Teacher Certification

The following sections are designed to help you navigate teacher certification requirements for the New York State Education Department (NYSED).  Keep in mind that individual circumstances and timing may impact how requirements are satisfied; there are many possibilities. SUNY Cortland teacher education students and alumni are advised to research their own individual situations carefully, follow guidelines and document all activities. NYSED has the final say in whether or not you will secure certification. The following information outlines basic guidelines for certification.  Remember, that many NYSED rules are subject to interpretation and change. Visit the Office of Teaching Initiatives (OTI) for up to date information.

Page last updated on June 5, 2024.

Types of Teaching Certificates

New York has two levels of classroom teaching certificates: Initial and Professional Certification

  • Initial: entry-level teaching certificate, valid for five years
  • Professional: advanced-level certificate, see information below about process

Generally, undergraduate and graduate students completing a teacher certification program who hold no valid certificates and/or have no prior teaching experience 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.

TEACH Account

A TEACH account is a digital platform offered via New York State and it serves as a hub for certification. The TEACH system not only houses information related to your certificate(s), but is also where you will apply for all your certificates. This system is not associated with SUNY Cortland.

Your TEACH account is tied to your social security number. Therefore, you should only have one account. However, sometimes technical glitches happen. If you think you have created an account, do not try to create another. You can get help with your TEACH account technical issues, including requests to merge duplicate accounts, by completing the NYSED Office of Teaching Initiatives (OTI) Contact Form (select Technical/TEACH Support), or by emailing teachhelp@nysed.gov. Always include the last 4 digits of your social security number, date of birth and name as it appears in TEACH in any emails to NYSED. If you have not created your TEACH account and need to do so, visit the NYSED Office of Teaching Initiatives TEACH Online Services page.

Information on certifications, fingerprints, test scores and more will be under “Account Information” in TEACH. You will not be mailed a document or notified that your certificate has been issued. This information will be noted in TEACH. To check the status of your TEACH account and any applications, visit the NYSED Office of Teaching Initiatives website that offers instructions on checking your account. For a full list of services in TEACH for various user groups, visit the List of TEACH Services: TEACH System.

Applying for Degree Conferral and College Recommendations

In order to receive your degree, you must apply for degree conferral. Please visit this page through the Registrar's Office for more information.

Degree conferral is not the same as graduation/Commencement. When your degree is conferred, that means all academic requirements are completed. Graduation/Commencement is the celebration. While you may be eligible to attend the celebration, your degree requirements (such as student teaching) may not be completed for another semester.

In addition, when you graduate from a teacher education program at SUNY Cortland, with either a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, you are not automatically certified. By completing your degree in education, you are completing the academic requirements necessary for the “Approved Teacher Preparation Program” pathway through New York State. Pathways are the ways of meeting certification requirements based on differing circumstances.

To apply for this pathway successfully, you will need to have college recommendation(s) or the academic information from SUNY Cortland put into TEACH. For the recommendation(s) to be added to your TEACH account, you need to give SUNY Cortland permission to release it. To send this information, you will need to complete the TEACH Authorization Form. You should complete this form when you apply for degree conferral.

College recommendation(s) will be added to TEACH accounts after your degree is conferred which is generally within 4 to 6 weeks of the semester ending.

Note Regarding Late Certification Applications: In general, students are advised to apply for their institutional recommendation for certification via the TEACH Authorization Form when they graduate. Because state regulations for certification do change over time, students who put off applying for their teaching certificates may be required to complete additional requirements including new exams, workshops and/or coursework.  This may result in a delay in gaining certification and/or the payment of additional fees.
Please see the Guidance Document on Delayed Certification for more details.

Requirements for a First Initial Certificate (Approved Teacher Preparation Program)

  1. Academic Requirements, Including Workshops (See “Applying for Degree Conferral and College Recommendations” above)
  2. Fingerprinting (See “Fingerprinting” below)
  3. Exams (See “Exams” below)


Three workshops are required for certification and are degree requirements if you are in a SUNY Cortland “Approved Teacher Preparation Program.” If you take the workshops as part of your program, the information is sent to NYSED with your college recommendation(s). They will not appear on your TEACH account under “Account Information” “Workshops.” If you took the workshops outside of Cortland, they might appear on your TEACH account.

