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DEGREES & PROGRAMS

Online Teacher Certification Programs and Degrees

What Is a Teacher Licensure Program?

WGU shares your passion for education, and is dedicated to helping students become the educators in their own classrooms. Our online teaching degrees have led to more than 10,000 students becoming educators themselves. WGU offers online teaching degree programs that prepare you for a license—you can choose between online bachelor's degrees and online master's degrees that will help you get your educator certification.

Below is the standard process for earning your initial teaching license through the WGU Teachers College. Get answers to all your questions and learn the process of earning an online teaching degree and being prepared for a teaching certification.

WGU offers two types of programs that lead to an initial teaching license—bachelor's degrees and master's degrees. Bachelor's degree programs are for students who do not have an undergraduate degree and want to become a licensed teacher. These programs prepare you for the classroom and ensure you are eligible for obtaining a teaching license in your state. Master's degrees (Master of Arts in Teaching or MAT) programs that lead to an initial teaching license. If you have a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field, the MAT programs allow you to get a master's degree AND qualify for a teaching license in your state. 

Bachelor's Degrees Leading to Licensure

Elementary Education – B.A.

An online teacher certification program for aspiring elementary teachers....

An online teacher certification program for aspiring elementary teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 63% of grads earned this degree within 30 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this program often include:

  • Aspiring elementary school teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This elementary education degree program includes courses in the foundations of teacher education, instructional planning and presentation, assessment, and classroom management. Core teacher education courses focus on diversity, disciplinary literacy, elementary education methods, and pedagogy. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This online teaching degree program helps you to be eligible for teaching certification in any of the 50 states.

Special Ed and Elementary Ed (Dual Licensure) – B.A.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring K–12 special education teachers. Leads to dual licensure—elementary education teaching license and special education teaching license.

(Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.) If your state offers a single K–12 special education teaching license and you are interested in focusing on teaching students with mild to moderate exceptionalities, consider the B.A. Special Education (Mild to Moderate) online teaching degree. 

  • Time: 61% of grads earned this degree within 27 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this online teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring special ed teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This special education teaching online degree program prepares you to teach students with mild-to-moderate disabilities, with courses in the foundations of teaching, instructional planning and presentation, assessment, and classroom management. Core elementary and special education courses focus on diversity, disciplinary literacy, elementary education methods, and special education topics such as law, assessment, and behavioral management. This program requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. 

Mathematics Education (Middle Grades) – B.S.

An online teacher certification program for aspiring middle school math...

An online teacher certification program for aspiring middle school math teachers. Leads to teaching license in states that have a middle-grades math teaching license.

Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching licensure in your state.

  • Time: 62% of grads earned this degree within 29 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this science teaching degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high math teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for math
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This science teaching degree program includes online courses in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, science, mathematics, pedagogy, science education, field experience, and a teacher performance assessment. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This science teaching degree prepares you to be eligible for a teaching license in any of the 50 states.

Mathematics Education (Secondary) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle school math teachers and high school math teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.

  • Time: 63% of grads earned this degree within 27 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this math teaching degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high and high school math teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for math
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This online math teaching degree program includes courses in the foundations of teaching, general education, mathematics content, math education, instructional planning and presentation, and pedagogy. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This online math teaching degree program helps students become eligible for math teaching certification.

Science Education (Middle Grades) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle school science teachers. Leads to teaching license in all states that have a middle-grades general science teaching license.

Specific grade levels you are qualified to teach will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 61% of grads earned this science teaching degree within 31 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.

Candidates for this online science teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or middle school science teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for science
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This science teaching degree program includes coursework in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, science, mathematics, pedagogy, science education, field experience, and a teacher performance assessment. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching.

Science Education (Secondary Biological Science) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school biology teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.

  • Time: 63% of grads earned this online biology degree within 31 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.

Candidates for this online teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or high school biology teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for biology
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This biology teaching degree program includes online courses in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, general science, mathematics, biology, pedagogy, and science education. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching.

