Alternative Pathways to Teaching Certification

You can have a career in teaching, even if you don’t graduate with teaching certification through the University of Illinois’s teaching program. You may have discovered your passion for teaching too late to add the secondary education minor, or you may have preferred to pursue other endeavors during your college years. It’s okay. The world needs teachers, and multiple pathways to a teaching career are available to you:

  1. Teach for America: Teach For America (TFA)  recruits  provides corps members with initial training, ongoing professional development, and access to an unparalleled resource and support network. The eligibility requirement regarding recruitment can be found at
  2. AmeriCorps:  Some of AmeriCorps State & National, and Affiliate programs prepare members for teaching careers after service. Such programs engage AmeriCorps members in academic achievement strategies, specifically in low-income and at-risk areas, direct teaching, lesson plan development, and more.                                                            Source
  3. City Year: City year (a member of the AmeriCorps national service network) recruits people who have a college degree and are between 18-25 years of age. The appointment is for 11 months and carries a modest stipend with it. In addition to the stipend, deserving members can be qualified for various awards and scholarships. As part of their responsibilities, the members help students in under-resourced schools especially in areas of concentrated poverty. For more information on scholarship, stipend, award, and health coverage visit
  4. Illinois Alternative: Illinois Alternative (non-traditional) teacher licensure is an option for those who have not completed traditional teacher preparation programs, but have a Bachelor’s degree and are interested in teaching. Alternative certification program is a two-year program in which candidates teach full time (paid positions) for two school years under the mentorship and coaching of an experienced teacher. Students also have to take some courses in these two years to receive the license. For more information visit                                                                   Source
  5. New York Teaching Fellowship: Students can apply to New York Teaching Fellowship for firsthand experience of teaching, training, and of course, for financial benefit. NYC Teaching Fellowship seeks candidates who have a bachelor’s degree and have never been certified for teaching and have not participated in any teacher preparation program. Students with a degree in Education are ineligible to apply. For more information on eligibility see
  6. The Mississippi Teacher Corps: The Mississippi Teacher Corps, a program run by the University of Mississippi, provides the training and licensure needed to help graduates teach in poverty-stricken school districts in the state. The benefits that the participants in the Mississippi Teacher Corps receive include full scholarship for a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Mississippi and Job placement in a Mississippi public school with full salary and benefits from the school district. More information about benefits and requirements can be found here:
  7. TNTP Teaching FellowshipTNTP Teaching Fellowship provides college graduates with an excellent opportunity to gain direct teaching experience, earn a teacher’s full salary, and receive a teaching certificate. After an intensive summer training program, teaching fellows secure a teaching position at a local school and begin teaching full-time. Throughout the year, fellows will be enrolled in TNTP Academy or its partner university, and will receive various training and feedback on their performance. TNTP Teaching Fellowship has programs in Baltimore, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New Orleans; fellows can choose where they want to teach.                                                                                                        Source
  8. Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT): A Master of Arts in Teaching is a graduate degree that includes teaching licensure. Some universities that offer MAT are North Park University, Lake Forest College, University of Chicago (Urban Teacher Program), Northern Illinois University, Wheaton College, and Greenville University.  DePaul University has MA/Med in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Middle Grades Education, and Secondary Education programs. Some out-of-state universities such as University of Southern California and Fordham University offer online degrees in MAT.Completing any of these programs makes students eligible for an initial Illinois Teaching License (PEL).
  9. Private schools: Private and independent schools offer another alternative to teaching certification. Since these types of schools do not receive government funding, they do not have to meet the same requirements as public schools and therefore do not need to hire only certified teachers. However, many of these schools prefer certification; so you should find out a particular school’s policy before applying. Some sites where you can find job postings for private and independent schools are NAIS, ISACS, CAPE, and indeed.
  10. Teaching abroad: Consider teaching abroad. Schools around the world recruit well-educated English speakers to teach the English language. Most of these jobs do not require you to be certified.