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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 listed categories 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
    • Obtain a Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement (SEI): www.doe.mass.edu/retell (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.

    Lesley offers Master of Education (M.Ed.) degrees leading to Initial licensure in Digital Literacy and Computer Science, Early Childhood, Elementary, English as a Second Language (ESL), Middle School, High School, Moderate and Severe Disabilities, and Visual Art. For those with a prior initial license, we also offer Master’s degrees leading to an Initial license for Reading Specialist, Instructional Technology Specialist, School Counselor, and School Adjustment Counselor. Once you have your Initial license, you should begin the process to earn a Professional 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 for Professional License if you already have a Master's degree)

    For the educator with a Bachelor’s degree and an Initial license, Lesley offers Approved Master’s programs leading to Professional licensure. Programs include Early Childhood, Elementary, 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

    To keep your license current, you must renew every five years after earning the Professional license, through a variety of professional activities. For instance, one 3-credit graduate course, appropriate to the license, is 67.5 Professional Development Points (PDP) of a required 90 PDPs.

    Earn at least 15 PDPs in: subject matter knowledge; Sheltered English Instruction/English as a Second Language pedagogy (professional skills and knowledge); training in strategies for effective schooling for students with disabilities/instruction of students with diverse learning styles. The remaining required PDPs may be earned through any combination of “elective” activities that address other educational issues and topics that improve student learning, additional content, or pedagogy. The renewal of each additional area license(s) will require 30 PDPs, of which 15 out of the 30 must be content related

  • 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