Whether you’re interested in taking a gap year, need a career break, or looking for ways to spend your retirement, teaching English as a foreign language can be a great way to see the world while making a living.

If you already have basic certification or a teaching degree under your belt, earning a TEFL or TESOL masters is a great next step in your career as an English teacher. TEFL masters programs typically vary in length -- from 12 months to several years depending on how many units you take per semester -- and are designed to provide you with specialized skills and a deep understanding of English teaching theory. As a student, you’ll have the opportunity to take courses that cover topics like innovation in language curriculum and intercultural communication or partake in independent research projects.

Having a TEFL masters can make you a more competitive candidate for jobs globally and provide you with the skills to be the best teacher possible. With over a billion people learning English globally, you can find master’s courses and opportunities for employment in nearly every country on the planet -- not to mention online -- allowing you the freedom to travel and teach as you wish.

You can get certified almost anywhere in the world, making your learning experience that much more exciting. Asia has plenty of programs available, and since there's a high demand for the position, you might end up getting a job there afterward. Europe also has several countries to get your degree in. If you can't decide where you want to live, take an online program so you have the flexibility to move at your own pace.

Asia

Thailand is a great option for an affordable way to get a Master's degree in TEFL. Hong Kong also offers several programs in TEFL, and many job opportunities are available after completion. If you'd like to be somewhere with a low cost of living while in school to save money, head to Malaysia. They offer several programs to get your masters in TEFL.

Europe

If you've always wanted to live in Europe, now's your chance. Head to Ireland to be in a country that speaks English, which might be most comfortable for those who have some fears about being abroad for the first time. For a unique cultural experience, sign up for classes in the Czech Republic. Being around those who speak a different language will help you gain skills for when you go on to teach English after your degree. Spain also has a great program if you'd prefer to be around the Spanish influence more.

Online

Many people are choosing to get their degree online so they can travel freely while learning. This also allows you to live in different countries abroad without worrying about having one home base during your classes. You'll have to be self-disciplined to study and complete all the modules on time, but the benefits are well worth it.

Evaluate the Teachers

It's important to make sure you're choosing the right program for you. When evaluating different courses, research the teachers. Are they all new themselves, or do they have years of experience teaching? You also want to make sure they have been in the field themselves for awhile. This way, they can better teach their lessons based on their expertise level.

Research the School's Reputation

Search around about the college's reputation. Does the school in general have a good reputation, and have the students been happy with what they've learned from their classes? Second, see if you can find reviews about your specific program. Did students feel fulfilled and ready to go into the field after completion? Even better, see if you can find a few students who did the program to speak with or email to ask any questions you may have left.

Connect with the Staff

Take time to reach out to the faculty either in person or via email. When investing money into a program, you'll want to see if the instructors are personable and open to answering questions. This will be a good indicator of how they'll be down the road when they're teaching your classes.

Best Time to Apply

Each school's deadline to apply will be different, so check the guidelines for each program. At least six months before the program begins is usually recommended so you have enough time to apply and relocate. Students should be fully ready to start class on the first day and settled into their new housing arrangement.

Qualifications

Most universities require a GPA of 3.0 (out of 4.0) in the student's undergraduate major. While not required, having a background in a language other than English is highly preferred. If not a native English speaker, you must submit the results from your TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). The minimum accepted is 100 points if taking the internet-based test, or 600 points if taking the paper-based test. Two letters of academic reference are required, as well as your statement of purpose.

Application Tips

It's highly recommended that you speak to someone in the admissions department before applying. They'll be able to see what requirements you've already met, as well as point out any you may have missed. Counselors will be able to help with deadlines or other important factors to make sure you have enough time to apply to the program you're looking at.

An important factor to consider before sending in your application is if you need a visa for the country you're going to. If so, make sure you apply with plenty of time before school starts. After all your hard work applying, it'd be disappointing to get in but not have your visa in time.

Costs

The cost of a master's program can vary widely depending on what school you go to, so research different options to see what fits into your budget best. Online programs can sometimes be cheaper, with an average range of $15,000-$20,000 per year. Going to more prestigious universities for their on-campus programs may run you over $40,000 a year.

Contributed by Marissa Pedersen

Programs

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Paul Batt
10/10
I took the 150 hour course, it was a great experience and taught me a lot. The Teacher was awesome and she went well above and beyond to help guide me and make me a better teacher myself. I had a...
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Brian O'Dea
10/10
Before making my decision to get my TEFL and teach abroad, I researched heavily into where to get certified. If you are looking for a balance of a quality curriculum, cost efficiency, and personal...
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Pawan Kumar
9/10
Actually, I am an Indian with English background but not a native English speaker. I wished to work in Europe but condition and requirements are tough to fulfill by me. It is easy to go Argentina if...