Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Missouri

In order to be licensed as an elementary or secondary teacher in Missouri, a first-time candidate must earn a bachelor’s degree, complete a teacher preparation program, and pass a series of assessments.

In addition to the traditional pathway, Missouri recognizes several pathways that may be considered alternative; the latter are designed for individuals who already hold degrees. In many cases, the individual already holds a degree that corresponds to a teaching area.

An individual who completes a Missouri-approved program will receive an Initial Professional Certificate. He or she can move up to the Career Continuing Professional Certificate level after successful mentored work experience and professional development.

Missouri, like many states, makes it relatively easy for teachers certified in other states to receive teaching credentials.

Teaching Fields

Missouri issues generalist teaching certificates at the early childhood and elementary levels. Elementary covers first through sixth grade while early childhood covers all ages through third grade; the latter can be used for teaching positions below what one typically thinks of as school age.

Missouri also offers a number of specialized certificates in different grade bands. Missouri secondary certificates are issued for a narrower grade band than in many states: 9-12. On the other hand, Missouri recognizes more middle grade teaching areas than many states do; Missouri middle grade certificates cover grades 5-9. The following are examples of credentials offered at the middle level: math, language arts, social science, speech/ theater, and industrial arts. Many science endorsements are recognized at the secondary level; they may be generalist or specialized. The following are among the other teaching fields recognized at the secondary level: English, math, and technology and engineering.

Some certificates (for example, foreign language, art, dance, and physical education) are available for grades K-12. Special education certificates may be cross-categorical or specialized and typically also cover a wide grade range.

The Missouri Office of Quality Schools determines what teaching assignments a person can actually have based on his or her particular certification.

Overview of Certification Routes

Students who are following the traditional pathway complete four-year degrees in conjunction with programs that are designed to prepare them as future educators. The experience culminates in student teaching.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has provided a directory of Missouri programs (

The pathway that Missouri terms “alternative or innovative” is academic and sometimes even results in a master's degree. A person who is following this route has, at the onset, a degree in a content area. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offers mathematics as an example. An individual may be placed into a classroom setting as teacher while meeting program requirements. A list of approved alternative programs is available from DESE (

It is typical to complete about 30 semester hours of coursework while working toward full credentialing via this route. The teacher will eventually receive a college recommendation.

The temporary authorization route is in many ways similar. It is also designed for a person with a content area undergraduate degree. The teacher will receive just what the term “temporary authorization” implies: the opportunity to teach for a limited time period while meeting requirements. This pathway is also academic – to a large degree, at least. The typical coursework requirement is 24 credit hours. A teacher who is working under temporary authorization receives mentorship at the district level.

Credentialing through the American Board of Certification for Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), a well-known alternative provider, is characterized as a separate route: Missouri accepts ABCTE certificates only in specific areas authorized at the state level. Currently elementary education is among the Missouri-accepted ABCTE teaching fields. (Anyone selecting a program will want to make sure he or she has current information.)

Missouri has a unique route designed for people with doctoral degrees in content areas who decide to teach their area of expertise. They can receive a renewable certificate after meeting few additional requirements. A teacher certificated in this manner cannot progress to the career professional level but can continue to renew at the initial level.


An individual who was prepared in another state but does not hold current licensure may apply on the basis of an institutional recommendation from the out-of-state school. The Missouri licensing authority can evaluate out-of-state transcripts. It has been recommended, though, that individuals who complete preparation programs out of state apply for credentials in the other state; doing so can facilitate licensure.

Out-of-state teachers do not have to submit institutional recommendations to the Missouri licensing authority if they hold licensure at an appropriate level. The licensing authority attempts to grant the credential that is the best match and in most cases does not require out-of-state licensees to complete additional coursework.

Assessment Requirements

Education and assessment are integrated into Missouri programs. There have been changes in the relatively recent past. Missouri uses Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments (MEGA). MEGA is among the customized state programs administered by Pearson Education.

The Missouri General Education Assessment (MoGEA) is required for program admission. It assesses general academic skills.

The Missouri Educator Profile (MEP) is a unique component. It is a required component of in-state programs, both traditional and nontraditional; the Department of Education notes that it is designed to guide development and not to determine whether the individual is qualified for admission.

Candidates can also expect to take one or more Missouri Content Assessment(s). They are computer-based and can be taken in Missouri or out of state.

Testing information is available from Pearson Education (

Nontraditional routes may carry specific assessment requirements.

The Application Process

An individual who successfully completes a Missouri program can expect institutional recommendation. He or she will, however, need to submit an application.

Out-of-state program completers will submit materials noted on the non-Missouri graduate checklist (

Missouri has an approved fingerprinting vendor. A prospective Missouri teacher will initiate the process by registering through the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Missouri Automated Criminal History Site (MACHS).

Additional Information

Information is available from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Certification can be reached by phone at 573-751-0051 or by email at ‘certification at’.

Teacher certification is an area of frequent change. New certification requirements went into effect in 2017.