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Teacher Certification

What are the different types of certifications available?

New York State offers a variety of certificates as well as a number of “Pathways” to become a certified teacher in New York. Please visit the New York State Education Department website to learn what types of certification are available or search certification requirements here.


What certification do I apply for?

  • Generally, undergraduate and graduate students with no prior teaching experience or valid certificates completing a teacher certification program will apply for an initial certificate.
  • If you have an expired certificate or if you have previous teaching experience and are unsure about which certificate pathway to use, please contact Career Services at 607-753-4715.


What are the requirements for initial certification?

For information on dates, times and how to register for Teacher Certification Workshops, click on the links below.



New testing requirements have been implemented for students completing requirements or applying for certification on or after May 1, 2014.


For applicants applying or completing all requirements before May 1, 2014, these tests are required:

  • LAST (liberal arts and sciences test)
  • ATS-W (assessment of teaching skills-written)
  • CST (content specialty test) based on major/certification area


For applicants applying or completing all requirements on or after MAY 1, 2014

  • edTPA - Teacher Performance Assessment Portfolio: will require candidates to plan and deliver lessons that are aligned with the NYS Learning Standards, including Common Core. There will be a video component and a portfolio component.
  • EAS - Educating All Students Test: designed for teachers and school building leaders to ensure they understand how to address the learning needs of diverse student populations.
  • ALST - Academic Literacy Skills Test: will demand a high standard of reading comprehension and analysis, written expression and written analysis.
  • CST - Revised Content Specialty Tests: will be aligned with the NYS Learning Standards, including the Common Core and designed to assess knowledge in content area of certification.


Note: Since these CSTs are being revised in batches, NYSED will replace existing CSTs with revised CSTs once they are available. However, candidates who have passed the old CST will be allowed to use it, a form of ‘grandfathering’ even if the date of application for certification is after the date when the new CST is available.  The CST is the only test which may be “grandfathered.”


Current certification information is available at the Office of Teaching Initiatives website.  If you have questions about specific requirement for your certification area, how to obtain additional certificates, certificate progression, testing or any other certification issue, please contact the Career Services Office in Van Hoesen B-5 (607-753-4715).


Frequently Asked Questions


Do I need to finish all of my certification exams to graduate?

No. You do not need to finish all of your certification exams to graduate, but you must pass all of them to become certified. 


How does the New York State Education Department know that I have completed my degree program?

Once you have completed and submitted the Teacher Authorization Form and you have completed your degree program and have been awarded your degree, SUNY Cortland will recommend you to the New York State Education Department for your teaching certificate.


How do I apply for my certificate?

You must apply for your certificate online through the TEACH website.


What is a TEACH account?

The New York State Education Department has created an online system called TEACH where you must establish an account to apply for your certificates, maintain other critical certification information and to process your fingerprint application. Paper applications are no longer accepted.


How do I create a TEACH account?

Instructions to Create a TEACH account  here.  If you need assistance, contact Career Services at 607- 753-4715 or stop by the office located in Van Hoesen Hall, Room B-5.


How do I find my “program code” to apply through TEACH?

The Registrar’s Office is responsible for recommending both undergraduate and graduate students for certification after TEACH Authorization Forms and all degree requirements have been completed.  Through myRedDragon, undergraduate students may apply to graduate and then access information needed to apply for their certificate through TEACH. This information includes the student’s program code, dates of attendance and program title.  Graduate students will be notified by email with instructions on how to access required information. Questions related to institutional recommendation should be directed to 607-753-4702.


Is fingerprinting required?

SUNY Cortland requires that all students enrolled in a teacher certification program complete the fingerprinting process at least one semester before their first anticipated field experience. Students who do not secure fingerprinting clearance at least one semester before their first anticipated field experience may not have access to some area schools with fingerprinting policies in place. To process fingerprints, you will need to establish a TEACH account and apply online.


I have been fingerprinted before—do I need to do it again?

If you have been fingerprinted through the New York State Department of Education (you would have paid a fee), then you do not have to be fingerprinted again. In most cases, if you have been fingerprinted through any other system, you will need to have it done again. If you have questions, please contact the Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability (OSPRA)  518-473-2998.


How/When will I receive my certificate?

Certifications that are time limited, such as initial certificates, will no longer be mailed to applicants. You will need to check your TEACH account to find that you have become certified.


What happens if my certification expires?

Make an appointment with Career Services to discuss options.


What happens if I don’t pass a NYSCTE test?

If you don’t pass a test, you can retake it but you must pay for it again. In some instances, students may be allowed to retake only that portion of the exam which was not passed. For more information on testing, please visit the New York State Teacher Certification Exam Web site.


What are the requirements for professional certification?

  • Master’s degree.   Visit the New York State Education Department website for a complete list of appropriate master's degrees and to obtain additional information.
  • Three years of paid, professional teaching experience.
  • If you are teaching in a New York state public school, you must be mentored during your first year.
  • Teaching experience must be in a teaching title (Teaching Assistant/Teacher’s Aide experience will NOT count) in a public or approved nonpublic preschool or elementary, middle or secondary school. Experience may be in any grade or subject. Experience that is not full time may be credited on a prorated basis


Does substitute teaching count as paid professional experience?

Substitute teaching does count if you are a classroom teacher. One day counts for a day and 180 days = one year.


What do I need to do to teach in another state?

If you are interested in teaching in another state, you should first find out if the state has interstate reciprocity with New York State. If it does, you can teach in that state for a period of time with your NYS certification while you finish whatever requirements they may have. To see what requirements different states have, please check out each state’s certification page.


Where do I go to request SUNY Cortland verification of my teaching degree for another state?

Forms or questions about applying for teacher certification in another state may be sent either in hard copy or electronically to Dr. Andrea LaChance, Dean of Education and SUNY Cortland Certification Officer at 607-753-5433.


Who should I contact if I have a problem or questions?


  • Fingerprinting

Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability (OSPRA) 518- 473-2998

  • TEACH Account

TEACH Account Help Desk: 518-486-6041

  • New York State Teacher Certification Exams

New York State Teacher Certification Exams

  • General Questions

Career Services 607-753-4715; Van Hoesen Hall, Room B-5



All information is accurate as of October 2013 and will be updated on a regular basis.