Teacher Licensure & Requirements FAQ

  • There are legal requirements to becoming a teacher in BPS. We hope the resources below help you navigate them. 

  • What if I do not have an MA Teaching License?

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    Please see the "To Apply for a Massachusetts Educator License" section below. You must obtain this license before September of the current year in order to be hired.

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  • What if my teaching license is from another state?

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    You must still obtain an appropriate license in Massachusetts. If you completed a formal training program to earn your out-of-state credential, and then taught for at least three years under that credential, you may be eligible for the Massachusetts Temporary license, as long as you have not failed any MTELs.
    Please see the section "To Apply for a Massachusetts Educator License" to obtain a Temporary License.

    You must obtain this license before September of the current year in order to be hired.

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  • What if I have a Massachusetts Teaching License?

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    This license must:

    • be in the appropriate subject area and grade level for your teaching assignment.
    • not have expired by September of the current year

    Please note:

    • Any Temporary licenses are valid only for one year and are non-renewable.
    • Preliminary and Initial licenses are valid for five years of employment. 
    • Professional licenses are valid for five consecutive years. 
    • If your license has expired, go to "To Apply for a MA Educator License."

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  • Do I have to have a Massachusetts teacher license to be hired as a teacher?

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    Yes, first priority is given to teachers who hold a Massachusetts license in the appropriate subject area and grade level. Schools may, however, recommend for hire a recent college graduate or a strong candidate who will be completing Massachusetts licensure requirements by the following September.

    If your lack of a license is a matter of paperwork backed up at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE), the hiring principal/headmaster will alert the Office of Human Resources, who can submit a request for MADESE to expedite your licensure evaluation. The Office of Human Resources or MA DESE will contact you if any additional information is needed.

    Unlicensed individuals should consider applying for positions as substitute teachers or paraprofessionals. BPS offers a number of licensure supports to help promising substitutes and paraprofessionals earn teacher licensure and advance into teaching positions.

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  • What must I do to earn a new teacher license in Massachusetts?

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    Upon applying for your license at www.doe.mass.edu/licensure:

    • Your application will be evaluated by DESE
    • DESE will send you an email giving you specific instructions on what your options are and what you need to submit when you are finished meeting the requirements.
    • DESE will leave that application open until you qualify for the license; you will not need to reapply and you will not need to pay another application fee.
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  • Do I still have to take the MTEL if I took a praxis or licensure exam in another state?

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    While MTEL is still the primary exam accepted by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, MA DESE is currently accepting alternative assessments for some licensing exams. Please see DESE’s Pilot of Alternative Assessments to the MTEL” webpage for more information. Unless extended, this pilot program is scheduled to end on June 30, 2025.

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  • Which MTEL exams do I need to take?

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    The best way to determine this is by applying for the license you intend to pursue, and the DESE will send you an email identifying which tests you need. If you do not want to wait for the email, general information on requirements can be found using the MA DESE License Requirements Tool or the MA DESE “Subject Matter Test Requirements” webpage.

    * Boston Public Schools offers the Boston Teacher Residency (BTR) program as an alternative certification route to initial licensure.

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    • ▷ A bachelor's degree from a U.S. college or university. *For candidates who have an international degree, the BPS works with the Center for Educational Documentation (CED), which provides interpretation and assessment services for international degree holders. The CED can be contacted at 617.338.7171.

    • ▷ Current authorization to work in the United States. Candidates must have such authorization by their first day of employment.

    • ▷ Massachusetts Teaching License

To Apply for a Massachusetts Educator License

    1. Use the ELAR User Guide for step-by-step instructions

    2. Log in to ELAR to apply for the appropriate license

    3. Find out about the specific requirements for particular licenses. Candidates who have questions about licensure should contact the MDOE directly at 781.338.6600, Monday-Friday, 9:00AM to 4:45PM.

    4. Please apply for a license before asking the DESE for requirements.