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

Every corps member that teaches in South Carolina must be designated as Highly Qualified by the state of South Carolina. To receive this designation, there are specific steps corps members must complete that will lead to initial certification during their two years in the corps. Teach For America South Carolina will provide guidance and support for all of the necessary steps toward initial certification.

If a corps member chooses to remain in the classroom beyond their two-year commitment, there is an opportunity to pursue an optional professional teaching certificate by meeting an additional set of qualifications. Specific information is outlined below.  

Becoming Certified to Teach

What are the requirements for a South Carolina initial teaching certification?

By the first day of school, all corps members must:

  1. Pass the Praxis II exam
  2. Submit an application and $105 fee to the state of South Carolina Department of Education
  3. Complete Darkness to Light child abuse online training
  4. Complete a state and FBI background check
  5. Submit official transcripts with degree conferred and at least 2.5 GPA
  6. Submit social security card

What happens to my certification after the corps?

Your initial teaching certificate in South Carolina will remain valid for a third year in a South Carolina classroom, if you decide to continue to teach an additional year.

Once you have completed three years in the classroom, you will be eligible to advance to a Professional License, the final level of licensure in South Carolina, if you have met state professional development and testing requirements (many of which you have the option to complete during your two years in the corps).

Alumni are responsible for submitting the application to advance their license, though our team will support you with information and guidance on the necessary steps.

What are the steps for a South Carolina professional certification?

Professional Certification is the final level of licensure in South Carolina that will allow you to continue to teach in a South Carolina classroom as a fully certified teacher.

The steps to obtain your Professional Certification are:

  1. Teach for at least one additional year beyond corps commitment in a Teach For America South Carolina affiliated district
  2. Complete nine credit hours (“certification courses”) with Teach For America South Carolina’s university partner, Francis Marion University
  3. Pass the Principles of Learning and Teaching Praxis Exam
  4. Pass the district teacher evaluation process

What if I already have my license or am already enrolled in a teacher certification program?

All corps members, no matter their background, must adhere to the same incoming standards to achieve Highly Qualified status and be issued an initial teaching certification through Teach For America.

What if I’ve already taken state exams outside of South Carolina? Can I use that test or scores?

The only scores accepted are those from the  Praxis II exam. If you’ve taken that exam, you can have those scores sent to the South Carolina Department of Education and Teach For America South Carolina. All other exams are ineligible.

Graduate School 

A professional teaching certificate and/or master’s degree in education is not required in your two years of the corps. However, South Carolina corps members have the option to pursue both.

Do I need a master’s degree to teach?

A master’s degree is not required to teach in South Carolina but corps members have the option to purse one.

(Optional) Francis Marion University (M. Ed. Instructional Accommodation)

Although a masters degree is not required, we partner with Francis Marion University (FMU) to offer an optional master’s of education in Instructional Accommodation at a heavily discounted rate that can be completed in one academic year. Courses from FMU are delivered virtually. Most corps members begin the program in the second semester of their first year of teaching and complete it in the first semester of their second year of teaching (11 months total).

The cost of the full degree is ~$7,000. Francis Marion University does not require any up front tuition costs for corps members who choose to use their AmeriCorps Education Award to pay for their degree.

Please note: professional certification in South Carolina is only valid through Francis Marion University for Teach For America corps members.

(Optional) Francis Marion University (Professional Teaching Certificate)

Corps members have the option to pursue a professional teaching certificate by taking nine credit hours deemed “certification courses” through Francis Marion University. These “certification courses” can also be applied toward a master’s degree in education, if desired.

(Optional) Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University has established a national partnership with Teach For America that allows corps members to enroll at a discounted rate, but this program does not provide your professional teaching certificate in South Carolina. If you choose to pursue a full degree at JHU, you must still take nine credit hours at Francis Marion University in order to be issued a professional teaching certificate.

All information regarding this program can be found on the Johns Hopkins University website.

TFA Training

What to Expect

Teach For America South Carolina corps members typically attend several training sessions during the summer before their first year. Here's the schedule: 


Induction occurs in South Carolina directly before summer institute in May or June. This one-week session is designed to familiarize South Carolina corps members with the history of education in the state, and allow them to meet their fellow corps members and regional staff, lay the foundation for culturally responsive pedagogy, and prepare for success at institute.

Summer Institute

Institute is a rigorous, hands-on experience that prepares corps members with the foundational knowledge and skills that you’ll continue to develop and hone throughout your time in the corps. During this week five-week institute, which occurs during June and July, corps members teach summer school to students and take sessions on classroom management, lesson planning, and other topics to prepare for the classroom. 


After institute, corps members have a two- to three-week break in July to move and get settled in South Carolina before orientation .


Our two-day August orientation is an opportunity for our corps to gather together, better understand the region, our schools, and each other.

District Pre-Service Training

In August, you'll attend district-led onboarding specific to your school community for one week.

Ongoing Professional Development & Coaching

In South Carolina, managers of coaching support corps members through the Transformational Coaching Model adapted from Elena Aguilar’s The Art of Coaching during their two years of service. 

Transformational Coaching Model:

We incorporate strategies that are directive and facilitative as well as cognitive. 

We work to bring together these three domains to leverage change and corps member leadership inside and outside of the classroom. 

Transformational Coaching focuses on systems thinking and it helps corps members to identify the structures that are the underlying factors of educational inequity. 

Moving to South Carolina

After institute ends, corps members will have approximately one to two weeks before they need to be back in South Carolina for orientation. Most corps members choose to use this time to return home and move their belongings to South Carolina. You will be expected to officially make your move to South Carolina by the beginning of orientation, and will stay through the beginning of the school year. You may also choose to move your belongings to South Carolina before induction, if you wish to procure storage for these items.

Estimated Costs

Please consider the following costs when preparing to join Teach For America South Carolina:

  • Travel to induction (flight/mileage)
  • Travel to/from institute (flight/mileage)
  • Moving costs to South Carolina
  • Monthly personal expenses