Massachusetts Teacher Certification Guide


Becoming a Teacher in Massachusetts

If you are thinking of becoming a teacher in Massachusetts, there are some basic requirements you must fulfill before you will be granted a teaching license. You must have a bachelor's degree, pass the appropriate Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL), and complete a teacher preparation program. Educator preparation programs must be approved by the Department of Education (DOE) and offered by an accredited college or university. There are over 70 approved preparation programs available in Massachusetts.

If you will be teaching core subjects, Massachusetts also requires you to obtain a Sheltered English Immersion endorsement (SEI) in order to effectively serve English learners in the classroom. Core subjects at the elementary or secondary level include English language arts, mathematics, reading, science, elementary education, early childhood, civics and government, history, geography, or special education.

There are four types of teaching licenses available in Massachusetts. They are:

  • Initial
  • Temporary
  • Provisional
  • Professional

Types of Massachusetts Teaching Licenses

The options for a Massachusetts teaching license in the K-12 system are listed below.

Initial License Requirements

An initial license is granted for five years and can be renewed once for another 5 years.

  • Bachelor's degree
  • Pass appropriate MTEL exams
  • Successfully complete an approved teacher preparation program at an accredited institution in Massachusetts
  • Complete an SEI endorsement if you will be teaching a core subject

Temporary License Requirements

This type of license is valid for one year and cannot be renewed.

  • Bachelor's degree
  • 3 years of experience under a valid teaching license in another state
  • Pass appropriate MTEL exams

Provisional License Requirements

This license is valid for five years but cannot be renewed.

  • Bachelor's or master's degree
  • Have SEI endorsement or obtain it within one year
  • Have passed MTEL exams

Professional License Requirements

This license must be renewed every five years.

  • Have initial license in desired endorsement area
  • 3 years of experience under an initial license
  • Have completed a one year induction program that includes access to a mentor, and provides mentoring for 50 hours after the program

You must also complete one of the following:

  • Complete an appropriate approved licensure program
  • Complete a master teacher program sponsored by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
  • Have a master's degree or higher with 12 credits in the desired endorsement area

Massachusetts Teacher Certification Programs

As stated above, you must complete an educator preparation program to meet Massachusetts teacher certification requirements. Educator preparation programs need to be approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The program approval standards by which a program is judged by the DOE are as follows:

  • Continuous improvement
  • Collaboration and program impact
  • Capacity
  • Subject matter knowledge
  • Professional standards for teachers
  • Professional standards for administrative leadership
  • Educator effectiveness

The approval process results in one of the determinations listed below.

  • Approved with distinction
  • Approved
  • Approved with conditions
  • Probationary approval
  • Not approved

When you are looking for the right educator preparation program to complete your certification process, you should research to find out what type of accreditation different education preparation providers (EPPs) have. All EPPs must be regionally certified, but some programs are also additionally certified by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), the gold standard of accreditation. It is considered the gold standard because of the rigorous standards in five areas that schools must meet to get the CAEP accreditation.


  • Content and pedagogical knowledge
  • Clinical partnerships and practice
  • Candidate quality, recruitment, and selectivity
  • Program impact
  • Provider quality, continuous improvement and capacity

On the DOE website, you can search for approved and accredited teacher preparation programs. You can view the approval status of the EPP, names and addresses of colleges and universities that offer the teacher preparation program, and other pertinent information. There are a couple of institutions that have received CAEP accreditation. These are Boston College, and Framingham State University.

Required Education for Massachusetts Educator Licensure

Massachusetts teacher certification requirements include completion of an educator preparation program. These preparation programs consist of coursework in your endorsement area, and both short-term clinical practice and student teaching.

Throughout the preparation program, you will have pre-practicum, short-term opportunities to teach under supervision. For example, this type of clinical experience might be paired with a methodology class. At the end of the program, usually senior year, you will do your practicum, or student teaching. Most colleges and universities that offer preparation programs have partnerships with different types of schools, i.e., public, private, urban, suburban, parochial, and charter schools where teacher candidates can do their student teaching.

Required Tests for Massachusetts Teacher Licensure

Massachusetts teacher certification requirements include completion of state mandated MTEL exams. You must pass the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills test. This exam measures competency in the foundational skills of reading and writing. There are several alternatives to the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills test which will be discussed below. You must also pass an MTEL subject specific test which measures knowledge in your endorsement area. You can take your MTEL tests either before or after you apply to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for your license. Results will be sent directly to DESE. Massachusetts teacher certification practice tests for MTEL are available for free online.

MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills

To comply with Massachusetts teacher certification requirements, you have to pass an MTEL communication and literacy skills test. The communication and literacy skills test measures competency in the foundational skills of reading and writing. You must demonstrate sufficient proficiency in these areas to be an effective teacher. The traditional test is the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills test, but there are alternatives to fulfilling the requirement. The table below lists all of the options for fulfilling the requirement.

