M.A. TESOL Admissions


Applications for Fall admission: Accepted starting October 1 – early deadline February 1, regular deadline April 1, and final deadline July 31.

Applications for Spring admission: Accepted starting August 1 – early deadline November 15, regular deadline December 1.


Admission to the M.A. TESOL program is based on evaluation of the following:

  • Completion of general admission requirements, as stipulated by SF State’s Division of Graduate Studies
  • The quality of the applicant’s academic record. • Completion of a B.A./B.S. degree from an accredited four-year college or university. Many of our applicants are English majors; however, a B.A. in English is not required. We consider applications from interested candidates with a B.A. or B.S. in diverse fields.
  • Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) or higher, in the last 60 units of undergraduate (and post-baccalaureate) study.
  • A statement of purpose which indicates why graduate work in SF State’s M.A. TESOL program is appropriate for the applicant's current academic interests and future academic and professional goals.
  • Letters of recommendation are not required but are strongly recommended if the applicant's academic record is not strong.
  • The GRE is not required.
  • Prior teaching experience is strongly desired but not required.


Admission Procedures

Please review before applying: Graduate Studies Application for Admission Instructions.

International Applicants: also see Graduate Studies International Admissions

Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP): Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming can now pay in-state tuition in the MA TESOL program. Please see website for more information.

The application process for the MA TESOL program is as follows. If you have questions about the process, please contact: English@sfsu.edu.

1. Complete the online application through Cal State Apply. 
Create your account AND Complete your profile. 

TIP: Students who will study on a F1/J1 visa must select Non-Resident for U.S. Citizenship Status under your Extended Profile.

Please note: You will only see a list of programs that aligns with your academic degree objective.

2. Submit the following online (A-C) by uploading on the Cal State Apply site’s “Program Materials” section:

A) A copy of your current résumé.
B) A 750-word statement of purpose, in carefully written academic prose, that explains your motivations for pursuing graduate studies in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at San Francisco State University, and your future academic or career objectives. To help the admissions committee members understand who you are, please use specific examples and respond to one of the prompts:

·         Prompt A; Discuss your experience as a language learner and the specific ways this experience has shaped your goals and beliefs as a language teacher.

·         Prompt B: Discuss your prior teaching/tutoring experience and the specific ways this experience has shaped your goals and beliefs as a language teacher.

·         Prompt C: Discuss something you have recently read about language teaching/learning and the specific ways the reading prompted you to reflect on your goals and beliefs as a language teacher.

Please indicate in your statement of purpose which prompt you chose.

C) Please upload legible unofficial copies of transcripts from each college or university attended. Including study abroad coursework, or community college coursework, even if this coursework appears as transfer credit appears on your degree transcript. Full academic disclosure is required.  Photographs or screenshots of transcripts will be rejected. An incomplete academic history will significantly delay review of your application. The Division of Graduate Studies may request official transcripts from you at any point during the application review process.  

3. If selected for admission, you will be required to submit official transcripts to the Division of Graduate Studies in order to secure your offer of admission. Please note: if you previously attended SF State, you do not need to submit a SFSU transcript.

If selected for admission, please mail official transcripts to:

Graduate Admissions Office, ADM 250
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94132

4. International applicants who are non-native speakers of English must also have official TOEFL scores sent (institution code: 4683, department code:14). IELTS scores are also accepted. ETS is now providing an at home TOEFL test during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International applicants who are non-native speakers of English must also submit a certified financial statement.

5. Optional letters of recommendation from instructors or other persons qualified to comment on your ability to succeed in graduate studies. Because admission to the program is competitive, recommendation letters can help to support your application. There is no standard recommendation form; recommenders should simply use letterhead and address letters to "M.A. TESOL Admissions.” Use the Evaluations tab to manage submission of letters of recommendation. Letter writer email addresses should be from professional or academic organizations (ex. @sfsu.edu, @CA.gov or @ibm.com), not personal email addresses. Cal State Apply instructions on how to submit letters of recommendation.

International Applicants

Submit supplemental application material via mail and within a month of the application deadline. Per university policies, international students are required to show sufficient funding to cover the first year at the time of application. The English Dept. has limited financial awards for graduate students.

The time to process documents for international student visas can be lengthy, so it is very important to submit complete applications (with all required documents including official transcripts from all universities, official TOEFL score, and the fee) as early as possible.

For advising and assistance, please see the University Bulletin or contact the following offices:

Office of International Programs

     Phone: 1.415.338.1293

     E-mail: oip@sfsu.edu

Division of Graduate Studies

     Phone 1. 415.405.4005

     E-mail: gradstudies@sfsu.edu

Required Tests

The GRE is not required for admission to the SF State M.A. TESOL program.

Level I Writing Proficiency is determined on the basis of the statement of purpose submitted as part of the application for admission.

Those students whose academic writing is not strong enough may need to take English 670 (Graduate Writing) during their first semester or in a subsequent semester.

Students whose native language is not English and whose B.A. was completed outside the United States must present evidence of language proficiency either with TOEFL or IELTS scores as indicated below:

               TOEFL                 IELTS (Academic)
  • iBT: 95

     (writing sub score: 24 or above)


  • Paper Delivered Test: 64 (total from 3 sections)

     (writing sub score: 24 or above)

  • Overall score: 7.0

     (writing sub score: 6.5 or above)


ETS is providing and an at home TOEFL test during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A TOEFL score of 95, or an IELTS score of 7.0, is considered to be minimal; applicants who demonstrate stronger English proficiency with a higher TOEFL or IELTS score (and higher writing subscores) will have a better chance of being recommended for admission to the Master of Arts in English with Concentration in TESOL.

The TOEFL or IELTS is not required for non-native English speakers who completed their Bachelor’s degree in the U.S. or another English-speaking country.

However, applicants who obtained a B.A./B.S. from an American university in a major other than English might consider submitting a recent TOEFL or IELTS score as evidence that their language proficiency is strong enough to do graduate study in an English Department.

If you do not meet the minimum TOEFL or IELTS requirement, you CANNOT be admitted conditionally to the M.A. TESOL program. To build your English proficiency and academic skills in preparation for graduate study, consider studying at the American Language Institute on the SF State campus where you will have opportunities to prepare for and take the TOEFL, to improve lecture listening and note-taking, oral presentation, and academic reading and writing skills, and to become oriented to the American educational system.

Transferring Credits

The M.A. TESOL Program is 30 semester units (10 courses). The University will accept a maximum of 6 units to be transferred from another institution and included on a student’s Advancement To Candidacy (ATC). Transferable courses must be upper-division or graduate-level classes taken after completion of the student’s B.A., not counted for another graduate degree (units cannot be double-counted), relevant to TESOL and recent (taken within seven years of the semester when the student plans to graduate).

SF State will not accept units from another university if that university does not accept the units for its own advanced degree programs. Because courses taken as part of a certificate program are usually not regular academic courses that count towards a university degree, such courses usually cannot be transferred. If you wish to transfer courses taken at another university (typically, for electives), see an advisor about filing a Graduate Transfer Unit Evaluation form for approval of these courses.