Becoming a Licensed Teacher through the WGU Teachers College
Becoming a licensed teacher through the WGU Teachers College
Western Governors University is the leading school offering online teaching degree programs that lead to initial teacher licensure. The Teachers College offers licensure programs in the format of bachelor’s, master’s, or post-baccalaureate teacher preparation programs.
WGU’s Path to Teacher Licensure
Below is the standard process for earning your initial teaching license through the WGU Teachers College. For answers to specific questions, please read the FAQ below.
1a. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree.
The online bachelor’s teaching degrees in the Teachers College at WGU include coursework and assessments, a pre-clinical experience that includes observation hours and teaching lessons, and Demonstration Teaching (student teaching, explained in step 3).
1b. Complete a Teacher Prep Program or Master’s Degree (if you already have a bachelor’s degree).
If you already possess a bachelor’s degree, WGU’s Teacher Preparation (including post-baccalaureate) or Master’s in Teaching programs are the choice for you. These Teacher Prep programs qualify you to become licensed in the field of your choice (Elementary Education, or secondary Mathematics, Science, or Social Science), training you to become a highly-qualified teacher. These programs include supervised practice teaching (see Step #3: Demonstration Teaching) in an actual classroom setting.
2. Pass a Background Check.
WGU requires all teacher certification program candidates to provide the university with verification of a cleared background check prior to placement in the classroom for Pre-Clinical Experiences and Demonstration Teaching. In addition, most states require that applicants for teacher certification complete a background check for the Department of Education prior to submitting all application paperwork. This is a necessary precaution designed to prevent those who may pose a danger to the students in the classroom.
3. Complete a Term of In-Classroom Student Teaching (Demonstration Teaching).
Demonstration Teaching (or student teaching) is a critical component of any teaching degree program. This in-classroom experience is invaluable in helping to integrate the academic knowledge and teaching skills you’ve developed to this point into a practical application that will prepare you to tackle the challenges of your own classroom effectively and with confidence.
The Demonstration Teaching (DT) domain at WGU covers the competencies required for in-classroom proficiency. DT is a full-time, supervised, in-classroom experience of 12-20 weeks. During Demonstration Teaching, you will be hosted by an experienced teacher. You will undergo a series of at least six observations by a Clinical Supervisor to evaluate your performance based on accepted professional standards.
4. Pass Your State and National Exams, Including Praxis Exams.
Each state has specific testing requirements that must be met or completed in addition to completing your teaching degree program at WGU. WGU requires students to complete and pass the Praxis I and Praxis II subject area exams (if applicable) for completion of your program. These exams, as well as any state-required pedagogy and subject exams, must be passed according to individual state standards before you apply for teacher licensure. Click here to learn about your state’s requirements.
5. Meet Any Additional State Certification Requirements.
Want to learn more about your state’s requirements? Click here.
Questions and Answers
Will my WGU online teaching degree be recognized by my state as eligible for certification/licensure?
Completion of a WGU teaching degree program or teacher preparation program will qualify you to apply for licensure in all 50 states and all U.S. territories because the state-approval and accreditation status of our programs meet state requirements for licensure eligibility. Each state has specific requirements that must be met in addition to completing your WGU degree online. Review the above list and click here to learn more about your state’s requirements.
Is student teaching included in the program?
Yes, we call it Demonstration Teaching, and it is a requirement of all teacher certification programs. We will ask you to identify schools in your area in which you would like to complete your Demonstration Teaching. WGU will work with the district to place you for student teaching. In an online teacher education program, the face-to-face observations are invaluable and necessary for each student. WGU must be able to vouch for each student’s competency in front of a class when we recommend the student for teacher licensure.
How do I obtain my teaching license?
Upon completion of your teaching degree program or teacher preparation program, you will apply to your state’s department of education for your license. The standards that are listed on our website will help you understand some of the requirements, but we recommend you click here to learn more about your state’s requirements. You may also visit www.ed.gov.
What grades will I be able to teach?
This depends on what program you choose to pursue. Also, each state has its own requirements for what grades you can teach. Your Enrollment Counselor may be able to help you determine what grades you will be able to teach, but we also recommend that you click here to learn more about your state’s requirements for different grade levels and disciplines.
Does WGU have NCATE accreditation?
Yes, WGU is the first exclusively online university to have its online teaching programs NCATE approved.
What is NCATE accreditation and what does it mean to me?
NCATE is the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Five groups were instrumental in the creation of NCATE: The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC), the National Education Association (NEA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the National School Boards Association (NSBA). NCATE is the agency responsible for accreditation in teacher education, representing a strong, independent, quality assurance mechanism composed of all key stakeholders in education.
Having NCATE accreditation is a mark of distinction and provides recognition that the college of education has met national professional standards for the preparation of teachers and other educators. WGU is the first and currently only exclusively online teacher education institution in the nation to have earned this distinction.
How long will the licensing program take?
It depends on the individual student. There are three sections of study in our teacher preparation programs—Foundations of Teaching, Effective Teaching Practices, and Demonstration Teaching. Foundations of Teaching typically takes students approximately 6-9 months to complete. Effective Teaching Practices also takes approximately 6-9 months to complete. Demonstration Teaching is 12-20 weeks within a six-month term. The teacher preparation program in its entirety takes about 18-24 months to complete.
What is the difference between teacher certification and teacher licensure?
These terms are used interchangeably throughout the teaching field and state departments of education.
Are there courses available to help with professional development?
WGU’s competency-based approach to education is designed to provide an opportunity for those seeking a degree or certificate. The approach is specifically designed for students who wish to attend college "full-time," not to deliver individual courses. As a result, WGU does not offer individual courses. Talk to an Enrollment Counselor about your educational needs as we may have a program that can provide you with the coursework and flexibility you desire.