Test Subtests Administration
MTEL Reading Subtest
Writing Subtest
Computer based or online proctoring
CASA Reading Subtest
Writing Subtest
Online proctoring
MoGEA Reading Comprehension and Interpretation Subtest
Writing Subtest
Online proctoring
NES Essential Academic Skills
Subtest I: Reading
Essential Academic Skills
Subtest II: Writing
Computer based or online proctoring
WEST-B Reading Subtest Writing Subtest
Online proctoring

MTEL Subject Specific Exams

Aside from passing the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills Test, Massachusetts teacher certification requirements also include a passing score on an MTEL Subject Matter Test. Most endorsement areas have a subject matter test requirement. It is expected that you be able to demonstrate a depth and breadth of knowledge about the subject you will be teaching. There are a wide variety of subject matter tests, and the formats vary as well. Most of the tests consist of 100 multiple choice questions worth 80% of the score and two open-response questions worth 20%. Some endorsement areas are formatted differently. For example, the Bilingual Education test has 100% multiple choice questions worth 100% of the score. Check with the test provider to find out the format for your endorsement area.

Alternate Exams for Licensure: Praxis Massachusetts

Massachusetts is continuing to add flexibility to its educator testing mandates. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is piloting the Praxis Core Reading and Writing subsections of the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (developed by Educational Testing Service) as an alternative to the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills test. The Praxis Massachusetts pilot program began in October, 2020 and runs until June 30, 2024. Massachusetts is partnering with sponsoring organizations to pilot subject matter alternative assessments. Some of these sponsoring organizations are approved and accredited educator preparation programs. Massachusetts has taken these steps - piloting and evaluating alternative tests to the communication and literacy test, and the subject matter test, in an effort to be more inclusive of teacher candidates.

Other Requirements for Massachusetts Licensure

Another requirement for Massachusetts teacher certification is a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) endorsement. The SEI endorsement provides systematic guidance to academic core teachers who have English learners in their classrooms. Academic content must be made available to all students, including ELs. This can be done through scaffolding, differentiation, and other strategies. To obtain an SEI endorsement, you must complete one of the following:

  • Complete a DESE approved course
  • Complete an educator preparation program for the endorsement
  • Pass the SEI MTEL
  • Have a Massachusetts EL or English as a Second Language (ESL) license
  • Have a bachelor's or master's in a DESE approved major

Massachusetts Teacher License Application

After you have completed the requirements for your teaching license, you will apply for your teaching license at the DOE. The DOE has an Educator Licensure and Renewal (ELAR) portal to facilitate the application process. The steps in the application process are outlined below.

  • Create a profile
  • Complete an application form
  • Pay a $100 application fee ($25 for any additional application)
  • Submit official passing scores on MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills and any other state mandated exams
  • Upload official transcripts with a registrar's signature that verifies your degree

If your license is approved, that is how to become a teacher in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts License for Out-of-State Teachers

If you are an out of state teacher, you can get a license through Massachusetts teacher certification reciprocity. Massachusetts is a member state of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement and will grant reciprocity to candidates from other member states if they meet the requirements. You might be eligible for an initial license if you fulfill those requirements.

Initial License Requirements

You must have one of the following:

  • Completion of a state approved educator preparation program in another state
  • Completion of a non-traditional/alternative educator preparation program in another state
  • Completion of an out of state educator preparation program accredited by NCATE, TEAC, or CAEP
  • A valid teaching license in another state

If an out of state teacher meets the above requirement, but does not have a Massachusetts SEI endorsement, they can apply for a temporary License to give them time to obtain an SEI endorsement. A temporary License is valid for one year and cannot be renewed.

Massachusetts Teacher Employment Outlook

If you have obtained your Massachusetts teacher certification, the employment outlook is very good. By 2026 the expected job growth in the field is 11%. You can also look forward to the second highest teacher salaries in the country, after California. Each school district has a different salary scale that ranges from $39,246 per year in Petersham, all the way up to $110,665 in Concord-Carlisle. The reason for the wide range in pay scales in different districts is because, like almost every state in the country, schools in Massachusetts are funded primarily by property taxes, with some state and federal funding. Some towns have a higher tax base to fund schools. The average salary across districts is around $84,000. Salaries are based on your years of experience as a teacher, and the level of the degrees that you hold. Below is a table of the mean salary of different grade levels and specialties.

Grade Level Mean Wage
Preschool $40,640
SPED Preschool $63,590
Kindergarten $77,970
Elementary $82,450
SPED K - Elementary $75,480
Middle School $80,520
SPED Middle School $76,530
Secondary $81070
SPED Secondary $74,480

There are 75,146 K-12 teachers in Massachusetts. There are 1840 schools in 400 school districts. The average student to teacher ratio is 12-1.