West 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. A number of alternative teacher certification options are offered in West Virginia. These pathways have been implemented to attract experienced professionals to the classroom, especially in recognized teacher shortage areas such as science and math. Below we provide more detailed information on the routes to alternative teacher licensure in West Virginia. If you don’t already have your bachelor’s degree, be sure to visit our guide to traditional certification in West Virginia.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

All candidates for alternative teacher licensure in West Virginia must have at least a bachelor’s degree, and must also typically pass the same exams as traditional-pathway educators. Candidates for alternative routes to certification must also complete teacher preparation, which can be done in as little as one year as a post-graduate certificate. Prospective teachers may also qualify for licensure by earning a master’s degree in education, or in a core subject that includes an approved certification program.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in West Virginia

West Virginia pathways to alternative teaching licenses are designed to bring qualified professionals to the classroom. The routes available are flexible based on candidates’ educational background and professional experience. For a full list of approved alternative programs and detailed requirements for these pathways, visit the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) website.

Transition to Teaching

This option is ideal for those who are seeking to change careers. Participants in the Transition to Teaching program must be US citizens, have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school with a GPA of at least 2.7, and pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam. Candidates who meet these criteria commit to three years of service teaching in an area in which there is a shortage (mathematics, English, science, foreign languages, or special education). While teaching, program participants take online coursework to earn full teacher certification.

Alternative Professional Teaching Certificate

This license is issued to those who have earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-educational field. Applicants for this type of certificate must earn proficient scores on the required assessments and be offered a teaching position in an area in which there is a shortage of teachers. An approved West Virginia alternative certification program consisting of 18 semester hours must also be completed. The certificate is valid for one school year but may be renewed for two. Alternative programs approved by the state board of education are available during summers and the school year and are generally divided by geographic area.

Initial First-Class Permit

An Initial First-Class/Full-Time Permit for Professional Teaching is available to candidates who have earned a bachelor’s degree but are still in the process of completing an approved teacher preparation program. In order for an individual to be issued this permit, the county superintendent must confirm that the individual has been hired for a position and that he or she is the most qualified applicant. Candidates must continue the teacher preparation program with at least six semester hours of credit with a 3.0 GPA each year to renew the license and must satisfy all certification requirements within five years.

Troops to Teachers

Troops to Teachers is another alternative teacher certification program. This option is available to military veterans and allows them to earn a teaching certificate while teaching full-time. Other benefits include career counseling, job placement support, and financial assistance. A three-year commitment to teach must be made, and participants need to complete an educator preparation program and Praxis assessments to be certified. Visit the WVDE website to find further information on requirements and forms.

Testing Requirements for West Virginia Alternative Certification

Alternative route teacher certification in West Virginia requires candidates to pass the same exams as traditional-route educators: The Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators, the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT), and the appropriate content assessments for each endorsement area. Candidates may receive additional time to complete these requirements based on the route to licensure followed. Refer to the West Virginia Department of Education for additional information.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

For out-of-state teachers, reciprocity in West Virginia is possible provided applicants have a valid out-of-state teaching certificate, completed a student teaching experience, and completed a state-approved teacher preparation program at a regionally accredited school. For more information on reciprocity, see our guide to interstate reciprocity or contact the West Virginia Department of Education.

Schools with Alternative and Master’s Programs in West Virginia

Completing an approved teacher certification program is a requirement for all prospective teachers in West Virginia. The following school-based preparation programs typically culminate in a certificate or master’s degree and have been approved by the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE):

  • Concord University (Master’s)
  • Fairmont State University (Master’s)
  • Marshall University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • West Liberty University* (Alternative, Certificate, Master’s)
  • West Virginia University (Master’s)
  • Wheeling University* (Alternative, 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. West Virginia State Department of Education: https://wvde.us/