Alternative Teaching Certification in Pennsylvania


Currently, the Pennsylvania Department of Education recognizes two alternative pathways to teacher certification: Teacher Intern Certification Programs and American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE).

Interested in learning about the traditional approach? Contact schools offering teaching certification programs in Pennsylvania.

Alternative Certification Requirements

Education Requirements

Intern Program: To enter into the Intern Program, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in an area in which the state offers teacher certification. You must also have a 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA and at least 6 semester hour credits of college-level Mathematics, semester hour credits in college-level English Composition, and 3 semester hour credits in college-level English/American Literature. You may then enroll in a Teacher Intern Program at a participating college/university, and remain continuously enrolled while teaching under an Intern Certificate. You have three years to complete program requirements and achieve Level I certification.

ABCTE: You must hold a bachelor’s degree and seek certification in one of the following secondary (Grades 7-12) areas: English Language Arts, Mathematics, General Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. You will have one year to complete the educational requirements at Point Park University in Pittsburgh (currently the only participating university in PA) and must also teach full-time during this time under a Temporary Teaching Permit. You will be mentored while teaching. Educational requirements that must be completed in this year include 2 continuing education seminars and 2 graduate level education pedagogy courses. After you have completed the program, you will apply for Level I certification.


Intern Program: Before applying for an Intern Certificate, you must pass the Praxis I Basic Skills Exam (and Content Knowledge Test for all K-6 and K-12 certification areas), plus the Praxis II exam for your area of certification.

ABCTE: You must pass ABCTE examinations pertinent to your area of certification prior to enrolling in the program and being allowed to teach.

Experience Requirements

Intern Program: You must complete at least 12 weeks of student teaching portion in your Teacher Intern Program along with working in a school district under the Intern Certificate. Substitute teaching may be used to fulfill this requirement.

ABCTE: No experience is necessary to enroll in this program. Experience will be gained on-the-job in the year you teach full-time under the Temporary Teaching Permit.

Criminal History Background Check

Regardless of the pathway you choose to teacher certification in Pennsylvania, you must undergo certain background checks before you will be allowed to work with children in a state school system. These include a Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal Records Check, a Department of Public Welfare Child Abuse History Clearance, and a Federal Criminal History Record Information (CHRI). Your college program will give you instructions on how to proceed with these checks and fingerprinting. The Pennsylvania Department of Education will not issue your Temporary Teaching Permit or Intern Certificate until all three checks have cleared.

Contact Information

For information on colleges and universities participating in the Intern Program, click here.

For information on the university offering the ABCTE Program, click here.