’re thinking about teaching English as a second language in the UK, for example, a master's in TESOL could be what you’re looking for.

A group of students studying together in the library

What TESOL jobs could be available when I graduate?

Undertaking the MA TESOL course will allow you to gain an in-depth understanding of the English language, as well as develop valuable teaching skills to put into practice once you graduate. Studying for a master's in TESOL will open all sorts of doors into the teaching world. In addition to qualifying to teach overseas, other career options can include:

  • Senior roles within educational settings
  • Academic advisors
  • Educational inspectors
  • Educational administration
  • Private tutors
  • Consultancy
  • Research

In fact, there are many reasons to consider a postgraduate degree to enhance your career, as most employers will look on those who possess a higher qualification favourably.

Studying an MA TESOL course on campus

If you’re able to join us on campus here in Sunderland, we’d recommend applying for our full-time MA TESOL course, as this will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the university experience, learn more about our culture, and develop your English language skills to the full. If you choose to study your master's in TESOL full-time, the duration of the course is 12 months.

We also offer a part-time version of the MA TESOL course on campus, which may be more suitable for those who are unable to devote themselves to studying full-time due to family or work commitments. Our part-time TESOL students usually undertake one module per semester in the first year of study. This pattern is repeated in the second year, but students progress to the 15-week dissertation phase at the end of the second semester, followed by graduating in the autumn. The part-time route for the master's in TESOL takes approximately two years to complete.


"The course flexibility was appealing and valuable to me as I was working in the Middle East at the time. I would definitely recommend the University of Sunderland and this distance learning course to other students. Sunderland is so friendly, the tutors are very supportive and I've been able to see the benefits of my MA TESOL both professionally and financially."

Phil Hunter


Studying an MA TESOL course via distance learning

Many of our students who are pursuing a master's in TESOL are already practising teachers working in a wide range of educational contexts around the globe. In this case, the distance learning version of the TESOL course may be a more suitable route to take as it means you can gain your qualification online. As long as you have internet access, you can work from anywhere in the world and won’t be expected to come onto campus at all, making it a flexible and convenient way of studying.

Our full-time online MA TESOL (DL) course takes approximately 18 months to complete, however, the number of hours spent on studying per week will vary depending on the needs of each individual. There are usually two elements of assessment for each module and students who are already in work or studying alongside other commitments generally manage to keep up with this.

If you were to choose the online distance learning option for your master's in TESOL, you’ll graduate with exactly the same degree as you would if you were to study on campus. The learning outcomes are identical and we make no distinction between the two in terms of the award offered or the wording on the certification. Our distance learning students frequently prove to be particularly versatile and independent learners with a high degree of personal motivation. Find out more about the benefits of a distance learning course.


Still undecided? If you have further questions around our MA TESOL courses, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Published: 18 January 2022