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Alternative Certification Programs

Alternative Educator Preparation Program Certification Pathway

There are over 100 different approved alternative educator preparation programs in Texas. These programs can often be completed in a year, and may offer the chance to be a paid intern while in the program. These programs are not limited to universities, but may be in school districts, service centers, community colleges, or private companies. In order to complete an alternative educator preparation program, a teacher candidate will need to already hold a bachelor’s degree.

How to Decide the Right Subject Area and Grade Level

If you have chosen the route of an Alternative Certification Educator Preparation Program, then you will already have a bachelor’s degree. This degree can help guide you in choosing the subject area you would like to teach in. It’s important to choose the right subject area for yourself. If you are unsure of what subject area to teach in, we suggest looking at our resources on "How to Choose the Right Subject Area".

Not all subjects are taught in every preparation program, and your decision could also be compounded by geographic restrictions, school availability in your area, or subject needs in your local districts. Feel free to look at the Texas Education Agency’s dashboard to see if a certain subject matter is available in your local area:

View TEA Subject Matter Availability by Location


There are many subject areas that are in high demand due to teacher shortages in those content areas. These shortages vary from district to district, and could lead to elevated opportunities for teacher candidates when applying for their first teaching job. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Student Loans online tool helps find shortage areas in your district:

View Teach for Texas Shortage Areas

How to Enroll in an Educator Preparation Program

Once you know the subject area and grade level you would like to pursue for your certification, you are ready to find an Educator Preparation Program. The Texas Education Agency provides a dashboard that lists accredited Educator Preparation Programs. 

Every program will have different requirements for their students to obtain a teaching certificate. Many of these requirements are state-mandated, but some may reflect the standards of the university. We highly recommend choosing several programs to review and speaking with their program coordinator, so that you understand what is expected from you from start to finish.

Find an Educator Preparation Program

Review Commended Educator Preparation Programs

What to Expect from Your Alternative Certification Program

Program requirements for courses, grade point average, and clinical teaching hours will differ depending on the alternative certification program you choose. While some of the requirements reflect the standards of the program, some are also state-mandated, and you can expect each to require the following:

If you are seeking certification in a subject area based on your academic major, then many programs will only need your transcripts, while others will require the passing of the Pre-Admission Content Test (PACT). If your GPA was at or below a 2.5, or if you did not complete at least 12 semester credit hours in the subject area of the certificate you are seeking (15 hours for certification in math or science above 7th grade), you will be required to take the PACT prior to admission.

Many Alternative Certification Programs housed in universities require admission to the university as well.

Your program will provide you with at least 300 hours (20 semester credit hours) of coursework and training that will provide you with the necessary skills to manage your classroom, as well as prepare and teach your lessons.

As part of your program requirements, you will either need to complete a Clinical Teaching experience or gain an Internship.

  • Clinical Teaching Experience

    If you choose a Clinical Teaching experience, you will be placed in a classroom to work alongside a lead teacher, who acts as a mentor throughout the duration of your Clinical Teaching. You can expect a minimum of 14 weeks in your residency as a Clinical Teacher, though there are many programs that extend this duration in order to further prepare teacher candidates for the classroom.

    Prior to beginning your Clinical Teaching, you must complete 30 hours (2 semester credit hours) of field-based experience and 150 hours (10 semester credit hours) of coursework and/or training.

    Clinical teachers are not employed by the district where they teach and do not usually receive a salary or benefits, nor do they require intern or probationary certificates.
     
  • Internship

    Some programs allow you to complete a one-year internship as part of the program. Candidates’ first year of teaching will meet the internship requirement.

    As an intern, you will be placed in a classroom as a full-time, paid teacher intern and will be considered the teacher of record for the classroom. Internships are a minimum of one full school year.

    Prior to your internship, you must pass all the appropriate content and pedagogy exams (see “Pass the appropriate exams” below), apply and be approved for a probationary or intern certificate which is valid for one calendar year, and complete a fingerprinting and background check.

Before taking any exams, your program must authorize you for registration.

You will need to pass the TExES content area test for your subject area(s).

You will also need to pass the edTPA performance-based assessment (during the 2020-2023 pilot) or the TExES pedagogical and professional responsibilities (PPR) exam. If you are unsure whether to choose the edTPA or the PPR and your program offers either one to you, we recommend reviewing our resources on the edTPA pilot.

Once you have completed all the coursework, teaching experiences, and examination requirements as outlined in your certification plan, then you are ready to apply for a standard certificate. You will need to confirm with your program that you are ready, and once your program recommends you for certification, you will be able to apply online.

All Texas teachers are required to complete a criminal background check and fingerprinting.

Once the Texas Education Agency approves your application, you will be certified and eligible to teach in a Texas classroom!

Still not sure this is the right program pathway? Head back to step one to learn more about other options.

View Program Pathways