Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Michigan

Michigan educators receive their initial certification after they complete bachelor's degrees and educator preparation programs, pass the assessments that are required for their endorsement area(s), achieve CPR certification, and go through a background screening process.

Michigan distinguishes between standard and professional level certifications. A professional certificate depends on successful teaching experience and also on completion of coursework beyond what is required for initial credentialing. It can be easier for an out-of-state teacher to be certified in Michigan if he or she has already met requirements at the professional level. However, an out-of-state teacher who is not at this level can teach under a temporary credential while meeting state-specific requirements. Ultimately, educational standards are set high.

Pathways to Certification

Individuals who do not yet have bachelor's degree can complete bachelor's programs that lead to their desired endorsement(s). A list of approved programs is available from the department of education (,4615,7-140-5683_14795_83465---,00.html). Many programs lead to dual endorsement.

Programs may be organized in different ways, depending on specialty area. The undergraduate may complete a major of 30 or more semester hours and a minor of 20 or more semester hours or a comprehensive program of 50. Some programs are longer. The documents section of the website includes a chart with credit hour requirements for the various specialty areas (,4615,7-140-5683_14795_83465---,00.html).

Michigan does not have a process for directly pre-approving out-of-state programs, but individuals who complete these programs may be approved for certification. Michigan code references evaluation under the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification reciprocal agreement.

Prospective teachers who hold bachelor's degrees may have the opportunity to complete accelerated residency or alternative route program. Both allow the individual to become the teacher of record before program completion.

An alternative route program provider will receive at least 12 semester hours of coursework in state-mandated areas, which will include child development or psychology, instructional strategies, and diverse learners. Field experience will be included. Some teaching areas excluded from this pathway, among them, early childhood education and special education. One will find elementary alternative programs. Notably a candidate who goes this route enrolls in a program after employment.

An accelerated residency is for individuals with "demonstrated skill" in specific disciplines. The licensing authority notes that sometimes an individual is placed into a class as a substitute while future options are being considered.

Reading Coursework Requirements

Michigan educator preparation programs include reading methods coursework, whether they are taught at the elementary or secondary level. The requirement is higher at the elementary level: six semester hours. Out-of-state teachers will not always have met the requirement.

Before progressing to the professional level, a teacher will need three semester hours of reading diagnostics and intervention.

Prospective educators can visit the certification guidance documents page of the MDE website for information about the reading requirement and about the stage at which out-of-state applicants will be expected to have met this and other requirements (,4615,7-140-5683_14795_83462---,00.html).

Teaching Endorsements

Elementary certification allows a teacher to teach grades K-5 or to teach grades K-8 in a self-contained setting. The teacher can also teach particular subjects noted on the certification. Michigan has multiple elementary academic endorsements, including a mathematics endorsement which denotes competency in teaching math through 8th grade.

The following are among the many endorsements:

  • Early Childhood (General And Special Education)
  • American Sign Languages
  • Mandarin (Chinese)
  • Chemistry
  • Earth/ Space Science
  • English as a Second Language
  • Geography

In order to add endorsements, one must complete additional coursework and pass an assessment in the endorsement area. A teacher may begin teaching in a new endorsement area before fulfilling requirements; he or she would be considered to be pursuing an alternative route to certification.

Michigan endorsement programs include at least 20 semester hours of coursework. An applicant who is currently endorsed in a particular area on an out-of-state license may be endorsed in that area in Michigan even if the qualifying program was less than 20 semester hours. A teacher who has taught in a particular endorsement area for at least three years is also eligible; in this instance, the teacher can be issued the endorsement even if the credential has lapsed.

Michigan has reciprocity with all states. Endorsements, however, may not always be the same. The Michigan licensing authority attempts to issue the credential that is the best match in terms of grade level and content.

The Assessment Process

For in-state students, assessment is interwoven in the certification process. Michigan has its own assessments. There are some differences in procedures for traditional and alternative teacher candidates. Individuals who plan to complete alternative programs take the test before enrolling in the program – it’s among the qualifiers.

Students enrolled in other in-state programs will receive guidance from their programs about what subject area tests they need to take and when. Some candidates will take more than one. There is a general elementary assessment and many subject area assessments.

Out-of-state applicants will submit applications, then take the tests that the licensing authority determines are necessary. They can be issued authorization to work pending examination.

The Michigan Test for Teacher Certification is administered by Pearson Education ( Pearson has provided a website with candidate guides and information about testing procedures. Assessments are computer-delivered.

Out-of-State Teachers

Out-of-state teachers may be certified at the standard or professional level. Those who hold standard certifications in their own state but have not met Michigan assessment requirements can be issued temporary credentials. Those who meet standards for the professional license will not be required to meet testing requirements.

The Application Process

Michigan has an online credentialing system, the Michigan Online Educator Credentialing System. Out-of-state applicants can download the experience verification page from the documents section of the Department of Education website (,4615,7-140-5683_14795_83465---,00.html).

Additional Information

Information about Michigan teacher certification is available from the Michigan Department of Education (,4615,7-140-5683_14795---,00.html).

Teachers have been required to pass a basic skills test. That requirement will be eliminated in late 2018. This is not the first change to be enacted in recent years. Nor is it necessarily the last. The Department of Education website is a source of continued information. Individuals pursuing initial training in Michigan can turn to their programs for current information.

Applicants may direct general application questions to ‘moecssupport at’ or 517-373-3310.