Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, teachers earn standard certification by completing teacher preparation programs or presenting credentials that they earned in other states.

The process may be simpler if one completes an in-state program. Individuals who complete out-of-state programs will achieve out-of-state certification before applying in Oklahoma.

Pathways to Licensure

The traditional route involves earning a bachelor's degree and presenting an institutional recommendation from an Oklahoma school.

There are a number of other routes available to degreed professionals. Oklahoma has one specifically for individuals who are employed as paraprofessionals. They, too, must hold degrees at the bachelor's level. They will have to complete some education coursework to achieve standard certification. However, requirements are not the same as for those new to education. This route is known as the Career Development Program for Paraprofessionals to be Certified Teachers (

Oklahoma has its own alternative program for individuals who hold bachelor's degrees and 1) have a major in a subject area that corresponds to a PK-12 or 5-12 teaching area or 2) are otherwise able to demonstrate competency. The Non-Traditional Special Education Provisional Certificate is another option for individuals with bachelor's degrees who want to take on duties in an actual classroom setting sooner. This pathway carries stringent requirements – including a commitment to pursuing education at the master’s level ( Teach for America and Passport to Teaching alternative programs are among the other alternative programs recognized in Oklahoma. The State Department of Education has outlined the options (

All pathways involve some testing, but specifics vary. The timeline will not always be the same.

The Commission for Teacher Preparation has provided a grid, termed the Inventory of Approved Certification Programs, to show the approved schools that offer particular types of programs (

Oklahoma Teaching Credentials

Teachers at the early grade levels are often credentialed as generalists. The early childhood education credential is valid for pre-kindergarten through third grade. Oklahoma’s elementary teachers are allowed to teach almost any subject in grades one through eight. They are not, however, authorized to teach seventh or eighth grade mathematics. They are also not authorized to teach subjects for which a student receives high school credit.

There are also a number of specialized certifications. Some are for secondary grade levels; some are valid all the way from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. The following are among the many possibilities:

  • Art Education
  • Dance Education
  • Mild-Moderate Disabilities
  • Severe-Profound Disabilities
  • Spanish
  • Cherokee

The State Department of Education has published a set of teacher competencies by teaching area (

Assessment Requirements

Teacher candidates typically take three tests en route to certification. The Office of Educational Quality and Accountability (OEQA) is the state unit in charge of certification assessment. The Office of Educational Quality and Accountability contracts with Pearson Education for testing.

Requirements include a test of critical thinking and general academic skills, a pedagocial test, and one or more subject tests. The Oklahoma Professional Teaching Exam measures teaching knowledge and skills. There are two versions of the Oklahoma Professional Teaching Exam, or OPTE: K-8 and 6-12. Teachers in fields such as art and special education can be certified on the basis of either the K-8 or 6-12 assessment.

There are many versions of the Oklahoma Subject Area Test (OSAT); these correspond to different teaching areas. The elementary test consists of two sub-tests.

Assessments are administered by Pearson. Some computer delivered assessments are available year-round, others only during testing windows. Pea son has an application for checking seat availability ( Registration information and preparatory materials can be found on a state-specific Pearson sub-domain (

Equivalent out-of-state tests may be accepted. Out-of-state teachers are directed to contact the Oklahoma State Department of Education. There is a review process for out-of-state tests.

Additional teaching credentials can often be added by assessment alone. Teachers educated outside early childhood education and elementary education, however, cannot add these teaching areas through just testing; these fields require full university programs. A teacher can generally not add special education through just testing. This restriction depends on pathway, however. Testing is an option for professional who complete Troops to Teachers programs (

The Application Process

Applicants must have fingerprint-based background checks from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) and the FBI. The State Department of Education has an approved electronic fingerprinting vendor, Morphotrust USA, that operates a number of satellite locations. Applicants can opt to have their fingerprints made electronically at the office of the State Department of Education in Oklahoma City; this option carries a slightly reduced fee. There are also “hard card” options (

Teacher certification forms can be downloaded from the website of the State Department of Education ( An approved Oklahoma program will provide an institutional recommendation. Out-of-state teachers are directed to provide a copy of their certification as well as official verification. Directions can be found in printed application materials.

The Teacher Certification Section requires a $50 application processing fee.

Additional Information

Information is available from the Oklahoma State Department of Education ( The Teacher Certification Office can be reached at (405) 521-3337.

The State Department of Education has provided a chart of certification procedures for individuals who have varying backgrounds and career goals. It can be found on the certification resource page ( Interested individuals will find references to state statutes that authorize particular pathways.