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Cost of ESL Endorsement in Illinois

Cost of ESL Endorsement in Illinois

May 31, 2023


MTI: Professional Development Courses

Cost of ESL Endorsement in Illinois Price Guide for Teachers

Written by Shawn Bean
April 30, 2023

*All information provided is accurate as of the date of publication

Welcome to our deep dive into the realm of the ESL Endorsement in Illinois. This comprehensive price comparison guide is your one-stop shop for understanding the financial aspects and inherent benefits that come with pursuing this credential.

We’ll demystify the costs associated with becoming ESL-endorsed and demonstrate why it’s an investment worth considering. With a rising need for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, an ESL Endorsement isn’t just an additional qualification but a valuable tool that opens doors to a diverse, inclusive, and rewarding teaching experience.

More than just an opportunity to enhance your professional standing, it’s a chance to make a difference in the lives of multilingual students. So, let’s delve into this topic and explore why acquiring an ESL Endorsement in Illinois could be the game-changer in your teaching career.

Across the United States, news stories cite research articles that continue to highlight the teacher shortage. Except this isn’t news anymore.

Things aren’t any better for Illinois residents who have children who need English language skills. At all grade levels, English language learners are continuing to be under-served, meaning there is a huge opportunity for new ESL (English as a second language) teachers.

An ESL endorsement is one of the most in demand education programs for school districts across Illinois. Entire districts in the Chicago area are looking to provide qualified teachers an option to gain the endorsement to help their English learners.

At Midwest Teachers Institute (MTI), we’re always looking to provide an honest look at the “real” cost of a master’s degree, individual master’s level courses for salary advancement, and now the search for an affordable ESL program. 

The reason is simple, we believe our price and quality combines to give you the best option for your higher education needs.

So that’s why I put together this price comparison for those looking to add to their professional educator license. Believe it or not, most programs do a great job of telling you everything about their ESL classes, except for the cost. Most universities require you to contact them for more information.

So I did the dirty work for you, so that you can save yourself more time and make the best decision for you and your family.


Required Courses

An important thing to understand about the academic program at each of these schools is that almost all the required courses are virtually the same.

The lack of variety of courses means that there are very few differences between the programs, with the exception of pricing and length of time to complete.

The courses at each of the state-approved teacher preparation programs are all designed to fit the requirements from the Illinois State Board of Education.

The following courses are those that are required:

  • Linguistics for ESL/bilingual educators
  • Theoretical foundations of teaching ESL and bilingual students
  • Assessment of bilingual and ESL students
  • Methods and materials for teaching ESL
  • Cross-cultural studies for teaching limited English proficient students

Some schools offer these 5 classes for more hours each, others add an elective for a 6th course. Either way the total is almost always 18 hours.

If you click on the names of the courses that are available at each of the institutions on this list, you’ll see that almost every one of them is literally the same name as the required list above. In other words, almost every one of the schools on this list has a course called “linguistics for ESL/bilingual educators, methods and materials for teaching ESL”, etc.

Simply put, it doesn’t matter which of these schools you pick, regardless if it’s a degree program, graduate program, part-time program, or any other title, it’s all the same to the state of Illinois. You just have to take the correct courses in the areas listed above.

So why pay more than other ESL teachers for the same endorsement?


Length of Time

This can vary from school to school, and there are many factors to consider.

Some programs are very structured, which means that their start dates will directly impact how quickly you can move through the program, as well as how often they run their courses.

Then you’ll need to consider how long each course is. Some will run for 5 weeks, some for 8 weeks or more.

Also on the list is the number of total courses you’ll be required to take. 

Generally speaking, each of these schools will require you to take 5 to 6 college courses with them, at 3-4 hours each (for a total of 18 hours). 

The last factor is how often the courses are offered. Do they take long breaks? Is each course only offered once, meaning that you may have a long wait if life happens and you miss one of the start dates.

Cost of ESL Endorsement in Illinois Pricing and Information

This list was not easy to put together. Most schools make it difficult for new students to find information on their own, instead expecting you to contact them to get more information.

I went through each school’s site, looking up the price of their tuition per credit hour, looking at how many hours are required, and then connecting the dots for you.

Not included in this, but also something to consider, is the other hidden costs that are often hidden from you. Little things like technology fees for online courses, application fees, and course materials you are expected to purchase on your own. These hidden costs can add up quickly, making certificate programs that much more expensive.

Always look at the fine print, and make sure there are no hidden fees prior to getting enrolled!

And now, the list of schools, in order of price (starting with the lowest).

