To meet the increasing needs of individuals seeking advanced training in teaching English as a second language. The program, which can be completed through CU Online, is designed to build the necessary skills to teach adults English as a second language. It is primarily aimed at native speakers of English who want to teach overseas but may serve the needs of international students wanting to teach English in their home country or other countries. Opportunities exist for internships at CU Denver’s International College of Beijing (ICB) and other language schools.

Upon successful completion of the program, CTELL participants will be able to:

  • discuss the theoretical basis of second language instruction

  • demonstrate a variety of effective ESL teaching techniques

  • explain, in pedagogically relevant ways, the linguistic structures of the English language


The curriculum consists of 12 credit hours (nine credit hours of required courses and three credit hours of electives). The required courses must be taken at CU Denver.

Additional information

Additional information about the Graduate Certificate in English as a Second Language (CTELL) may be obtained from:

Joanne Addison, Professor
Office: 1051 Ninth Street Park, Room 104
Phone: 303-315-7845

Required Courses

  • ENGL 5171, Language Theory (three credit hours)

  • ENGL 5601, Principles and Practices of Second Language Acquisition (three credit hours)

  • ENGL 5651, Second Language Writing (three credit hours)

Electives (Choose one of the following)

  • ENGL 5093, Teaching of Writing (three credit hours)

  • An alternative elective such as a special topic course ENGL 5190 “Cross-Cultural Communication” approved by the program advisor (three credit hours)

  • An internship approved by the program advisor (three credit hours)

Length of Time

The course of study will typically last one academic year, including the summer session.

When you may begin

You may begin in any semester. There is no fixed deadline for application for admission.


All applicants must have a bachelor's degree or the equivalent to be accepted to the program. Graduate students at CU Denver will also be permitted to apply for the certificate while they are concurrently completing another graduate degree. Permission may not be granted to graduate students in Applied Linguistics.

Non-native speakers of English are required to submit an official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) report showing a score of at least 570 (pbt) or 89 (ibt) . Those who score below 570 but above 500 on the TOEFL may be admitted conditionally to the program.

Under these conditions, students will have their English language skills assessed by the program's faculty immediately after they arrive on campus to determine whether further courses are needed to develop English language proficiency. After assessment, the students may be assigned to full-time language study in an intensive English program, permitted to take graduate-level classes on a conditional basis along with further designated language study, or permitted to begin graduate study without further restrictions.

Requirements for receiving the certificate

Prior to receiving the certificate, students must have a GPA of 3.0 or better for their graduate courses.