Background check for criminal convictions

This applies only to an individual seeking initial teacher certification.

It is the policy of most states that applicants for teacher certification must undergo a background check for criminal convictions prior to student teaching. WGU requires that all candidate teachers complete a fingerprinting/background check. If you are applying for certification through a state that has approved our certification programs, you will have to follow your state’s requirements for fingerprinting and background checks. If you later request licensing from a reciprocating state, you may have to get clearance again, or the reciprocating state may accept the approval state’s clearance. California applicants must follow the California clearance process.

Upon completion of the Demonstration Teaching application process, you will receive fingerprinting and background check information and instruction. WGU must receive clearance of the background check prior to Demonstration Teaching. Depending on your state, the background check may take up to 12 weeks so it is important to complete the fingerprinting immediately upon receipt of the instructions from WGU.

While specific policies varies from state to state, virtually all states will review all past criminal convictions, including both misdemeanors and felonies. WGU will make decisions regarding individual enrollees based on the recommendations of the Dean and the faculty of the WGU Teachers College. Specific questions regarding the policies of individual states should be directed to the appropriate state education department.

WGU’s Demonstration Teaching Support Department will assist with this process at the appropriate point.

Frequently Asked Questions about Background Checks

What exactly is a background check and when is it required?
The background check includes fingerprinting and a check of national and state criminal databases, and is required as a condition of enrollment in the Demonstration Teaching domain, which is the last part of all initial certification programs. When you apply for Demonstration Teaching, you will receive additional information from the WGU Teachers College.

How do I initiate the process?
When your application for Demonstration Teaching is complete, you will receive information and instructions on the fingerprinting and background check process. When you go to have your fingerprinting done, be prepared to present at least one form of picture identification to the agency taking your fingerprints. We recommend calling ahead to ensure that you will be able to have your fingerprints taken when you arrive at the fingerprinting agency.

How much does it cost?
Costs will vary from state to state; typically costs range up to $75 for the state and FBI fingerprint checks. Many agencies also charge a nominal fee for the actual fingerprinting. You will be responsible for all costs associated with the fingerprinting and background check.

What does WGU do with the results received from the background check and fingerprinting?
WGU maintains background clearance information in your student file. All student records are maintained in a secure, permanent and confidential manner.