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Graduate Teacher Licensure

Teaching is a wonderful and exciting profession. How can you become a professional teacher and a licensed teacher in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?


Becoming a Professional Teacher:
Entry into the teaching profession is regulated by law that outlines the requirements and conditions for licensure. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Law stipulates a three stage process of teacher licensure.

Preliminary licensure requires a bachelor’s degree with a major in the arts or sciences, or an inter-disciplinary major appropriate to an instructional field and the successful completion of the MTEL (Massachusetts Tests for Educational Licensure). This level of licensure does not require professional preparation in teacher education.  Preliminary licenses are valid for five years.

Initial Licensure requires completion of professional preparation at either the undergraduate or graduate level in teacher education and student teaching and the successful completion of the MTEL.

Professional Licensure requires possession of the Initial license, three years of service at the level/content of the initial license and other options that might include an earned Master's degree plus graduate level coursework in the content area.


Educational Reform:
One of the key features of the Education Reform Law is the premium placed on the professionalism of teaching through a more intensive and qualitative teacher preparation. This requires a sound preparation in a body of knowledge in the disciplines as part of the requirements for licensure at all levels: Early childhood, Elementary, Middle School and Secondary School. An appreciably high level of subject matter knowledge in the instructional field constitutes a critical competency requirement for licensure.

In addition, the regulations stipulate certain basic competencies expected of licensed teachers called the Common Teaching Competencies. These constitute the basis for teaching licensure in the state and collectively they govern the development of teacher licensure programs. These common competencies cover the areas of 1) subject matter knowledge, 2) communication, 3) instructional practice, 4) evaluation, 5) problem solving, 6) equity, and 7) professionalism.


Why Worcester State University:
Worcester State University enjoys a remarkable history of teacher preparation. Its first president, H. Harlow Russell, pioneered the practice of placing prospective teachers in an actual classroom. This practice is now universal and referred to as "student teaching." Prior to this point prospective teachers worked in laboratory schools on the college campus. Russell worked closely with G. Stanley Hall, psychologist and president of Clark University, in developing the field of child psychology. Russell put Hall’s theoretical work into practice at Worcester Normal School, the precursor of Worcester State University, and one of the earliest such schools in the country.

Since it's founding in 1874, Worcester State University has prepared generations of skilled teachers, principals, and superintendents in the latest ideas and effective means of educating children and adolescents. This tradition of innovation and concern for students continues today. Teacher certification programs at Worcester State University are anchored in a model that permits the juxtaposition of sound subject matter knowledge with appropriate pedagogical skills.

  • Education Programs Offered at Worcester State University


Questions and Answers About Licensure:
Q. I want to teach. I graduated with a B.A. in Psychology. How do I go about changing careers?

A. You need to decide what age child you wish to teach. If you want to teach young children, either Early Childhood (pre-K - grades 2) or Elementary (1-6 grades) aged children, you would need to contact the Undergraduate Admissions Department (508 929-8113) and ask about post-baccalaureate certification programs. If you wish to teach children in grades 5 - 8 (middle school) or 8 - 12 (secondary school), you would need to contact the Graduate Admissions Office (508 929-8787). Worcester State University has teacher licensure programs in Reading, Moderate Special Needs, Educational Leadership, School Psychology and Middle or Secondary School Education adminstered through Graduate and Continuing Education.

Q. What is an "approved" program?

A. Approved programs are degrees and licensure programs at Worcester State University that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has reviewed and approved.

Q. I have an Initial license in both Elementary Education and Special Education. I want to earn my Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. How can I keep both of my certificates? Do I need two Master’s Degrees?

A. According to regulation, "A person holding an Initial license for teaching in two or more fields, at the same level, who qualifies for a Professional license in one of those fields, may qualify for a Professional license in another field by completing the MTEL subject Test in that field."

Q. I have an Initial license in Social Studies at the Middle School level (grades 5-8) and the Secondary School (grades 8-12). If I get my Master’s degree in Middle School Education, what will I have to do to keep my Secondary Education Social Studies license?

A. According to regulation, "A person holding an Initial license at two different levels in the same field who completes the requirements for a Professional license on either level will need to meet the requirements for professional licensure at both levels ."

To learn more about teacher licensure, please call the WSU Education Department at (508) 929-8663 or visit the MA DESE Website.

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