New Mexico 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 alternative pathways to certification are designed for career switchers who are interested in teaching in high-need areas. If you don’t have your bachelor’s degree, visit our guide to traditional certification in New Mexico. You can read more about these alternative routes below.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

Prospective educators interested in alternative teacher certification in New Mexico must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Candidates must have a major with at least 30 undergraduate credit hours in one teachable content area, or 12 graduate credit hours in one teachable content area, or a doctoral degree in one teachable content area. Candidates must also pass the New Mexico Teacher Assessments (NMTA) for the subject(s) and grade level(s) to be taught.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in New Mexico

There are three main pathways to alternative teacher licensure in New Mexico. All pathways in the state involve completing a teacher preparation program, which may be completed in as little as one year as a post-graduate certificate or as a licensure-only course of study. Candidates may also elect to pursue a master’s degree in education via certain approved programs.

Alternative NMTEACH Licensure Program

The Alternative NMTEACH licensure program allows candidates who meet the education requirements outlined above to earn a teaching certificate by completing a teacher preparation program on an accelerated curriculum. The program must be one of the state’s approved alternative licensure programs. In addition to meeting education requirements, candidates for this route must have an employment offer from a school district supported by an official letter supporting the request to enter the NMTEACH program. After program completion, graduates are eligible for a Level 1 teaching license.

Online Portfolio for Alternative Licensure

The Online Portfolio for Alternative Licensure (OPAL) pathway allows candidates to earn teaching certification through a portfolio review. Candidates must meet the requirements of the portfolio, take the three required New Mexico Teacher Assessments (NMTA), and take at least three credit hours of reading courses, depending on the grade(s) to be taught. Teachers must also arrange for a teaching internship, which will be used to meet the portfolio requirements. After portfolio review, the New Mexico Public Education Department may issue a Level 1 license.

Alternative Post-Secondary Experience

Those who have experience teaching in a post-secondary setting (such as in a college or university) who have both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in a non-traditional education program may be eligible for this route. The candidate must have taught at the post-secondary level for a minimum of five years and complete an internship in a K-12 school for one school year (160 days) under a teacher internship license. The candidate must also complete three to six semester hours in the teaching of reading, depending on the grade level of the endorsement sought. After meeting these requirements, those who can demonstrate teaching competence in their application may be granted a Level 2 or Level 3 license.

Alternative Educator Prep Program

Several colleges and universities in New Mexico have been approved by the New Mexico Public Education Department to offer alternative teacher preparation programs leading to a master’s degree and teacher licensure in the state. To follow the alternative preparation route, candidates must attend one of these state-approved programs. If an alternative license is granted, candidates may lead a classroom while attending courses for the preparation program and passing the required exam(s) for their endorsement area. Successful completion of all program requirements leads to Level I teaching licensure.

Vocational Technical Education

Prospective teachers of vocational or career and technical education (CTE) subjects may qualify for the Vocational Technical Education route to licensure. This requires candidates to have either a bachelor’s degree with 32 credit hours in an occupational area; an associate’s degree plus two years of work experience in an occupational area; or a high school diploma plus five years of work experience in an occupational area. Candidates must either take 15 semester hours of professional education in vocational-technical subjects or follow a school-sponsored Professional Development Plan (PDP). Candidates may apply for a one-year license while completing the PDP, after which candidates are eligible for a Vocational Technical Education license.

Testing Requirements for New Mexico Alternative Certification

Candidates for alternative licensure are typically not required by the state to pass the New Mexico Teacher Assessments (NMTA) basic skills test, though this is commonly an admission requirement of schools offering alternative preparation programs. However, to earn full licensure, candidates typically must pass the appropriate NMTA content and pedagogy competency assessments for the endorsement(s) sought.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

Teachers from other states may be eligible for licensure reciprocity in New Mexico if the requirements of the original licensing state are substantially similar to the requirements in New Mexico. Each application for licensure by reciprocity is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Candidates typically must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, proof of completion of an approved teacher education program, proof of passing a teacher competency exam in the state of initial licensure, and evidence that the candidate taught successfully in that state. For additional details, see our guide to teacher certification reciprocity.

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in New Mexico

Prospective teachers in New Mexico must graduate from an approved teacher preparation program. The following school-based preparation programs typically lead to a certificate or master’s degree and have been approved by the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED):

  • Central New Mexico Community College* (Alternative, Certificate)
  • Eastern New Mexico University-Portales* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • New Mexico Junior College* (Alternative, Certificate)
  • New Mexico Highlands University* (Alternative, Certificate)
  • New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology* (Alternative, Certificate)
  • New Mexico State University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Northern New Mexico College* (Alternative, Certificate)
  • San Juan College* (Alternative, Certificate)
  • Santa Fe Community College* (Alternative, Certificate)
  • University of New Mexico* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • University of the Southwest* (Alternative, Certificate)
  • Western New Mexico 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. New Mexico Public Education Department: https://webnew.ped.state.nm.us/