Rhode Island Alternative Teacher Certification

In an effort to staff schools in need of expert and qualified professionals, especially in teacher shortage areas, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) has implemented pathways to alternative teacher certification in Rhode Island. 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. As an alternative to traditional licensure, these pathways can help career changers become classroom teachers. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, be sure to visit our guide to traditional certification in Rhode Island. Continue reading to learn more about alternative teacher certification in Rhode Island.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

For most alternative routes to teacher certification in Rhode Island, candidates must hold at least a bachelor’s degree and should have no less than a “B” average (or a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale) while studying as an undergraduate. Rhode Island’s alternative teacher certification pathways also require candidates to complete an approved alternate educator preparation program. These programs may lead to a post-graduate certificate or master’s degree, depending on the curriculum. Finally, candidates must take the Praxis content assessments for educators.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Rhode Island

The alternative pathways available include pathways with preliminary certification, which allows candidates to teach while meeting the requirements for full licensure. These pathways offer flexibility for candidates with differing education and experience backgrounds. You can find detailed information about these programs through the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Alternate Route Preliminary Certificate

The Alternate Route Preliminary Certificate is for candidates who have a bachelor’s degree but did not attend a teacher preparation program. Under this pathway, candidates attend an approved alternate educator preparation program to qualify for certification. To qualify for admission to an alternate educator preparation program, candidates must have at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale at the undergraduate level or an equivalent GPA through 24 semester hours of graduate study. Candidates must also have an employment offer from a Rhode Island school district to teach as an educator of record prior to applying for the certificate. Candidates must complete the preparation program, teach for at least one year, and pass the state-mandated exams for prospective educators before qualifying for full certification.

Expert Residency Preliminary Certificate

The Expert Residency Preliminary Certificate is an option for those who have at least a bachelor’s degree and expertise in a given content area but did not complete a traditional teacher preparation program. The qualifications for expertise vary by content area but typically require at least a major in the subject the candidate wishes to teach as well as a minimum score on the aligned Praxis content exam. Candidates hired by a school district may teach under the preliminary certificate while meeting the requirements for full certification, which include attending an approved alternate educator preparation program or an equivalent program of study approved by the Department of Education. Those who complete these requirements are eligible for full initial teacher certification.

Career and Technical Education Preliminary Certificate

The Career and Technical Education Preliminary Certificate is for those who wish to teach career and technical education subjects in the secondary grades. Candidates must have at least a high school diploma plus five years of work experience in the career and technical area to be taught. Candidates must also pass a Praxis content assessment or its equivalent if available in the area to be taught; those who have an advanced state-issued license or industry certificate in the teaching subject area may be exempt from this requirement. In all cases, if the area to be taught requires occupational licensing, the candidate must be appropriately licensed in Rhode Island. Those who meet these requirements must enroll in an alternative teacher preparation program and complete the program plus at least one year of teaching to qualify for full initial teacher certification.

Testing Requirements for Rhode Island Alternative Certification

Prospective educators in Rhode Island must take the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) and the Praxis content assessment(s) for each endorsement area sought. Depending on the pathway, candidates may be expected to take these exams prior to or following their application for an alternative pathway. Be sure to consult the Rhode Island Department of Education for the appropriate timeline for your intended route.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

For experienced teachers with out-of-state certifications, Rhode Island offers reciprocity based on qualifications. Candidates must have completed a bachelor’s degree and teacher preparation program approved by the board of education for the state in which the program is located.
Candidates who meet all requirements except Praxis testing may be issued a Temporary Initial Educator Preliminary Certificate. For more information on reciprocity, see our guide to interstate reciprocity or contact the state’s Office of Educator Quality.

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in Rhode Island

The list below outlines the school-based teacher preparation programs that lead to a certificate or master’s degree that have been approved by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). In order to ensure that you qualify for licensure, it’s important to verify that the certification program you select is approved by the state.

  • Brown University (Master’s)
  • Johnson & Wales University (Master’s)
  • Providence College* (Master’s)
  • Rhode Island College (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Rhode Island School of Design (Master’s)
  • University of Rhode Island (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. Rhode Island State Department of Education: https://ride.ri.gov/teachers-administrators/educator-certification