Alternative Routes to Teaching Certification

Alternative routes to teacher certification are state-defined routes through which an individual who already has at least a bachelor’s degree can obtain certification to teach without necessarily having to go back to college and complete a college, campus-based teacher education program. There are two main routes to certification and they overlap in some ways and have several key differences in other ways. Individuals are encouraged to read about both methods to choose what route is the best fit to their experiences and needs. These programs offer a wonderful opportunity to gain provisional teacher certification and valuable classroom experience. With any such program, however, it is strongly recommended that prospective applicants press the particular organizations for specific information regarding the ongoing support resources to allow for the most productive personal and professional transition possible.

A few questions to ask yourself while deciding which route is right for you:

  • Do I learn best by watching, or by doing?
  • Do I have experience working with children or in a classroom?
  • Am I ready to lead a classroom next September, or would I prefer a gradual release of teaching responsibilities from a master teacher?
  • Is salary a driving factor in the position I take?

Teaching Residency Programs

Residency programs offer a unique synthesis of theory and practice, combining a yearlong classroom apprenticeship with a carefully aligned sequence of master’s-level coursework. Residents receive a stipend for living experiences throughout their training year, and a subsidized master’s degree upon completion of the program. Residents spend the full academic year in an urban public school, developing under the guidance of an experienced mentor teacher. Over the course of the year, Residents move from a collaborative, co-teaching role in the classroom to an increasingly demanding, lead-teaching role.

Teaching Fellowship Programs

Teaching Fellows Programs recruit high-achieving professionals and recent college graduates to teach in high-need districts and charter schools for at least two years. These programs are designed specifically to provide a streamlined path into the classroom for individuals wanting to become teachers. Rather than complete a traditional teacher education program, fellows complete an intensive summer training institute, including direct classroom teaching experience, which prepares them to be successful in their first year of teaching and beyond. Fellows will begin teaching full-time in the fall, while simultaneously taking certification coursework to obtain initial licensure and oftentimes, a Master of Arts in Teaching or Education.


Teaching Residency Programs

180 Days in Springfield

A collaboration between the UMass Amherst and Springfield, Mass., public schools. The intensive, year-long, urban school-based teacher education program leads to a Master of Education degree and Massachusetts secondary teacher certification. The program features two semesters of integrated teaching and graduate study in a Springfield public middle or high school. Candidates may take additional summer coursework to complete the M.Ed. Participants earn Provisional Certification with Advanced Standing in their subject field at the middle or high school level, become eligible for Inter-State Compact Certification reciprocity, and meet requirements for the M.Ed.

Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL)

Chicago-based teaching residency program offering M.A.T. or M.Ed. and Illinois Certification in exchange for a 5-year commitment to high-needs Chicago Public Schools.

Aspire Teacher Residency Program

A comprehensive four-year California-based teacher training program that integrates exceptional academic preparation and practical teaching experience. Residents receive tuition-reimbursed California Preliminary Credential, a tuition-reimbursed Master’s in Education from the University of the Pacific, and priority hiring at an Aspire school in California or Memphis, TN for Residents who successfully complete the first year program.

Boettcher Teachers Program

An intensive, field-based, dual licensure and master’s degree program designed to recruit, prepare, and retain outstanding teachers for urban schools. Participants earn their Colorado teaching license and master’s degree in urban education from the University of Denver mostly paid for in exchange for a commitment to teach in partner districts’ high priority schools for a total of five years, including the teaching residency year. Multi-year mentoring and coaching support is provided. Other benefits include a living stipend during the teaching residency year, ongoing collaboration through a network of urban teachers, and facilitated visits to classrooms of master teachers around the Denver metro area.

Boston Teacher Residency

A one-year urban teacher preparation program developed as part of Boston’s aggressive commitment to improving instruction in every classroom. During the 12-month program, Teacher Residents co-teach with a Master Teacher in one of Boston’s best public schools, take coursework facilitated by exceptional teachers and university faculty, and receive a stipend during their year of service to a school. Teacher Residents earn a Massachusetts Initial Teacher License, dual certification in special education, and a Master’s degree in education with a three-year commitment.

Capital Teaching Residency

Seeks to increase the number of highly effective educators in the District of Columbia by training aspiring teachers through an intensive one-year residency in a high performing public charter school. Teachers are able to earn their certification and train in mathematics, science, special education, English Language Arts, and early childhood classrooms. CTRs make a commitment to teaching for a minimum of three years in Washington, D.C.

Citizen Schools’ National Teaching Fellowship

A two-year professional development program for individuals with great leadership potential interested in gaining outstanding training and front line experience as out-of-school time educators and community organizers. The Fellowship is paid, with full health benefits, and offers the opportunity to work in a highly collegial and entrepreneurial environment at a nationally recognized leader in the exploding out-of-school time field.

City on a Hill Urban Teaching Fellowship

An innovative urban public school in Boston that runs an urban teaching fellowship program to sustain, train, and certify urban public high school teachers. Fellows are trained and mentored by veteran City on a Hill teachers while taking graduate courses at Boston University toward a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree. They receive a $16,000 stipend and significantly reduced tuition in exchange for teaching in an urban public school for two years upon completion of the program.

Donovan Urban Teaching Scholars Program

This one-year program, leading towards licensure, provides prospective teachers with an academically challenging education specifically responsive to the concerns and needs of urban students, families, schools, and communities. Participants in the program work toward a master’s of education degree from Boston College and full certification in one of five areas.

