Working professionals are now demanding access to online Ph.D. in English Language Learning degrees; this is perhaps due to the rise in employers both in the public and private sector who are seeking instructors who can teach their employees to use English as a second language. While it was previously possible to earn a graduate degree in the field and have a career, it is now more important that more professionals teach not just the language, but also the culture around the language and how it can be incorporated in different fields.
This ranking focuses on degrees that teach English language learning; however, not all of them are created. Many programs listed here will be of interest to students who wish to focus on research, practical application, or history. They are all online, flexible, and provide students with a pathway towards a terminal degree that will not interfere with a student’s personal or professional life, which is why this is an updated ranking from last year.
This ranking could not have been possible without the research that was collated from the National Center for Education Statistics website and its publicly available College Navigator database. The original list of 10 schools was found by searching for “online Ph.D. in English Language Learning degrees.” From there, the schools were reviewed and ranked based on several factors, the most important being the cost of the program. The final ranking, which can be found below, was dictated by the school’s total estimated in-state graduate tuition rate for the entire program.
Ranking Low-Cost Online Ph.D in English Language Learning
10. Northcentral University
San Diego, California
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Education, Specialization in English Language Learning
The affordable online Ph.D. in English Language Learning degree that is available from Northcentral University was designed to prepare professionals to research, teach, and build instructional programs within the field. This degree is offered entirely online and provides students with a self-directed course of study that will be interesting to working, ambitious students. Courses start weekly and the program is entirely asynchronously; students will have no weekly or group assignments and will be able to focus on their own education with no interruptions. Students will note that this degree was designed specifically for professionals who wish to work in educational settings. This degree requires a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework, a dissertation, and a doctoral comprehensive assessment. Sample courses include Scholarly Literature Review, Research Methods, and Institutional Review Board and Data Collection.
9. Alliant International University
San Diego, California
Online Doctor of Education: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
The online Ed.D that is provided by Alliant International University was designed for professionals who wish to meet the demand for English education specialist. This program focuses on second language programs and developing them along with teaching the cultural and psychological factors that come with second language acquisition. Students will note that this degree has no residency requirements; therefore, it is a good choice for out-of-state doctoral candidates. This program focuses on certification as a Second Language Educator and the curriculum reflects this both in terms of the courses offered and the dissertation. Students can expect to complete 60 credit hours of coursework and a dissertation. Sample courses include Research in Second Language Acquisition and Applied Linguistics, Technology and Second Language Teaching, and Psycholinguistics and Second Language Learning and Teaching.
8. Rowan University
Camden, New Jersey
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Education, Language and Literacy Concentration
Students interested in completing an affordable Ph.D in Education online degree will find a great program available at Rowan University. The program focuses on education as a pathway for English language learning and is a great program for teachers and other educators. Students will find that the program is highly structured to present all students with a multi-disciplinary program that focuses on social justice concerns within educational settings, a mentorship program, and research sequences designed to strengthen a student’s understanding of the field. This is a research-focused degree, meaning students must be able to dedicate time outside of their courses to complete this program’s requirements. The degree will require a minimum of 78 credit hours of coursework and a dissertation for graduation. Sample courses include Transliteracy and Translingualism, First and Second Language Acquisition, and Theoretical Perspectives in the Study of Literacy.
7. Concordia University at Chicago
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Education, Reading, Language and Literacy Specialization
Concordia University Chicago confers an online Ph.D in Education that provides students with an academic and practical framework for literacy education in the classroom. Designed as a research-focused degree, students will have the chance to complete both research and practical application courses to ensure that they have a well-rounded approach to their career. Students will find that the program was designed to be completed online with no campus residency requirements. The program focuses on literacy as its main component and will require two internships, both of which take place in a student’s community, for graduation. Other requirements include a minimum of 61 credit hours of coursework, a comprehensive final exam, and a dissertation. Sample courses include Trends and Issues in Literary Research, Cultural and Socioeconomic Perspectives of Literature and Literacy, and Writing is Recorded Thinking: Research, Theory, and Application.