*All these numbers came from the tuition page or endorsement page of the universities and companies included. If you represent one of these schools and the numbers have changed, please let me know so I can pass it along to our readers.

Midwest Teachers Institute (graduate credit comes from Calumet College of St. Joseph)

Price: $3,600

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: If taking one class at a time, as fast as 8 months; if doubling up classes less than 4 months.

Details: MTI courses are designed to be 5 weeks each in an online format with an instructor. Each course requires you to interact with your instructor and fellow students in an online format each week, but there is no specific time to be online. Courses can also be taken in any order as it fits your schedule. 

University of St. Francis

Price: $4,230 

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Minimum 40 weeks

Details: Courses are required to be taken in order, starting with 631: Theoretical foundations of bilingual and ESL. 5 courses total, 3 of those courses are for 4 semester hours, keeping the total at 18 hours for the program. Prices appear to be mainly part of their partnerships with schools, which could mean higher prices if your school district doesn’t have a partnership with them. 

Also there is a limit to their students, meaning if you are put on a waitlist you will have to wait until a spot opens up. They also say that if you are accepted from the waitlist you’ll have 2 business days to confirm or decline enrollment. 

It also appears that the required textbook for the courses needs to be found and paid for by the student separately from the course price, meaning the total for the program will end up being higher than the listed price. Options to find the books include going through their portal or a link to Barnes and Noble.

American College of Education

Price: $4,550 (they state that this is an estimated cost, but it’s still  published on their website as such)

Number of hours: 16 (5 full classes and a capstone)

Time to complete: 7.5 months

Details: Included in the total cost of your program is an application fee, conferral fee (that’s a fun one), and a technology/library fee. Unlike many programs for teaching EL students the information is upfront on their site. They also provide a wide variety of start dates for their programs; from a quick look it appears that a new cohort starts every month.

Lewis University

Price: $4,950 (price is discounted to $275 per credit hour that was effective fall of 2022, which brings the total to the listed price)

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: 15 months

Details: Classes meet one evening per week for 8 weeks in face-to-face, online, and blended formats. You will need 2 letters of recommendation and need to fill out an application to the graduate program (even for an endorsement in this case). Courses appear to follow a direct path, meaning that each course must be taken in order. 

College of Lake County

Price: $5,931

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Not stated, only that courses are offered summer, fall and spring.

Details: Extra fees include a comprehensive fee (not sure what that is honestly), and an online course fee. There is also a portion of the site that states that some courses may require variable tuition fees and/or course fees.

Eastern Illinois University

Price: $5,926

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Not stated.

Details: Very little information provided, mainly just the typical list of courses.

Chicago State University

Price: $5,976

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Not stated

Details: Set admission dates for starting the program. Courses run for 5 weeks in an online format, and are available only on certain dates (for example only 2 of the courses are available in the summer, so you have the option to take both at the same time, but only 2 of them total that semester). During the fall semester, there are several different options for different courses in the program. All of them run for 8-12 weeks, with a mix of ones that meet on Thursdays online and then asynchronous as well as ones that are undefined as to meeting formats and times. 

Governors State University

Price: $6,354

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: One calendar year

Details: According to their site, classes are usually taught 2 times per week each semester, which means that students can finish in one calendar year. There are also a few requirements to gain admission to their certificate program. Their advanced level courses are designed to be taken in order, with specific prerequisites.

Loyola University

Price: $6,480

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: One year

Details: The program is set up to be a cohort program, meaning that you will be taking your classes at the same time as the others in your group. Once your cohort is formed, you’re in it for the duration together. This can be a great experience to network, but it also limits your time to take courses. Transcripts must also show a 3.0 GPA or higher. And you’ll need to turn in a personal statement and a copy of your resume.

Western Illinois University

Price: $6,516

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Not stated

Details: Very little information given other than the courses required for the endorsement.

Illinois College

Price: $6,750

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: 10 months

Details: Illinois College does a really good job of presenting their information in an up front manner. Each course runs for 8 weeks and is available in an online format. The only issue that I see in their structure is the frequency of their courses being offered during the school year. As I look on the website in the first week of April I can see that the next start date is July 5. So someone looking to start today would have to wait 3 months to get into the program.

William Rainey Harper College

Price: $7,065

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Not stated

Details: Very little information given other than the courses required for the endorsement.


Illinois State University

Price: $7,464

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Not stated

Details: Very little information given other than the courses required for the endorsement.

National Louis University

Price: $8,100

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Not stated

Details: One of the requirements to enter the program is that you must provide evidence of a 3.0 GPA. Another is the completed application to their graduate studies. As there are no prerequisites listed for each of their courses, it would appear that you are able to take the courses in any order.


