English for Professional Purposes (ESL)

The English for Professional Purposes (ESL) certificate program is under review and no classes will be offered for the program at this time. Please contact the College of Extended Learning for further information.

Questions? Contact sfsucel@sfsu.edu.


Since 1984, the English for Professional Purposes (ESL) certificate program has offered small, interactive courses with individualized feedback to nonnative English speakers, helping them learn the communication skills and build the confidence necessary for workplace success.


The English for Professional Purposes (ESL) certificate program provides students the opportunity to refine written and verbal communication skills that employers find important but are difficult to master in one's second or third language. In the courses, students learn basic concepts of grammar and social practice as they focus on the most practical skills for workplace and public communication. Students may take individual courses or take the four required to earn a certificate.

Intended Audience

Students in this program are generally nonnative English speakers (au pairs and parents, graduate students and designers, engineers and technology staffers, diplomats and their spouses), who have moderate to advanced English skills.

Program Objectives:

  • Increase skills in spoken and written English and instill confidence to express one's full personality and potential for advancement in professional settings.
  • Present emphasis, pitch, phonetics, question posing, interruption etiquette, business email writing and document composition.
  • Learn formal and informal communication styles.
  • Participate in online learning and learn to present yourself in professional situations.

Cost and Length of Study

The certificate consists of four courses and costs approximately $1,775, plus a $50 certificate fee. Fees may change without notice.

Students may complete the program in six to 12 months. All coursework must be completed within a two-year period.


There is no formal application or admissions process for these courses. Interested students simply register and pay for courses they wish to take. International visitors with a valid non-immigrant visa (except B1/B2, F2, M2) may enroll as well.

International Students

This program is not eligible to provide I-20 for F-1 visa. However, most non-immigrant visa categories (except B, C and D visa) allow for incidental study while abiding by the rules of their primary status.


Although there are no formal requirements or prerequisites to fulfill prior to enrolling in courses for the certificate program, students should have intermediate to advanced English language skills. No testing is required. If you are unsure whether your skills are a good match for the program, please contact the program staff for more information.

Students must have access to a computer and/or a smartphone with audio and video capability for online classes. Students will be expected to use their SF State email to receive communications from staff and faculty.


As a result of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014, CalJOBS provides connections to customer-focused employment training for adults and dislocated workers. SF State is an approved provider for WIOA funds. SF State is listed on the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) on the CalJOBS website. Search on Keyword: SF State College of Extended Learning.