All states require teachers to have some form of certification/licensure before they are hired.  In Massachusetts, as in an increasing number of states, this is called <preliminary or intial licensure> because public school teachers are regularly required to renew their license.

In Massachusetts and many other states, graduates who have not completed a standard program may submit a portfolio to the Department of Education requesting a preliminary license. Massachusetts regulations provide for a review panel that offers an alternative route to licensure for candidates appearing to meet standards through experience and formal education, but not programs.  Also, in many states there are serious teacher shortages that compel school districts to hire teachers who have not completed any of the usual certification/licensure requirements.  Such teachers are generally given something called either “emergency,” “preliminary,” or “temporary” certification.  Teacher candidates are often required to have earned a passing score on the state’s tests(s) for teacher licensure, and required to take some courses to begin a program in teaching while they are teaching fulltime.

A number of states have programs in place to enable people with only a BA to obtain teaching jobs while pursuing their provisional certification (e.g. California, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina; Resident Teacher Program in Baltimore: 410-545-3574).  Candidates have to meet certain basic standards and agree to complete the regular certification process while simultaneously teaching in a classroom.  Most fields in suburban schools do not have a shortage of eligible candidates for openings.  In most cases urban and rural school systems seek candidates with only a BA and no provisional certification.

Many Amherst students have had to launch careers in education in these ways.  Each state that offers alternative and emergency / temporary / preliminary certification has different basic requirements that must be met.  Most states test competency in subject area exams (e.g. Biology, Social Studies, English, Spanish).  In order to find out specific requirements, it is suggested that students call or check the web site of the certification board for the state in which they are interested in teaching.

Resources for Researching Programs

A great place to begin your search:
National Center for Alternative Certification, Washington, DC
Established in September 2003 with a discretionary grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Center for Alternative Certification is a one-stop, comprehensive clearinghouse for information about alternative routes to certification in the United States.  The Center, through their web site, provides immediate answers to questions and guidance for individuals interested in becoming teachers, as well as for policymakers, legislators, educators, researchers, and members of the public.

Full descriptions of all alternative routes to certifications in each of the states—an effort begun by the National Center for Education Information in 1983 and published annually—are available at NCAC.

Useful information for individuals seeking positions in Massachusetts and a good model for searches in other states, Gateway for Educators in Massachusetts also has information for college students not enrolled in educator preparation programs.

A sampling of programs Amherst alumni have selected in recent years:

Baltimore Teacher Corps                MATCH Corps (Boston)
Boston Teacher Residency             Math for America (NYC)
City on a Hill Urban Teaching       New York Teaching Fellows
Fellowship Program (Boston)       Oakland Teaching Fellows
DC Teaching Fellows                         Teach For America
Mississippi Teacher Corps

Additional Programs of Interest

A Note on Alternative Teacher Programs
These programs offer a wonderful opportunity to gain provisional teacher certification and valuable classroom experience, and they can be immensely rewarding.  With any such program, however, it is strongly recommended that prospective applicants press the particular organizations for specific information regarding the ongoing support resources to allow for the most productive personal and professional transition possible.

The Donovan Urban Teaching Scholars Program at Boston College provides prospective teachers with an academically challenging education specifically responsive to the concerns and needs of urban students, families, schools, and communities. Participants in the program work toward a master’s of education (M.Ed.) degree and full certification in one of five areas.

180 Days in Springfield is a collaboration between the UMass Amherst and Springfield, Mass., public schools. The intensive, year-long, urban school-based teacher education program leads to a Master of Education degree and Massachusetts secondary teacher certification. The program features two semesters of integrated teaching and graduate study in a Springfield public middle or high school. Candidates may take additional summer coursework to complete the M.Ed. Participants earn Provisional Certification with Advanced Standing in their subject field at the middle or high school level, become eligible for Inter-State Compact Certification reciprocity, and meet requirements for the M.Ed. 

UMass Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP) , part of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics Teacher Collaborative (STEMTEC). For graduates, seniors, and juniors who want to teach science or math in middle or high school, and who want to begin a certification program this summer and finish at the close of the fall semester.

The Springfield College S.A.G.E. AmeriCorps Program, one year of community service during your first year of graduate study in Springfield, MA alternative public schools. Earn credits toward an M.Ed. from Springfield. Participants are eligible for scholarship funds, a federal education grant, a living stipend, and health insurance. No web site; contact Veatrice Carabine at (413) 748-3607 for info.

