Kentucky Alternative Teacher Certification

Those interested in teaching careers in Kentucky who have not completed a teacher preparation program but have earned a bachelor’s degree have the option to pursue alternative certification in Kentucky. 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. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, see our guide to traditional certification in Kentucky. If you do have a bachelor’s degree, read more below on the options for alternative teacher licensing in Kentucky.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

To be eligible for alternative teacher certification in Kentucky, candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Alternative teacher preparation programs in the state lead either to a post-graduate certificate or a master’s degree in education, or in a core subject that includes an approved certification program.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Kentucky

There are several types of alternative teaching licenses available. These pathways are designed for flexibility based on candidates’ educational backgrounds and the subject they want to teach, also known as an endorsement. You can find further details about these options through the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB).

Exceptional Work Experience Certification

Teaching candidates may be eligible for certification through the Exceptional Work Experience pathway if they have substantial work experience in an endorsement area, a bachelor’s degree with at least a 2.75 GPA, a major in the content area they wish to teach (or a passing score on the Praxis II in that content area), and can provide recommendations from employers for the related work experience submitted. Candidates must have an offer of employment from a local school district to apply for certification through this route. Certification for those who meet the requirements is based on portfolio approval. Once approved, candidates may teach for one year under a Provisional certificate while participating in the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP). After KTIP completion, candidates are eligible for a Professional Certificate.

Local District Training Program Certification

Individuals with a bachelor’s degree, 30 semester hours of study in an endorsement area or five years of exceptional work experience, and at least a 2.75 GPA may be eligible for this pathway (which is under revision as of mid-2023). Candidates who meet these requirements and have an employment offer from a local school district may receive a Provisional Certificate which allows them to teach while completing the KTIP. Following successful completion of the KTIP and training requirements, candidates are eligible for the Professional Certificate. However, while the law allows for this pathway, there are currently no approved programs in the state that would allow a candidate to achieve licensure through this pathway.

College Faculty Certification

Candidates may apply for K-12 certification under this route if they meet the qualifications and have an offer of employment. To qualify for this pathway, you must have a master’s degree and at least five years of full-time college teaching experience, or 90 semester credit hours, in the content area in which you are seeking certification. Candidates who meet the requirements can receive a Provisional Certificate and teach for one year while completing the KTIP. Following successful completion of the KTIP and training requirements, candidates are eligible for the Professional Certificate.

Veterans of the Armed Services Certification

Kentucky offers a special pathway to certification for veterans with at least six years of active duty and an honorable discharge who have a bachelor’s degree in an endorsement area with a GPA of at least 2.75 or an advanced degree. Veterans also need passing scores on EPSB-approved subject assessments. The Veterans of the Armed Services pathway allows these candidates to receive a Statement of Eligibility until they obtain employment. Once a teaching position is secured, the candidate will receive a Provisional Certificate to teach for one year while completing the KTIP. Successful completion of the KTIP leads to a Professional Certificate.

University-Based Alternative Route to Certification

Candidates with a bachelor’s degree and a GPA of at least 2.75 (or 3.0 on the last 30 credit hours taken) who are interested in earning a post-graduate certificate or master’s degree may be interested in the University-Based Alternative Route. Under this route, candidates return to an approved Kentucky teacher preparation program and complete a teacher preparation curriculum as well as the KTIP to earn a Professional Certificate. Once admitted to the teacher prep program, candidates are granted a letter of hiring eligibility in which they can use to obtain employment in a Kentucky school district. Once hired, they will receive a Temporary Provisional certificate.

Institute Alternative Route to Certification

The Institute Alternative Route to Certification is for candidates who have a bachelor’s degree with a major or a graduate degree in the endorsement area sought and a GPA of at least 2.75 overall or 3.0 on the last 30 credit hours completed. Candidates must have exceptional scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Core Academic Skills for Educators (CASE) and a passing score on the academic content assessment in their desired subject area. Candidates then pursue a university-based certification program consisting of 180 clock hours (six hours per day per six weeks) for certification at the middle and secondary levels and 240 clock hours (six hours per day for eight weeks) at the elementary level. Currently, there are two approved programs in this state offering this pathway. For further details, visit the Education Professional Standards Board.

Teach for America

Kentucky is one of several states that recognizes Teach for America as a pathway to licensure. To qualify, you must have a bachelor’s degree and meet citizenship status requirements. You must also have an offer of employment in the subject area where you seek to become certified. Accepted candidates will need to meet additional requirements, including passing content area exams. Visit the Teach for America website to learn more.

Expedited Route

The expedited route to certification allows candidates to receive their bachelor’s degree and initial certification in three school years. This requires a college or university to create a partnership with a school district to develop a residency program and to provide experienced teachers to act as mentors. Candidates would be employed in a classified position (not as a teacher) while completing this program. An initial certification can be obtained once the candidates receive their bachelor’s degree and pass all certification assessments.

Emergency Certificate

This type of certificate is requested by a school district only when a qualified, certified teacher cannot be found for an open position. Candidates for this type of certificate must have a GPA of at least 2.5 and pass a criminal records check. This type of certificate must be requested by the superintendent of the school board on behalf of the applicant. Emergency Certificates do not typically lead to Professional Certificates unless the candidate is pursuing another route to licensure.

Testing Requirements for Kentucky Alternative Certification

Alternative pathway candidates for Kentucky teacher certification must typically take the same exams as traditional pathway educators, the Praxis Core and Praxis Content Knowledge assessments. However, depending on the route to certification, candidates may need to take these exams prior to applying to an alternative certification program. Be sure to review the ETS website for the appropriate exam process for your intended route.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

Reciprocity applications from teachers with out-of-state teaching certificates are evaluated by the EPSB on a case-by-case basis. Candidates will need to take the Praxis Content Knowledge tests for their subject area if they have less than two years of teaching experience in the endorsement area. For more detailed information, see our teaching certificate reciprocity guide or contact the EPSB.

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in Kentucky

Because a program that has not been approved by the state is unlikely to lead to licensure, it’s important to ensure that the programs you are considering meet state requirements. The school-based certification programs below that typically lead to a certificate or master’s degree have been approved by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) for the preparation of teachers.

  • Asbury University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Bellarmine University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Campbellsville University (Master’s)
  • Eastern Kentucky University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Georgetown College* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Kentucky State University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Morehead State University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Murray State University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Northern Kentucky University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Spalding University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Thomas More University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • University of Kentucky* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • University of Louisville* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • University of the Cumberlands (Master’s)
  • Western Kentucky 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. Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board: http://www.epsb.ky.gov/