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To teach in a public school in Massachusetts, you will need an educator license, and within a specified amount of time will need to renew or reach the next level of licensure to keep teaching. If you are wondering how this works, see the categories below for an explanation of each license level, including when you need each license, what the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA ESE) requires, the ways you can get it, and for how long it is valid. 

  • Initial License

    This license is obtained by completing an approved Initial license program, through which you will strengthen pedagogical and content area skills. Lesley endorses candidates who complete an approved Lesley Initial license program.

    To obtain the license, you must:

    • Hold/earn a BA or BS degree from regionally-accredited institution
    • Successfully complete appropriate Massachusetts Tests for Educator License (MTELs) (see our MTEL page for resources and support)
    • Complete an approved program of study for an Initial license (see below for options)
    • Obtain a Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement (SEI): (included in your Lesley program of study)
    • Alternatively, you may acquire an Initial license if you have a Provisional license and are employed by a school district as a teacher or apprentice, and will complete a district-approved program within five years

    At the undergraduate level, we offer Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees in Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle School, High School, and Special Education, all leading to Initial licensure. We also offer dual degree programs, through which you can earn your BA, Initial license, and an accelerated Master's Degree.

    For graduate education, we offer Master of Education (M.Ed.) degrees leading to Initial licensure in Early Childhood, Elementary, English as a Second Language (ESL), Middle School, High School, Moderate Disabilities, Severe Disabilities, and Visual Art, as well as in Reading Specialist, Digital Literacy and Computer Science, School Guidance, and School Adjustment Counseling. For those seeking Initial license only (without Master's degree), we have programs in Special Education, Specialist Teacher of Reading, ESL, Digital Literacy, Elementary Education. All but Elementary require an Initial license.

    The Initial license is valid for five years of teaching.* Once you have your Initial license, you may begin the process leading to a Professional license, which is required after teaching under the Initial license for five years. You may begin coursework toward your Professional license immediately while teaching under the Initial license.

    *Renewable one time only, through decision by MA ESE Commissioner; requires being employed 5 years under valid Initial license, presentation of evidence of sound moral character, and submission of plan for how candidate will fulfill requirements for Professional license.

    Please note that time taken off from teaching does not count toward the five years.

  • Professional License

    You need this license after teaching under an Initial license for five years as the teacher of record (main teacher in a classroom) in a public school. A Professional license indicates deepened content knowledge. If you are applying for a Professional license, it must be in the same classroom level and type as your Initial license. Lesley endorses candidates who complete an approved Lesley Professional license program.

    To obtain the license, you must:

    • Hold a BA or BS degree from a regionally-accredited institution
    • Hold an Initial license
    • Have completed three years of public or private school teaching experience under the Initial license, a one-year mentor induction plan (concurrent with year one), and 50 hours mentoring beyond the first year
    • If you don’t have a Master’s Degree, complete an approved Master’s program leading to Professional Licensure (see other options below if you already have a Master's degree)

    Lesley offers Master’s programs leading to Professional Licensure, including in Early Childhood, Elementary, Visual Art, Middle School English, Science, and Mathematics.

    The Professional license is valid for five calendar years and is renewable every five years. You may begin coursework toward this license as soon as you obtain your Initial license.

    Other Options for Professional License

    Twelve-Credit Post Master’s Option for Professional Licensure: If you have a Master’s Degree and Initial license, completion of 12 credits of graduate coursework in the subject matter knowledge of the Initial license can be used to meet part of the requirements for Professional license in that same field. Read more about the Twelve-Credit Post Masters's Option »

    Adding another Initial license that can move an existing Initial license to Professional: Completing an approved licensure program for Reading Specialist or Moderate Disabilities will enable candidates to add another initial license and use 12 of those credits to advance some Initial licenses to Professional.

  • Renewing Your Professional License

    You must renew your professional license every five calendar years. This is something you do on your own. You prepare by developing a district-approved professional development plan that aligns your needs, the district's needs, and the area of your license, and that includes a plan for the necessary 150 Professional Development Points (PDPs) gained through various activities. For example, a three-credit graduate course is 67.5 PDPs.

    You must also earn at least 15 PDPs related to Sheltered English Immersion or English as a Second Language and at least 15 PDPs related to training in strategies for effective schooling for students with disabilities and instruction of students with diverse learning styles.

  • Applying for an Extension to Your Initial License

    If your Initial license is about to expire and you have not yet obtained a Professional license, you will need to apply for your Initial license again. You can do this through your ELAR account. The system will tell you that you already hold the license, and will ask you if you wish to apply for an extension. Complete the application and make payment. 

  • Optional Provisional License - Before Initial

    You may want to obtain an optional Provisional license if you are hired or expect to be hired by a school system to teach and have no prior teaching license. Because Lesley does not endorse for this license, you would pursue the license on your own through MA ESE.
    To obtain the license, you must:

    • Hold a BA or BS degree from regionally-accredited institution
    • Successfully complete appropriate Massachusetts Tests for Educator License (MTELs)
    • Take specialized coursework, if you are looking for a Provisional license in Early Childhood or Elementary. Any coursework taken for this license should be part of an approved Initial license program. Lesley offers Initial licensure programs and coursework in all of these areas.

    This license is valid for five years of teaching and is not renewable. You should start an approved program leading to Initial license while teaching under this license.

See Charting Your Path to Educator Licensure (PDF) for a visual representation of the information on this page.

Although we attempt to ensure certification information is accurate and complete, contents are subject to change.

Contact the Certification Office