Missouri, MO Teacher Certification/Licensing

A national report released in 2011 by the National Center for Education Statistics found that Missouri’s academic performance standards in reading and mathematics are among the most rigorous in the nation. In four of the areas measured – 4th and 8th grade reading and math – Missouri standards rate in the top three of all states.

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Routes to Certification

Missouri has several methods for an individual to enter the education profession with a “certificate of license to teach.” The routes to certification include the following:

Traditional Route
To obtain the Initial Missouri Educator Certificate, prospective teachers on the Traditional route must fulfill these requirements:

  • A four-year, college-recommended course of study.
  • Graduation with a bachelor’s degree in an education field.
  • Student teaching.
  • Exit exams.

The Initial Certificate is valid for four years. Teachers who hold this license must complete:

  • Two years of mentoring.
  • Annual evaluations.
  • One year of beginning teacher assistance.
  • Professional planning and development.

At the end of four years and completion of specific requirements, teachers may apply for the Career Continuous Certification.

Alternative or Innovative Route

  • The Alternative Route to certification requires an individual — who already has a bachelor’s degree in an approved content area — to return to a College of Education for a program of study. Some programs are offered via distance learning, some combine a master’s degree with certification and some only offer certification.
  • The individual may take courses and teach simultaneously by working under a two-year, provisional certificate.
  • When the college program is completed and the exit exam passed, an individual with an education college recommendation may receive the Initial Teaching certificate.

Temporary Authorization Route
An individual with a bachelor’s degree in an approved content area may work under a one-year, renewable certificate in order to meet competency and experiential requirements.

Out-of-State Certified Route

An individual with a valid teaching certificate from another state can be granted a comparable certificate in Missouri. Verification of certification from the other state must be provided, and depending on teaching experience, the individual may qualify for an Initial or Career certificate.

Complete Mandatory Background Check

A Missouri background check through the Conduct and Investigations Section, and fingerprinting are mandatory before a candidate for certification or licensing submits an application to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

Certification By Grade Level

All teachers who wish to be certified by the state of Missouri must satisfy the following general requirements:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree from a college or university that has a Missouri-approved teacher education program.
  • Obtain official recommendation from the teacher education program.
  • Maintain a grade point average of 2.5 overall and in the major area of study
  • Complete and pass Missouri’s PRAXIS Basic Skills, Content Knowledge and/or Specialty Area tests.
  • Complete a specified number of hours of professional preparation.
  • Document completion of all mandatory course work.

Professional Requirements
In addition to the general requirements, each grade level and content area has specific professional requirements that must be competed successfully.

Elementary School Certification (Grades 1­6)

Elementary certification candidates must complete all professional requirements and demonstrate competency in the following:

  • Foundations for Teaching.
  • Teaching Methods, including teaching reading.
  • Clinical Experiences, including fieldwork and supervised student teaching.
  • Completion of Elementary School-focused courses.
  • Completion of Areas of Concentration semester hours.

Middle School Certification (Grades 5-9)

Professional requirements include a minimum number of hours in professional education and demonstrated competency in the following areas:

Foundations for Teaching, including:

  • Teaching Reading.
  • Adolescent Psychology of the Middle Level Child.
  • Techniques of Classroom Management.
  • Multi-cultural aspects of Middle School Philosophy, Organization, and Curriculum.

Methods of Teaching Middle School, including:

  • Reading.
  • Middle Level Curriculum and Instruction.
  • Teaching Writing.
  • Specialty Area.

Clinical Experience

  • Certification for grades 5-9 must include clinical experience at the middle school level.

Secondary Education Certification (Grades 9-12)

To receive certification to teach Secondary Education, the applicant must meet the following qualifications:

  • Pass the content knowledge or specialty area test designated by the State Board of Education.


  • Pass the Principles of Learning and Teaching Test: Grades 7-12, if no content knowledge or specialty area test exists for the area of concentration,
  • Complete professional requirements as determined by the recommending college or university, including:

Foundations of Teaching

  • Adolescent Growth and Development.
  • Psychology of Adolescent Learning.

Secondary Methods and Techniques

  • Teaching Reading.
  • Instructional strategies.
  • Curriculum design.
  • Evaluation techniques.

Clinical Experience

Certification for grades 9-12 must include clinical experience at the secondary level.

Types of Missouri Certificates/Licenses

Types of Missouri Certificates/Licenses refer to specific subjects and/or grade levels and include the following:

  • Early childhood
  • Elementary
  • Middle school
  • Secondary or High school
  • Special Education

Initial certificate/license

This is the first license a new educator receives. Minimum requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a college/university that has a Missouri-approved teacher education program.
  • Recommendation for certification from the teacher education program.
  • Grade point average of 2.5 both overall and in content area.
  • Passage of required Praxis test(s).

The Missouri initial certificate is a four-year license requiring:

  • Two years of mentoring, annual evaluation.
  • One year of beginning teacher assistance.
  • A professional development plan.
  • Professional development.

Upon successful completion of the Initial certificate’s four years of teaching and fulfillment of all requirements, an educator may apply for a Career Continuous License.

Career Continuous License

The Career Continuous license is a 99-year (permanent) license. It requires an individual to:

  • Continue to maintain a professional development plan.
  • Obtain successful performance-based evaluations.
  • Annually report professional development to the Department of Education.

Provisional License

The Provisional License is a two-year, nonrenewable certificate for educators who are a few coursework hours short of meeting full certification requirements.

Temporary Certificate

The Temporary Certificate is a one-year, renewable certificate issued to individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in a closely related field to the content area, but need to complete teaching courses and PRAXIS tests.