The NYC Teaching Fellows is ready for you. As an alternate route to teaching, the Fellowship focuses on recruiting and training talented individuals who have no previous teaching experience or educational coursework. Visit their extensive website for more information and to learn about how to apply.

The New Teachers Collaborative is school based teacher education program offering a year long path to teacher certification in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Participants join the faculty of a small public secondary school for two summer sessions and an academic year, and receive both coaching and mentorship training. A $15,000 stipend is provided in addition to essential benefits.

The Philadelphia Teaching Fellows is a unique recruitment initiative to recruit and train high quality individuals to become teachers in the School District of Philadelphia. Applications accepted immediately.

CUNY’s Teaching Opportunity Program (TOP) for prospective math and science teachers offers a summer training session after graduation, guaranteed job placement in NYC, and a master’s degree. Scholarships are merit-based and require two years’ commitment to teaching in NYC after completion of the master’s.

Boston Teacher Residency is a one-year urban teacher preparation program developed as part of Boston’s aggressive commitment to improving instruction in every classroom. During the 12-month program, Teacher Residents co-teach with a Master Teacher in one of Boston’s best public schools, take coursework facilitated by exceptional teachers and university faculty, and receive $10,000 during their year of service to a school. Teacher Residents earn a Massachusetts Initial Teacher License, dual certification in special education, and a Master’s degree in education. 

City on a Hill Charter School, an innovative urban public school in Boston, runs an urban teaching fellowhip program to sustain and train urban public high school teachers.

Teach Next Year is a partnership between the University of Massachusetts Boston and Dorchester High School. Participants complete graduate coursework while teaching at Dorchester High, and after completing the Massachusetts Educator Test, earn provisional certification with advanced standing and meet the requirements for an M.Ed. Contact the Grad. College of Ed. at UMass Boston: 617-287-6400

Student Conservation Association, part of Massachusetts Forest and Parks AmeriCorps, offers 10-month Conservation Internships allowing students to teach environmental education part-time in twelve local public schools while working in and around the field of conservation. Students will develop and teach lessons as well as fill in other roles at the school, such as tutoring and coaching. Stipend is $50/week, but the program gives complete room and board, plus an education award of $4725. Call 413-339-6631.

The Citizen Schools Teaching Fellowship , an AmeriCorps program, is a two-year professional development program for individuals with great leadership potential interested in gaining outstanding training and front line experience as out-of-school time educators and community organizers. The Fellowship is paid, with full health benefits, and offers the opportunity to work in a highly collegial and entrepreneurial environment at a nationally recognized leader in the exploding out-of-school time field. Visit their website for more information on the program and application process.

The Massachusetts Institute for New Teachers ( MINT ) is an intensive teacher preparation program that provides a unique opportunity for the most qualified and motivated recent college graduates and mid-career professionals to make an immediate impact in the classrooms where they are most needed. MINT participants earn their Massachusetts teaching credentials--an Initial (stage 2) license--through an intensive summer training institute, followed by an on-going support and assessment program during their first year as a teacher of record in a public school. Visit their website for more information of eligibility and the application process.

The Baltimore City Teaching Residency enables college graduates to train at a comprehensive summer institute. The program requires participants to enroll in graduate level courses at a local university, and pays 75% of the tuition costs toward certification.

DC Teaching Fellows DC Mayor Anthony Williams and the DC Public Schools are calling on one hundred of the nation’s most outstanding professionals to become DC Teaching Fellows and commit at least two years to teaching in DC Public Schools. They want you—professionals from a variety of careers—to bring your experiences, knowledge, and record of achievement to the classroom and positively impact the lives of our students.

When you become a DC Teaching Fellow, you become part of a powerful network of other Fellows and talented educators who are making systematic improvements in our city’s schools. As a Fellow, you will be trained at a comprehensive instructional summer institute and provided with a support network to ensure your success in the classroom. You will also receive a special education signing bonus and financial incentives toward your teaching certification and/or Master’s degree.

Baltimore’s Urban Teacher Education (UTE) Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County offers two routes to certification and an M.A. in 22 months for provisionally certified teachers or 13 months plus a year of apprenticeship with expert teachers. To recruit the highest caliber of teacher candidates, UTE offers tuition scholarships and assistantships.

Urban Teacher Residency Program  The New Visions for Public Schools–Hunter College Urban Teacher Residency (UTR) is a 14 month teacher-training program that fully integrates the graduate coursework of the aspiring teacher (Resident) with intensive, hands-on experiences in New York City schools. Within a strong public school, Residents collaborate with expert educators around all aspects of teaching and learning. At the same time, Residents take graduate courses at Hunter College specifically designed by UTR to align with experiences in urban schools. Successful completion of the program results in a Master’s Degree in Education and certification to teach in New York City. Graduates of UTR are guaranteed the opportunity to be hired by a school within New Visions’ network of 75 public schools and are asked to commit to four years of teaching in New Visions schools after their Residencies.


