Becoming a Licensed Teacher through the WGU Teachers College

teacher certification student

WGU is the nation’s fourth largest provider of bachelor's degrees in math education and a top provider of both bachelor's and master's degrees in science education. WGU offers licensure programs through bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and 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 degree programs in the Teachers College at WGU include coursework and assessments, a preclinical experience that includes observation hours and teaching lessons, and Demonstration Teaching (student teaching, explained in step 5).

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 of Arts 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 #5: 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 entering the classroom for preclinical experiences and Demonstration Teaching. Previously completed background checks may not satisfy WGU background check requirements. In some states, more than one background check may be required. 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. You must be at least 18 years of age before you may begin the application process or participate in preclinical experiences and Demonstration Teaching.

3. Pass Basic Skills, Content, and Pedagogy 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:

1. Basic Skills Exam: Pass the Basic Skills Exam required by your state for certification, or a designated Basic Skills Exam if your state does not require one.

2. Content Exam: You must pass the designated Content Exam(s) required by your state in order to graduate from your program.

3. WGU Program Exam: WGU also requires you to pass a specific Praxis exam to graduate from your program (with the exception of Elementary programs), often in addition to any certification exam required by your state.

4. Pedagogy Exam: Finally, some states require the completion of a Pedagogy Exam, which assess your knowledge of teaching methods.

Click here to learn about your state’s requirements.

4. Complete Preclinical Experiences.

In preparation for your formal Demonstration Teaching (described in step 5 below), you will complete preclinical experiences designed to introduce you to the classroom through a series of activities, including observations and lesson planning. Working under the guidance of a WGU Placement Specialist, you will be asked to make arrangements with a local school to complete these activities.

5. 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.

Demonstration Teaching (DT) at WGU covers the competencies required for in-classroom proficiency. DT is a full-time, supervised, in-classroom experience of a minimum 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 and also receive evaluations from your Host Teacher to evaluate your performance based on accepted professional standards.

As you approach your Demonstration Teaching, a WGU Placement Specialist will work with you to set up your placement. The process of scheduling your DT placement may take up to six months. You may be required to assist in the process of setting up your placement. In some cases, you may be required to commute up to two hours (or in rare cases longer than this). Note that students are not permitted to work during their Demonstration Teaching experience. You must be at least 18 years of age before you may begin the application process or participate in preclinical experiences or Demonstration Teaching.

Demonstration Teaching may not be waived and prior experience may not be used to satisfy this requirement as you must demonstrate competency in the classroom in order to complete your WGU degree program.

6. Meet Any Additional State Certification Requirements.

Some states have additional requirements for certification, such as coursework not included in your WGU program, CPR Certification, or Workshops. To learn more about your state’s requirements, click here.


Will my WGU online teaching degree be recognized by my state as eligible for certification/licensure?
Certification is available for WGU graduates in all 50 states, so long as the license and/or program is offered in the state. 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. For more details about student teaching, known as “Demonstration Teaching” at WGU, please see step 5 above.

How do I obtain my teaching license?
Upon completion of your teaching degree program or teacher preparation program, the WGU Licensure Department will assist you with the process of applying for your license. Complete information about the licensure application process is provided to graduates in the WGU Student Handbook.

What grades will I be able to teach?
Your WGU program will align with specific grade levels defined by your state Department of Education.

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.

NCATE accreditation is a mark of distinction and provides recognition that WGU’s Teachers College has met national professional standards for the preparation of teachers and other educators. WGU is the first 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 and varies by program. Refer to your individual program guide for the projected standard path and number of terms to completion.

What is the difference between teacher certification and teacher licensure?
These terms are used interchangeably throughout the teaching field and state departments of education.

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