Pennsylvania 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. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, see our guide to traditional route certification in Pennsylvania. The state of Pennsylvania offers alternative teacher certification for prospective educators who did not follow the traditional route to a teaching certificate. Continue reading to learn more about these pathways to licensure.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

The minimum requirement to pursue alternative teacher certification in Pennsylvania is a bachelor’s degree. Candidates for certification still must complete the same exams as traditional-path educators but have different options for completing these requirements. Candidates must also attend a teacher preparation program approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. There are numerous alternative preparation programs available that can be completed in as little as one year as a certificate. Earning a master’s degree in education, or in a core subject that includes an approved preparation program, can also qualify candidates for certification.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Pennsylvania

There are several different paths to obtaining alternative teaching certification in Pennsylvania. You can find out more by reading below or by visiting the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.

Pennsylvania Temporary Teaching Permit/ABCTE Passport to Teaching

Candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in an approved content area may apply for a Temporary Teaching permit. To be eligible for the temporary permit candidates must first earn a Passport to Teaching credential through the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE). With a temporary permit, the candidate may teach for one year while completing the Point Park University alternative certification program. After meeting all traditional requirements for licensure, the candidate can apply for an initial Instructional I certificate.

Pennsylvania Teacher Intern Certification Program

The Pennsylvania Teacher Intern Certification Program provides teaching candidates who already possess a bachelor’s degree with an alternative pathway to become a teacher in Pennsylvania. To enroll in the program at one of 37 approved schools, a candidate must have a bachelor’s degree in the subject area to be taught with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and have completed basic coursework in core content areas. The candidate must also take and post acceptable scores on the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) exam modules and the appropriate content area exams. Candidates will then be issued an Intern certificate to teach full-time while completing the intern program. After satisfactory completion, candidates may apply for the Instructional I certificate.

Pennsylvania Vocational Instructional Certificate

Pennsylvania issues a career and technical education certification, the Vocational Instructional certificate, to those who wish to teach career and technical education subjects. To be eligible for this type of certification, candidates must be enrolled in an approved vocational teacher preparation program; have at least four years of paid work experience in the occupation to be taught; pass the occupational competency exams or demonstrate equivalent credentials; earn an institutional recommendation for a Vocational Intern certificate; and meet all other requirements for teaching in Pennsylvania. This type of license is valid for up to three years while the candidate completes the teacher preparation program.

Pennsylvania Teacher Emergency Permit

An Emergency permit may be issued to a college graduate by request of a specific school if a teaching position has been advertised but no qualified and certified applicant is available. An Emergency permit can only be issued to a candidate who has earned a bachelor’s degree from a state-approved institution and can only be used to teach in a vacant position or as a long-term substitute. The Emergency permit is only valid for one school year.

Testing Requirements for Pennsylvania Alternative Certification

Most pathways to alternative certification in Pennsylvania, as described above, require candidates to pass the same exams as traditional-route teachers. These include the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) prior to entering a preparation program and the Core Academic Skills for Educators (CORE) modules. The Pennsylvania Department of Education provides a detailed list of testing requirements by certificate type.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

Out-of-state applicants may be eligible for Pennsylvania teacher certification by reciprocity if the applicant has either a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Credential or has an active out-of-state teaching certification with two years of teaching experience. You can find out more about the requirements for these pathways through our guide to teacher certification reciprocity or the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in Pennsylvania

To become licensed as a teacher in Pennsylvania you must graduate from an approved teacher preparation program. The list below details school-based teacher preparation programs leading to a certificate or master’s degree that have been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education:

  • Albright College (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Arcadia University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Bloomsburg University (Master’s)
  • Cabrini University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Carlow University (Master’s)
  • Cedar Crest College (Master’s)
  • Chatham University (Master’s)
  • Chestnut Hill College (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Clarion University (Master’s)
  • DeSales University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Drexel University* (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Duquesne University (Master’s)
  • Eastern Mennonite University (Master’s)
  • Eastern University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Gannon University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Grove City College (Certificate)
  • Gwynedd Mercy University (Master’s)
  • Holy Family University (Master’s)
  • Immaculata University (Certificate)
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Certificate)
  • King’s College (Certificate)
  • Kutztown University (Master’s)
  • La Roche University (Master’s)
  • Lancaster Bible College (Certificate, Master’s)
  • LaSalle University (Master’s)
  • Lehigh University (Master’s)
  • Lycoming College (Certificate)
  • Marywood University (Master’s)
  • Mercyhurst College (Master’s)
  • Millersville University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Moravian College (Master’s)
  • Muhlenberg College (Certificate)
  • Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg* (Alternative, Certificate), University Park (Certificate, Master’s)
  • PennWest California (Master’s)
  • PennWest Edinboro (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Point Park University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Relay Graduate School of Education* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Robert Morris University (Certificate)
  • Rosemont College (Master’s)
  • Saint Joseph’s University (Master’s)
  • Seton Hill University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Shippensburg University (Master’s)
  • Slippery Rock University (Master’s)
  • Temple University* (Master’s)
  • University of Pennsylvania* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • University of Pittsburgh (Master’s)
  • University of Scranton (Master’s)
  • University of Valley Forge (Master’s)
  • Villanova University (Master’s)
  • Waynesburg University (Master’s)
  • West Chester University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Widener University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Wilkes University (Master’s)
  • Wilson College (Certificate)

*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. Pennsylvania State Department of Education Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality: https://www.education.pa.gov/Educators/Certification/Pages/default.aspx