Spring 2021 Guide and COVID-19 information

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.

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 most applicants applying or completing all requirements, these tests are required:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 that will be completed during student teaching.

Current certification information is available at the Office of Teaching Initiatives website.  If you have questions about specific requirements 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 certification exams to graduate, but you must pass all of them to become certified. Your edTPA will be part of your student teaching requirements. 

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

Once you have completed and submitted the TEACH Authorization Form, have completed your registered 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 and maintain other critical certification information.

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?

Program codes can be found using the TEACH Account and Program Codes Lookup Tool. Questions related to institutional recommendation should be directed to Student Registration and Record Services at 607-753-4702.

Is fingerprinting required?

SUNY Cortland requires that all students enrolled in a teacher certification program be fingerprinted at least one semester before their first anticipated field experience. Students who are not fingerprinted 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, contact IdentoGO at www.IdentoGo.com or 877-472-6915. 

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 IdentoGO at www.IdentoGO.com.

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 at 607-753-4715 to discuss options.

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

In most cases, applicants must retake tests until they pass. For information about the safety nets options, visit the Safety Net Page

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 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. Substitute teaching must be in your certificate title.  See experience requirements for more information (scroll to p.21 in document).

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 requirements.


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

State University of New York (SUNY) policy prohibits SUNY Cortland admission applications from inquiring into an applicant's prior criminal history. After acceptance, the College shall inquire if the student previously has been convicted of a felony if such individual seeks campus housing or participation in clinical or field experiences, internships or study abroad programs. The information required to be disclosed under SUNY policy regarding such felony convictions shall be reviewed by a standing campus committee consistent with the legal standards articulated in New York State Corrections Law.

Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. Students who have concerns about such matters are advised to contact the dean's office of their intended academic program.

All information is accurate as of November 2019 and will be updated on a regular basis.

Teacher certification in New York State can be very confusing and NYSED may change certification requirements without notice.  Career Services monitors NYSED changes on a regular basis and is able to answer many of your questions regarding certification including:

  • Certificate progression – how to move your initial certificate to a professional certificate
  • Additional certificates – how to add new certificates or extensions to issued base certificates
  • TEACH questions – how to navigate TEACH
  • Pathway questions – which pathway should you use to apply for a new certificate
  • Program code questions
  • NYSTCE questions – which tests are required for additional certificates
  • Certification requirements for other states


Frequently asked questions:

Will Cortland provide a program code if I completed my undergraduate program at Cortland and I am now applying for my professional certificate in that discipline?

No.  For undergraduate programs, Cortland provides an institutional recommendation and program code for only initial certificates.  Students applying for a professional certificate linked to the Cortland undergraduate program should use the “Certificate Progression” Pathway – no program code is needed for this type of application.

If I am applying through the certificate progression pathway and do not need a program code, how do I apply?

Apply for the certificate though TEACH.  When you get to the page that asks for the program code, simply check the box at the bottom of the page that states “No, I have not completed, nor am I enrolled in, an Approved Teacher Preparation Program at the New York State College or University for this certificate and this type.”  This will move you to the next page of the application.

How do I document my three years of teaching experience to get my professional certificate?

To document your experience, you must ask your employer(s) to complete a "Verification of Experience for Permanent/Professional Certificate Form” through the Topics: A-Z Index on the NYSED site.

I have been teaching in another state.  Will my work experience outside of New York State count toward professional certification?

Yes.  Qualified paid work experience, including substitute teaching, from outside of New York State will count toward professional certificate requirements.  International experiences also qualify.  Please note that experience must be in the appropriate title and grade level.

For additional information regarding certification, please visit the NYSED Office of Teaching Initiatives homepage at http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/ or call Career Services at 607-753-4715

Career Services serves as the primary contact point for all SUNY Cortland students, alumni and faculty seeking teaching certification information. The staff at Career Services regularly monitors changes in New York State certification and testing requirements.  We invite faculty members to contact our office with any questions. 

We are also available to deliver certification presentations at department meetings or in your classes.  Sample topics include:

  • Certification Basics – TEACH accounts, testing requirements, fingerprinting, application process, teach authorization, etc.
  • Certificate progression including graduate school options
  • Applying for and securing additional certificates beyond registered programs
  • Applying for out-of-state teaching positions
  • Networking and job search for teachers

Certification can be complicated and NYSED is not always easily accessible.  For the most up-to-date information, please visit http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/ or contact Career Services at 607-753-4715.