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About Certification for Applicants Prepared Outside of Pennsylvania
Certification for Applicants Prepared Outside of Pennsylvania

These questions and answers are based on current regulations 22 PA Code Chapter 49, Certification of Professional Personnel of September 1999.

  1. Is a PDE certificate required in Pennsylvania?
    Yes, any professional serving in the public schools must hold an appropriate valid Pennsylvania certificate.

  2. What type/area certificate is required?
    Types of certificates are: Instructional, Intern, Vocational, Educational Specialist, Supervisory, Administrative and Letters of Eligibility. Please refer to Types of Certificates. Individuals must maintain an active certificate as mandated by Act 48 of 1999 (continuing professional education) to be employed in a PA public school system.

  3. How do I qualify for a certificate?
    Candidates who have completed state approved certification programs at out-of-state colleges may have their credentials reviewed directly by the Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality by submitting the application packet. If the evaluation by the Bureau reveals minor deficiencies in the candidate's preparation program, the Bureau will prescribe the additional requirements. If a major deficiency is found, applicants will be advised to contact a college with an approved certification program.

    A graduate of an out-of-state college may be eligible for certification in Pennsylvania provided that:

    • The recommending college has a state-approved preparation/certification program in the area of certification requested;
    • The applicant has received a recommendation from the dean or department of education chairperson of the preparing college (provision is made for this recommendation on the application form), or possesses a teaching certificate comparable to the Pennsylvania Level I certificate;
    • The preparation program completed by the applicant is comparable to approved programs offered by Pennsylvania colleges. Certificates are issued only for major areas of study;
    • The applicant applying for his/her Pennsylvania Certificate obtains a satisfactory score on the tests required by Pennsylvania and,
    • Additional information may be required if the candidate has not: 1) attained a teaching certificate in the state; 2) taught two years; 3) completed a state approved program and student teaching in a state participating in the Interstate Agreement in the United States. In these instances, a candidate may be required to have a GPA of 3.0.

Note: Special Education PK-8 and 7-12 applicants are required to hold an appropriate PA Instructional content certificate such as Early Childhood N-3, Elementary K-6, Grade PreK-4, Grade 4-8, Reading Specialist K-12 or secondary 7-12 area.

  1. Does Pennsylvania have an Interstate Certification Agreement and does it cover all areas of certification?
    Pennsylvania has signed an Interstate Agreement with other states/jurisdictions based upon the mutually agreed-upon conditions of that contract . It should be noted, however, that in all cases, candidates for Pennsylvania certification must complete the tests required by Pennsylvania. In order for this Bureau to evaluate an application using the Interstate Agreement, the candidate must provide verification that he/she has:

    • Been awarded a baccalaureate degree
    • Completed a state-approved teacher education program, including a supervised student teaching experience, leading to a comparable or broader certificate in the member state
    • Received the recommendation from the certification officer at the college or university on an application form designated by this Bureau
    • Complied with all ancillary requirements, including Pennsylvania required tests and college minimum grade-point average in effect at the time of application
    • Met all Pennsylvania requirements related to citizenship as well as moral, ethical and physical/mental fitness

Candidates who possess a valid and comparable (in subject and grade level scope) certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards(Word) will be issued a Professional Instructional II certificate. The applicant will not be asked to complete any additional requirements for that certificate, including tests.

The following sections of the Interstate Agreement have not been signed by Pennsylvania:

    • Alternative preparation or alternative certification
    • Certification and experience without having completed an approved program
    • Vocational

Further information on the Interstate Agreement can be found at NASDTEC.

The Interstate Agreement pertains to Instructional, Educational Specialist, Supervisory and Administrative areas.

  1. Can my certificate be "transferred" to Pennsylvania under the Interstate Agreement?
    Out of state certificates are never "transferred" into Pennsylvania. The NASDTEC Interstate Agreement facilitates the movement of educators among the states and other jurisdictions that are members of NASDTEC and have signed the agreement. A complete application must be submitted to go through the evaluation process. A determination will be made whether an applicant meets Pennsylvania's certification requirements at the time of evaluation.

  2. What tests do I need to obtain a Pennsylvania certificate?
    Applicants requesting certification must complete the appropriate Pennsylvania testing requirements. Please refer to Testing Requirements in Pennsylvania, which indicates the appropriate tests and qualifying scores for Pennsylvania tests.

    If you can verify two years of teaching experience in the content area for which you applied, you may need only the appropriate content area test.

    Applicants must meet the qualifying scores in effect at the time of application, regardless of the score in effect at the time the applicant takes the test.

