Every state has different requirements for each type and level of license. The requirements listed below are common across most states.
The degree requirements for types and levels of licenses vary by state. Some states will accept a master's degree for principal or school leadership licenses, but others require academic credits beyond a master's degree. Follow these steps to determine the degree requirements for your state.
Many states have specific course work requirements that must be satisfied for initial licensure or endorsement. For example, courses specific to Native American history, U.S. and state constitutions, and special education may be required for teacher license candidates.
It is very important to research and understand the requirements specific to your state. Follow these steps to determine any course work requirements for your state.
Background Checks and Fingerprints
Almost every state requires licensure candidates to complete a background check and fingerprinting for initial licensing and license renewal. The process is different in each state, as are the requirements for passing the background check. Follow these steps to determine the requirements for your state
State requirements vary for the amount and type of field experience required for specific licenses. Be sure to understand if your state has any specific requirements for internships, practicum or student teaching. Follow these steps to determine any field experience requirements for your state.
Every state now requires exams to earn an initial teacher license; many also require exams to earn an administrator or leadership license. In some states, you'll also be required to take an exam if you're looking to add a new subject area or endorsement to your license. In most cases, these licensure exams are completed on a computer at a testing center site.
Visit your state licensing office website to learn more about required exams for your state. You can also learn more about these exams through ETS and Pearson, the most popular licensure testing services.
Because many of Capella's programs are approved for licensure in Minnesota, students are required to take Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE) as part of their program. MTLE exams can be completed at testing centers across the country. You may still be required to take your state's required exams when applying for a license or endorsement.
Several states have additional requirements, such as CPR training, tuberculosis testing, or English as a second language training. Again, follow these steps to determine all requirements specific to your state.
Many states offer a less traditional option for earning an initial teaching license. Some also offer his option for administrator licenses. Generally, you must meet the same requirements as someone completing a degree program that is designed for teacher or administrator preparation; you just meet the requirements in a different way. For example, a licensure candidate may begin teaching in the classroom while still completing required course work or training.
These alternative pathways require much more than simply passing exams. You'll also be required to complete specific course work and training. If you're thinking of obtaining a license through one of these alternative routes, be sure to carefully research the requirements and approved course work providers for your state.
Capella University does not offer degree programs that will help you earn a license through one of these alternative pathways.
Importance of State Approval and Accreditations
States will not accept just any graduate degree for licensure, certification or endorsement. State educator licensing offices rely on program approvals and accreditations to ensure that a program is designed to meet licensing standards and is a high quality program. It is important to choose a program that has approval and accreditations needed to meet your state's requirements.
Every state approves programs that are intended to prepare educators for licensing in their state. Typically, they approve programs for universities that are located in that state. Because Capella's headquarters are located in Minnesota, most of our programs have Minnesota approval. Capella also has several programs approved in Arizona and Georgia. See the Accreditation and Program Approvals page for details.
In addition to state approval, several Capella programs are nationally recognized by a Specialized Professional Association (SPA), as part of our National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation. See the Accreditation and Program Approvals page for details.
Many states develop their program approval standards around SPA/NCATE standards. Completing a SPA recognized/NCATE accredited program can make the pathway to licensure easier in these states. Additionally, some states require completion of a NCATE accredited program for licensure or endorsement. Read more about SPA recognition, NCATE accreditation and state partnerships on NCATE's website.
Out-of-State Programs and Reciprocity
Individuals who graduate from a Capella program that has Minnesota or Arizona approval are eligible for a license in Minnesota or Arizona once they complete Capella's program, pass required state exams, and complete the background clearance. Earning a Minnesota or Arizona license/endorsement first makes the pathway easier for many graduates from other states. See Steps to a MN or AZ license for more information on the process.
If you intend to seek licensure or endorsement outside of these 2 states, you need to understand your state's requirements for out-of-state graduates. Any graduate seeking a license/endorsement in the other 48 states are considered out-of-state graduates, no matter where they physically completed the coursework. For example, all Capella students who live in Texas are technically completing an out-of-state program, even though they complete all coursework, field experiences and other degree requirements in Texas.
Generally all states will accept another state's approved program or a license from another state, but additional requirements may need to be met. This process is sometimes known as reciprocity. Reciprocity doesn't mean you can simply exchange your license in one state for a license in another. Reciprocity means that states are willing to accept graduates of another state's approved program, but still expect them to meet the same requirements as educators prepared in-state. For example, all Florida teachers, regardless of where they completed their degree, must follow the same rules for licensure. Follow these steps to determine how your state will accept graduates of a program that is approved in Minnesota or Arizona.