DePaul University College of LAS > Academics > English > Graduate > Teaching English in Two-Year Colleges (Certificate) > FAQ


Why teach at two-year colleges?

What is a Two-Year College?

Two-year colleges (also known as community colleges or vocational or technical colleges) are inclusive institutions that strive to provide educational access and opportunity to all. In the words of the American Association of Community Colleges, "Community colleges are centers of educational opportunity. They are an American invention that put publicly funded higher education at close-to-home facilities, beginning nearly 100 years ago with Joliet Junior College. Since then, they have been inclusive institutions that welcome all who desire to learn, regardless of wealth, heritage, or previous academic experience. The process of making higher education available to the maximum number of people continues to evolve at 1,173 public and independent community colleges. When the branch campuses of community colleges are included, the number totals about 1,600." (

Who enrolls in two-year colleges?

Two-year colleges are highly diverse communities. More than sixty percent of all college students in the United States receive their education at a community college. In Illinois alone, nearly a million residents enroll in community colleges annually. Returning adults make up seventy percent of this student population, and two-thirds of minority students enrolled in the public education sector pursue their degrees at community colleges.

What kinds of English courses are typically offered in two-year colleges?

This varies greatly according to the institution and the communities that it serves. Community college English courses can include classes in basic reading and writing and English as a Second Language, as well as a wide range of classes in composition, professional writing, literature, and the humanities.

Why earn a certificate?

What kinds of training and credentials prepare aspiring two-year college faculty?

Most two-year colleges require a completed MA degree in the subject area in which an applicant hopes to teach. Graduate coursework in literature, writing, composition theories, ESL, and English and writing pedagogies is preferred. Teaching experience and a strong commitment to the distinctive mission of two-year colleges are also highly desirable.

What kinds of teaching jobs are available in two year colleges?

Currently, at least half of the jobs available in two-year colleges are adjunct positions, which offer limited stipends. These appointments are usually temporary and do not confer academic rank. However, they can be a useful way to acquire the teaching experience necessary for making a competitive application for a full-time teaching position.

How can I be competitive for full-time appointments in community college teaching?

The job market for any academic employment in the Chicago area is extremely competitive. In order to pursue full-time employment in two year college teaching, most applicants will need to conduct a professional nationwide job search. Numerous resources are available to help certificate program students accomplish this. In addition, prospective two year college faculty should continue to develop their teaching portfolios, remain active in professional debates in English studies, and stay current on the wide range of topics and issues in higher education that pertain to their fields.

Can I teach English at a four-year college or university with a Master’s Degree?

Rarely. Some colleges and universities may hire MA graduates to teach as adjuncts or instructors, but for a full time tenure-track position, an applicant must have earned a PhD.

Do I need a certificate to teach in a two-year college?

No. The certificate program indicates that you've had the kinds of coursework and experience that will help make you a competitive candidate for a teaching position in a community college. This certificate differs from those available through education programs, because it focuses on distinctive disciplines and pedagogies in English studies.

What does it take to get a certificate?

What coursework is required for the certificate?

The certificate requires 16 hours of graduate credit: three graduate-level courses in English and an internship in teaching English or writing. The following requirements may be taken as part of, or as a supplement to, the MA in English or the MA in Writing.

  • ENG 474 Teaching Literature (required)
  • WRD 480 Teaching Writing (required)
  • One additional course to be determined in consultation with the Certificate Program Director
  • ENG 509 Teaching Internship

How can I apply for admission to the certificate program?

To be admitted to the certificate program, students must have completed or be enrolled in a Master’s degree in English, writing, or a related field. Applicants must submit to the director of the certificate program: an application form​, a current CV, all academic transcripts (if these are not already on file at DePaul) a sample of recent critical or professional writing, the names of two faculty references, and a statement describing the student’s particular interests in teaching in two-year colleges. Like the MA programs, the certificate program has rolling admissions. You may apply at any time for admission during the following quarter.

Can I count courses taken toward the MA in English or the MA in Writing toward the certificate program as well?

Yes, as long as you have been admitted to the certificate program. If you plan to pursue the certificate, it is advisable to use your electives to fill the certificate program requirements. You may also need to take courses beyond the MA in order to complete the certificate program.

Is the teaching internship mandatory for the certificate program?

In general, yes. However, if you already have significant teaching experience, you may apply to the certificate program director for a substitution.

If I did graduate work at another institution, can credits earned there count toward the certificate program?

Transfer credit will be granted on a case by case basis. If classes have not already been counted toward a degree program, you may apply to transfer them. The form for applying for transfer credit is available online at the website of the College Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

If I have already taken an internship in another field, may I also count a teaching internship toward my degree?

No. Only one of the twelve courses required for a Master’s degree may be an internship.