    Appropriate passing test scores will be accepted if the tests were taken and the test score meets the qualifying test score in effect at the time the test was discontinued, or replaced. Please refer to CSPG No. 21 - Testing for further information. Please be certain to include your social security number on your tests and be sure to designate the Pennsylvania Department of Education as a score recipient when registering for the tests. To be official, test scores must be received by this office directly from Educational Testing Service (ETS), Evaluation Services-Pearson or from ACTFL Language Testing International Service.

  3. Can the test I took for another state be substituted for the required Pennsylvania exams?
    All applicants must take the exact tests required by Pennsylvania. No substitutions or waivers are acceptable.

  4. Can I be exempt from taking the Pennsylvania exams?
    No one is exempt from taking the required tests for certification except applicants holding certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards . All applicants must take the mandatory tests required by Pennsylvania.

  5. If I am from a foreign country may I be eligible for public school teacher certification in Pennsylvania?
    Yes, a person educated in a foreign country may be eligible for public school teacher certification in Pennsylvania provided the applicant meets all the following conditions:
    • Holds a degree in higher education that is the equivalent of a baccalaureate degree earned in the United States
    • Has completed a teacher preparation program that meets Pennsylvania standards
    • Has obtained satisfactory scores on the tests required by Pennsylvania
    • Has demonstrated proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in the English language by obtaining satisfactory scores on the English Proficiency test (Applicants whose native language is not English or does not hold a degree from the United States must take this test). See English Proficiency test information
    • Is a citizen of the United States or holds a resident alien (green card) visa
    • Has filed a Declaration of Intent to become a citizen, unless the applicant is seeking certification to teach a foreign language, and
    • Meets all other requirements provided by law
  1. May I have my college send my transcripts directly to PDE?
    In order to avoid misrouting of transcripts within PDE, transcripts should never be sent directly from the college or university. All official college sealed transcripts should be included or mailed with the cover sheet from the TIMS application for which the transcripts are being submitted.

  2. Must I include my background clearances with my application for certification?
    No, background clearances must be completed and submitted to a school district before hire.

  3. How do I apply for more then one certificate area?
    A separate application must be submitted through the online Teacher Information Management System (TIMS) for each area of certification requested.

  4. How can I check the status of my application once it has been submitted to PDE?
    An applicant can check the status of an application by logging in to TIMS and viewing the status of the application on your dashboard.

  5. May I be issued a temporary certificate while my application is being reviewed?
    No, there are no provisions for a temporary certificate while an application is under review.

  6. What do the terms "Level I" and "Level II" mean?
    Pennsylvania currently has two levels of certification. The initial or provisional certificate, Level I, is valid for a specific number of service years, during which time you must complete established requirements. Upon completion of those requirements, the Level I may be converted to a Level II permanent certificate. If not converted, the Level I lapses. You may not be employed in a Pennsylvania public school with a lapsed certificate.

  7. When will my Level I certificate expire?
    Pennsylvania Level I (provisional) certificates are valid for actual years of professional service as an educator, not calendar years. For additional information refer to CSPG 7.

  8. How long is my certificate valid?
    An Instructional I or Educational Specialist I is valid for a maximum of 6 service years in Pennsylvania. If issued in accordance with 1987 regulations, an Administrative I or Supervisory I is valid for a maximum of 3 service years in Pennsylvania. Issued after January 1, 2008, an Administrative I certificate is valid for 5 years of employment as a principal or principal assistance during which completion of an induction program addressing 3 core leadership standards must be completed. If not converted before the end of the applicable service period, the certificate will lapse. An emergency permit will not be issued to a person with a lapsed certificate.
    Note: Administrative I is in the process of being updated

  9. How do I add a subject area to my existing/current certificate?
    To add an additional area to a valid Pennsylvania Professional Certificate, you must complete an approved education program in that subject at a college or university and pass the speciality area test. Contact the education department at one of the approved colleges/universities for additional information on certification programs.

    In some cases, you can add an Instructional area to an existing Instructional Certificate if you take and pass the appropriate content test. For additional information refer to Adding an Instructional Area to a PA Certificate .

  10. How do I find a teaching position in Pennsylvania?
    School staffing is the responsibility of the chief school administrator in each school district. You should apply directly to the chief school administrator at the school district. Further information can be found at Education Job Vacancies in Pennsylvania.

  11. How do I contact the Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality?
    You may contact us by mail at the following address:

    Pennsylvania Department of Education
    Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality
    333 Market Street, 12th Floor
    Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
    Telephone: 717-728-3224

    Click to access the out of state application booklet
For additional information, please contact:

Division of Certification Services

Pennsylvania Department of Education - School Leadership and Teacher Quality
333 Market Street | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 717.728.3224

Certification, Application or Technical Questions - Please submit a Help Desk Ticket.