Getting your Teaching License

The following FAQ will provide you with general information on licensure. We strongly recommend that you contact the Education Department’s administrative assistant, Carol Marx, for further information (Briggs Hall 117, Monday-Friday 7:30-11:30 a.m., 832-6714). You may also contact Professor Stewart Purkey, Director of Teacher Education (832-6715). Details about licensing and educator professional development can be found on the Wisconsin DPI Educators website.

In what state will I be licensed after completing Lawrence’s Teacher Education Program?
Lawrence is located in Wisconsin and its Teacher Education Program is state approved under the Wisconsin Administrative Code, Certification Rules PI34 of the Department of Public Instruction. Lawrence students who complete our Teacher Education Program are certified for licensure by the Certifying Officer, Stewart Purkey. Students are then able to apply for their Wisconsin license via the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Educator Licensing Online (ELO) site. This applies even if you student teach in Chicago or internationally. Program completers are also eligible to be certified by Lawrence for licensure in all other states (see below).

Can I be licensed in other states and, if so, how?
Yes, graduates of Lawrence’s Teacher Education Program are teaching throughout the Midwest and across the United States. The state of Wisconsin, however, does not have an automatic reciprocity agreement with any other state; therefore, you must request a license application from the Department of Education in the state(s) where you want to teach. Once you are licensed in Wisconsin, getting licensed in another state is generally a straightforward process. Even if you plan to move to another state, we strongly recommend that you obtain a Wisconsin license. In addition to being the prudent thing to do in case your plans suddenly change, being licensed in one state generally facilitates the process of becoming licensed in other states. 

To be licensed in another state, must I complete additional requirements?
In most cases, the answer to this question is no. However, although most states accept your Wisconsin academic skills and subject area test scores, one or two (e.g., Illinois) may require that you take their version of the test, and a few states may require an additional test of pedagogical knowledge. Lawrence graduates have done well on these tests, and we are not aware of anyone who has not easily passed.  A few states may have one or two other requirements (e.g., a course covering state history, a course on the U.S. Constitution, a physical education credit), but, typically, you can get a provisional license in those states that allows you to teach as long as you complete the additional courses within a set time period (usually 3 to 5 years). Finally, states may differ in their required edTPA score for licensure, so you should check state requirements under the Candidates tab at

I have successfully completed Lawrence’s student teaching program.  Now, what do I do to apply for my Wisconsin license?
When you are considered a program completer, Professor Purkey will certify you for licensure to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. You will be sent an email from the Education Department Administrative Assistant, Carol Marx, with instructions on how to apply on the Educator Licensing Online (ELO) site. Some applicants will be required to submit fingerprints online through Fieldprint. Fingerprint requirements can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction licensing website.

Once I submit my application for licensure in Wisconsin, how long will it be before I get my license?
Generally, 4-6 weeks, depending on the time of year that the application is submitted.

Can I start looking for teaching positions before I actually receive the license from DPI?
Yes, you may begin looking for work immediately, even while still student teaching in the spring semester. If necessary, we can give you a letter to give to a school district indicating you will be eligible for certification after program completion (receiving your degree, completing final course work, and student teaching, etc.). Contact Carol Marx if you think you need this letter.

For how long is my Wisconsin license valid and how do I renew it?
Your first license in Wisconsin is called an Initial Educator License. It is valid for 5 years. After three to five years of employment as a teacher, you must complete a professional development plan (PDP) and move up to the Professional Educator License. Anyone who has been employed for three years must move to the Professional Educator level to keep a Wisconsin teaching license. (Note: If you do not find a regular teaching position within those first five years or have not been employed as an educator for at least three years, you may re-apply for an Initial Educator License.)  Professional Educator Licenses are also valid for 5 years. To renew a Wisconsin Professional Educator License you must prepare and complete another professional development plan (PDP). For more information on licensure rules and PDPs, see the Wisconsin DPI Educators website.

Must I be licensed in order to teach in private schools?
Sometimes yes, but at least as often no, you do not need a license to teach in a private school. Many non-sectarian private schools as well as sectarian religious schools do require that their teachers have a teaching license, so you’ll need to check with each school to which you are applying. A state teaching license can be to your advantage in getting hired whether it is required or not, and it does keep you open to a wider range of teaching opportunities.

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