Science Education (Secondary Chemistry) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school chemistry teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.

  • Time: 66% of grads earned this online chemistry degree within 32 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.

Candidates for this online chemistry degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or high school chemistry teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for chemistry
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This chemistry teaching degree program includes online classes in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, general science, mathematics, chemistry, pedagogy, and science education. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. Earn a chemistry degree online and be eligible for a teaching certification.

Science Education (Secondary Physics) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school physics teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching license options in your state.

  • Time: 62% of grads earned this online physics degree within 38 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.

Candidates for this online teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or high school physics teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for physics
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This physics teaching degree program includes online courses in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, general science, mathematics, physics, pedagogy, and science education. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. Graduates of this online teaching degree program will be eligible for teaching certification.

Science Education (Secondary Earth Science) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school earth science teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching license options in your state.

  • Time: 62% of grads earned this middle school teaching and high school teaching degree within 29 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.

Candidates for this science teaching degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or high school geoscience teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for earth science
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This geosciences teaching degree program includes online courses in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, general science, mathematics, earth sciences, pedagogy, and science education. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This high school teaching degree program prepares you for teaching licensure in any of the 50 states.

Special Education (Mild to Moderate) – B.A.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring K–12 special education teacher. Leads to your teaching license in states that offer a single teaching license in K–12 special education.

This special education bachelor's degree program will help you prepare for an exciting future helping exceptional students. If your state requires—or if you're interested in—dual licensure in both elementary education and K–12 special education, consider the B.A. Special Education (K–12) program.

  • Time: 62% of grads finish similar online teaching degree programs within 29 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this special education degree program often include:

  • Aspiring special ed teachers who currently lack a teaching license.
  • Substitute teachers.
  • Career-changers.
  • School paraprofessionals.
  • Others who feel the call to teach.

This online degree program includes coursework and assessments tailor-made for future teachers who are committed to working with students who have mild to moderate learning exceptionalities. It offers deep engagement in serving special education students and leads to your K–12 special education license in states that do not require dual elementary-ed and special-ed licensure. It also includes a preclinical experience with face-to-face observation hours and a Demonstration Teaching component hosted by an experienced teacher and directed by a clinical supervisor.

Master's Degrees Leading to Licensure (MAT Programs)

Teaching, English Education (Secondary) – M.A.

An online teaching master's degree and teacher certification program for...

An online teaching master's degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school English teachers who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.

  • Time: 88% of graduates finish this online English degree program within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,935 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this high school English teaching program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high and high school English teachers who currently hold a bachelor's degree but lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for English
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This secondary English MAT program includes courses in the foundations of teaching, instructional planning and presentation, English content, research, and pedagogy. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This online English degree prepares students for teaching certification in any of the 50 states.

Teaching, Elementary Education – M.A.

An online master's of arts in education degree and teacher certification...

An online master's of arts in education degree and teacher certification program for aspiring elementary school teachers who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field.

Leads to a teaching license. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 83% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,935 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this master's of arts in education degree program often include:

  • Aspiring elementary teachers who currently hold a bachelor's degree but lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This online teacher's degree includes courses in the foundations of teaching, mathematics content, instructional planning and presentation, elementary education methods, and effective teaching practices. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching.

Teaching, Mathematics Education (Secondary) – M.A.

An online teaching master's degree and teacher certification program for...

An online teaching master's degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle school or high school math teachers who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on the teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 71% of graduates finish this high school math teaching degree within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,935 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this high school math education program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high and high school math teachers who currently hold a bachelor's degree but lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for math
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This online teaching degree in secondary math education includes courses in the foundations of teaching, mathematics education, instructional planning and presentation, and pedagogy. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching.

It differs from the M.A. Teaching, Mathematics Education (Middle Grades) program in that it includes courses in upper levels of calculus, including advanced calculus and mathematical modeling. Graduates from this secondary math degree program will be eligible for a teaching license in any of the 50 states.

Teaching, Mathematics Education (Middle Grades) – M.A.

