South Carolina Alternative Teacher Certification

The state of South Carolina offers options for 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 your bachelor’s degree, check out our guide to traditional certification in South Carolina. Otherwise, continue reading to learn more about alternative route certification in South Carolina.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

The minimum requirement to pursue alternative teacher certification in South Carolina is a bachelor’s degree. Candidates must also take and pass the Praxis exams appropriate to the subject(s) and grade level(s) they wish to teach. Finally, prospective teachers must pass a state and federal background check. Note that to be eligible for an alternative program, candidates must not have completed student teaching in a previously attended traditional teacher preparation program.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in South Carolina

There are several routes for earning an alternative teaching license in South Carolina. To earn full certification, candidates who have a bachelor’s degree must pursue additional education to convert to professional certification under one of the following pathways.

Adjunct Teacher Certification

Adjunct Teacher Certification is the newest alternative route approved by the South Carolina Board of Education. Candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree with a major in the certificate area or passing scores on the appropriate Praxis II exam plus at least five years of related occupational experience. Candidates must be employed by a school district, which requests the Adjunct Certificate on the candidate’s behalf. Educators may teach up to two courses per year with this certificate. However, this certificate does not lead to full-time professional certification.

American Board Certification (ABCTE)

South Carolina recognizes certification through the American Board (ABCTE) in English, mathematics, and the sciences. Candidates who earn ABCTE certification are eligible to seek and accept employment in South Carolina while completing the requirements for full certification, such as completing a master’s degree in education, or in a core subject that includes an approved certification program. The ABCTE route is only available for secondary grades biology, chemistry, English, mathematics, physics or science; middle-level language arts; middle-level math; or middle-level science. After three years of teaching and completing evaluation requirements and passing the Praxis exams, educators may qualify for a Professional teaching certificate.

Greenville Alternative Teacher Education Program (GATE)

For teacher candidates living in the Greenville area, the Greenville Alternative Teacher Education Program (GATE) may be an option. This certification route is available for candidates interested in the following fields: Early Childhood, Elementary; K-12 World Languages and Special Education; middle-level language arts, middle-level math, middle-level social studies, or middle-level science; secondary grades, English, mathematics, science, social studies, and business and marketing. Candidates for certification must have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA, a passing score on the Praxis in the appropriate subject area, and a concentration or its equivalent in one of the eligible certification fields. Teaching candidates benefit from professional mentoring and coaching while they teach and attend teacher preparation courses. Successfully completing the three-year program leads to a professional teaching license.

Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE)

The Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE) allows qualified individuals to begin teaching right away under the guidance of mentor teachers while they complete a program of study designed to enhance their teaching knowledge and effectiveness in the classroom. Candidates must have a major or its equivalent in an approved PACE certification field, a passing score on the Praxis Subject Assessments (SAs), and pass a background check. Candidates with relevant teaching experience that meet the guidelines may be eligible to receive experience credit on their educator certificate. The course of study for each individual candidate is determined by a review of the applicant’s credentials and related experience. Upon successful completion of the PACE program as well as three years of teaching, candidates may qualify for a Professional teaching certificate.

TeachCharleston Alternative Certification Program

The TeachCharlston Alternative Certification Program, or TeachCharleston for short, allows Charleston residents to become fully certified teachers. To qualify for this route, candidates must have at least 21 credit hours in a completed bachelor’s degree program in the area of math, science, or English; have a GPA of 2.75 or above; and provide an acceptable writing sample as well as a passing score on the content area assessment(s) for the subject area (math, science, or English) to be taught. Candidates must then apply for the TeachCharleston certificate. Once eligibility has been determined, the candidate can complete an interview with the TeachCharleston Fellowship committee. Accepted candidates may interview with individual schools to obtain an employment offer. Once employed, the candidate will complete three years of intensive training while leading a classroom. Successful candidates will be eligible for a professional teaching license at the conclusion of the program.

Teach for America (TFA)

Teach for America (TFA) is another pathway to certification in South Carolina. Candidates for this pathway must have a bachelor’s degree and a passing score on the appropriate Praxis subject area assessment. Teaching candidates should apply directly to Teach for America. Those who are accepted to the program will undergo an intensive summer teacher preparation institute and be placed into a TFA partnership district. The next phase of the program typically combines classroom teaching with completing a state-approved teacher preparation program through online or evening courses. After two years, candidates are typically eligible for professional licensure.

Career and Technology Education (CTE) Work-Based Certification Program

Prospective teachers who are interested in leading career and technical education (CTE) classrooms may qualify for the Career and Technology Education (CTE) Work-Based Certification Program. This program leads to certification in CTE subjects of agriculture, business and marketing education, computer science, family and consumer services, and industrial technology in grades 9 through 12. To be eligible, candidates must have at least a high school diploma and the designated education and experience for the eligible CTE subject they wish to teach. After completing the fingerprinting process and criminal background check, eligible applicants may apply to a school district that applies for an Induction certificate on the candidate’s behalf. Candidates then have five years to fulfill professional development requirements, including In-Service Institutes and coursework, to become fully certified.

Testing Requirements for South Carolina Alternative Certification

The South Carolina State Board of Education requires all educators to earn passing scores on the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) and Praxis Subject Assessments examinations. In most cases, these exams must be passed prior to requesting an alternative teaching certificate. You can find out which exams are appropriate to the endorsements you are seeking through the South Carolina Department of Education.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

South Carolina offers limited reciprocity to out-of-state teachers who hold a current and valid teaching certificate in another state. Reciprocity is based on an evaluation of the candidate’s experience and education. Note that South Carolina does not offer reciprocity for any type of career and technical or vocational teaching certificates. For more information, review our guide to teacher certification reciprocity or the South Carolina Department of Education’s information for out-of-state applicants.

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in South Carolina

The following school-based preparation programs typically lead to a certificate or master’s degree and have been approved by the South Carolina Department of Education. It’s important to check that any program you are considering meets state requirements, as an unapproved program is unlikely to lead to licensure.

  • Anderson University (Master’s)
  • Clemson University* (Master’s)
  • Coastal Carolina University (Master’s)
  • College of Charleston (Master’s)
  • Columbia College* (Alternative, Certificate)
  • Converse College* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Francis Marion University (Master’s)
  • Lander University (Master’s)
  • South Carolina State University (Master’s)
  • The Citadel (Master’s)
  • University of South Carolina-Columbia* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • Winthrop 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. South Carolina Department of Education: https://ed.sc.gov/educators/