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University of Alabama at Birmingham — School of Education

Program Type:
Master's International
School of Education
Degrees Awarded:
MA Teaching ESL
Admissions Deadlines:

Rolling admissions with July 1st for Fall and November 1st for Spring. NOTE: May 15th is the priority deadline for MI applicants to submit a graduate assistantship application to the English Language Institute (only available to MI students starting in Fall).

Admissions Cycle:

Up until deadline date.

Program Start:
Typically in Fall (August) but also in Spring (January)
Program Founded:
January, 2013


  •  Eligibility to be assigned as Peace Corps volunteers in the following areas: secondary school EFL instruction, university English teaching, and English teacher training.
  • Out-of-state tuition waiver (over 50% waived) for MI students hired on a competitive basis to assist ESL instructors and students at UAB's English Language Institute, minimum of 6 hours a week for 30 weeks.
  • Intimate atmosphere of a smaller program within a large university situated close to an international airport.
  • Varied course delivery formats: professional learning communities, totally online platforms, blended courses (online alternating with face-to-face), Saturday classes, intensive summer institutes, and internships.
  • Progression through courses in a cohort manner that facilitates personalized interaction with instructors.
  • Learner-centered instructional approach within a standards-based, inquiry-focused curriculum that fosters collaboration, reflection, and application.
  • From theory to practice using state-of-art ESL teaching strategies, e.g., interactive peer-to-peer oral techniques.
  • Hands-on experience as of first semester by co-teaching English conversation classes.
  • Completion of on-campus courses within a single academic year thus facilitating a one-year housing lease.
  • Varied and affordable housing in Birmingham’s Southside neighborhood, 3-10 blocks from School of Education.
  • Possibility of walking or bicycling from home to campus (no need to purchase parking decal).
  • Excellent health care services available on campus and accessible student health insurance.
  • Invitation to join Birmingham chapter of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers for fun and fellowship.


The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) offers a Master of Arts in Education (MAEd) degree for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).  This MAEd/ESL program is housed in the School of Education’s  Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Of the 3 tracks in this program, MI students pursue the International Track which consists of 33 semester credit hours of required courses. Although MI students may select to pursue their MAEd/ESL on a part-time basis, most opt for full-time study. They complete 24 credit hours at UAB during the academic year immediately preceding their entry to Peace Corps. From August to June, they take 4 courses in linguistics (Second Language Acquisition, Grammar for ESL Teachers, Phonology for ESL Teachers, English in a Global Context) and 4 courses in pedagogy (Teaching Adult Language Learners, Methods for Teaching English as an International Language, Instruction & Assessment of Reading/Writing, Instruction & Assessment of Listening/Speaking).

In addition to taking courses while at UAB, MI students participate in other activities required by the MAEd/ESL program. During the fall semester, they observe ESL classes at various institutions and co-teach English Conversation Classes within the School of Education’s “Lab School”. During the spring semester, they take field trips to Intensive English Programs within a 60-mile radius, complete a 30-hour ESL administrative internship, and provide professional development to community ESL volunteer instructors. During UAB's first summer term, they participate in a weeklong teacher institute, attend two all-day seminars to prepare for their overseas experience, and take a comprehensive examination. As of July 1st, they are ready to start serving 27 months in the Peace Corps. While overseas, MI students are guided by UAB instructors in completing 9 credit hours of practicum-related courses with projects that enhance their PCV responsibilities.  MI students must be enrolled in coursework during the term in which they graduate. Upon completing their Peace Corps service, they receive their master’s degree from UAB without having to return to campus.

UAB has 11 schools and colleges on a campus comprised of 80 city blocks that is both metropolitan and traditional. Having started in 1945 as a medical school and in 1969 as an autonomous university, UAB is now the largest single employer in the State of Alabama. With 18,000+ employees and 17,000+ students from 101 countries, UAB has been described by The Princeton Review as a “mecca of multiculturalism” and was ranked among the top 10 U.S. colleges and universities for diversity for 3 consecutive years.  UAB was also named for 3 consecutive years to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a university can achieve for commitment to civic engagement and service-learning. UAB’s growth as a world-renowned research university and medical center has driven the social, cultural, and economic revival of Birmingham. Additional information about UAB is available at http://www.uab.edu/home/about


Bachelor’s degree (in any major) with a 2.5 GPA or better.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT)

Degree-seeking application with official transcripts and letters of recommendation

Skype interview

For inquiries about Master's International, call 855.855.1961 x1812.

Program Contacts

If you have questions, please contact:
Dr. Susan Spezzini
Program Director and Associate Professor

Department of Curriculum and Instruction
1720 2nd Avenue South-EB 120 UAB School of Education
Birmingham, Alabama 35294-1250
(205) 934-8357
(205) 934-4792

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