Montana Teaching Credential/Licensing Requirements

Montana is committed to improving education for students of all ages and for teachers. Montana ranks second out of all states in teacher qualification, with eighty-four percent (84%) of Montana public school teachers having full certification in Core Academic Areas and an academic major in their field. The state has been making some impressive strides, as evidenced by the state’s high ratings in reading, science and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which tests, rates and compares public schools in all 50 states. Montana is rated number one in the percentage of public school 8th graders who report feeling safe in their school.

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Montana Educator Preparation Programs

Montana has many post-secondary campuses offering teacher education programs that have been approved by the Montana Board of Education for teacher certification in Montana. Teacher education programs combine curricula and fieldwork, including student teaching. Some educator preparation programs occur on a campus and some offer online distance learning. All teacher preparation programs require student teaching in elementary, middle or secondary school classrooms.

Teaching Certification and Licensing

Montana has various classifications for educator certifications and licenses. Teacher’s license classifications include:

Class 2: Standard License

  • To apply for and be granted a Class two Standard Montana teaching license, the teacher must:
    • Hold a bachelor’s degree.
    • Verify completion of an accredited professional educator preparation program in an area approved by Montana.
    • Successfully complete a supervised teaching experience as part of an accredited professional educator preparation program.


    • Successfully complete one year of teaching experience in a state accredited elementary and/or secondary school district.
    • The Class 2 Standard license is valid for five years and may be renewed following completion of renewal requirements.

Class 5: Alternative License

If a new teacher has completed most but not all of Montana’s requirements for the Standard or Professional License/Certification, the Alternative License route may be the best choice. The Alternative or Class five license is an Entry Level or Provisional license that may be granted to:

  • New teachers who have met all the academic requirements but not yet completed the year of student teaching.


  • New teachers who need to take additional classes to be qualified to teach a specific subject or grade level.

Class 5 licensees must sign a Plan of Professional Intent agreeing to satisfy deficiencies within three years. The teacher may then apply for the Class 2 Standard License upon completion of the following:

  • Approved Teacher Preparation Program.
  • Bachelor’s degree in an endorsement area.
  • At least one year of classroom teaching experience.

The Class 5 license is valid for three years and cannot be renewed or reinstated. A teacher can only have one Class 5 license in her lifetime.

Class 1: Professional License

  • The Professional License is reserved for teachers who:  
    • Already have a Class 2 Standard Educator License.


    • Meet the qualifications of the Class 2 Standard Educator License.
    • Earn a master’s degree in Professional Education or an endorsable teaching area(s) from an accredited college or university.
    • Present documentation verifying three years of successful K-12 classroom teaching experience as a licensed educator.
    • The Class 1 license is valid for five years and can be renewed, following completion of specific requirements.

Class 4: Certification for Career and Technical Teachers

  • This credential classification is for individuals with work experience in career and technical areas, but without degrees in education. Class 4 certification is valid for five years and can be renewed by satisfying specific requirements.

Class 7: Native American Language and Culture

  • The Class 7 Specialist Certificate is for Native American educators qualified to teach courses in Native American Languages and Cultures. This certification is granted upon recommendation from an individual teacher’s tribe. Each tribe is responsible for establishing criteria by which they recommend teachers. The Class 7 certificate in Montana is valid for five years and is renewable following completion of renewal requirements.

General Requirements


Montana does not require a basic skills test for any class of license, however all candidates must successfully complete an internship program in any subject area or grade level in which they plan to teach.

Criminal History Background Checks

All applicants for a new Montana License or for reinstatement of a lapsed Montana license must complete a fingerprint-based background check through the Montana Department of Justice. This applies to both in-state and out-of-state applicants.

Highly Qualified Teacher


  • Most licensed Montana teachers who are teaching in their endorsed subjects meet Montana’s definition of a “Highly Qualified Teacher.”
  • The requirement that teachers be “Highly Qualified” applies to all public elementary, middle and secondary school teachers who teach a “core academic subject class” and are employed by Montana school districts.
  • The “core academic subjects,” are English, reading language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, visual arts, history, and geography.

Out-of-State Educators

Applicants Licensed In Other States

  • Applicants licensed out of state must complete Montana’s entire licensure process. All applicants must submit a copy of their current out-of-state license. Apply for what seems to be the appropriate license, and if qualifications are not met, our Licensure Division will offer the appropriate license after their review.
  • Due to Montana’s federally approved definition of a “highly qualified teacher”, applicants from out of state who completed an alternative route to licensing or licensure/endorsement via testing, or who have met their state’s “highly qualified teacher” qualifications may not qualify for full licensure in Montana.