Missouri Alternative Teacher Certification

If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in a teachable subject and wish to transition to teaching, Missouri alternative teacher certification may be the right path for you. 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 yet have a bachelor’s degree, see our guide to traditional certification pathways in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education offers several alternative pathways for prospective educators, which are outlined below.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

The minimum requirement to pursue an alternative route to teacher certification in Missouri is a bachelor’s degree. The available alternative pathways typically allow candidates to teach in a classroom while taking courses in a teacher preparation program to earn full initial licensure. These preparation programs may lead either to a post-graduate certificate or a master’s degree. Candidates will also typically need to pass the state’s teacher licensure exams.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Missouri

Missouri has approved multiple pathways for alternative teacher licensure in order to attract qualified professionals to the classroom. Note that all routes that lead to certification in academic subjects require candidates to hold at least a bachelor’s degree and most candidates will be required to complete a formal, state-approved teacher preparation program.

Alternative Route

The Alternative Route allows a candidate with a bachelor’s degree in a core content area to apply for a Provisional teaching certificate. The candidate typically must be teaching the subject for which he or she earned the bachelor’s degree. While holding the Provisional certificate, the candidate must complete 30 semester hours of coursework in a teacher preparation program. Once this is completed and the candidate has taken the required Missouri educator exams, the program will recommend the candidate for licensure. Candidates should consult the directory of approved professional education programs to see available teacher preparation options.

American Board of Certification for Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) Route

The Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education also recognizes American Board of Certification for Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) programs as a pathway to licensure. For this pathway, candidates must complete an ABCTE program of study in a specific subject and pass the ABCTE exam for that subject. Note that this pathway is only available for select grade levels and subject areas. Those seeking certification by this route must also complete an initial classroom placement as a substitute teacher or teaching paraprofessional before qualifying for a full-time placement as teacher of record under a non-renewable Initial Professional Certificate (IPC). Candidates may teach under the IPC for up to four years while meeting the requirements for a Career Continuous Professional Certificate (CCPC).

Doctoral Degree in a Content Area

Holding a PhD (doctoral) degree provides another option for potential educators in Missouri. Those with a PhD in a content area may receive an initial certificate to teach at the secondary level by passing a professional knowledge assessment. In this case, a career teaching certificate is not issued, but the initial certificate may be renewed indefinitely.

Career Education Temporary Authorization Certificate

Prospective educators in career and technical education subjects may apply for the Career Education Temporary Authorization Certificate (CTAC). Candidates must be employed by a school district or career center with a state-approved career technical education program and hold at least a high school diploma with 6,000 clock hours of closely related occupational experience within the last 10 years. Fewer experience hours are required for degree-holders. Candidates must then make up any college coursework deficiencies, teach for at least two years, and be mentored by the employing school district. Candidates who complete these requirements may advance to a standard Initial Career Education Certificate (ICEC).

Temporary Authorization Route

Another route to alternative teacher certification in Missouri is the Temporary Authorization Certificate. A candidate may apply for a temporary authorization certificate in the subject area of his or her bachelor’s degree if a school hires the candidate and recommends him or her for authorization. This type of certificate is not available for elementary or early childhood teachers or for K-12 endorsements in blind, partially sighted, deaf, or hearing impaired education. The temporary authorization certificate is valid for one year but may be renewed for an additional year if at least nine semester hours of college credits are earned. Individuals must complete educational requirements (a minimum of 24 credit hours), teach for two years, complete a mentorship program, and pass exit examinations to receive a standard initial certificate.

Testing Requirements for Missouri Alternative Certification

To achieve initial certification in Missouri, most candidates will need to take and pass the Missouri Content Assessments (MOCA) to prove content area knowledge. Candidates may also need to take the Missouri General Education Assessment (MoGEA) for entry into a teacher preparation program. Doctoral route educators only must pass the professional knowledge assessment. You can determine which exams are required by grade level and subject area here.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

Those who hold an out-of-state teaching certificate may qualify for certification through reciprocity in Missouri. Candidates must have a valid teaching certificate issued by another state and verify previous teaching experience. The Missouri teaching certificate issued will depend on the candidate’s experience. Candidates must also complete the state’s criminal background check. For additional information, see our teaching certificate reciprocity guide.

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in Missouri

To seek teacher certification in Missouri, you must have completed a state-approved education program. The school-based programs below typically culminate in the award of a certificate or master’s degree and have been approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE):

  • Avila University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Columbia College* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Culver-Stockton College (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Drury University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Hannibal-LaGrange University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Lindenwood University (Master’s)
  • Maryville University (Master’s)
  • Missouri State University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Missouri Western State University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Northwest Missouri State University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Rockhurst University* (Master’s)
  • Saint Louis University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Southeast Missouri State University (Master’s)
  • Southwest Baptist University (Alternative, Master’s)
  • University of Central Missouri (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • University of Missouri-Columbia (Master’s), Kansas City (Master’s), St. Louis* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Washington University in St. Louis* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • William Jewell College (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. Missouri State Department of Education: https://dese.mo.gov/educator-quality/certification