6. St. John’s University
Queens, New York
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Literacy
The low-cost English Language Learning online degree that is offered by St. John’s University was designed to provide students with a holistic, research-based approach to a curriculum that was designed to help at-risk learners. Students will find that the program has a variety of specialization options, include Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Students will find that the curriculum focuses on ensuring that students build on their previous education and work experiences so they can continue with their research in their areas of interest. This program requires that students complete a minimum of 42 credit hours of coursework and a dissertation. Sample courses include Foundations of Bilingual and Second Language Education, Literacy Development for First and Second Language Learners, and Human Development in a Cross-Cultural Perspective.
5. Texas Tech University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction with a track in Language, Diversity, and Literacy Studies
Texas Tech University confers an online Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction that is perfect for students who are interested in building culturally diverse communities in educational settings. This degree was designed as a hybrid program; on-campus residencies will be required during the summer for the first two years of the degree plan. This is a comprehensive degree that will focus a student not just on teaching English as a second language, but also how literacy impacts learners all over the world. This degree requires a minimum of 93 credit hours of coursework and a dissertation. Sample courses include Immigration and Education, Critical Pedagogy, and Bilingual Education Theory.
4. Anaheim University
Online Doctor of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Students at Anaheim University have the unique opportunity to complete a low-cost online Ed.D degree that can be completed as a low-residency program. Students will be required to take part in two four-day residencies in California or at satellite campuses all over the world. Students can complete this accredited degree in four years while working full-time, making it a great choice for working professionals. The curriculum focuses on language teaching and education, with a strong research basis that will provide students with unique opportunities to attend conferences and submit articles to publications. This degree requires a minimum of 76 credit hours of coursework and a dissertation. Sample courses include Individual Learner Differences in Language Learning and Teaching, Sociolinguistics and Language Learning, and Interlanguage Pragmatics.
3. Murray State University
Online Doctor of Arts in English Pedagogy, Technology/Teaching English Language Specialization
Murray State University confers an online Doctor of Arts in English Pedagogy degree that is based on a practical approach. The curriculum was designed for teachers who are interested in working within a framework of pedagogy, theory, and reflection. This degree is offered entirely online with no residency requirements. Students can choose from five different concentrations, including Teaching English Literature, Teaching Writing, and Teaching English Language. Students will find that the core curriculum requires a practicum; this can be completed in a student’s community. Other requirements include a minimum of 48 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project. Sample courses include Teaching Writing in Schools, Foundations of Second Language Acquisition, and Methods and Materials for Teaching English as a Second Language.
2. Indiana University at Bloomington
Online Doctor of Education in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education
The online Doctor of Education in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education that is available from Indiana University at Bloomington was designed for working professionals who need access to a flexible and convenient program. This cohort, 100 percent online course of study was developed to ensure that students focus on their education without having to worry about attending campus. This program’s curriculum focuses on practical applications of theory within the classroom. An internship is required for this degree and must be completed in a student’s community under the supervision of an approved preceptor. Other requirements include a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework and a dissertation. Sample courses include Strategies for Educational Inquiry, Methodological Approaches to Educational Inquiry, and Issues in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education.
1. New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Online Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, Bilingual/TESOL Concentration
New Mexico State University confers an online Ed.D in Curriculum and Instruction degree that will provide them with a degree that will help them become qualified leaders in the field. The school offers students the chance to complete either a Ph.D. or Ed.D. in the field and both come with four options: Bilingual/TESOL, Critical Pedagogies, Early Childhood Education, and Language, Literacy, and Culture. This program is offered as a low-residency program; students will need to consult with their academic advisor to understand when they will be required to attend campus. More information on this degree, program requirements and a list of course offerings can be found by contacting the department’s admissions advisor.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Affordable Online Ph.D. in English Language Learning?
- College Professor
- Translator or Interpreter for Businesses
- English-Language Instructor
- Curriculum and Instruction Specialist
- Senior Researcher
- Government Education Administrator
- Author or Freelance Writer
- Speech and Language Therapist
- Private Tutor
- Social Media Researcher
- Public Relations Officer
- Conference Speaker
- Public Relations Manager
- Political Speechwriter
How Much Can You Earn in this Field?
