North Carolina 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. Teaching candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than education and have not completed a teacher preparation program may pursue North Carolina alternative teacher certification. If you don’t already have a bachelor’s degree, see our guide to traditional certification in North Carolina. Continue reading to learn how to become a teacher in North Carolina through alternative routes.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

To be eligible for North Carolina alternative certification, candidates must have either a relevant degree or 24 semester hours of coursework in the requested licensure area with a 2.7 GPA. Candidates must also pass the appropriate North Carolina State Board of Education (NCSBE) approved exams for the pathway followed to licensure.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in North Carolina

North Carolina only maintains one alternative pathway to licensure, the Residency License (RL), which is described below. Candidates must also complete an approved teacher preparation program as part of the RL process. Alternative teacher preparation programs typically lead to a post-graduate certificate but may also lead to a master’s degree.

Residency License

The Residency License is for candidates who meet all of the licensure content requirements but still need to complete pedagogy requirements. To qualify for certification under the Residency License pathway, candidates must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 2.7
  • Have either completed 24 hours of coursework in the requested licensure area or passed the required NCSBE content area exainations
  • Be enrolled in a recognized Educator Preparation Program (EPP)
  • Have completed preservice requirements prior to teaching
Residency License Verification Form and recommend them for an RL. The LEA will send the form to the Dean of Education or Licensure Officer of the enrolling EPP for verification of enrollment, and the document will return to the LEA for processing. If the RL candidate has not completed their requirements after the first year of employment, the LEA will request renewal of the RL for another year.

Testing Requirements for North Carolina Alternative Certification

RL candidates without at least 24 hours of semester hours in the requested licensure area must pass the NCSBE required exams in their content area. In addition, elementary school teaching candidates (K-6) must take the Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum exams and those seeking certification in Exceptional Children (K-12) must take the Praxis Special Education exam.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

A candidate may also be certified to teach in North Carolina through reciprocity. Candidates following this route must have a standard teaching license that is active in another state with three years of teaching experience. To earn the Continuing Professional License, a candidate must also pass the NCSBE exams or hold National Board Certification. For further details, consult our guide to interstate reciprocity.

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in North Carolina

The school-based certification programs below typically lead to the award of a certificate or master’s degree and have been approved by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) for the preparation of teachers. Since programs that are not approved by the NCDPI will not qualify graduates for licensure, it’s important to check that the programs you are considering will meet the requirements before enrolling.

  • Appalachian State University* (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Barton College* (Alternative)
  • Campbell University* (Alternative)
  • Catawba College* (Alternative)
  • Chowan University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Duke University (Master’s)
  • East Carolina University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Elizabeth City State University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Fayetteville State University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Gardner-Webb University (Certificate)
  • Greensboro College* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Guilford College (Certificate)
  • Lenoir-Rhyne University (Master’s)
  • Mars Hill University (Certificate)
  • Montreat College* (Alternative)
  • North Carolina A&T State University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • North Carolina Central University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • North Carolina State University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • North Carolina Wesleyan University (Alternative)
  • Pfeiffer University (Master’s)
  • Queens University of Charlotte* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Salem College (Master’s)
  • Shaw University (Certificate)
  • University of Mount Olive* (Alternative, Certificate)
  • University of North Carolina-Asheville* (Alternative, Certificate), Chapel Hill* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s), Charlotte (Certificate, Master’s), Greensboro* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s), Pembroke (Master’s), Wilmington (Master’s)
  • Wake Forest University (Master’s)
  • Western Carolina University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Western Governor’s University (Master’s)
  • William Peace University* (Alternative)
  • Wingate University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Winston-Salem State University (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. North Carolina State Board of Education: https://www.dpi.nc.gov/educators/educators-licensure