Department of Linguistics University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Frequently Asked Questions: Applying to the MATESL Degree at UIUC

[updated Feb 2017]

  1. If I am denied, can I be automatically re-considered for admission next year?

    The Department of Linguistics does not automatically re-consider denied applicants. You would need to fully re-apply.

  2. If I am denied, what can I do to help my chances for admission in a subsequent year?

    Answer: The decision process for admission to the MATESL is complex. We consider a large number of factors. In the past, people who were denied and then successfully admitted in a subsequent year did some or all of the following:

    • Some took TESL training courses at another institution. For example; denied applicants who live in Champaign-Urbana took TESL courses at Parkland College. They completed these courses with a high GPA, and they provided us with a transcript from those courses, new letter(s) of reference from instructor(s) in those courses, or both.
    • Some obtained teaching experience relevant to the UIUC MATESL.
    • Some international applicants produced increased TOEFL or IELTS scores. The term ‘TOEFL Score’ here refers to the results on the entire TOEFL test, including the essay exam and the speaking component of the new iBT.
  3. If I am admitted and wish to delay my admission to a later year, may I do so?

    Answer: Yes. At UIUC, this Is known as 'recoding'. We will recode your admission to the subsequent year upon your request.

    UIUC has two technical definitions of ‘recode’. The first is ‘recode for admission’ and the second is ‘recode for consideration’.

    The Department of Linguistics grants a ‘recode for admission’ to any admitted applicant who requests it. We will only do this for up to one subsequent year. If you are admitted and wish to wait for more than one year, or if you request an additional delay beyond that first subsequent year, you will have to fully re-apply.

    Financial aid is never assured for a recode. You will be fully re-evaluated for financial aid for the subsequent year.

    International students who are recoded are viewed as ‘recode for admission’ by the Department of Linguistics, but UIUC requires that we classify them as ‘recode for consideration’. This is because we need to re-establish the financial support necessary to generate an I-20 and get a student visa.

    We do not usually recode for less than a year, given the nature of our program and the advising cohorts by which MATESL students move through the course sequence. In rare cases, an exception may be granted. For example, the applicant may live in Champaign-Urbana, be a student at UIUC in another degree program and be able to take some of our courses while enrolled in that program. Recodes for less than one year require that the applicant be present for and attend our August new-student orientation. See the answer to item (9) below.

  4. If I am admitted and recoded for one year, is there any additional evidence I should provide to heighten my chances of getting financial aid?

    See the answers to item (2) above - generally, you can revise your application dossier to include any intervening experience, new letters of reference, a new statement of purpose, and so forth.

    On this point, please bear in mind the cycle of review for admissions and for financial aid. UIUC’s academic year begins in mid-August. We evaluate new MATESL applicants and continuing on-campus students for financial aid commencing as early as the previous March. If you have been recoded and wish to provide additional or revised evidence for your admissions dossier, please send it to us no later than March 1st.

  5. If recoding for a year means I still have to (re)compete for financial aid, what is the real advantage to doing so?

    Answer: This is a complex question.

    Some MATESL applicants are self-funded and/or have funding from other sources and/or are competing for funding from other sources, and they do not wish to apply for financial aid from us. This funding from other sources may not be fully available until the subsequent year.

    Some MATESL applicants are requesting funding from us in combination with either personal or outside funds, and full funding may be better in a subsequent year.

    Some MATESL applicants - although admitted - wish to teach or obtain other experience in the intervening year to substantially impact the Department’s consideration for financial aid in the subsequent year.

    Regardless, certain advantages to recoding are clear - you do not have to pay the application fee again, and some elements of your application dossier do not need to be re-submitted.

  6. I am an international student. If I am denied and wish to re-apply in a subsequent year, or if I am admitted and wish to be recoded for re-consideration in a subsequent year, do I have to retake the TOEFL or IELTS?

    Answer: See the reply to question (2) above. The first consideration is whether or not you can obtain higher TOEFL results in the intervening year. If so, that is a good reason to re-submit it. However, there is another important consideration: UIUC requires that TOEFL scores be no older than two years, dated from the projected start of your studies. Hence, if you re-apply (from deny) or recode for re-consideration (from admit), your TOEFL score may go out of date.

  7. I am an international applicant. Is a speaking test score required (e.g. the TSE) for my admission dossier?

    Answer: Please submit the full set of test results from whatever test you submit for admissions: paper-based TOEFL, iBT TOEFL or IELTS.

