Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Mississippi

Mississippi teachers are licensed on the basis of bachelor’s or post-bachelor’s education and training. License is by examination.

Class A licenses are the standard for teachers educated at the bachelor's level. Teachers with higher level education can receive licenses at higher levels; upgrade is also dependent on professional development. Educators with master’s level education may receive AA licenses. A limited number of specialties require education at the master's/ AA level.

Mississippi teachers are first regulated at the pre-service level. Pre-service licenses are valid only until program completion, but employing districts can request transitional one-year licenses for teachers who have graduated from accredited institutions but have not yet completed assessment requirements.

Traditional Teacher Preparation

Mississippi considers the traditional path to be a pre-service or five-year program. A program at the bachelor's level or higher can be accepted if it is housed in an accredited institution and is approved for licensure by the appropriate entity. The Department of Education has provided a list of approved in-state programs. Out-of-state programs are to be approved in their own jurisdiction; out-of-state approval can be documented through an institutional program verification form (

Mississippi code allows for pre-service licenses to be issued to students of Mississippi schools or qualifying non-Mississippi schools.

Educator preparation programs include preparation for specific teaching areas (for example, elementary K-6, secondary academic subjects, or art).

Teachers who possess standard licenses may use any of several methods to add supplemental endorsements: an approved program, approved coursework or module, 21 semester hours of content coursework, or a Praxis subject assessment. Pathways may be limited based on the endorsement sought. The Department standards for the “21 semester hour” pathway, when available, may be quite inclusive. The notation for the supplemental drama endorsement, for example, is that the course must have a theater or drama prefix.

Assessment Requirements

Prospective Mississippi teachers take both a subject area test and professional teaching test. Elementary teachers also take the Foundations of Reading test.

Assessment is a multistep process. Most assessments used in Mississippi are under the ETS Praxis banner. Praxis assessments are in widespread usage around the nation. Candidates will need the test code for the Mississippi licensing authority if they test outside Mississippi; this can be found on the Mississippi page of the Praxis website ( On the same page, one will find a list of Praxis tests and scores required in Mississippi.

The Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators is a test of general academic skills. It is typically required at program admission. Individuals can be exempted on the basis of having earned a score of 21 on the ACT.

A candidate for initial licensure will also take the Praxis Subject Assessment in his or her teaching area. Elementary education candidates take the Elementary Education: Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. The assessment is based on teaching scenarios.

A final practice requirement is the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) assessment. The PLT is available in multiple grade bands. This is a computer-delivered pedagogy test.

The Foundations of Reading assessment, required of elementary candidates, is administered by a separate organization, Pearson Education. General information about the assessment is available from Pearson.

Alternate Programs for Individuals with Non-Teaching Degrees

Mississippi has multiple alternative programs for individuals who already hold bachelor's degrees. Some are designed for individuals who are seeking licensure in particular subject areas. Options at the elementary level are more limited. A person with a degree who is seeking elementary credentialing at fourth grade level or higher can enroll in a Master of Arts (MAT) program. The Mississippi Department of Education notes there are no alternative pathways for individuals seeking K-3 credentialing (; this is as of 2018.

Individuals in alternative programs can begin teaching after a relatively brief pre-service period. MAT candidates take six semester hours of coursework as their pre-service.

Alternate route licenses are issued for varying amounts of time; this depends on the particular alternative pathway.

Alternative candidates complete their subject area tests before program entrance. Additionally, elementary candidates demonstrate their knowledge of literacy development.

Reciprocal Licensing

Out-of-state teachers may be granted two-year or five-year reciprocal licenses, depending on circumstances ( Individuals seeking five-year licenses will document having passed a subject area test required in their jurisdiction or having met requirements similar to those of Mississippi. The two-year license may be granted to a teacher who is credentialed in the other state at less than the standard level. It may be granted to a teacher who still needs to meet assessment requirements.

The licensing authority will need to see the out-of-state certificate.

The Application Process

Education preparation programs request licensure for their pre-service students.

Prospective Mississippi teachers can apply online through the ELMS e-licensing system; they will need to mail some supplemental documents. As of 2018, paper applications are still available; they can be downloaded from the Department of Education website ( The application includes a checklist of supporting documentation.

Applicants will provide multiple transcripts if they have attended more than one college.

Application status can be monitored online through the ELMS system.

Additional Information

Mississippi educators are under the jurisdiction of the Mississippi Department of Education. The Division of Educator Preparation has authority over educator preparation programs ( The Division of Educator Licensure issues licenses.

The Office of Educator Licensure can be reached by telephone at 601-359-3483 or by email at ‘teachersupport at mdek12’. OEL has provided contact information for license specialists (

The Department of Education published “Guidelines for Mississippi Educator Licensure K-12” in PDF format in 2018. Licensing pathways and policies are subject to change. Licensure updates are posted online (