Northeastern Illinois University

Price: $8,105 (Tuition per credit hour for graduate level residents. Non-resident graduates are $900.58 per credit hour, bringing the price to $16,210. There is also a $86.50 fee listed per credit hour).

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: The sample plan provided requires courses to be taken over a 2 year time period, with one course taken each term.

Details: Technically this is a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) endorsement. As the classes are virtually the same as all the other second language programs, you should be covered with your district. (Although we always recommend checking with your district and the state to ensure you are covered).


Millikin University

Price: $8,982

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Not stated

Details: Very little information is provided on their site, but it appears that it is mostly geared towards current Milliken students looking to add an endorsement to their current degree. In other words, it appears to be available only to their undergraduate students.


Dominican University

Price: $9,000

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: 3 to 4 semesters

Details: A nice addition that most schools fail to provide is a flyer, something easy to view and gain a quick understanding about the program. Each course is 7 and a half weeks long and is offered in an asynchronous format, allowing you to take it on your time. An interesting option is the ESL approval (as opposed to endorsement), which allows teachers with an LBS I endorsement to provide English language services to students who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This only requires 9 hours of courses. New programs start every 2-3 months.

University of Illinois

Price: $9,000

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Not stated

Details: Since the ESL endorsement is part of the Illinois graduate college, applicants are expected to turn in: an academic statement of purpose, personal statement, resume, 3 letters of reference, a $70 application fee ($90 for international students), and the other prerequisite materials and documents most schools on this list require.


University of Illinois at Chicago

Price: $9,000 (Although there is information provided to order books by contacting the instructors, leading one to believe they are not covered in the tuition).

Number of hours: Varies based on level. 20 hours for graduate students, 18 for undergraduate students, and 19 hours for secondary education students.

Time to complete: Unclear. Although the courses are short, they appear to not be offered frequently.

Details: According to their website, it appears each class runs for a total of 4 weeks, and there are a variety of options available. These include onsite, online, and asynchronous.


Trinity Christian College

Price: $9,090

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: 3 semesters (fall, spring, summer)

Details: During the fall and spring semesters these courses meet one night a week from 6-10 pm with additional online instruction. During the summer semester the courses are 100% online.

Elmhurst University

Price: $9,180

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Unclear, but based on timing of classes a minimum of 1 year and up to 2 years to complete.

Details: Summer classes meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays online in 2 two 3 week sessions in June and July. Fall and spring courses meet online once a week for 7 weeks, from 6 to 8:30 pm on Wednesdays.


Aurora University

Price: $9,250

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Not stated

Details: Very little information given other than the courses required for the endorsement.


Concordia University Chicago

Price: $9,414

Number of hours: 18 (21 for bilingual endorsement)

Time to complete: Not stated

Details: Very little information given other than the courses required for the endorsement.


Saint Xavier University

Price: $9,450

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: Not stated, but the courses listed have semesters that they are available, leading one to believe it’s either a 12 months or 24 month program.

Details: The courses are offered with prerequisites, meaning that your schedule is the same for all students. 


Greenville University

Price: $9,996

Number of hours: 21

Time to complete: 12 months (according to the schedule sent to me, while taking 2 classes at the same time in the summer).

Details: Technically a TESOL endorsement. Some courses appear to run for 7 weeks, some 8 weeks. some as long as 14 weeks.


Grand Canyon University

Price: $10,440

Number of hours: 18

Time to complete: There is no designated start time for the online courses, so assuming you took them back to back you could be done in as little as 36 weeks.

Details: Technically a TESOL certificate. Each online class is 6 weeks long. The program is structured so that you must take the courses in order. Another interesting note on this program is that 4 of the 6 courses require you to have a fingerprint clearance.


Final Thoughts

If one of your personal goals is to become a more marketable teacher, it’s hard to argue with an ESL endorsement. As American culture continues to evolve, more and more private and public schools across the US will require some form of bilingual education.

As that shift occurs, teachers are needed who can help organize ESL programs for districts from the lowest grade levels through high school.

Also as a side note, it’s worth mentioning that almost every program also provides the opportunity to gain a bilingual endorsement by taking one more class. In order to gain the endorsement, you will also be required to pass the ISBE Target Language Proficiency test.

Also notice that each university offers the same basic courses. I’ve highlighted the terms that Illinois looks for: linguistics, foundations (theory), assessment, methods and materials, and culture

It’s all virtually the same, so why pay more for the same thing?

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