The Mississippi Teacher Corps is a professional program for college graduates willing to take on the challenge of high school instruction for a two year period or longer. The program offers free tuition for a MA in Curriculum and Instruction, a stipend for books, housing for weekend courses, and continuous field support. The program is designed for non-education majors and offers a host of benefits, including teacher training and certification, a full scholarship for a master’s degree in education, job placement that includes full pay and benefits and, most importantly, the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students in one of the poorest areas of the country.

Miami Teaching Fellows As a Miami Teaching Fellow, you will pursue your teaching credential through a M-DCPS-sponsored, no-cost, alternate-route certification program, attend training at a comprehensive summer institute prior to teaching, get paid a full teacher’s salary with complete benefits, and have access to additional incentives for new teachers.

Our program is committed to providing Miami-Dade County with a new group of teachers who will work tirelessly to increase student achievement and to help our children to find academic success throughout their educational careers. Special interest in  applicants who can teach English, math, science, exceptional student education, or elementary education.

Teach Kentucky is a unique alumni-sponsored teacher recruitment program designed for non-certified college graduates to serve in the Greater Louisville, Kentucky area. We recruit graduates from highly selective institutions for specific content areas, such as math, science, or special education. We also focus on recruiting minority candidates. Teach Kentucky is sponsored by local alumni from 13 distinguished institutions and influential civic leaders. The program offers salary, benefits, tuition reimbursement, and relocation incentive.


The Golden Apple Teacher Education (GATE) Program is a 12-month alternative route to standard Illinois teacher certification for college graduates. This intensive three part program consists of a summer-long training session, a year of teaching, and an assessment period. Upon completion of the program, participants are eligible to receive a State of Illinois Teaching Certificate.

The Academy for Urban School Leadership is a non-profit organization that sponsors a tuition-free Master in Arts of Teaching and Illinois Teaching Certificate to talented recent college graduates and mid-career professionals who are committed to pursuing a teaching career in the Chicago Public Schools.

The Inner-City Teaching Corps (ICTC) is a religiously-affiliated volunteer program in Chicago.  Teacher certification can be attained through this program and afterwards teachers can arrange to work with the same students in public schools.


Phoenix Teaching Fellows is a highly-selective program is designed to recruit and train socially-driven individuals, like you, who want to give back to our community by becoming teachers in high-need elementary and K-8 public schools in Murphy Elementary School District and Phoenix Elementary School District.  Fellows benefit from an accelerated route into teaching, earning a Master’s degree and certification while teaching full time.

The District Intern Program is an alternative way to earn a Professional Clear California teaching credential. The three-year program assigns interns to various schools in California districts, and provides them with mentors and training for the certification exams.

CalStateTEACH is a non-traditional program that allows working teachers to earn their credential without attending traditional college classes. Instead, the curriculum is delivered using a self-study format. Participants use online, print, and CD-ROM materials. If you’re currently teaching in a California K-8 classroom and need a credential, or if you are seeking a teaching job and expect to be employed in time to start the program, check out CalStateTeach.

The Long Beach Unified School District offers certification through a two year internship program involving teacher training, field experience, and supportive coaching and mentoring, as well as financial support towards completing the credential.

Project Pipeline is similar to Teach for America and works in communities in Northern California.  They have recruited on-campus before.

The Boettcher Teachers Program, is an intensive, field-based, dual
licensure and master’s degree program designed to recruit, prepare,
and retain outstanding teachers for urban schools. Participants earn their teaching license and master’s degree in urban education from the University of Denver mostly paid for in exchange for a commitment to teach in partner districts’ high priority schools for a total of five years, including the teaching residency year. Multi-year mentoring and coaching support is provided. Other benefits include a living stipend during the teaching residency year, ongoing collaboration through a network of urban teachers, and facilitated
visits to classrooms of master teachers around the Denver metro area.
No previous teaching experience is required. Spanish speakers are
especially encouraged to apply.

Oakland Teaching Fellows seeks outstanding professionals and graduates to become part of this highly-selective program to teach where they are most needed. This program is designed to attract only the most outstanding individuals to increase the academic achievement of students by becoming teachers in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD).


Teach for America is comprised of a summer of training followed by 2 years of teaching in public schools.  The Career Center has applications available.