Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Massachusetts

Teaching is a bachelor’s level profession. A prospective Massachusetts teacher can qualify by completing an approved program, whether traditional or nontraditional. An out-of-state teacher will eventually qualify by experience. Massachusetts extends reciprocity to teachers from others states, though some state-specific requirements are imposed.

General Teacher Licensing requirements

There are multiple license types, and some are higher than others. A prospective teacher will not necessary go through all stages. Many teachers will start at the initial level. This is the licensing level for a person who has completed an approved or accredited program and met other requirements that are within reach of a new professional. (Moving beyond this will take experience.)

A teacher with initial licensure will need to have passed examinations for his or her field. In many academic areas, it will also be necessary to earn a Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement (SEI).

The Massachusetts Department of Education has provided a directory of approved educator preparation programs (

A qualifying program will not necessarily be explicitly Massachusetts-approved. It can be accepted if it is approved by another state or holds CAET/NCATE/ TEAC accreditation. An out-of-state program completer will need to meet some state-specific requirements separately.

An out of state teacher could also qualify for an initial license on the basis of experience if he or she had met the additional requirements. Massachusetts participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.

A provisional license allows a teacher to begin working before some requirements have been met. A temporary license is granted only to an experienced out-of-state teacher who still needs to go through the Massachusetts assessment process.

Massachusetts has a performance review program to help teachers who have provisional licensure and don’t have easy access to programs achieve the higher license ( The Department of Education cautions, though, that it may not be reciprocal.

The professional license is dependent on three years of teaching, a one-year induction program, and additional mentorship hours. There is an additional requirement for further education or professional development. Achieving status as a master teacher through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is one of several options (

Teaching Fields

Programs are specific to different areas of teaching. There are many teaching fields recognized in Massachusetts. Early childhood credentials are issued for grades PreK-2, elementary for grades 1-6. Some subjects, including English, social science, and Latin/ classical humanities are available in a combined middle grades/ secondary grade band (5-12). Specific science disciplines are available at the secondary (7-12) grade band. Science is one of several available fields for the middle grades (5-8) band; it is also available at the elementary level.

Some special classes (e.g. visual arts) are available in two grade bands; others (e.g. theater) are issued as "all grades". Massachusetts issues multiple special education credentials, among them, elementary/ middle grades and middle/ secondary grades moderate disabilities credentials and an all-grades severe disabilities credential.

The Department of Education has provided a tool to search for license requirements by subject (

The Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement

Teachers of core academic subjects must earn endorsement in sheltered English immersion; this is part of the Massachusetts vision for closing academic gaps. The requirement applies to teachers of subjects such as language arts, math, and geography; it also applies to early childhood teachers, elementary teachers, and teachers of moderately and severely disabled students. Students who complete Massachusetts-approved programs in these areas can expect to receive the training. Students may also qualify on the basis of having completed an approved bachelor’s degree. There are multiple additional ways to meet this requirement. A teacher can complete a course through an approved vendor. Some teachers way wish to pursue ELL endorsement in Massachusetts -- this is qualifying.

The Assessment Process

Massachusetts teachers take the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). They will complete the Communication and Literacy Skills test and a subject area test. Candidates in Massachusetts-approved programs can expect their program to provide guidance.

The Structured Guidance & Supports (SG&S) process may be used when a subject area examination does not exist for a particular license.

There are some instances where an educator will be exempted from a Massachusetts test based on performance on a similar test in another state. This could apply to a candidate who has taken the Foundations of Reading test. There are other tests that have correspondence.

The MTEL is administered by Pearson Education. Information is available on the MTEL sub-domain. Candidates can click on their tests to see required scores ( They can also find information for registering for computer-delivered exams.

The Application Process

Massachusetts has implemented an online Educator Licensure and Recruitment (ELAR) system. Forms and instructions can be found on the Department of Education website ( There is also a hard copy of the application available.

The initial fee is $100.

Additional Information

Massachusetts teachers are licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education ( The Office of Educator Licensure can be reached at 781-338-6600.

Information is subject to change. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education occasionally posts regulatory changes (