Iowa 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. There are several alternative pathways for earning teacher certification in Iowa. If you don’t yet have a bachelor’s degree, see our guide to traditional certification in Iowa. If you do have a bachelor’s degree, read more about the options for alternative teacher licensing in Iowa below.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

For most pathways, the minimum requirement for pursuing alternative teacher certification in Iowa is a bachelor’s degree with a major in an endorsable subject. In addition, candidates must complete an alternative teacher preparation program. Alternative preparation programs can be completed in as little as one year as a post-graduate certificate. Candidates may also elect to pursue a master’s degree in education, or in a core subject that includes an approved certification program.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Iowa

Prospective teachers who have a bachelor’s degree and who want to switch careers to teaching have a variety of options. The typical alternative pathways to Iowa teacher licensing are outlined below, and you can find more detailed information through the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.

Teacher Intern Program

The Teacher Intern Program, also known as the Regents Alternative Pathway to Iowa Licensure (RAPIL), allows candidates pursuing licensure in a secondary content area to teach under an intern license while pursuing teacher preparation. Candidates for this pathway first take 12-18 credit hours of teaching skills coursework. Candidates may then apply for an intern certificate to teach for one year in a secondary school while participating in mentorship and induction as well as an intern seminar. Successful completion of this program leads to an initial teaching license. Currently three schools are approved to offer the Teacher Intern curriculum.

Temporary Career and Technical Authorization

Those interested in teaching career and technical education subjects at the secondary level may be eligible for an Iowa Temporary Career and Technical Authorization. This permit is issued to those who have at least 6,000 hours of hands-on work experience in the endorsement area sought, or 4,000 hours plus a bachelor’s degree, or 5,000 hours plus an associate degree. Candidates must also hold an occupational license, if available in the endorsement area. Once the temporary authorization is issued, the candidate may lead a classroom in the authorized subject area. To upgrade to a professional Career Education Certificate, the candidate must complete a performance-based teacher evaluation, a two-year mentoring program, and 24 semester hours of teacher training relevant to the subject area.. For more information, contact the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.

Testing Requirements for Iowa Alternative Certification

As of 2023, educators who completed a state-approved teacher preparation program in Iowa are not required to take professional skills or content area exams in order to qualify for a license. For more details, consult the Iowa Department of Education website.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

For experienced teachers who have an out-of-state certificate, it is possible to obtain Iowa teacher certification via reciprocity. Applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Teachers who completed a traditional, state-approved program and have at least three years of teaching experience may be exempt from state testing. If the Board determines that there are deficiencies, candidates may apply for a provisional Iowa teaching license, known as a Regional Exchange Teaching License, which is valid for two years while fulfilling any missing requirements. For more information, review our teacher certification reciprocity resource or contact the Board of Educational Examiners.

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in Iowa

The school-based certification programs below, which typically lead to a certificate or master’s degree, have been approved by the Iowa Department of Education (Educate Iowa) for the preparation of teachers. Be sure to verify that the program you choose is approved by the state; unapproved programs typically will not qualify applicants for licensure.

  • Drake University (Master’s)
  • Iowa State University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Loras College (Certificate)
  • Morningside University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Mount Mercy University (Certificate)
  • Simpson College (Certificate, Master’s)
  • University of Iowa* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • University of Northern Iowa* (Alternative, Certificate)
  • Viterbo University* (Certificate)

*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. Iowa Board of Educational Examiners: https://boee.iowa.gov/
2. Iowa Board of Education: https://educateiowa.gov/