An online teaching master's degree and teacher certification program for...

An online teaching master's degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle school math teachers who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.

  • Time: 66% of graduates finish this middle school math teaching degree within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,935 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this master's in math education degree often include:

  • Aspiring junior high math teachers who currently hold a bachelor's degree but lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for math
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This M.A. Teaching program in middle grades math education includes courses in the foundations of teaching, mathematics education, instructional planning and presentation, and pedagogy. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching.

It differs from the M.A. Teaching, Mathematics Education (Secondary) program in that it does not require courses in upper levels of calculus, including advanced calculus and mathematical modeling. The curriculum of this online math degree is designed to prepare middle school math teachers for success.

Teaching, Science Education (Secondary) – M.A.

An online master's teaching degree and teacher certification program for...

An online master's teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school science teachers who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish this secondary science teaching degree within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,935 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this high school teaching degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high and high school science teachers who currently hold a bachelor's degree but lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for science
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This graduate-level secondary science teaching program includes the following areas of coursework: foundations of teaching, science education, pedagogy, field experience, research, and a teacher performance assessment. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. You'll be prepared to teach in middle school or high school settings, based on teaching certification in your state.

Teaching, Special Education (K–12) – M.A.

An online master's degree for current or aspiring teachers looking to...

An online master's degree for current or aspiring teachers looking to further their careers with a focus on K–12 special education.

  • Time: 73% of grads finish similar programs in 21 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,935 per 6-month term.

Coursework in this program covers the following areas of study:

  • Educational psychology and human development
  • Schools as communities of care
  • Essential practices for supporting diverse learners
  • Creating and managing engaging learning environments
  • Special education practices
  • Management strategies for academic and social behavior
  • Assessment and evaluation procedures for special education
  • Disciplinary literacy
  • Special education methods
  • Using educational technology for teaching and learning

Find a rewarding career teaching students with diverse challenges and special learning abilities with this teaching master's degree.

Steps to Becoming a Certified, Licensed Teacher

1a. Earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited college.

The online educator bachelor's 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 (also called student teaching, explained in step 5). A bachelor's degree is required in every state in order to get a teaching license and teach in schools, so this is a critical first step.

1b. Complete a licensing master's degree program if you already have a bachelor's degree.

If you already possess a bachelor’s degree in a non-teaching field, WGU’s online teaching master's degrees are a great fit for you. The Master of Arts in Teaching programs prepare students for teaching certification—getting them ready to work in schools. These teacher certification programs qualify you to become licensed in the field of your choice (such as elementary education, secondary mathematics, science, etc.), training you to become a highly qualified teacher. These online teaching degree programs include supervised practice teaching (see step 5, Demonstration Teaching) in an actual school setting.

2. Pass a background check.

WGU requires all candidates for a teacher certification program to provide the university with verification of a cleared background check prior to entering schools 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 from pursuing a teaching career. 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 at WGU. WGU requires students to complete and pass:

  • 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.
  • Content Exam: You must pass the designated Content Exam(s) required by your state in order to graduate with your online teaching degree.
  • WGU Program Exam: WGU also requires you to pass a specific Praxis exam to graduate from your online teaching degree (with the exception of Elementary programs), often in addition to any teaching certification exam required by your state.
  • Pedagogy Exam: Finally, some states require the completion of a Pedagogy Exam, which assesses your knowledge of teaching methods.

Next Start Date
August 1

4. Complete preclinical experiences as part of your program.

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) with an educator.

Demonstration Teaching (or student teaching) is a critical component of teaching degree programs. This in-classroom experience is invaluable in helping to integrate the academic knowledge and teaching skills you learn in these education programs into a practical application that will prepare you to tackle the challenges of your own classroom 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 teaching programs at WGU. This experience is critical to your online teaching degree and teacher certificate.

