Starting Your Scholarship Search
Master’s degree programs in TESOL, ESL, and EFL demand a commitment of time and money that short-term certificate programs do not. Most reputable universities require about 30 to 35 courses for graduation. For this reason, securing funds for master’s studies is often necessary. According to Max de Lotbinière’s article “Help with MA Tesol study fees worth the hunt,” students should examine all possible sources of funding, from Fulbright scholarships to university-based scholarships, from graduate assistanceships to work-study. He points out that receiving one scholarship can help a candidate get more funding, such as grants to cover costs of travel to university from their home countries.
Applicants for graduate programs should fill out financial aid forms just as undergraduates do. Use the link to apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at the Federal Student Aid website, and review common questions and deadlines for filing at the Apply for Aid webpage.
Where to Look for TESOL Graduate School Scholarships
Scan the department, admissions, and financial aid webpages of the ESL degree programs in which you have interest. Many universities offer merit-based scholarships, alumnae-funded grants, and fellowships to accomplished applicants. Education departments might also offer smaller awards to cover research, travel to conferences, domestic or foreign exchange programs. Some universities automatically submit all student applications for consideration of scholarships, while others have extra application requirements. Consult your university department before applying for more information.
Your academic record, cultural background, religious affiliation, home country, or other criteria can earn you scholarship money. Some noteworthy sources of private scholarships for studying TESOL, ESL, and EFL include:
The International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA) Solidarity Awards
Current graduate students of academic merit or promise, who have financially disadvantaged situation, can receive a full award to the AILA World Congress upon acceptance of an abstract for presentation. AILA has also instituted the Multilingual Matters/AILA Library Award and Multilingual Matters/AILA Solidarity Award in conjunction with the publisher of Multilingual Matters.
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) TOEFL Grants and Awards
ETS along with the TOEFL board fund 11 TOEFL grants and awards yearly in the areas of international higher education and foreign or second language research, teaching or assessment.
International Reading Association: Jeanne S. Chall Grant
This grant funds reading research by promising students of beginning reading theory and practice, methods of readability, diagnosis and treatment of reading difficulty, the stages of reading development, vocabulary in the context of reading, and teaching adult literacy.
International Reading Association: IRA Steven A. Stahl Research Grant
Graduate students with a minimum of three years of teaching experience who are doing classroom research concerning the instruction of reading can apply for this grant.
The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF) Research Grants
TIRF offers Doctoral Dissertation Grants, Sheikh Nahayan Fellowships, and Priority Research Grants. These awards go to students working in the areas of improving English language teaching and learning, applying research to language problems, and the teaching and learning of language.
The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans
This major fellowship for graduate study awards tuition and living expenses to permanent residents or naturalized citizens born abroad.
The International English Testing System (IELTS) Grants and Awards
The organization awards research grants to students pursuing IELTS-related research. It also funds The Caroline Clapham IELTS Masters Award, an award for a Master of Arts thesis or dissertation on the topic of language testing.
The Spencer Foundation Fellowship Awards
This fellowship is for doctoral students about to write their dissertations and for post-doctoral researchers writing papers, as well.
Other Sources of TESOL, ESL, and EFL Funding
This grant, funded by the federal government, awards thousands of dollars annually to graduate students dedicated to working as full-time teachers in a high-need field at a school serving low-income students. Awardees must commit to at least four years of service.
Grants and Scholarships for TESOL Professionals
Members of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), have the benefit of applying for one of the group’s many funding opportunities. Unlike the resources listed above, these specifically apply to working professionals interested in attending a TESOL convention, symposium, academy, or workshop. These opportunities include:
- The TESOL/TEFL Travel Grant
- The Albert H. Marckwardt Travel Grants
- TESOL Awards for International Participation at TESOL
- Professional Development Travel Grant for Practicing ESL/EFL Teachers
- The TESOL Professional Development Scholarships
- The TESOL Award for an Outstanding Paper on NNEST Issues
- The TESOL Leadership Mentoring Program
- The Ruth Crymes TESOL Academies Fellowships
Search Wisely for Funding
It is a shame to have to report that some scholarship scams end up taking money from applicants rather than awarding money to them.
According to the U.S. News & World Report article, “What Are the Most Common Scholarship Scams? ” students should never pay to apply for a scholarship, nor should they pay someone to compile a list of opportunities for them. Never supply your bank account or credit card information, even if a company claims it needs it to confirm your eligibility for an award.
Another issue arises in regard to providing personal information. You will eventually have to share personal details such as your name, address, and academic background. However, if the application demands much more personal details, it may in reality be a marketing ploy rather than a true funding opportunity. If you find yourself the victim of a scholarship or financial aid scam, review the federal government’s guide to reporting it, located on the Avoiding Scams Web page.
Trusted Sources for Your Scholarship Search
For a list of free scholarships, awards, prizes, grants, and fellowships, consult the search engine provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Fordham University has also published a list of Reputable Scholarship Sites. This list includes one of the most popular reputable search engines, Fastweb. However, the site’s popularity can be a detriment because many people pursue the resources it lists.