The average salary for English language learning professionals is about $70,000. The salary range for professionals with this degree is between $38,000 to over $125,000. This range includes both academic and non-academic positions as well as positions that can be earned by professionals with either a master’s or doctorate degree in the field. It does not include positions that include incentives, such as bonuses or commissions.
It is important to note that professionals in English language learning have the flexibility to find jobs both in the private and public sector as well as in non-academic settings. Students may find positions within international companies or nonprofit organizations, giving them the opportunity to build a career that may see them traveling the world and teaching or interacting with people from different cultures and languages.
The type of degree may also play a role in how much a student can expect to earn as a salary. Earning an online doctorate in education with a specialization in English language learning may find that they can earn about $50,000 more than their Ph.D. counterparts; this is especially true in the business sector. Academic-leaning degrees will provide high salaries for professionals who stay in academic settings; professors at private institutions can expect to earn around $125,000 a year after they earn tenure.
What are the Various Disciplines of English Language Learning?
English Language Learning focuses not just on linguistics, but also the culture of English-speaking countries. This means that students may be surprised to learn that other disciplines besides linguistics and education play a large role in the field.
The main disciplines in the field include literature, linguistics, pedagogy, popular culture, and history. Students who take on an education-focused doctoral degree will also focus on curriculum and instruction to build a well-rounded education. Students may also find that communication informs their degree, particularly if they are focused on working in the business or nonprofit sectors.
Other disciplines that may be useful in the field include business, human resources, and cultural history; these are vital for professionals who wish to work abroad and are interested in moving to a new country after graduation. Those who are interested in research may focus on the history of linguistics and may dabble in semiotics to understand how symbols in American culture may have different meanings in others. The sub-disciplines used in the field really depend on a student’s professional trajectory, something they have control over in a doctoral program.
How Common is Research for this Program?
Research is a strong component of an online Ph.D. in English Language Learning. Those in this program will realize that most degrees in this field lean towards academic careers, which generally translates into research being part of that profession. This is particularly true for students who wish to become professors or educators in the field.
Students will tend to spend a great deal of their time in the program researching an issue of their choice for their dissertation. Since dissertations are a universal requirement for doctorate degrees, this should come as no surprise. Students will need to be able to understand their research and communicate their findings both in written and oral form.
Research topics will vary depending on a student’s previous education and work experience as well as their interests and career options after graduation. Some students may focus on linguistics, some may discuss how learning English would be useful to foreign citizens, and still others may choose to research how the language has evolved over time. Because some programs have different concentrations within the degree, the choice of research topic may be chosen based on that concentration.
English language learning is a field that is focused on academia, and research is a large part of that setting. For this reason, students who are interested in this degree are advised to weigh their interest in research, as it is impossible to move through a doctoral degree in the field without completing at least one research project. The time and effort that it takes to complete a research project is both beneficial and challenging but will ultimately provide students with the chance to become experts in their field.
Is it Necessary to Know a Different Language When Studying this Degree?
No, it is not necessary to be proficient in a foreign language to be accepted into a program; however, this depends on the school and the program’s specific requirements. Students must understand the application requirements prior to entering a program and they might be required to take a foreign language before beginning their degree plan. However, since most students study a foreign language at either the undergraduate or graduate level, this will not be a problem for most students.
Most schools do recommend a student having proficiency in at least one foreign language, but it is not necessary to have certification in that language. The purpose of recommending a foreign language is to demonstrate to students how difficult it can be to learn a new language while simultaneously providing them with a way to understand how someone can learn English.
Even if a foreign language is not required by a doctoral program, students should still endeavor to learn one. Learning a language has a variety of benefits in the workplace, especially if a professional wants to live and work overseas; many international companies hire professionals in the field to teach their employees how to speak English to better their networking chances. Another benefit is being able to work in schools and nonprofit organizations abroad or working as a director for international programs in the country.
Are There any Specific Admissions Requirements for this Degree?
There are some specific admissions requirements for an online Ph.D. in English Language Learning. These are specific to a linguistics degree; students who take on a degree in literature or education may find that some of the below requirements will not fit their degree program. It is advised that every student look closely at the admissions requirements for any program they wish to attend to ensure they understand the application process.
