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Licensure and Non-Licensure Teaching Degrees

Written by Dean of Education, Wendy Wendover and Director of Undergraduate Education, Jeff Renfrow in the School of Education Professions at Colorado Christian University

So you've decided that you want to pursue an online teaching degree but you need a little help making sense of the many options available to you.

You may have already understood that there are programs for teaching different age groups such as early childhood education (birth to 8 years), elementary education (grades K to 6) and secondary education (grades 6 to 12), and subject areas like math, science, English, and physical education, etc. What you may not have known is that each of these degrees can be offered in licensure or non-licensure options.

Before you select your teacher preparation program it's important that you understand how these education programs are different.

The most significant difference is that teacher licensure programs require hundreds of hours in a full-time student teaching experience over a semester or school year.

Students in non-licensure programs usually still have field experience and particular coursework and GPA requirements, but these can easily be completed in just a couple of hours per week, throughout the program.

Why would someone go through the extra effort to get a teaching degree with a license?

The answer is really quite simple. Teachers who hold a degree and a state teaching certificate have the most career flexibility. They can teach in just about any school district (public, private, charter, international, and home school) in their chosen content area. Educators who hold a degree without a license cannot teach in traditional public schools.

That said, while nearly all charter, private, and international schools require a teaching degree, most do not require a state license. So if you're interested in teaching in any of these learning environments, a non-licensure degree may be a good fit for you. Plus, there are other options to earn state licensure after you earn your teaching degree, should you decide to open those career doors.

Alternative Licensing Option

One option is by completing an alternative licensing program. CCU's alternative licensing program is a 15-credit hour graduate-level program that supports an individual who has completed a bachelor's degree and is seeking a teaching license. The path to alternative licensing in Special Education at CCU may be through either a Master of Education in Special Education (M.Ed) for initial licensure or through alternative licensing in special education.

In the case of a candidate not seeking special education, the path for alternative licensing at CCU may be through either a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction for the complete graduate degree or stopping at alternative licensing to become a teacher in a public school.


Colorado Christian University does not guarantee any job placement as a result of earning this or any other degrees offered by the university.

Explore a wide range of online teaching degrees and licensure programs available through Colorado Christian University.

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