Virginia 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. Virginia provides for several routes to the classroom for career switchers who already have a bachelor’s degree. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, see our guide to traditional certification in Virginia. Otherwise, read more about Virginia’s pathways for alternative teacher licensing below.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

To be eligible for alternative teacher certification in Virginia, candidates typically must have at least a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school. Other requirements vary based upon the route to licensure followed. These typically include passing state-mandated tests for educators and completing a formal, state-approved teacher preparation program.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Virginia

Prospective teachers of academic subjects pursuing alternative certification in Virginia must complete a teacher preparation program in order to qualify for licensure. This program must be approved by the state. Read more about this pathway and its requirements below.

Career Switcher Alternative Route to Licensure Program

To be eligible for the Career Switcher Alternative Route to Licensure Program, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of work experience. The candidate must also meet the academic requirements for the endorsement area sought and earn qualifying scores on the appropriate professional assessments for the subject(s) and grade level(s) to be taught. These assessments include the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) and the Praxis Content Assessment for the subject area to be taught.

After meeting these requirements, candidates must apply to one of the approved teacher preparation program providers in Virginia. You can view a list of approved programs on the Virginia Department of Education website. Only an approved career switcher preparation program can qualify a candidate for licensure in this pathway.

Level I, the first year of the program, involves the study of instructional methods and pedagogical knowledge and requires at least 180 hours of instruction, including field experience. A Provisional Career Switcher License is awarded after completion of Level I. Candidates then must be hired into a teaching position and a mentor is assigned to the teacher candidate to aid in the transition to full-time teaching. Following successful completion of the second year of the program while teaching full time and all licensure requirements, the candidate may be recommended for a Five-Year Renewable License, Virginia’s standard teaching certificate.

Technical Professional License

For those who wish to teach career and technical education subjects, the Technical Professional License is a common route to alternative teacher licensure in Virginia. To be eligible for this type of licensure, candidates must have at least a high school diploma and nine semester hours of college-level professional studies coursework in specific education areas. Candidates must also hold an industry certification credential in the career field to be taught, as well as two years of entry-level experience plus at least four years of management or supervisory experience in the applicable career field. As these requirements may vary based on career subject area, candidates should consult the Virginia Department of Education Guidance Document for career and technical education certification for further information.

Testing Requirements for Virginia Alternative Certification

All educators in Virginia must pass the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) and the Praxis Content Assessment appropriate to the content area(s) and grade level(s) for which the candidate is seeking endorsement. You can read more about the required exams and minimum scores through the Virginia Department of Education.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

Reciprocity is available for teachers who already hold a valid license to teach in another state and who have completed a state-approved teacher preparation program at an accredited four-year school. An application for reciprocity should be submitted to the Virginia Department of Education in this case for review. The typical state-mandated professional educator assessments must be taken unless the candidate holds certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. For more information, review our teaching license reciprocity guide.

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in Virginia

Completing a certification program that has been approved by the state is a critical step to ensure that you qualify for licensure. The following school-based certification programs in Virginia typically lead to a certificate or master’s degree and have been approved by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

  • Averett University (Master’s)
  • Christopher Newport University (Master’s)
  • Eastern Mennonite University (Master’s)
  • Emory & Henry College (Master’s)
  • George Mason University* (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Hampton University (Master’s)
  • Hollins University* (Certificate, Master’s)
  • James Madison University (Master’s)
  • Mary Baldwin University (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Marymount University (Master’s)
  • Norfolk State University (Master’s)
  • Old Dominion University* (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Regent University* (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Shenandoah University* (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Sweet Briar College* (Master’s)
  • University of Lynchburg (Master’s)
  • University of Mary Washington (Master’s)
  • University of Richmond (Master’s)
  • University of Virginia* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Virginia Commonwealth University* (Certificate, Master’s)
  • Virginia Tech (Master’s)
  • Virginia Union University (Master’s)
  • Virginia Wesleyan University (Master’s)
  • William & Mary (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. Virginia State Department of Education: https://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching-learning-assessment/teaching-in-virginia/licensure