6. Meet any additional state certification requirements.

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

Teacher Licensure and Certification Specialties

When you choose a a degree with a teaching license, you'll also need to choose grade levels and subjects that you want to focus on as part of your learning. There are many specialties you can choose from and it's important to understand the outcome of each before deciding. The specialties you can choose from include: 

Grade Level

  • Elementary Education (K-6)
  • Middle School (6-8)
  • Junior High School (7-9)
  • High School (9-12)
  • All Grade Levels (K-12)

Subject

  • Math
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science
  • Physics 
  • English

Diverse Students

  • Special Education
  • English Second Language or English Language Learning
  • Special Education and Elementary Education Dual License

Accredited and Recognized

The Teachers College at Western Governors University is granted accreditation for its programs from CAEP, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, 1140 19th St NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20036 (202) 223-0077. 

Every education program offered through the WGU Teachers College has been awarded full accreditation by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP) through 2025.

As a proud member of 100Kin10, WGU joins nonprofits, government agencies, companies, and foundations to combat challenges and prepare more teachers for STEM teaching positions nationwide.

Learn About a Career in Education

Why Choose WGU For Your Teacher Licensure Program?

WGU is a great fit for your online degree in education for many reasons, including:

  • Low, flat-rate tuition means that you're charged the same amount per six-month term, regardless of how many classes you take. 
  • Competency-based education means you can use your knowledge to your advantage, accelerating your program and graduating faster. Graduating faster also saves you money. 
  • We offer scholarships and financial aid to help with our already affordable tuition, making college education accessible for even more students.
  • Respected and accredited programs ensure that your education degree is meaningful for you as a teacher.

Prepare for a Teaching License

These bachelor's and master's programs at WGU lead to certification in any of the 50 states. Students can learn their state-specific criteria for teacher licensure and see what additional steps they need to take after earning their degree. Typically students need to pass a background check, pass a Praxis exam, and have a certain number of in-classroom hours.

Demonstration Teaching

Students in the teacher licensure programs at WGU have a set amount of in-classroom experience time they must have to graduate. Preclinical experiences and demonstration teaching ensure that WGU students have been observed in a classroom environment and are able to earn their teaching license. Your Program Mentor will help you learn about setting up your demonstration teaching.

FAQs about Teacher Licensure

Teaching certification is available for WGU graduates in any of the 50 states, so long as the teaching license and/or teaching degree program is offered in the state. Each state has specific teaching licensure requirements that must be met in addition to completing your WGU online teaching degree. Review the above list and click here to learn more about your state’s teacher certification requirements.

Yes. For more details about student teaching, known as “Demonstration Teaching” at WGU, please see step 5 above.

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 teaching license. Complete information about the teacher licensure application process is provided to graduates in the WGU Student Handbook.

Your WGU online teaching program will align with specific grade levels defined by your state Department of Education.

It depends on the individual student and varies by teaching degree program. Refer to your individual teaching degree program guide for the projected standard path and number of terms to completion.

Yes, the WGU Teachers College is the first competency-based online university to receive accreditation for its online teaching degree programs that lead to teacher licensure from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP is the only recognized national accreditor for educator preparation.


CAEP is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, the only recognized national accreditor for educator preparation. CAEP's vision is excellence in educator preparation accreditation. Its mission: "CAEP advances excellent educator preparation through evidence-based accreditation that assures quality and supports continuous improvement to strengthen P-12 student learning." Accreditation is a nongovernmental activity based on peer review that serves the dual functions of assuring quality and promoting improvement.

These terms are used interchangeably throughout the teaching field and state departments of education.

The first step to obtaining a teaching certification online is to find an accredited degree program that offers a bachelor's or master's degree program that leads to licensure. Once you complete this program you can work to complete other licensure requirements based on your state.

In every state a bachelor's degree is required to become a licensed teacher. While there are alternative routes to licensure if you haven't pursued an education program, you will at minimum need a bachelor's degree in order to become a licensed educator.

These terms are used interchangeably to describe a teacher who is qualified and has proven their ability to instruct students in the classroom.

Students who want to become educators quickly can benefit from an online, competency-based program that allows them to pursue their degree at a pace that works for them.