Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Q: Must I be a US citizen to receive a PA teaching certificate?

A: If you are not a US citizen, you must submit a notarized copy of your permanent immigrant visa and a "Declaration of Intent to Become a Citizen of the United States" form when you apply for your certificate.


Q: Do I need a teaching certificate to substitute teach?

A: To substitute teach in public schools a valid teaching certificate is required. Some private schools may not require one.


Q: Where can I find information on the 6 Steps to Certification information?

A: You can view the 6 Steps to Certification information and detailed guides to completing your TIMS application HERE.

Becoming Certified

Q: I want to teach high school students. Do I get a certificate in secondary education?

A: There is no teaching certificate in secondary education in general. You must choose a specific subject area. MU offers the following secondary education areas:

  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Earth & Space Science

  • English

  • Foreign Language (French, German, Spanish)

  • Mathematics

  • Physics

  • Social Studies/Citizenship (emphasis in Economics, Geography, History, Political Science, Psychology, or Sociology/Anthropology)


Q: How long will it take for me to become certified? How many courses do I need to take?

  1. The length of time to complete a certification program is determined by numerous factors.  Each application is reviewed by a team of professionals in order to award you the most credit for past coursework and to determine what requirements still need to be fulfilled. 

  2. The number of credits varies with the subject area and the number of courses that you have already completed in that area. For Example; If you have your BA in Math and you want to become a Secondary Mathematics teacher you will have less credits to complete than if you have your BA in Art and want to teach Secondary Mathematics.

  3. Once your transcripts are reviewed and you have a list of courses that you still need to complete, you will be able to determine better how long it may take you.  Typically, at the very least, most applicants will need to complete their Foundational Education courses (6 credits); their Professional Education courses (8 - 12 credits); and their Student Teaching semester (12 credits).


Q: I have a bachelor’s degree but I am not certified to teach. How do I become certified?

A: It is not necessary to complete an education degree to be certified. By applying to the post-baccalaureate certification program you can complete the courses you still need for certification without completing another degree.  The Post-baccalaureate certification program is meant to "fill the gaps" between your previous degree work and what requirements need to be completed in order to meet PA State certification requirements.


Q: I am already certified in one area. How do I obtain certification in another area?

A: Some areas of Certification only require the appropriate PRAXIS test and submission of the appropriate paperwork to PDE. Other areas of Certification may require admission to a state-approved post-baccalaureate certification program, completion of the appropriate course work and the Specialty PRAXIS test for that certification area. Please visit the PDE website for Adding an Area to a PA Instructional Certificate for clarification on adding each area.


Q: May I complete a Master’s degree and certification at the same time?

A: It is possible to work on a Master's degree and certification at the same time. You should select both options on the Graduate Studies Application. Any courses that are required for both programs will count toward both.

Certified in Another State/Country

Q: I am certified in another state/country. What do I need to do to become certified in Pennsylvania?

A: You will need to contact the PA Department of Education for this information.

Certification Tests (The Praxis & PECT Series)

Q: When should I take the certification (Praxis II) exams?

A: It is advisable to take your content area Praxis II exam(s) the semester prior to student teaching or completing your certification program.


Q: I am getting my first certificate. What tests do I need to take?

A: Every Undergraduate student seeking teacher certification must take the Pre-Service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA)- Reading, Writing, & Math. Post-Baccalaureate students are only required to take the PAPA according to their program requirements.  Each Teacher Certification applicant must take the Specialty Test for their respective area. All PreK-12 Areas must also take the Fundamental Subjects: Content Knowledge test. Please see "Testing Requirements" for more specific information.


Q: If I am being certified in two areas at the same time, do I need to take a test in each area?

A: A specialty test is required for each area of certification. Therefore, you will need to take more than one specialty test.


Q: I am adding another area of certification to my present certificate. What tests do I need to take?

A: You will only need to take the specialty test for the certification area that you are adding.


Q: I am graduating/completing my program in May, but I have not completed my content area test for certification yet.  Can I receive my certification without passing test scores?

A: No, this is a state requirement.  PDE requires you to submit passing test scores before your certification is awarded by PDE.


Q:  If I have not completed my content area tests, can I still submit my TIMS application on May 1st?

A: Yes, you can submit your TIMS application without passing test scores.  PDE will hold your application for one year.  (Subject to change - see the PDE website for more information.)

Receiving Your Certificate

Q: How long does it take for me to receive my certificate?

A: Your certificate will be sent directly to you by the Bureau of Teacher Preparation and Certification (PDE) in Harrisburg. PDE processes applications in approximately six to eight weeks from the date they receive them from our Certification Office. Applications are submitted by this Certification Office as soon as possible after your last semester or graduation date and with the following information: Grades must be finalized, Degrees conferred, all signed PDE-430 forms submitted, all "official" passing PRAXIS test scores on file, and your GPA must be 3.0 or higher.

Once PDE has received your certification application from us, you may check the status of your application by logging into the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS).  This site will also be helpful to you for tracking your ACT 48 credits and other information regarding your status with the PA Department of Education.


Q: I am applying for a job and the application is requesting I submit a letter from MU verifying the completion of my program.  How do I obtain this letter?

A: This letter will be sent to all students who have completed the MU Request for Recommendation form after recommendation to PDE is made.  If you are currently applying for jobs, it is recommended that you upload a copy of your degree audit or transcript to show your progress in the program.

Teaching in Other States

Q: I want to teach in another state. What do I do?

A: If you want information on certification requirements in another state, you must contact the certifying agency in that state. (See Out-of-State Certification).

What Can I Teach?

Q: I am certified in Elementary. Can I teach in a middle school?

A: A person holding a PA Elementary (K-6) certificate may teach any grade level or class in a middle school except remedial reading (you may teach developmental reading); classes requiring a comprehensive type (K-12) certificate such as Art, Music, and Health and Physical Education; or courses pre-approved by the PA Department of Education for graduation credit.


Q: I am certified in Biology (or another science area). What classes can I teach?

Biology - You may teach Life Science and General Science at the junior high/middle school level and Biology and Advanced General Science at the senior high school level. You are also qualified for assignment to an Arboretum, Aviary or Greenhouse laboratory.

Chemistry - You may teach Physical Science and General Science at the junior high/middle school level and Chemistry, Advanced Physical Science, and Advanced General Science at the senior high school level.

Earth Science - You may teach Earth and Space Science and General Science at the junior high/middle school level and Advanced Earth and Space Science and Advanced General Science at the senior high school level. You are also qualified for assignment to a Planetarium or Meteorological laboratory.

Physics - You may teach Physical Science and General Science at the junior high/middle school level and Physics, Advanced Physical Science, and Advanced General Science at the senior high school level.