One of the most common requirements for this degree is to be certified as an English as a Second Language educator to non-native speakers. Other English-language specific certifications may also be accepted, such as the Teaching English to Speakers of Another Language, or TESOL; Teaching English as a Second Language, or TESL, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language, or TEFL. These certifications can all be achieved through graduate education programs or alone; this means that students will need to seek out certification and earn it outside of their education. This is an important requirement because it demonstrates the student’s dedication to the career as well as provides a stable foundation of education that enables each doctoral candidate to keep pace with the curriculum.
Another common requirement is teaching experience. Because this field is generally focused on educators, a teaching license may be required for most programs. Students who have completed a graduate degree in education and have a teaching license in good standing in their state will be well-equipped to complete this program. This requirement is generally reserved for Doctor of Education in English Language programs but may be applicable to other degrees as well.
Along with a teaching license, many programs prefer that students have real-world teaching experience. The average range that is acceptable for most universities is between one to five years. Students who have specific experience teaching English in classrooms or in the business world stand a good chance to be accepted into the program of their choice.
Doctoral programs in this field can only be entered once a student has earned a graduate degree from an accredited university; few programs will take students who just have a bachelor’s degree. However, many schools may make exceptions due to a student’s application and their work history. This is a requirement that is best discussed with the school’s admissions director for this program.
Why Choose an Online Program Over an On-Campus Program?
Online programs have several obvious benefits; chief among them is the flexibility that earning an online degree can give to working professionals. The ability to choose whether to study part-time or full-time, choose live or on-demand courses and little to no campus visits means that working adults can finish their education while continuing in their current professional and personal obligations.
There are also other benefits, including the ability to accelerate a student’s progress. Some programs enable a student to complete accelerated terms, meaning they complete courses in eight or 12 weeks instead of the traditional 16 weeks of an on-campus program. Summer intensives, which are courses that can be completed in four weeks or less, are also an option for those who are interested in completing their program in less time than it would take on-campus.
Online programs are also generally more affordable. Schools have begun offering either in-state graduate tuition rates to all online students or creating an online-only specific tuition rate. This means that students may be able to save thousands of dollars just by taking the online equivalent of a reputable school’s on-campus program. Because many students choose to attend an out-of-state school, the savings are something they need to seriously consider.
Above all, students will find that there is no difference between online and on-campus programs; doctoral degrees in this field tend to have the same requirements, regardless of the method that a student uses to obtain it. Most schools still require a dissertation or scholarly project, schools who require practicums require it for all students, and online degrees rarely indicate if a student earned that degree online or on-campus. With the advancement of technology and the demand from working professionals for more flexible degrees, online programs are the future of education.
Is Accreditation Necessary for This Program?
Accreditation for any doctoral program, regardless if it is held online or not, is important for professionals. However, it may not be required. This depends on the student’s endorsements, their work experience, and the needs of the employers they hope to work for.
Doctoral programs in this field are accredited by the Commission on English Language Accreditation. This is an accrediting body that holds programs to a specific standard that provides employers with the knowledge that the candidate for the job holds to that educational standard. Students within these accredited programs work through guidelines and core competencies put forth by the CEA and will enable them to find jobs that pay well because they are competing for better jobs.
However, studying at a school without accreditation does not mean that the degree is useless. In fact, many schools with this program are actively implementing the CEA guidelines but may not have yet met the requirements for accreditation. That means the programs are well structured and can provide students with a good chance and employment opportunities.
It is important to remember that English Language Learning online programs are growing in number, but as that number grows, a lot of work must be done to ensure that the school meets the requirements of CEA and other accrediting programs. While many programs may not hold accreditation, there are some who are engaging with CEA to ensure that they will soon hold accreditation. Students are advised that until then, check with the school to see if the program is undergoing review for accreditation.
English language learning degrees are important, especially as English continues to rise as the mainstream international business language. However, professionals in the field provide more than just a benefit to businesses; they are also there for students of all ages, regardless of background, providing them with a way to understand and use the language here in the United States. While the field is still growing and evolving, passionate professionals are encouraged to earn an online Ph.D. in English Language Learning degree to work as pioneers in the field.