  1. Child Abuse and Recognition Reporting (CARR): 2 hours
  2. School Violence Prevention and Intervention Workshop (SAVE): 2 hours
  3. Dignity for All Students Act (DASA): 3 hours in person and 3 hours online

Important for Graduates Prior to December 2013: DASA was added as a requirement at the end of 2013. If you did not take this workshop, you will need to do so in order to be certified for a first certificate or an additional.


As part of the New York State certification process, you are required to be fingerprinted. SUNY Cortland also 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.

Please note:  Applicants do not need to set up a TEACH account before being fingerprinted. If a TEACH account does not already exist for the person at the time they are fingerprinted, the fingerprints will remain on file until an account is opened at which time your fingerprints would be connected to your TEACH account. If you have not created your TEACH account and need to do so, visit the NYSED Office of Teaching Initiatives TEACH Online Services page. If you do already have a TEACH account, your fingerprints will be uploaded to that account.

For more questions about the process, please review the NYSED Fingerprinting Information for Certification document or contact IdentoGO or call 877-472-6915. If you have been fingerprinted with the NYC Department of Education, you can have your prints sent to NYSED.

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 for certification. In most cases, if you have been fingerprinted through any other system for your early field experiences, you will need to complete the process again for certification.

To verify that your fingerprints are in TEACH, go to “Account Information” “Fingerprinting” and scroll to bottom. You should see in a blue box, “Your DCJS and FBI results have been received.” If you see “No data found,” this means that your fingerprints have not be received and/or processed and a background check has not been done.

Applying for Certification (Program Codes)

When applying for certification on TEACH using the Approved Teacher Preparation Program pathway, you will be asked for your program code and years of attendance if you have not yet had your College Recommendation placed in TEACH. This information is available on the TEACH Program Code Lookup and Information Sheets webpage.


You do not need to finish certification exams to graduate, but you must pass all of them to become certified.

Exam scores only show up in TEACH as pass or fail.

For most teacher education candidates, these tests are required for NYS certification:

  1. EAS — Educating All Students: Designed for teachers and school building leaders to ensure they understand how to address the learning needs of diverse student populations. This test is taken at a Pearson testing site (either within or outside of NYS).
  2. CST — Content Specialty Test(s): Are aligned with the NYS Learning Standards, including the Common Core and designed to assess knowledge in content area of certification.
    • If you are in a program leading to a certification in an adolescent certificate or a Pre-K-12 certificate, you will take one exam.
    • If you complete dual certification programs such as Early Childhood/Childhood, Inclusive Early Childhood Education, Inclusive Childhood Education, Math/Physics or French/Spanish, you will complete multiple exams.
    • If you are looking to obtain the “Speech and Language Disabilities” certification, you will eventually need to take the Praxis II.

[Note: Pearson VUE operates testing centers throughout New York State and the U.S., including a testing center that is typically available on the SUNY Cortland campus during the academic year. To learn more about SUNY Cortland testing dates, visit the SUNY Cortland Memorial Library Testing Center Webpage.]  

[Note: As of April 27, 2022, the edTPA is eliminated as a certification exam requirement. Therefore, there is no longer an edTPA safety net exam requirement (ATS-W). More information can be found on the NYSED website.]

Applying for Your First Initial Certificate

Before applying for your first initial certificate, do the following:

(To be used after the completion of your program in May, August or December.)

  • checkbox Check Degree Works or your online transcript to be sure your degree was conferred.
  • checkbox Check your TEACH account or your online transcript to see if your college recommendation has been posted “TEACH Account” “Account Information” “College Recommendations.”
  • checkbox Check your TEACH account to see if your fingerprints on file.
    TEACH Account “Account Information” “Fingerprinting.”
  • checkbox Make sure your personal and academic information is up to date in TEACH.
  • checkbox Obtain your program code. You may be prompted for this during the application process.

