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The Ins and Outs of Elementary Education Licensure

To teach in a Massachusetts public school, you need to be licensed by the state. There are four types of licenses in Massachusetts:


In response to the pandemic, the Massachusetts Department of Education established an Emergency Licensure program. If you have an emergency license, we suggest you visit the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website for guidelines and the most recent updates.


A Provisional license is issued to a person who holds a bachelor's degree and has passed the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) and met other eligibility requirements established by the Board in 603 CMR 7.04 (2) and 7.09 (1). The Provisional license is valid for five years of employment. An educator who holds one or more provisional licenses may be employed under said license(s) for no more than five years in total. It is recommended that you begin a program to obtain an initial license while holding provisional status.


An Initial license is issued to a person who has completed a bachelor's degree, passed the applicable Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure, completed an educator preparation program approved by the Commissioner, and met other eligibility requirements established by the Board. The Initial license is valid for five years of employment and may be renewed, one time only, at the discretion of the Commissioner for an additional five years. This license is equivalent to a provisional with advanced standing educator certificate as defined in M. G. L. c. 71, § 38G.

If you need to obtain an initial educator license you must complete a program approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA ESE). Those who wish to earn an Initial license must also pass required state tests for that license.


A professional license is issued to a person who has met the requirements for an Initial license in that field as well as the requirements established by the state as set forth in 603 CMR 7.04 (c), 7.09, or 7.11. A professional license is valid for five calendar years and renewable for additional five-year terms as set forth in 603 CMR 44.00.

Candidates seeking Professional licensure must complete an approved program or graduate coursework that is relevant to the professional licensure area and includes subject matter knowledge and/or pedagogy of the content area, in addition to meeting other requirements.

Applying for a License to Teach in Another State

Students interested in teaching outside of Massachusetts must successfully complete the program and achieve initial teacher certification in Massachusetts. The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) interstate agreement facilitates the mobility of educators among the states and other jurisdictions that are members of NASDTEC and have signed the agreement.

Although there may be state-specific conditions applicable to individual jurisdictions, the agreement makes it possible for an educator who has completed an approved program, and/or who holds a certificate or license in one jurisdiction, to earn a certificate or license in another state or jurisdiction provided they meet state-specific conditions. Bay Path provides support for students who earn their Massachusetts teaching license and wish to transfer that license to teach in another state.

Bay Path University Education programs do not meet the requirements for licensure for those that live outside of Massachusetts. Please contact your local state licensing board to learn more about the licensure requirements in your state of residence.