Postgraduate Programs 2020/21
Master of Arts Program in International Language Education - Teaching English as a Second Language
Award Title

Master of Arts in International Language Education (Concentration: Teaching English as a Second Language)

Program Short Name


Mode of Study


Normative Program Duration

1 year


Students admitted to the dual degree program with University of Southern California (USC) can normally complete both programs in two years in full-time mode.

Program Fee

Local students: HK$85,000
Non-local students: HK$120,000


Students who take additional course(s) are required to pay HK$4,250 for each additional credit.  Students who need to retake failed course(s) must pay the pro-rated fee for the necessary course(s).


For students of the dual degree pathway with credit transfer from USC, the program fee will be charged according to the number of credits taken at HKUST.  The tuition fee for the USC program will be paid directly to USC.

Program Advisor

Academic Directors:
Mr Sean MCMINN, Senior Lecturer of Center for Language Education
Prof Min ZHANG, Associate Professor of Humanities


The Master of Arts (MA) Program in International Language Education offers an advanced English-taught postgraduate education in two specialized concentrations, Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and Teaching Chinese as a Second Language (TCSL), for qualified candidates to teach English or Chinese as a second language. The program aims to prepare language professionals for a dynamic global career, with a solid foundation in applied linguistics and research-informed language teaching approaches.


The School of Humanities and Social Science has entered into collaboration with the Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California (USC) to offer a dual degree pathway for the program leading to a Master of Arts degree in International Language Education awarded by HKUST, and a Master of Arts degree in Teaching – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages awarded by USC.  The dual degree program will draw on the complementary strengths in language teaching of both Schools, and will enable graduates to compete successfully for language teaching positions internationally.

On successful completion of the program, graduates will be able to:

  1. Explain applied linguistics theories;
  2. Design effective teaching plans and devise appropriate testing methods for second-language teaching based on language pedagogy;
  3. Effectively teach English as a second language in English to non-native speakers; 
  4. Design and implement research-embedded teaching approaches; and
  5. Lead teaching teams in the development of language curricula and teaching materials.
  1. Minimum Credit Requirement

24 credits


  1. Credit Transfer

Credit transfer is normally not allowed.  Students admitted to the dual degree program with University of Southern California (USC) may transfer up to 6 credits from USC to fulfill the program requirements with prior approval of the Academic Director(s).


  1. Foundation Course

9 credits

MILE 5001
MILE 5002
MILE 5003*
*Pure Online Course


  1. Elective Courses

15 Credits

Students are required to take at least one course (3 credits) from general electives, and at least three courses (9 credits) from the TESL Concentration. 


General Electives

MILE 5101
MILE 5103
MILE 5105
MILE 5106
MILE 5107

TESL Concentration Electives

MILE 5201
MILE 5202
MILE 5203*
MILE 5205
MILE 5206
*Pure Online Course


Teaching Practicum / Research Project

Selected students may obtain 3 credits through participating in a supervised teaching practicum or a research project.  Students cannot take both MILE 6000 and MILE 6980.

MILE 6000
MILE 6980


Students may substitute no more than six credits (two courses) of elective courses with other courses (including a maximum of one undergraduate course at 4000-level) offered by the School of Humanities and Social Science to fulfill the program requirements with prior approval of the Academic Director(s).  The approved substituting courses should be either language teaching-related or culture-related.


  1. Remarks

Full-time students are required to take a minimum of 9 credits of coursework each regular term.


Last update: 25 May 2020

To qualify for admission, applicants must meet all of the following requirements.  Admission is selective and meeting these minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

1. General Admission Requirements of the University
  • Applicants seeking admission to a master's degree program should have obtained a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution, or an approved equivalent qualification.

2. Program-Specific Admission Requirements

Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Concentration

One of the following:

  • IELTS: 7.0 (Writing: 7.0, and other sub-scores: 5.5)
  • TOEFL iBT: 100* (Writing: 27/30)
  • First language being English
  • Having obtained a bachelor’s degree awarded by an institution where the medium of instruction was English

* refers to the total score in one single attempt


3. Additional Information
  • Applicants must declare the concentration they apply for at the time of application.  Any transfer between the TESL and TCSL concentrations must be approved by the Academic Directors, and is contingent on whether students can meet the language proficiency requirement of the concentration they would like to transfer to. Double-concentration is not allowed.
  • Applicants for the dual degree program with USC should meet the admission requirements of both programs. They should follow the normal application procedures to apply for either the TESL or TCSL Concentration, and declare their interest in the dual degree pathway to the Program Office.  Applicants will be selected jointly by both schools.  Successful applicants will receive written confirmation from both HKUST and USC for admission to the two programs. Applicants who fail to be selected for the dual degree program may be considered for admission to the MA program of HKUST based on academic merit.

Apply online before the application deadlines.


Application Fee


Application Deadlines

For 2020/21 Fall Term Intake:

Non-local Applicants*
Full-time: 1 May 2020

Local Applicants
Full-time: 15 Jul 2020


For 2019/20 Spring Term Intake:

Non-local Applicants*
Full-time: 1 Nov 2019

Local Applicants
Full-time: 15 Dec 2019

 * Applicants are considered as non-local students if they hold (i) student visa/ entry permit; or (ii) visa under the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG); or (iii) dependent visa/entry permit who were 18 years old or above when they were issued with such visa/ entry permit by the Director of Immigration. For details on student visa/ entry permit requirements, please click here.