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How and When to Get Your Professional License

In Massachusetts, after teaching for five years under an Initial teacher license, you are required to obtain a professional license. You may apply for this license after three years of teaching in a public or private school as the teacher of record. The state requirements for the professional license are set forth in regulations 603 CMR 7.04(c).

The professional license is valid for five years of teaching and must be renewed every five years by completing professional activities and earning Professional Development Points (PDPs). 

A professional license requires both experiential and educational components, reflecting the depth and/or breadth of content knowledge in the instructional field.

  • Experience Requirements
    • Possession of an initial license in the same field as the professional license sought
    • At least three full years of employment under the initial license (in a public or private school), as the teacher of record
    • Completion of a one-year induction program with a mentor
    • At least 50 hours of experience being mentored beyond the induction year

    The school district employing the candidate is responsible for providing the first-year mentoring and 50 hours of mentoring beyond the first year. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) holds candidates harmless for the induction requirement if their employing district did not provide them with appropriate induction support.

    To document employment and mentoring, candidates can have their district fill out and submit the Verification of School-Based Employment Induction/Mentoring form, available through the licensure forms and guidelines page of the ESE website.

  • Education Requirements

    The focus of this requirement is on content-based coursework (see subject matter knowledge requirements for your license area). Deepen knowledge within the subject matter knowledge of the license, either on one area or across several. You must have one of the following:

    • Completion of a master's degree program approved for a professional license (Lesley University offers many programs)
    • For those who already hold any master's degree, completion of an approved, non-degree, 12-credit program
    • Completion of an approved district-based program for Professional license, or program leading to master teacher status, or a department-sponsored Performance Assessment Program, when available; or
    • Twelve Credit Option: For those who already hold any Master's degree, completion of 12 credits of graduate-level courses in the content or subject matter knowledge of the license. Courses from a licensure program in Reading or Moderate Disabilities can be used to advance certain Initial license to Professional (see NOTE). Learn more about the 12-credit Post-Master's Option for professional license.
    • These may include credits earned prior to the application for the license, including credits taken for an initial license master's program, or another master's program that was related to the licensure area.
    • The subject matter knowledge for each license is posted on the ESE website. Candidates should familiarize themselves with this when considering coursework that will advance the Initial license to Professional.
    • Candidates can take additional coursework and ask for it to be pre-approved by applying for the Professional license and then sending official course descriptions to the Department.

    ESE pre-approval forms and Subject Matter Knowledge reference guide.

    NOTE: A licensure program (M.Ed. or Licensure-Only) for Reading Specialist may be used to obtain a specialist license and advance an Initial license in Early Childhood, Elementary, English Language Learners, Teacher of Students with Moderate and Severe Disabilities, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, and Teacher of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing to Professional.

    A licensure program (M.Ed. or Licensure-Only) for Teachers of Students with Moderate Disabilities may be used to obtain an additional license and advance an initial license in Early Childhood and Elementary to a professional license.

  • How to Apply
    • Apply and pay for the professional license online through your ELAR portal.
    • If you completed an approved professional license master’s degree program at Lesley University, submit a Request for Endorsement to our office after degree conferral. Certification will submit an electronic endorsement through ELAR and you will receive a confirmation email from ESE once your electronic endorsement has been received.
    • After degree conferral, request a copy of your Official Transcript from Lesley's Registrar's Office. Scan both sides and upload it to your ELAR.
    • If you did not complete an approved professional license program, request a copy of your official transcript (with master's degree conferral date) from Lesley's Registrar's Office. Scan both sides and upload it to ELAR.
    • If using the 12-credit Post-Master's Option, you may need to upload official course descriptions for 12 credits that relate to the subject matter knowledge of your initial license. Find PDF of SMK guidelines here. To document employment and mentoring, candidates can have their district fill out and submit the Verification of School-Based Employment Induction/Mentoring form, available through the licensure forms and guidelines page of the ESE website.

Renew/Recertify Your Professional License Every Five Years

To keep your Massachusetts professional teacher or specialist license current, you must renew your license every five calendar years. You will need to earn 150 Professional Development Points (PDPs) in the primary professional license area every 5 years, with a minimum of 90 points in content and 10 points in one topic. Each additional license area must have 30 points in content. The content for your license is defined in the state regulations 603 CMR 7.06, Subject Matter Knowledge of License.

See renewal/recertification guidelines, regulations, and application detailed on the Executive Office of Education's Advancing, Extending, or Renewing a License. The page also gives information on how to earn and report professional development points.

Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement: Stand-Alone Course

If you did not complete a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Endorsement course in an initial licensure program and wish to obtain the endorsement, you may take a stand-alone SEI course. This is appropriate for out-of-state educators coming to Massachusetts, in-state teachers with an initial or professional license returning to teaching, recent graduates not employed as a Teacher of Record and therefore not eligible for the district SEI course, candidates for the Reading Specialist License or teachers with an initial license adding another initial license or professional license, or in-service educators who have not earned a SEI endorsement. MA ESE information about SEI stand-alone course.

  • How to Renew
    • Apply online for renewal or reactivation and pay through your ELAR account.
    • Different activities earn varying amounts of PDPs. A 3-credit graduate course in the subject matter knowledge of the license is equivalent to 67.5 PDPs. Refer to the specific Subject Matter Knowledge of your licenses described in the State Regulations.

    If you are employed by a Massachusetts public school, your supervisor must endorse your Professional Development plan; if you are not, you may submit plans directly to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, without a supervisor's approval. The documentation does not have to be sent to ESE,  but you must keep the records for five years from the date of recertification, and it is subject to an audit review by ESE.

  • Earning PDPs at Lesley

    We are a state-approved professional development provider, offering courses, seminars, institutes, workshops, and other activities that fulfill Massachusetts recertification requirements. Professional development activities are available in a wide range of formats, on weekends, weekdays, and evenings, on campus and at school sites. See our events listing for upcoming offerings. Graduate courses are an excellent way to accumulate PDPs (67.5 PDPs for 3-credit courses) and deepen teacher knowledge in the field. The complete University course descriptions can be accessed by going to the Graduate Academic Catalog and checking the Course Catalog portal for courses we're offering in a given semester.

  • 12-Credit Post Master's Option

    If you have a master's degree from a regionally-accredited institution and a Massachusetts initial teacher license, you can identify twelve graduate credits (four 3-credit Lesley University courses) in the Subject Matter Knowledge of your license (see Section 7.06 of MA ESE Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval) to acquire a professional license.

    Learn more about this option for professional licensure.

Adding Another License

If you have an initial elementary or early childhood education license and would like to add a license in moderate disabilities or reading specialist, you can take one of our license-only programs, and use some of that coursework to move your Initial license to the Professional level.

For an example of how to get information on adding a license:

Go to Licensure Requirements Tool, fill in drop-downs, click "next," and look for the most recent entry for your situation. To add an early childhood license to an existing elementary license, for example, you are adding a license to a new field and grade level. You will see, for example, "2005: Educators in Massachusetts earning an additional license in a new field at a new level." See the requirements for your particular inquiry.

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

Contact the Certification Office