Find an Education Path For Teaching in Rhode Island, (RI)

If you decide that you want to be a teacher, there are certain steps to follow. The first step depends on where you are now on the path toward reaching your goal. Please choose the highest level of education that you have achieved and we will guide you through the steps to take as you advance towards a teaching career in Rhode Island.

Choose Your Highest Level of Education

The information below will help you discover the steps you should take to become a teacher in Rhode Island.

If You Have a High School Diploma or a GED

Graduating from high school with either a diploma or a GED certificate is your first major step toward attaining your goal of becoming a teacher in Rhode Island. Although you can enter some two-year or community college programs without a diploma, most two-year and all four-year colleges require verification that you have completed high school. The high school classes you completed, your GPA and scores on admissions tests, will determine your eligibility to enter either a two-year college or a four year university. Both options can eventually lead to a Rhode Island Teaching License or Certificate, so you must decide which path you want to take.

  1. Learn about accredited schools that offer Associate degrees or Bachelor’s degrees focusing on education, specific academic content areas or student populations.
  2. Decide what grade level and subject area you are interested in teaching.
  3. Contact colleges that fit your needs, and request information to help you make a decision about what school to attend and what degree program to pursue.

If You Have Completed Some College or Earned an Associate’s Degree

Graduating from a community college provides students with a choice of options for their next step toward becoming a teacher. With some Associate degrees or certificates, students who have just graduated can enter into employment as soon as they find a job. Another option with after graduating from a two-year program is to transfer into a four-year university to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Education. Some students choose to enter the teaching career field and begin working in some capacity with children, while studying to complete their Bachelor in Education degree.

  1. Two-year and community colleges accredited by the state of Rhode island may offer students the opportunity complete their lower-division general education credits while earning an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree. Some two-year colleges guarantee that lower division coursework will be transferable to certain four-year universities. Continuing on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in an education-related major is an essential step toward becoming a certified teacher in Rhode Island.
  2. Investigate various state-approved Bachelor’s degree programs to find out which ones will accept transfer credits from the college you attended. Contact the schools that interest you to request more information.
  3. Some aspiring teachers, who have earned Associate Degrees or Credentials in Early Childhood Education, choose to seek employment shortly after graduation. A certificate or Associate degree in Early Childhood Education, may qualify you to begin working as a teaching assistant or child caretaker with infants, toddlers and pre-school children at Head Start, preschools, childcare organizations or before- and after-school programs.

If You Have a Bachelor’s Degree

Rhode Island requires all individuals who want to apply for teacher certification to have a Bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate teacher candidates in the state are advised to take courses in Arts and Sciences, which provides content, and in Education, which covers the professional coursework. General education requirements can be
satisfied in lower division classes taken at a two-year prior to entering a Bachelor’s degree program or during the first two years of at a four-year university. All teaching candidates must complete state-mandated requirements before applying for and being issued a teaching certificate. For someone with an undergraduate degree in a field other than education who wants to teach in Rhode Island, the next steps toward certification will often depend on the prospective teacher’s undergraduate major.

  1. If you have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education in conjunction with an accredited Teacher Preparation Program, you have already fulfilled essential academic and teacher preparation requirements. Teacher Preparation Programs include coursework and classroom observations, fieldwork, and student teaching. Successful completion of all degree and teacher preparation requirements will qualify you to apply for a teaching certificate or license.
  2. Assessment exams for teaching candidates are based on professional standards recommended by Rhode Island Board of Regents, and scores are maintained by the Department of Education. Required assessments include Pedagogy testing, which evaluates a prospective teacher’s knowledge of teaching; and Content testing assesses teacher content competencies or the knowledge and skills defined as core subject matter competencies within each teacher’s specific teaching certification content areas. The Basic Skills test used by Rhode Island is the Praxis I PPST or Pre-Professional Skills Test. The Subject Area Competence assessment used is the Praxis II exam, which measures teachers’ content knowledge in the subject matter they hope to teach.
  3. Receiving a Bachelor’s degree with a major in liberal studies can be an important step toward certification as an Elementary level teacher. Some certification programs recommend the Liberal Arts major, because it prepares educators to teach in the many different subject areas taught in Elementary school classrooms.
  4. If you received your Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in the specific subject you wish to teach, you may have already satisfied some certificate programs’ recommended academic requirements. Majoring in a specific subject taught at the secondary school level prepares individuals to become endorsed or qualified to teach high school and middle school classes in that content area.
  5. Aspiring teachers who have not earned a Bachelor’s degree in the teaching or education field have three options to choose from in order to qualify to become a certified teacher. If you have a degree in the subject of certification, such as Biology, Chemistry, English, French, General Science, History, Mathematics, Physics, Social Studies or Spanish, you can enroll in a Rhode Island Teacher Education Program, a non-degree certification program offered at some Rhode Island approved institutions. This post-baccalaureate program is available for Secondary Education certificates only. An option for individuals whose undergraduate degree is very different from the area they want to teach is to earn a second Bachelor’s degree in a program that may be combined with required teacher preparation curricula. A Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is available for Elementary or Secondary certification.
  6. Rhode Island requires all aspiring educators to follow certain steps along the path toward becoming certified teachers in the state. Once they have earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, completed a Rhode Island-Approved Teacher Education Program, satisfied student teaching hours and other field work, successfully completed all mandatory assessment exams, and received recommendations from professors and supervisors, they will be qualified to submit an application for and be issued an Initial Educator Certificate in Rhode Island.

If You Have a Master’s Degree or are in a Master’s Degree program

Students who did not obtain a Rhode Island teaching certificate as part of their undergraduate education degree may qualify for certification by enrolling in a certification program or a master’s degree program with a certification option. Before becoming eligible to apply for certification, prospective teachers on this path must satisfactorily complete a prescribed series of courses in subject matter and professional courses. The Master’s programs available at Rhode Island-accredited universities include the Master of Arts in Education with a specialization in Elementary Education, Secondary Education or Reading Education; and the Master of Arts in Education with Teacher Certification Program (MATCP) for students seeking Initial Rhode Island Educator Certification combined with a master’s degree in Education.

  1. Accredited universities with graduate programs in education offer a range of Master’s degrees that can lead you to a teaching license and a career as an educator. Master of Arts or Master of Science in Education, or Master of Education (M.Ed.) degrees may be offered concurrently with a Teacher Preparation program that is required for certification. You may also have the opportunity to focus on Elementary or Secondary Education, with an emphasis on the subject area you hope to teach.
  2. When you are ready to begin your teaching career, you must demonstrate that you have completed all requirements for certification or licensure. These steps include finishing required academic coursework, completing an approved Teacher Preparation Program, passing mandated tests, and fulfilling student teaching hours. The next step is to apply for your teaching certificate and begin searching for a job in the education field. Contact the Rhode Island Department of Education to request an application.
  3. Some people who have earned a Master’s degree in Education may decide to continue their education and pursue a doctoral degree. Earning an Educational Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) or a Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) may increase your opportunities for a better job and a higher income. Gathering information about available doctorate degrees in your field or specialty will provide the information necessary to discover the best university and education program to meet your needs.