Washington DC Alternative Teacher Certification

In addition to the traditional path to teacher certification in Washington DC, there are alternative routes to teacher licensing within the district. 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. By combining teacher preparation with supervised teaching, these routes can help career changers achieve certification on an accelerated timeline. Continue reading to learn more about these options in Washington DC, or if you don’t already have a bachelor’s degree, visit our guide to traditional certification in DC.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

The District of Columbia has implemented alternative routes to teacher licensing in order to attract qualified professionals to the classroom. These alternative routes typically require candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree with a major in a teachable subject. Those who qualify may return to school to complete an approved alternative educator preparation program, which can be completed in as little as one year as a post-graduate certificate. Candidates may also elect to pursue a master’s degree as part of the required educator preparation.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Washington DC

The District of Columbia recognizes several programs as fulfilling the teacher preparation requirements for alternative educator licensing. These pathways allow flexibility based on candidates’ past experience and education.

Initial License Option 1

The Initial License Option 1 route to certification allows candidates who have a bachelor’s degree and passing scores on the Praxis Core and content-area exams who are already enrolled in a state-approved teacher preparation program to apply for a preliminary license. The preliminary license allows the holder to teach in a classroom while completing their teacher preparation program. Candidates for this route must have an employment offer from a DC public school or have current teaching experience. For more information, visit the DC Public Schools website.

Teach for America

Teach for America offers a pathway to Washington DC teacher licensing in subjects such as early childhood and elementary education, English, Spanish, and special education as well as STEM content areas. Candidates must meet DC’s requirements for Regular I licensure, which include passing the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators and Praxis subject-area exams. Those accepted to Teach for America’s programs may pursue teacher certification while teaching full time or elect to earn a master’s degree plus certification through one of the organization’s teaching partners. For more information, visit the Teach for America website.

Testing Requirements for Washington DC Alternative Certification

For all pathways to licensure except occupational experience-based licensure, candidates for alternative teacher certification in the District of Columbia must pass the same exams for educators as traditional-route candidates, or apply for a waiver via SAT/ACT/GRE/PCMAS or a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher. These exams include the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators test, the Praxis Subject Assessments for the subject(s) to be taught, and the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching exam.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

Teachers who have received certification from another state equivalent to the District of Columbia Regular II license, completed an approved education program, and have three years of full-time teaching experience may be eligible for a reciprocal teaching license based on a credentials evaluation. For more information, visit our teacher certification reciprocity resource or contact the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in Washington DC

Completing an approved teacher certification program is a requirement for all prospective teachers in Washington DC. The following school-based preparation programs culminate in a certificate or master’s degree and have been approved by the Washington State Superintendent of Education (OSSE):

  • American University* (Alternative, Master’s)
  • Gallaudet University (Master’s)
  • Georgetown University (Master’s)
  • George Washington University (Master’s)
  • Howard University (Master’s)
  • Relay Graduate School of Education (Master’s)
  • Trinity Washington University (Master’s)
  • University of the District of Columbia (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. Washington DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education: https://osse.dc.gov/