Teaching Credentials: Requirements to Enroll in and Complete a Teaching Credential Program

Published Sep 14, 2009

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Each state has unique requirements that people must meet to earn teaching credentials. Some common requirements among all states include a 4-year bachelor's degree and a passing grade on the state's certification test. This article provides information about the admission requirements and completion criteria for teaching credential programs.

Enrolling in a Teaching Credential Program

The requirements for enrolling in a teaching credential program vary by state. Many states make college students complete their freshman year before applying to an education program. Once a student applies to a teacher education program, administrators usually examine the applicant's academic record to determine if he or she should be admitted.

Most states also allow people interested in becoming teachers to complete alternative certification programs. Each state sets its own enrollment requirements for alternative certification programs, but nearly all require applicants to hold a 4-year bachelor's degree prior to enrollment. Students can hold a bachelor's degree in nearly any subject to qualify for most of these programs, but they do often need to meet grade point average (GPA) requirements.

Completing a Teaching Credential Program

The standard path to earning teaching credentials for the elementary school level is typically to major in education. Most education programs consist of classes in subjects taught to elementary-aged schoolchildren, like reading, science, mathematics and social studies, along with classes on teaching methods and educational theory. People earning their teaching credentials for the middle or high school levels usually major in the subject they wish to teach and take supplemental classes that cover teaching pedagogy.

People who already have a bachelor's degree can complete an alternative certification program to earn their teaching credentials. Alternative certification programs are usually several months long and often require students to complete an observational component where they watch teachers work in a classroom. All states require people to pass tests showing mastery of teaching pedagogy before being awarded their teaching credentials. People interested in teaching a particular subject also have to take a content test demonstrating their mastery of that subject. Most traditional programs and alternative certification programs require students to independently prepare for their content tests.

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