Colorado Alternative Teacher Certification

Alternative teacher preparation programs, also known as non-traditional programs, are designed for those who have a bachelor’s degree outside of education and typically lead to the award of a certificate or master’s degree. Colorado offers pathways to alternative teacher certification designed to attract qualified professionals to the field of teaching. If you don’t yet have your bachelor’s degree, visit our guide to traditional route certification in Colorado. Otherwise, continue reading to learn more about alternative routes to teaching that may be available to you in Colorado.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

In order to be eligible for alternative teacher certification in Colorado, you must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an institution accredited by an organization recognized by the Colorado Department of Education and be willing to work full time as a teacher while simultaneously receiving mentoring and education through an approved program. Completing an approved program is a necessary step to ensure that credentialed teachers have the knowledge and skills necessary to teach effectively. Alternative preparation programs typically lead to a post-graduate certificate, though certification is also possible by earning a master’s degree in education, or in a core subject that includes an approved certification program. Any alternative program completed must have a physical location in Colorado for graduates to be considered for licensure.

Applicants must also clear a background check and demonstrate proficiency in the content area for the endorsement area being sought by passing the appropriate exams.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Colorado

There are different pathways to obtain alternative teacher certification in Colorado depending on the candidate’s educational background and the subject and grade levels he or she wishes to teach. Note that alternative certification programs are typically designed for those who have a bachelor’s degree in a teachable subject, but did not previously complete a teacher preparation program. Note also that candidates can only pursue alternative licensure in one endorsement area.

Colorado Alternative Teacher Program

One and two-year alternative teaching programs are available to qualified candidates through Colorado Designated Agencies. Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree, have completed a background check, and have passed the appropriate exams for the credential they will be seeking. In a one-year program, the prospective teacher begins teaching in the classroom immediately while taking coursework whereas the two-year program involves a first-year mentoring and induction program prior to actual classroom teaching. In both programs, the eligible candidate can apply for an Initial Colorado Teacher’s License after completing the alternative program successfully.

Career and Technical Education Authorization

Prospective teachers of career and technical education subjects may apply for an Initial CTE Authorization provided that they meet the requirements for the content area to be taught. These requirements vary by subject area but typically include at least 24 semester hours of college coursework in designated areas and 2,000 hours of verified occupational experience within the content area. An Initial CTE Authorization is valid for three years and cannot be renewed. While teaching under this certificate, candidates must make up any coursework deficiencies and successfully meet the experience requirements designated by the Colorado Department of Education at the time that an Initial Authorization was issued. Those who meet these requirements may convert to a Professional CTE Authorization, which is renewable.

Testing Requirements for Colorado Alternative Certification

All Colorado educators must successfully pass a content area exam to demonstrate knowledge in the subject area to be taught. The exam required varies based on the subject area. Refer to the Colorado Department of Education for information on which exams are accepted for the subject you wish to teach.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

Candidates who hold a current and valid out-of-state teaching license may be eligible for teaching license reciprocity in Colorado if they have three or more years of teaching experience within the previous seven years and have completed a teacher preparation program. Applicants must also pass the appropriate content assessments to become licensed educators in Colorado. Those with less than three years of experience may be issued an Interim Authorization. Contact the Colorado Department of Education for further information.

Colorado School District Requirements

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in Colorado

To ensure that you qualify for educator certification, it’s important to make sure that the preparation program you select is approved by the state. The following school-based preparation programs typically result in a certificate or master’s degree and have been approved by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE):

  • Adams State University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Colorado Christian University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Colorado College (Master’s)
  • Colorado Mesa University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Colorado Mountain College* (Alternative)
  • Colorado State University-Fort Collins (Certificate, Master’s), Pueblo* (Alternative, Certificate)
  • Fort Lewis College* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Metropolitan State University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Regis University (Master’s)
  • Relay Graduate School of Education* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • University of Colorado-Boulder (Master’s), Colorado Springs* (Alternative, Certificate), Denver* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • University of Denver* (Certificate, Master’s)
  • University of Northern Colorado (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Western Colorado University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)

*Schools with an asterisk offer programs that can include paid classroom placements, subject to qualifications and experience. The student may be responsible for securing their own placement. Contact program(s) of interest for further information.

Additional Resources

1. Colorado State Department of Education: http://www.cde.state.co.us/