Joint B.A./M.A. with TESL Focus

Since Fall 2001, the Department has offered an exciting, innovative program which enables qualified undergraduate majors pursuing a B.A. in Linguistics to receive an M.A. in Linguistics with TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) Focus in only one year beyond the B.A. Normally, earning the M.A. in Linguistics at Iowa requires two years of study after the B.A.

Having the M.A. degree provides important advantages in the TESL job market. The M.A. is the professional degree for teachers of ESL in colleges and universities in the United States. Earning this degree therefore affords many more job opportunities in the U.S. and abroad than does the B.A. with TESL Focus.

Application and Admission

Students wishing to enter the program must meet the following requirements:  

  • be a University of Iowa undergraduate student majoring in Linguistics
  • complete at least 80 hours of undergraduate work (typically at the end of the 5th semester)
  • have a minimum GPA of 3.5 at the time of submitting the application

Applicants to the program must submit a statement of purpose indicating why they seek admission and what their short-term career goals are and must submit to the Department an online application to the Graduate College. As part of the application to the Graduate College, applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, and must take and submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).  Students who wish to apply for the program should discuss their plans with their academic adviser.

The joint degree program includes course requirements that differ slightly from the regular undergraduate major, specifically in replacing some elective course work with designated classes. Four of the courses are counted toward both the B.A. and M.A. degrees. The program requirements compared to the regular major and M.A. degrees are outlined below.

The B.A. Curriculum

The B.A. consists of 30 semester hours of study, but students take specific courses in place of some electives and 12 semester hours counted for the B.A. would also count for the M.A. The following table outlines the major requirements for the standard B.A. in Linguistics and those that comprise the B.A. in the joint degree program.

Comparison of requirements
Standard Undergraduate Major Requirements Requirements for Undergraduate Major in the Joint Degree Program
Course Hours Course Hours
Introduction to Linguistics (LING:3001) 3 Introduction to Linguistics (LING:3001) 3
Articulatory & Acoustic Phonetics (LING:3005) 3 Articulatory & Acoustic Phonetics (LING:3005) 3
Syntactic Analysis (LING:3010) 3 Proseminar: Morphosyntax (LING:5000) 1
    Introduction to Syntax* (LING:5010) 3
Phonological Analysis (LING:3020) 3 Introduction to Phonology* (LING:5020) 3
Course in language history 3 Course in language history 3
Elective 3 The Structure of English (LING:4040) 3
Elective 3 Methods of Teaching English as a Second Language* (LING:4050) 3
Elective 3 Syntactic Theory* (LING:6010) 3
Elective 3 Elective 3
Elective 3 Elective 3
TOTAL 30 s.h.   31 s.h.

*These courses count toward both the B.A. and the M.A. Instead of taking Syntactic Analysis (LING:3010) to fulfill the B.A. syntax requirement, students in this program take Proseminar: Morphosyntax (LING:5000) and Introduction to Syntax (LING:5010), which are the first two parts of the mandatory three-course sequence for M.A. students. Likewise, instead of taking Phonological Analysis (LING:3020) to fulfill the B.A. phonology requirement, students take Introduction to Phonology (LING:5020), the first course in the graduate two-course sequence in phonology.

The M.A. Curriculum

The standard curriculum for the M.A. in Linguistics with TESL Focus and the curriculum for students pursuing the M.A. in the proposed joint degree program are outlined below. The table compares the course sequence for the two years of the standard M.A. with the 4th year and the 5th year of the joint program (under the assumption that students enter the program in their 4th year of study).

Comparison of MA requirements
Standard Requirements for M.A. with TESL Focus Requirements for Joint Degree Program
Year 1   Year 4  
Fall Semester   Fall Semester  
Articulatory & Acoustic Phonetics (LING:3005) 3 taken as part of B.A.  
The Structure of English (LING:4040) 3 taken as part of B.A.  
Proseminar: Morphosyntax (LING:5000) 1 taken as part of B.A.  
Introduction to Syntax (LING:5010) 3 Introduction to Syntax* (LING:5010) 3
       
Spring Semester   Spring Semester  
Methods of TESL (LING:4050) 3 Methods of TESL* (LING:4050) 3
Syntactic Theory (LING:6010) 3 Syntactic Theory* (LING:6010) 3
Introduction to Phonology (LING:5020) 3 Introduction to Phonology* (LING:5020) 3
       
Summer Session   Summer Session  
Practicum in Teaching English as a Second Language (LING:5070) 3 Practicum in Teaching English as a Second Language (LING:5070) 3
       
Year 2   Year 5  
Fall Semester   Fall Semester  
Generative Second Language Acquisition (LING:6080) 3 Generative Second Language Acquisition (LING:6080) 3
Phonological Theory (LING:6020) 3 Phonological Theory (LING:6020) 3
Elective 3 Elective 3
       
Spring Semester   Spring Semester  
Elective 3 Elective 3
Linguistic topology or structures course 3 Linguistic topology or structures course 3
    Elective 3
TOTAL 37 s.h.   33 s.h.

*These courses count for both the B.A. and M.A. degrees. Also, all M.A. recipients must pass the M.A. Comprehensive Examination, generally taken during Year 2. Students in the joint degree program take the examination during Year 5. Given the nature of the M.A. with TESL focus, students in the joint program will not write a thesis as part of the 5-year program.

Financial Aid

Students who successfully take the Practicum in Teaching English as a Second Language (LING:5070) during the summer session will be eligible to apply for ESL teaching assistantships. These assistantships not only provide financial support but will also give students valuable teaching experience, which will make them highly competitive in the TESL job market. Iowa graduates with the M.A. in Linguistics with TESL Focus have been very successful finding good jobs. Since 1993 they have gone on to teaching jobs at the University of Arkansas, the University of Maryland, the University of Missouri, Ohio University, the University of Oregon, Coe College, Dana College, among other US institutions. Others have taken ESL jobs in the Czech Republic, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia and other countries around the world.