Licensure and Non-Licensure Teaching Degrees: What’s The Difference?

a teacher at her whiteboard

Written by: Dean of Education, Wendy Wendover and Director of Undergraduate Education, Jeff Renfrow 

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 between the two options is that teacher licensure programs require hundreds of hours as 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. 

So 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 stateteacher 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.

One option is by completing an alternative licensing program. The alternative licensing program at CCU provides a 15 credit hours graduate-level program that supports an individual who has completed a bachelors degree and is seeking a teaching license. The path to alternative licensing 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.

If you still have questions about which path is best for you, contact our enrollment team. Our enrollment counselors can walk you through your options, including how to transfer credits, how to complete your general education requirements, and how to get started today.

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