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Learn more about the process for becoming certified to teach in the Massachusetts region.

Becoming Certified to Teach

Through our partnerships with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Boston University, Teach For America Massachusetts is proud to have supported nearly 1,000 educators over the past 10 years in gaining the credentials they need to pursue a lifetime of leadership in education.


Massachusetts corps members receive a five-year non-renewable Provisional license prior to their first day of teaching. In order to qualify for the Provisional license, all corps members are required to:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree
  • Pass the Communication and Literacy Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL) prior to their first day of teaching
  • Pass a subject test MTEL prior to their first day of teaching—the subject test is determined by your content placement and our School & Community Partnerships Team will provide guidance for which test to register for and take
  • Pass the Foundations of Reading MTEL if teaching Elementary or Special Education
  • Earn their Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Endorsement through coursework during our summer institute prior to teaching
  • Pay a $100 fee to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for the first license application ($25 fee for subsequent license applications, Provisional or Initial)

Then, over their two years in the corps, all corps members will participate in the Teach For America Massachusetts alternative certification program to complete licensure coursework at a discounted cost through our university partner, Boston University, and earn their Initial license. The Initial license is valid for five years (renewable once), and is required to ultimately attain a Professional license.

For more information on Massachusetts Teacher Licensure, visit the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education Office of Educator Licensure.


Up-front certification costs will total about $880. This includes initial testing and licensure fees. Our Initial licensure program costs vary, and range on average from $6,000 - $11,000, mainly comprising of Boston University coursework tuition.

You may be able to offset ongoing certification costs with an AmeriCorps education award.

Covering initial costs can be difficult, so Teach For America offers need-based funding packages of no-interest loans and grants to enable corps members in all financial situations to join the corps.

Transferring Your License

If you've already obtained a teaching license through a college/university or other licensure program, you’ll need the following in order to be eligible for a license transfer application:

  • Teaching license in good-standing
  • 3+ years of verified, full-time teaching experience

Master's Degree Option

Teach For America Massachusetts partners with Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development to provide corps members and alumni the opportunity to obtain a master of education (EdM) in curriculum and teaching on reduced tuition. The master’s degree is open to both current corps members and alumni, and allows students to craft a course of study that aligns with their educational interests.

The program is a total of 36 credits of coursework and takes corps members a total of two years to complete.

Teach For America Training

The Massachusetts Institute Experience

The summer before you begin teaching, Massachusetts corps members will attend the Massachusetts institute. This intensive, seven-week pre-service training program operates in partnership with local school districts, and supports you in building the skills you need to be an effective first-year teacher. In addition to developing your teaching and leadership skills, institute provides you with opportunities to collaborate with your peers and build the relationships with colleagues, staff, and community members that will be crucial to your success in the corps.

Our Massachusetts institute runs from mid-June through the end of July. Our corps members live at University of Massachusetts Lowell and teach summer school in Lawrence Public Schools.

Corps members live together for the duration of institute in a campus environment, and spend their days teaching summer school at a local partner site and taking part in intensive professional development. You will learn to create and deliver effective lessons, engage in frequent feedback conversations with a coach, and learn how to foster an inclusive classroom environment where all students can succeed.

Given the accelerated pace of institute, as well as state licensure requirements, all corps members are expected to be fully present for the entire duration of institute. Read more about the institute experience.

Teach For America covers housing, food, and transportation to and from daily training during summer institute. However, you should anticipate additional certification and moving costs during this time. As with any new job, you should prepare for expenses that might arise before your first paycheck. Covering these costs can be difficult, so Teach For America offers need-based funding packages of no-interest loans and grants to enable corps members in all financial situations to join the corps.

Beyond Institute…

Your summer institute training is only the beginning! We are excited to offer a thoughtful, practical series of trainings and experiences over the two-year corps experience that will give you the skills and perspective you need to lead a career of impact in education. Key components of our two-year teacher preparation program include:

Ongoing Coaching and Support

Our team of professional teacher coaches, called Managers of Teacher Leadership Development (MTLDs), will regularly observe you, provide feedback, and help you tackle challenges and celebrate victories. Your MTLD will be your guide and coach each year and support you in becoming the best teacher you can for your students.

Boston University Coursework

The Wheelock College of Education & Human Development offers a range of courses taught by leading experts in pedagogy and child development. Most corps members opt into our master’s program as well.

TFA Professional Development Sessions

Led by our regional team of coaches and instructional leaders, you’ll engage in a range of learning experiences that will both challenge and support you to become the best educator possible for your students.

Frequently Asked Questions