Once you have completed the list above, follow these steps to applying for your first initial certificate:

  1. Login to TEACH and click “Apply for Certificate.” You can only apply for one certificate at a time.
  2. Go through the drop downs; you will select “Classroom Teacher” or “Classroom Teacher  Foreign Languages” for “Area of Interest.”
    • If you are in a program leading to dual certifications, you will need to apply for each certification separately.
  3. Select the drop downs related to your certification area, then the last option will be “Initial Certificate.”
  4. Enter the program code if prompted.
  5. Continue through and pay $50.
  6. You can check your application information in TEACH under “Account Information” “Certificates.” This is also where you will see the certificate(s) that have been issued to you. You will not receive notification that you have been certified or any certificates or notifications in the mail.
  7. If you are still waiting for your certification after a month or two and you followed all directions, please contact Career Services.
  8. For those in programs leading to dual certifications (or adding on an additional initial certificate from the Master’s), you will apply for the second initial certificate through the same process. However, the pathway should be “Approved Teacher Preparation Program Additional Certificate.” You can check if the pathway is correct in TEACH under “Account Information”   “Certificates” after you apply. If it does not say this, complete the Office of Teaching Initiatives (OTI) Contact Form (select Evaluation), or email NYSED to change the pathway at tcert@nysed.gov (always include the last 4 of your social security number, date of birth and name as it matches TEACH in any email).

Professional Certification Requirements

Once you have obtained your NYS initial certificate(s), you have five years from the initial certificate’s effective date, which is February 1 or September 1 of EACH year, to finish requirements for getting your professional certificate(s).

To obtain your professional certification in the area(s) where you completed your degree, there are several requirements to be met.

First, you will need to earn a Master’s degree and there are a few options you could pursue:

  1. A Master’s degree that is the same area as your current certification area(s) (for example, if you received an Adolescent Math degree, you could do a Master’s in Adolescent Math).
  2. A Master’s degree in another subject leading to additional certification in NYS or another state such as teaching students with disabilities, literacy, TESOL OR an education-related Master’s program such as Curriculum and Instruction and Instructional Technology from an institution with teacher preparation programs.
  3. A Related Master’s degrees based on content area — see the link for more information.

To read more about NYSED’s guidance regarding Master’s degrees that count toward professional certification, see NYSED Experience Requirements.

Note: If you are considering a Master’s degree in a Pupil Personnel Title (School Counseling, School Psych, etc.) please talk to Career Services. These certificates are considered in the area of Pupil Personnel Services, which is a different type of certificate than those in the area of Classroom Teacher. In order to maintain both types of certificates, careful  planning is necessary.

In addition to your Master’s degree, you will also need three (3) years paid professional work experience in any of your titles and in public, private or charter schools within NYS OR out of state. If your experience is in a NYS public school, this also includes a year of mentored teaching built into employment. Substitute teaching is considered paid professional work. [For out of state students who have never held a NYS certificate whose teaching experience is outside NYS, please note that experience must be completed in a public school.]

Your substitute teaching experience must be in your certificate area and grade level to count toward your three years of paid professional work requirement. Please note that substitute teaching counts “day for day.” NYSED views one year of teaching to be 180 days. All Initial Certificate holders are required to complete 540 total days of teaching to secure a Professional Certificate. Be sure to document all experience.  Other paid experiences such as an attendance officer, a teacher’s aide, assistant principal or other non-classroom teacher titles will NOT count.

Visit the NYSED Office of Teaching Initiatives Certificate Questions webpage for more detail regarding what can count for paid experiences.

If you are going out of state, be sure to get information on that State’s certification requirements. The Certification Map and the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification are helpful starts.

Applying for Professional Certification


  1. To obtain a professional certification, you need a Master’s degree and 3 years of paid professional work experience in any of your certification areas (or a combination).
  2. Make sure all transcripts are on file with NYSED through TEACH. You can check under “Account Information” “Education” “Verified Education.” College recommendations will not be there.
  3. If you completed a Master’s leading to certification, be sure that relevant college recommendations are there. TEACH Account “Account Information” “College Recommendations.”
  4. Ensure that experience is verified. This includes mentoring if you are in a NYS public school. You can check in TEACH under:
    1. “Account Information” “Superintendent Statements”
    2. “Account Information” “Mentoring Experience”
    3. “Account Information” “Correspondence” “Documents”
  5. It is recommended to apply for the professional certification in which you have the most experience first.

For those who are applying for a professional certificate in the area of their first initial certificate and did their Master’s degree in a different content or certification area.

