Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in South Carolina

A person can achieve South Carolina teacher certification by earning a bachelor's degree, completing a certification program appropriate to his or her teaching area, and passing pedagogy and content area exams.

Teaching Areas

Many teachers are generalists in the early grade levels. South Carolina issues early childhood and elementary education credentials. South Carolina issues its general elementary certification for a narrower grade band than most states: grades 2-6. Early childhood cover PreK-3.

Montessori certification is also offered for three early childhood/ elementary bands. Here grade bands are slightly different; they correspond with typical Montessori grade level groupings. The Department of Education notes that individuals who hold only Montessori certification are not eligible to pursue other academic certifications outside Montessori without completing additional programs ( One does, however, have the option of pursuing Montessori as an adjunct credential.

South Carolina issues middle grade certifications in math, science, social studies, and language arts. It issues separate Montessori middle grade in each of these four core areas.

Special education represents another broad category. South Carolina has an early childhood special education credential. Most special education credentials (e.g. learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, hearing impairments) are valid for PreK-12.

South Carolina recognizes 11 world language teaching fields, including American Sign Language. These certifications are issued for all grades PreK-12. The following are among the other PreK-12 teaching fields:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Theater
  • Health Education

There are a number of music endorsements, including piano and choral.

Secondary certifications are issued for high school (grades 9-12). A number of individual science disciplines are recognized, including physics and Earth and Space science.

Educational Requirements

South Carolina programs are approved by the South Carolina State Board of Education (SBE). Individuals can also be certified on the basis of either of the following:

  • Programs that are approved in other states and that are housed in appropriately accredited institutions
  • Programs that are accredited by national organizations with which South Carolina has agreements

The Office of Educator Services has provided a list of approved in-state programs ( Online programs must be approved before enrollment. The Office of Educator Services does not maintain a list on the website but is available to offer assistance (

Teachers who seek South Carolina Montessori certification must complete programs accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE).

Alternative Route Certification for Post-Baccalaureate Candidates

South Carolina issues alternative route certification to individuals in the following programs:

  • The Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE)
  • Teach for America
  • The American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence
  • Teachers of Tomorrow

State code notes some additional steps that Teachers of Tomorrow candidates need to complete before employment and issuance of alternative certification.

Individuals with alternative certification can eventually progress to the professional level.

Assessment requirements

South Carolina has adopted Praxis tests for general academic skills, pedagogy, and subject area knowledge. There are some instances, though, where other assessments are accepted.

The Core Academic Skills for Educators is a test of general academic skills; it is used for program admission.

Candidates later take a Praxis pedagogy assessment. Many take a computerized test. There are separate ‘Principles of Teaching and Learning’ examinations for early childhood, elementary, middle, and secondary credentials, though Praxis grade bands do not match up exactly with South Carolina teaching. Most cover a slightly broader grade band.

Individuals who complete alternative programs may complete the PPAT instead; it is also under the ETS banner. This is a portfolio-based assessment complete in conjunction with teaching. ETS notes on the South Carolina ‘requirements’ page that South Carolina candidates register for this test only if directed by their programs (

Some traditional education students may take the edTPa, a Pearson-administered portfolio-based assessment in conjunction with student teaching.

Praxis subject area tests are a requirement, except in rare instances where a test is not available for a particular teaching area. The South Carolina requirements page shows minimum passing scores as well as additional testing information. Praxis subject area tests are available in most teaching areas. When available, they are a requirement. The South Carolina requirements page shows minimum passing scores as well as additional testing information.

Montessori certification candidates take subject area and pedagogy assessments.

The Application Process

South Carolina has an online certification portal, Certification Application Technology Services, or CATS. Supplemental forms are available on the Department of Education website (

Prospective teachers must have criminal background checks through the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the FBI.

Applicants also submit the following:

  • Official transcripts
  • Verification of experience (if applicable)
  • Official score reports
  • A current out-of-state certificate (if applying by reciprocity)

Out-of-State Teachers

Out-of-state licensees are expected to have taken pedagogy tests and other teaching tests. The licensing authority can accept tests other than those normally required in South Carolina if the individual has sufficient recent experience.

An out-of-state licensee with less than three years (27 months) of experience can receive an initial license but will need to complete South Carolina testing before moving up to the professional level.

Adding Teaching Areas

South Carolina teachers must meet both education/ training and testing requirements in order to add teaching fields. A teacher may opt to complete an approved program or qualify by course-by-course review.

The amount of coursework required for course-by-course review varies by teaching area. It would take 21 semester hours to add elementary education.

In some cases, there are different requirements based on the certification the teacher currently has. Middle level credentialing carries some specific requirements. The teacher must, for example, have coursework in child development during early adolescence. A teacher who was certified to teach a particular subject at the secondary level would not, however, need to complete any additional subject area coursework to add the middle grade endorsement. An elementary teacher would need additional subject area preparation to add a middle grade endorsement.

There are additional endorsements that do not represent full teaching fields but are designed to reflect additional expertise; examples include Advanced Placement and Teaching Children of Poverty.

Additional Information

Certification information is available from the South Carolina Department of Education ( The Office of Educator Services can be reached by telephone at 803-896-0325 or by email at 'certification at'.