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

Becoming Certified to Teach

In Washington, corps members must complete the following before they begin teaching:

  • Take and pass exams
  • Enroll in an alternative certification program during their two-year commitments
  • Apply for conditional certification through the State Superintendent’s Office

Certification Program

If you do not have a teaching license from another state (most corps members do not), you will need to enroll in coursework through the University of Washington U-ACT Certification Program. This is a one-year program that leads to a residency certificate.

By enrolling in U-ACT, you will be able to obtain a two-year conditional teaching certificate. In order to advance to a residency certificate, you will need to complete all coursework and pass the edTPA—the performance assessment required to obtain a full residency teaching certificate in Washington state.

U-ACT instructors observe corps members in the classroom and meet with them individually and in small content area groups to offer further support. Enrolling in the U-ACT program also requires corps members to work with a school district mentor. These mentors are experienced teachers in the district who tailor their support according to the needs of individual new teachers.

You will need to complete the U-ACT application process in partnership with Teach For America, only when directed to do so in the spring. You should not apply for the program on your own.


Corps members may be eligible to receive transitional funding and financial aid through AmeriCorps to help cover certification costs.

Transferring a Prior Teaching License

The process for transferring a license from another state can vary depending on which state you are transferring from and how you were certified. OSPI is the best point of contact for information on transferring your license to obtain a residency certificate (very likely the type of certificate you will apply for). They even have an “ask here” feature on the website 

Master's Degree Option

While not required, corps members can complete a master’s degree during their corps commitment through the University of Washington’s College of Education. Previously, corps members have pursued master's degree in curriculum and instruction. The University of Washington is hoping to expand more pathways to earning your master’s degree in two years.

Credits earned in the U-ACT program count towards a master's in teacher. The master's in teaching program is uniquely designed for corps members and others who complete the one-year U-ACT program. You can continue on directly into the program in year two of teaching, take time off and return later to complete to master's program, or choose not to obtain a master's at all.

If you choose another master's program, it may be possible to apply credits from U-ACT to other programs in the College of Education as well.

TFA Training


Washington corps members attend a five-week pre-service training institute in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from the middle of June to the middle of July.

During institute, corps members spend five weeks student-teaching at a school in Tulsa. Corps members teach in the morning and attend content and classroom culture sessions in the afternoon. Corps members are supported throughout the summer by a school team and multiple mentor teachers and coaches.

Coaching & Support at Institute

Faculty Advisor: A teacher mentor from the district who will be in the classroom with you each day you teach to provide support and coaching

Corps Member Advisor: A teacher mentor who will observe your teaching and meet with you about goals and next steps throughout the summer

Curriculum Specialist: Content lead who will facilitate pedagogical sessions on content and best practices in the afternoon

Estimated Costs

  • Travel to Institute: $400-$600 (plane ticket and/or gas, food and hotel
  • During Institute: Food, transportation, and lodging are provided for the summer. Institute expenses may include personal items, or extra classroom supplies.

Corps members do not receive a paycheck during institute and should budget/apply for transitional funding to ensure financial support until their first paycheck from the school district. Corps members can expect their first paycheck between August 15th and September 27th

A Typical Day at Institute

  • 6:45 A.M. - Bus ride to school
  • 7:15-8:15 A.M. - Prep for the school day
  • 8:15 A.M. - breakfast with students
  • 8:30-9:30 A.M. - Teaching block #1
  • 9:30-10:30 A.M. - Small group time
  • 10:30-12:00 P.M. - Diversity, equity, and inclusiveness session, meet with coach, planning time, observation time, etc.
  • 12:00-1:30 P.M. - Bus ride back to campus, lunch
  • 1:45-4:45 P.M. - Afternoon content sessions
  • 5:00 P.M. - Dinner, personal time, lesson planning, etc.