    Per UIUC policy, a TSE (or SPEAK) score of 50 or greater is required for full consideration of any international applicant who wishes financial aid (as a teaching assistant); the Department of Linguistics has increased this to a score of 55. This is regardless of whether or not you have prior study in the USA (even a fully earned degree).

    Please note: the TSE is no longer offered in the USA. TOEFL is migrating to the iBT as a full test battery, and it includes a speaking test.

    For information on English requirements for admission, see:

    For information on English requirements to become a teaching assistant, see:

  8. If I have a TSE score and am either denied or admitted (but wish to recode for a year), will the score still be valid? Or does it go out of date like the TOEFL score?

    Answer: As noted in item (6) above, all English language scores become invalid after two years, counting from the time of the start of your program of study. You may need to take your English test again on that basis.

  9. If I am admitted and I have (or will have) completed some of the courses required in the MATESL, do I have to take those courses again?

    Answer: This typically arises with students who do an undergraduate degree at UIUC and who complete either one of our TESL minors or the State of Illinois teacher endorsement course sequence (which involves some EIL courses).

    UIUC does not permit a student to fulfill requirements for two degrees with the same course work (called 'double-dipping'). Hence, if you took any EIL courses and counted them toward some other UIUC degree, they cannot also count toward the MATESL degree.

    The Department of Linguistics does not require that you repeat any courses. So if you took a particular EIL course during a previous UIUC degree, you would not have to take that course again while a MATESL candidate. You would have to fill in the credit hours for that course. This means that you could take an elective.

    One exit option for the MATESL is a set of comprehensive examination questions. If you choose this option, and if you did one of the EIL courses during a previous degree, you will still have to fulfill the comps task for that course. For this reason, some students (who enter the MATESL with a few prior EIL courses) find it beneficial to sit in on a given class again, especially if it has been some time since taking the EIL course in question.

  10. 10. Am I required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as part of my admission requirements?

    Answer: Yes. While there is no minimum score required for admission, all candidates for the MATESL degree must submit the results of their Graduate Record Examination with their application documents.

  11. I’ve been admitted. I’ve accepted the admission. I’ve got several months before I arrive. Is there any pre-requisite work I could do?

    Answer: Congratulations! We look forward to meeting you.

    The MATESL curriculum has two pre-requisite courses: a general introduction to linguistics and an introduction to TESL methodology. These courses do not count toward the 40 hours required for the degree. If you have not taken such courses within five years of the start date of your MATESL, consider taking these pre-requisites before you arrive on campus. Courses that satisfy both pre-requisites are offered online by the Department of Linguistics at UIUC: EIL 486 - Linguistics for Language Teachers, and EIL 411 - Introduction to TESL Methodology. Alternatively, if your time and location permits, try to find such courses nearby (e.g. at a local college or institution). Get information about the courses - a description, the name of the textbooks, a syllabus if possible. Contact us and share that information with us. We can determine if the courses meet our pre-requisites, and if they do, you could get those courses out of the way prior to arrival.

    However, it is generally not a good idea to seek a course equivalent to one of the required EIL MATESL courses.

    Other than that, the best thing you can do in the forthcoming months is to get some English teaching experience: even if as a volunteer. Or you might consider the opportunity offered in point 11 below.

  12. I’ve applied for the MATESL degree. It will be several months before I hear whether or not I have been accepted. Is there any EIL coursework I could do online now to shorten the time I would need to stay on campus for the degree?

    Answer: Yes! The Department of Linguistics offers several EIL courses online. At this time, one will satisfy the curriculum pre-requisite for an introduction to linguistics, mentioned in the answer to question 11 - EIL 486 - Linguistics for Language Teachers. (Courses taken to fulfill curriculum prerequisites do not count toward the 40 hours required for the degree, and are therefore not transferrable.) Other EIL courses apply directly to fulfilling requirements in the MATESL program: (a) EIL 489 - Theoretical Foundations of SLA; (b) EIL 422 - English Grammar for ESL Teachers; (c) EIL 460 - Principles of Language Testing.. By taking several of these courses online (up to 12 hours total), you could potentially shorten your on-campus time (usually two years) by as much as one semester. For more information about these courses, availability, and tuition, please see this listing.

    For schedule and application information, please see this page.