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 a core area with a 2.5 GPA. Candidates must also pass the appropriate North Carolina State Board of Education 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, Lateral Entry, which is described below. Candidates must also complete an approved teacher preparation program as part of the lateral entry process. Alternative teacher preparation programs typically lead to a post-graduate certificate but may also lead to a master’s degree.

Lateral Entry

To qualify for certification under the Lateral Entry pathway, candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Candidates must have 24 credit hours in a teachable subject or have passing scores on the Praxis Subject Assessments or the Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum. Additionally, candidates must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5 or have five years of relevant experience. Those with higher GPAs and/or high scores on standardized testing may also qualify. If these requirements are met, the candidate can seek employment in a school district. The school district must recommend the candidate for a lateral entry educator’s license.

Once a candidate has secured employment and a lateral entry license, he or she has three years to complete an approved teacher education program and earn the Standard Professional 1 (SP1) Professional Educator’s license. Candidates also have the option of completing a program with the assistance of one of the North Carolina Regional Alternative Licensing Centers (RALC). RALCs do not replace teacher preparation programs, but provide assistance in determining the requirements that must be met to earn licensure based on the candidate’s background.

Testing Requirements for North Carolina Alternative Certification

As mentioned above, candidates for certification under lateral entry must either pass the Praxis content-area exams or the Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum exam, depending on the grade levels they would like to teach. In some cases, candidates who have exceptional scores on the SAT or ACT and a GPA of 3.0 or better may have the testing requirement waived. However, these candidates will still be required to complete a North Carolina State Board of Education approved teacher preparation program.

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 Standard Professional 2 (SP2) Professional Educator’s License, a candidate must also pass the NC State Board of Education 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