Hamline News

Alumnus Jay Riley Earns Professor Position with MA-ESL Degree


Hamline University alumnus Jay Riley ’11 is an award-winning teacher whose Master of Arts in English as a Second Language (MA-ESL) online degree led him to a faculty position at Daegu University in South Korea.

Before earning his position at Daegu University, Riley worked at an inner-city public elementary school in South Korea. That position required a bachelor’s degree, but not a degree in education. With the desire to grow as a professional educator, he started searching for a school that met a set of four criteria: flexible enough to allow him to complete the program overseas, affordable, practical with a mix of theory and practice, and a thesis component. While completing an online degree from the other side of the world was challenging, Riley felt truly engaged by Hamline School of Education’s MA-ESL program.

“I’ve always felt that reflective practice is the best way to improve as an educator,” Riley said. “Hamline did a fabulous job providing students with the technology to work both synchronously and asynchronously as we completed several group projects that dealt with reflective teaching practice.”

Riley’s concentration in the online master’s program was in K-12 ESL Licensure. Even though he was focused on a career in higher education, Riley preferred this program because it provided him with enough flexibility to come back to the United States to get his teaching license.

“I felt that I was able to get a great practical and theoretical background in ESL and still be well prepared to teach university students while at the same time maintain the flexibility to teach in the public schools in the United States should my personal or professional goals change,” Riley said.

As a lead professor at Daegu University, Riley teaches English as a second language, English for specific purposes, English economics, and English organizational behavior. Additionally, he serves as a mentor for other professors at the university, providing them with feedback on teaching styles. In fact, Riley recently received a best instructor award from the university.

“I would highly recommend the Hamline MA-ESL program for the affordability and convenience as well as the academic and professional value of the program,” Riley said. “Knowing that I have the professional background in ESL to succeed has helped me win several awards, receive promotions, and allowed me begin seriously considering jobs in the industry which would have once been out of reach.”