Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in North Dakota

North Dakota teachers have an education that is broad but includes specialized coursework in at least one teaching area. They must meet requirements for licensure and for endorsement in one or more areas.

Some endorsements authorize generalist practice; these are common at the lower grade levels. Some specialized credentials are issued for grades PreK-12, others for 5-12; some are for a narrow grade band. Grade 5-12 endorsements may be termed “secondary” though they can also authorize teaching at the middle grades.

The following are among the available endorsements:

  • Elementary Education
  • Early Childhood Education
  • PreK-12 Foreign Language
  • PreK-12 Physical Education
  • PreK-12 Computer Education
  • Grades 5-12 English and Language Arts

A prospective teacher will complete a North Dakota approved program or a program that is approved in another state and that meets standards set by the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board. (Graduates whose programs don't meet North Dakota standards and who don't qualify for North Dakota licensure based on current 'other state licensure' may begin work under an interim reciprocal plan.)

The Board has provided a list of in-state schools with approved programs (

Educational Foundations for Teachers in North Dakota

North Dakota students complete a general studies component, a professional education component, and a recognized program area major ( Elementary education and middle level education can be considered content majors. Secondary and PreK-12 subjects will have a more narrow major, one specific to what they will be teaching. Students can expect a minimum of 32 credit hours in their major. They can expect at least 22 hours of professional education coursework, which may include various topics, including educational psychology, classroom management, and assessment. It will include a student teaching experience of ten or more weeks

Secondary content majors need coursework in secondary teaching methods and teaching methods specific to the subject being taught.

Middle level content majors include adolescent development, middle level foundations, and reading across the content areas. This is in addition to middle level methods and experience in a middle grade classroom. Middle level endorsements are issued in English/ language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.

Elementary majors include coursework in teaching language arts, math, science, and social studies.

Programs may include a teaching minor. It may be as few as 16 semester hours. Teaching minors are not sufficient for working at a new grade level. An elementary teacher would not, for example, be qualified to teach high school math on the basis of just a minor.

North Dakota requires coursework in human relations and cultural diversity. Coursework must include specific content, including Native American studies. Education-specific human relations courses can be credited as professional education.

Individuals who earn undergraduate degrees in fields that correspond with courses normally taught in public schools may choose to pursue pedagogical coursework after graduation. Such programs may be at the baccalaureate or post-baccalaureate level; they, too are subject to state approval. North Dakota uses the term ‘reeducation for initial licensure’ to describe this situation.

The North Dakota Teacher Assessment Process

North Dakota utilizes ETS Praxis examinations. The Core Academic Skills is a test of general academic skills. In most cases, an individual will take both a subject area test and pedagogy test en route to initial licensure. Early childhood, elementary, middle school, and secondary candidates take the Principles of Teaching and Learning test at the appropriate level; foreign language candidates take the secondary level assessment. The ETS website includes testing information specific to North Dakota ( Candidates can find test requirements for their teaching area, along with test codes and minimum scores.

Adding Endorsements

Teachers may add endorsements. The specifics are addressed in Chapter 67.1-02-03 of state code. Many endorsements can be added by testing alone. A teacher can even be re-educated at the elementary level through testing. This option is not available, though, to brand new North Dakota teachers. A prerequisite requirement for elementary re-education by testing is having held a regular North Dakota professional educator’s license for a minimum two years.

Adding endorsements by coursework remains an option. Many endorsements can be added on the basis of 16 credit hour minor equivalency or 24 hour major equivalency. A teacher with minor equivalency can hold the endorsement for a limited number of years. Eventually he or she will need to complete additional coursework and achieve major equivalency.

There are the various categories of special education that can be added. Among them are early childhood special education and emotional disturbance special education. Teachers sometimes begin teaching in the specialized area after completing just a small amount of coursework and enrolling in additional courses. They must meet requirements within a specified timeframe.

Applicants can click on the forms section of the website to see specific coursework requirements for adding endorsements. They can expect North Dakota schools to be a resource in planning.

Out-of-State Applicants

North Dakota distinguishes between other state educator licensing and reciprocal licensing. The Board states that students who complete programs in other states are encouraged to seek licensure in the other state and then apply for other state licensure. This means they can be held to the educational standards of the other state. The Board makes a further distinction between licensure based on ‘transcripted programs’ in other states and licensure based on alternative programs. Those who complete the latter will need to meet North Dakota's testing requirements.

Individuals who must seek reciprocal licensing in North Dakota will likely need to make up educational deficiencies. However, they can do so over a two- to four-year period.

The Application Process

North Dakota has an online licensing system, ND Teach. The licensing authority will require official transcripts for a new license. The Board has provided information that may facilitate the process of getting a transcript and having it sent to North Dakota (

Licensure is dependent on clearing a fingerprint-based background check.

Additional Information

The North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board can be reached by email at 'espbinfo at ' or by telephone at (701)328-9641.