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Becoming a Licensed Educator in the State of Massachusetts

There are several paths to teacher licensure in the state of Massachusetts. Where you start will depend upon several factors:
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Career Goals

Helpful Terms and Informational Links

  • DESE –  Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Massachusetts): Responsible for licensing educators in the state of Massachusetts. There are many positions in the public school system that require state licensure. The more common ones are teachers, principals, psychologists, counselors and nurses.
  • ELAR – Educator account with DESE, from which you can apply, renew and check your license status.
  • MTEL – Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure Requirement (all).
  • SEI - Sheltered English Immersion Teacher Endorsement (ELL) Licensure Requirement (core subject matter teachers only).

Pathways to Licensure (General Guidelines)

There are three main levels of teacher licensing in the state of Massachusetts:

Provisional License: Optional / Valid for 5 years / Non-Renewable

Apply for a preliminary license if:
  • No prior teaching experience 
  • If you are hired, or expect to be hired by a district to teach in a critical need area
  • If you have an out of state license, and your education did NOT include a practicum
  • If you have an out of state license which includes a practicum/internship, but you have already attempted or taken an MTEL



  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • MTEL Communication and Literacy
  • MTEL Content Area
  • Some licenses require a competency review such as special education, school guidance counselor, school psychologist and other specialist licenses.
* You should begin to prepare for your initial license while teaching under this license

Initial License: Valid 5 years renewable one time at the discretion of DESE

  • 150 hour Internship 

Professional License: Renewable every 5 years with an Individual Professional Development Plan

  • 3 years teaching on initial license
  • One year induction / mentoring training (provided by school district during your first year of teaching - see your principal)
  • 50 hour additional mentoring 
  • Master’s Degree in content area you wish to get your license
  • Master's Degree not within your content area plus 12 graduate credits in courses specific to your area of licensure
  • Completed an approved Professional License program

Temporary License: Valid 1 year 

  • Must hold a valid, comparable license or certificate in another state
  • Employed under this license for a minimum of 3 years
  • Has NOT satisfied any of the MTEL testing requirements

Vocational License:

  • Lawrence Public Schools does not have any vocational schools. 
  • For more information on this type of license click here.



How to Determine SPECIFIC Licensure Requirements

Click on the link below and enter the information on the area you want to teach:

How to Apply for Licensure

Click on the link below to apply for licensure:

Frequently Asked Questions

Please visit the DESE FAQ section for further information. 
Once I get my license, how long can I teach on it?
You can teach on each license for 5 years before you are required to move to the next level of licensure. The clock will begin ticking on your license once you are in a teaching position. If you are not teaching, the clock does not tick.  If you can show continuous progress toward the Initial License requirements, there may be the option for an extension of 5 years. This must be approved by DESE.
If I am licensed to teach in another state, do I need to meet Massachusetts’s licensure requirements?
Out-of-state applicants seeking their first license in the State of Massachusetts could qualify for one of three (3) types of Academic PreK-12 educator licenses: Temporary, Preliminary, or Initial. 
To see what your options are click here.
Can I use my experience teaching at a private school when I am moving from my initial to professional license?
You do not have to count the three years on the license clock. You still have 5 years on your license to teach in a public school. However, if you prefer, you may count those years in private school experience if you prefer to use them towards your Professional License.
If my teaching license is valid for 5 years, what happens if I take time off of teaching during those 5 years?
The license clock only ticks when you are teaching. Any years that you are not teaching will not be counted.
What happens if I have taught for five years on my initial license, but I am not ready to meet the requirements for a professional license?
You do have the option of requesting an “Initial License Extension” which will allow you to continue teaching for 5 more years while you work toward the requirements of your professional license. See DESE FAQs for the requirements for an “Initial License Extension.”

Correspondence from DESE

Anytime DESE needs to communicate with your regarding your license, they will send an email using the email address that you enter on your application; it is for this reason you need to be sure the email on your account is current and checked on a regular basis.
The email you receive is a trigger for you to log into your ELAR account and access DESE notifications. Log in, click “Check license status and history, make a payment,” scroll down to the bottom of the page where it says correspondence, click on “correspondence history.” There you will see two emails, one is a copy of the email that was to your personal email, and the second one will have details of DESE’s notification.

You can also view the following information:

  • Correspondence
  • Documents
  • Affidavit History
  • Payment History
  • TEST Results
  • College Endorsements
  • License Information
If you need help in understanding the process or would like some guidance please contact:
Lisa Lanteigne
HR Licensure Specialist
X 25632
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Central Office

237 Essex Street, Lawrence, MA 01840
Phone 978-975-5900 Fax 978-722-8544


Family Resource Center

237 Essex Street. 4th Floor, Lawrence, MA 01840
Phone 978-975-5900 Fax 978-722-8551