I-START: Internationals School-based Teacher Apprenticeship, Recruitment and Training Program

A five-year teacher residency program in New York City that prepares highly qualified teachers of English Language Learners to teach in an International High School by integrating theory and praxis. Residents receive a Masters TESOL degree from Long Island University with tuition reduction, eligibility to apply for New York State Teacher Certification, clinical experience with experienced mentor teachers, a stipend and full set of benefits the first year, NYC teacher salary and full health benefits the second year.

Indianapolis Urban Teacher Residency

A four-year urban teacher residency program in Indianapolis that prepares urban educators within a STEM area to teach at the middle and high school level.

The Inspired Teacher Certification Program

The Inspired Teacher Certification Program is a state-accredited 24-month teacher preparation program that recruits, selects, prepares, supports, and certifies highly qualified individuals who wish to serve the children of the District of Columbia as teachers. Inspired Teaching Fellows learn the skills and dispositions of Inspired Teachers who recognize each child’s innate desire to learn and build on individual strengths to maximize academic, social and emotional achievement. Inspired Teaching Fellows begin their teaching career with a Residency year, working under the guidance of a Lead Teacher, gaining the knowledge and experience to enable a smooth transition into their teaching career. Then, in the Fellowship year, Fellows, as teachers of record in their own DC classroom, continue taking coursework and receive increased mentoring. The Inspired Teacher Certification Program prepares educators in two areas: Early Childhood and Elementary Education.

Los Angeles Math and Science Residency

An innovative and rigorous year-long teacher training partnership program that integrates practice, content, and pedagogy through an in-field apprenticeship model within The College Ready Promise schools in the Los Angeles region.

Los Angeles Urban Teacher Residency

A 14-month intensive graduate-level program that offers teacher residents to work alongside outstanding mentor teachers for an entire school year in the areas of mathematics, science, and special education.

MATCH Corps

A one-year Urban Education fellowship program where recent college graduates are assigned to 6-7 MATCH students where they provide small group or 1-on-1 tutorials over the course of each day. The major contrast between this program and programs like Teach for America is “depth versus breadth” – MATCH Corps members are able to focus their attention on the needs of a few students at a time rather than an entire classroom. Fellows receive housing and a modest living stipend.

Math for America

A highly selective, five-year program where recent college graduates and mid-career professionals make a commitment to each mathematics in public secondary schools. The fellowship includes one year earning a master’s degree in education an dfour years teaching math in Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego, Utah, and Washington, DC.

Memphis Teacher Residency

A 12-month cohort program that integrates a Masters in Urban Education coursework through Union University with extensive classroom experience. Each Resident will be paired with an experienced Mentor-Teacher in their content area. After completing the first year, Residents are required to teach for three years in a Memphis urban school.

New Teachers Collaborative

A school based teacher education program offering a year long path to teacher certification in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Participants join the faculty of a small public secondary school for two summer sessions and an academic year, and receive both coaching and mentorship training. A stipend is provided in addition to essential benefits.

New Visions for Public Schools – Hunter College Urban Teacher Residency

A 14 month teacher-training program that fully integrates the graduate coursework of the aspiring teacher (Resident) with intensive, hands-on experiences in New York City schools. Within a strong public school, Residents collaborate with expert educators around all aspects of teaching and learning. At the same time, Residents take graduate courses at Hunter College specifically designed by UTR to align with experiences in urban schools. Successful completion of the program results in a Master’s Degree in Education and certification to teach in New York City. Graduates of UTR are guaranteed the opportunity to be hired by a school within New Visions’ network of 75 public schools and are asked to commit to four years of teaching in New Visions schools after their Residencies.

Newark/Montclair Urban Teaching Residency

An innovative apprenticeship-based program of study for individuals with a deep commitment to urban teaching. This Master of Arts in Teaching program has two tracks: Early Childhood/Elementary Education with dual certification in Teacer of Students with Disabilities; and secondary, content area certification in mathematics or science. Residents are required to teach for three years in the Newark Public Schools after completing the program.

Newton Teacher Residency

A state approved classroom-based licensure program, granting Massachusetts initial licensure in English, History, Math, and Science grades 8-12. The program is affiliated with Tufts University Master of Arts in Teaching Program.

Philadelphia Teacher Residency

A teacher preparation program for science, technology, engineering, and math professionals and recent graduates who want to teach math and science in Philadelphias’ high need schools (grades 6-12). Residents will teach with experienced teachers in Philadelphia secondary school classrooms will taking coursework at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education to earn both a Master’s Degree as well as Pennsylvania teacher certification. In return, Residents commit to teach in the Philadelphia School District for at least three years after the residency year of preparation.

San Francisco Teacher Residency

Cohorts of residents are placed in designated “Teaching Academies.” Residents learn in the classroom of a highly accomplished master teacher for an entire year while taking tightly connected coursework from university partners. Upon completion of the residency, new teachers are supported for their first two years of teaching through an enhanced induction program.

TEACH/Here

A hybrid of university-based and alternative routes to becoming a teacher by providing rigorous content and pedagogy preparation from a university and a full year of a classroom-based apprenticeship under a trained and highly effective clinical instructor. Residents teach 4-8th grade math and 7th-12th grade math and science in Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program

A two-year master’s degree proram that prepares candidates to teach in underserved urban public schools through guided, in-school training with experienced master teachers and academic and methods coursework taught by university of Chicago faculty and clinical instructors.

Urban Teacher Center

An alternative teacher preparation program that requires applicants to make a four-year commitment: an intensive up-front residency year followed by a three-year teaching commitemnet in a high-need urban school. In order to complete the program and receive full certification, our residents must pass through several gates, all tied to student performance.


Teaching Fellows Programs