Minnesota 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. The Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) oversees the requirements for alternative certification in the state. If you don’t have your bachelor’s degree, see our guide to traditional route certification in Minnesota. If you do have your bachelor’s, continue reading and find out how you may be able to earn your teaching license through an alternative route.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

Minnesota acknowledges various routes to alternative teacher certification. To be eligible for alternative teacher certification in Minnesota, prospective educators must have earned a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, candidates must submit passing scores on the National Evaluation Series (NES) Essential Academic Skills Test and on all areas of the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE). Depending on the route to licensure followed, candidates may also be required to complete an alternative teacher preparation program. Such a program may be completed as a post-graduate certificate or a master’s degree in education.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Minnesota

There are two main alternative pathways to teacher licensure in Minnesota. For more information on these routes to teacher certification, contact the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB).

Post-Graduate Teacher Preparation

The Minnesota Department of Education has approved several post-graduate teacher preparation programs offered at Minnesota colleges and universities. Prospective educators who already have a bachelor’s degree may be eligible to complete an approved teacher preparation program at the post-graduate level in order to earn Minnesota teacher certification. For more information on these programs, contact the Minnesota Department of Education or the program provider.

Licensure via Portfolio

Minnesota offers a Licensure via Portfolio option for professionals who have a bachelor’s degree and substantial professional and life experience in a specific content area. Candidates must first submit an Eligibility Checklist to the Minnesota Department of Education. Candidates who are deemed eligible must complete a Notice of Intent to Submit before completing a professional portfolio, which will be evaluated by the Department of Education. Candidates must also pass the required National Evaluation Series (NES) Essential Academic Skills Test and the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE). If the portfolio submitted is approved, candidates may submit an application for licensure and be issued a standard professional teaching license.

Testing Requirements for Minnesota Alternative Certification

Alternate route candidates for teacher certification in Minnesota must pass the same exams as traditional-route educators, the National Evaluation Series (NES) Essential Academic Skills Test and the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE). The NES Essential Academic Skills Test measures abilities in reading, writing, and mathematics. The next exam is the MTLE general pedagogy test, which measures skills in the principles of teaching and learning. Prospective educators must also take the MTLE content area test aligned to the subject area(s) and grade level(s) to be taught.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

Out-of-state applicants who have a valid teaching license from another state may qualify for a teaching certificate in Minnesota provided that they have completed a teacher preparation program from an accredited institution of higher learning and that their training is deemed equivalent to that offered by approved Minnesota teacher preparation programs. Teachers who completed out-of-state programs must typically also take an approved course in human relations from a Minnesota college or university. For more information, see our teaching license reciprocity resource or contact the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB).

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in Minnesota

To qualify for teacher certification in Minnesota, you must complete an education program approved by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB). The school-based programs below typically culminate in the award of a certificate or master’s degree and have been approved by the PELSB:

  • Augsburg University (Master’s)
  • Bemidji State University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Bethany Lutheran College (Certificate)
  • Bethel University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • College of St. Scholastica (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Concordia College Moorhead (Master’s)
  • Concordia University St. Paul (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Hamline University (Master’s)
  • Metropolitan State University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Minnesota State University-Mankato (Certificate, Master’s), Moorhead (Certificate, Master’s)
  • St. Cloud State University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • St. Mary’s University of Minnesota (Master’s)
  • Southwest Minnesota State University (Master’s)
  • University of Minnesota-Duluth (Certificate), Twin Cities* (Master’s)
  • University of St. Thomas (Master’s)
  • Winona State 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. Minnesota Department of Education: https://mn.gov/pelsb/