English as a Second Language and Bilingual Certification Program

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Main Office

Curriculum & Instruction
School of Education
210 Teacher Education Building
225 North Mills Street
MadisonWI  53706

Tel: 608/263.4600
Fax: 608/263.9992

Email: curric@education.wisc.edu
or by contact form

English as a Second Language (ESL) Certification Program

The ESL certification program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a graduate-level course of study that leads to ESL teacher certification and a Master’s degree (M.S.) in Curriculum & Instruction with ESL as the area of concentration. ESL is an add-on certification, which means that the candidate must already hold a WI teaching license in early childhood education, elementary education, or a secondary core content area (defined as science, social studies, math, or English/language arts) in order to qualify for the program. It is assumed that students in the ESL certification program are simultaneously enrolled in the C&I Master's program.

The ESL certification program consists of 18 credits, and coursework occurs during one summer and the following academic year (see program structure below). Thus the program always begins in June. Fall and spring coursework is offered in “teacher hours,” and tied to practice. The Master’s degree requires 24 credits, plus a thesis and defense (complete information on graduate program requirements and application procedures can be viewed at C&I Grad Programs). All credits taken for certification apply toward the Master's Degree. Remaining credits and thesis work are undertaken after the completion of the certification program (see diagram below).

Eligibility Criteria 

Potential applicants must have: 

  • a Bachelor’s degree
  • WI core classroom license (EC, MC, EA, or secondary math, science, social studies, English/language arts)
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 on the last 60 credits of the undergraduate degree.
  • Experience learning another language (this may be fulfilled by a minimum of 2 years of High School foreign language study, one year of college foreign language study).

Proficiency in another language is not required.

For application information, please email Professor Maggie Hawkins, (mhawkins@education.wisc.edu). 

Bilingual Certification Program

The ESL/Bilingual Certification Program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a course of study that leads to Bilingual Certification at a level corresponding to the candidate’s original (core) teaching license. Bilingual certification is an add-on to ESL certification, which means that candidates for bilingual certification must meet UW-Madison Department of Curriculum and Instruction requirements for ESL certification first (including eligibility requirements),  then acquire additional competencies in the areas of bilingualism and biliteracy. Thus students follow the course of study for ESL certification as outlined above, then complete an additional 5-credit course with fieldwork. These credits are applied towards the Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. The dual pathways (ESL & bilingual) for certification and the Master’s degree are diagrammed below.

Proficiency in another language is required for Bilingual Certification and students must pass a language proficiency test in the target language upon completion of the program in order to be certified.

For application information, please email Professor Maggie Hawkins, (mhawkins@education.wisc.edu).


ESL diagram showing The dual pathways (ESL & bilingual) for certification and the Master’s degree are diagrammed below.

Program Adviser

Professor Maggie Hawkins
Room 514D, Teacher Education Building
(608) 263-4667
For C&I Research information:  English as a Second Language/Bilingual Education

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