  1. Go to TEACH and click “Apply for Certificate.” You can only apply for one certificate at a time. If you have multiple initial certificates, select the initial certificate from which you want to progress to the professional certificate first.
  2. Go through the drop downs; select “Classroom Teacher” or “Classroom Teacher — Foreign Languages” for “Area of Interest.”
  3. Select the drop downs related to your certification area; the last option will be “Professional Certificate.”
  4. You will not have a program code. Click the option “No, I have not completed, nor am I enrolled in, an Approved Teacher Preparation Program at a New York State College or University for this certificate and this type.” While this language can be confusing, you have only completed a program leading to the academic pieces for the initial certificate. When you continue on, it will bring you through the pathway of “Certificate Progression” and you will pay $100.
  5. Note — do not use the program code for your Master’s to apply for a different area. It will not work! Program codes identify specific programs (i.e. Do not use the code for the Literacy Program to apply for a professional certificate in Biology).

For those applying for a professional certificate in the area in which they have completed their first initial certificate and did their Master’s degree in the same content or certification area.

  1. Go to TEACH and click “Apply for Certificate.” You can only apply for one certificate at a time. If you have multiple initial certificates, select the initial certificate from which you want to progress to the professional certificate first.
  2. Go through the drop downs; select “Classroom Teacher” for “Area of Interest.”
  3. Select the drop downs related to your certification area, then the last option will be “Professional Certificate.”
  4. Obtain the program code in the TEACH Program Lookup and Information Sheets if you completed your Master’s at SUNY Cortland. If you completed your Master’s at another institution, you must contact that institution to get the correct program code. The fee will be $50.
  5. If your program was in the same area as only one of your initial certificates (i.e. you completed Inclusive Childhood Education as a Bachelor’s and did Students with Disabilities for a Master’s), see the instructions for “different content or certification area” (in this example, the different area would be the Childhood Education).

COVID-19 Impacts

Emergency COVID-19 Certificate:

The Emergency COVID-19 Certificate was designed following the 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic shutdown to give candidates more time to complete exams if all other requirements for certification were met. This certificate is no longer available as an application option.

The certification requirement deadlines for the Emergency COVID-19 certificate have been extended from September 1, 2021 to September 1, 2022. For example, the application deadline for this two-year emergency certificate is now September 1, 2022. Individuals who applied for the Emergency COVID-19 certificate prior to September 14, 2021 will automatically have their certificate requirement deadlines extended to September 1, 2022.

There is no cost for the Emergency COVID-19 Certificate. However, you must first apply and pay for all of your non-emergency certificate(s) prior to applying for the Emergency certificate.

The only pathway for the Emergency COVID-19 Certificate is “Individual Evaluation.” You will not have a program code. It will take a few weeks to process your application. A school district can expedite an application on your behalf after it been on file for at least 2 weeks.

If you have completed all other requirements for your other certificates EXCEPT for the certification exams, the Emergency certificate will be issued in TEACH.

The status of your other certificates will remain as “Pending” until you complete your exams.  The Emergency COVID-19 Certificate does not count as a valid base certificate for pursuing additional classroom teaching certificates. 

[Note regarding edTPA Safety Net: As of April 27, 2022, the edTPA is eliminated as a certification exam requirement. Therefore, there is no longer an edTPA safety net exam requirement (ATS-W). More information can be found on the NYSED website.]

Additional Certificates

Students and alumni may be interested in applying for additional certificates or extensions due to wanting to teach multiple subjects, different grade levels or work with specific populations. Additional certificates can also be helpful for those considering different Master’s degree options.

Once you have a valid certificate in NYS (initial, professional or permanent), you can begin this process. NYS has a series of pathways for obtaining additional certificates. Most commonly, you will go through the “Additional Classroom Teaching Certificate (Must hold a valid certificate)” pathway or “Individual Evaluation” for extensions.

We advise using the “Search Certification Requirements” tool to determine the requirements for obtaining a specific additional certificate or making an appointment with Career Services for help with understanding these requirements.

In most cases, obtaining additional certificates will require completing additional coursework, workshops and/or testing.   Additional pedagogy courses must be taken at a four year college that offers teacher preparation programs or at a community college where the courses can be transferred to a teacher preparation college. Additional coursework does not need to be taken at SUNY Cortland. A great resource for identifying appropriate coursework that applies to additional certifications is the NYSUT Education and Learning Trust.

Common additional certifications that SUNY Cortland alumni seek include adding on an adolescent (grades 7-12) content area certificate (such as math, English, social studies, etc.), adding on a grade-level extension for certificates like Students with Disabilities (to all-grades), or adding TESOL, Health, or an additional science discipline. 

NOTE on pathways for additional science discipline certifications: When adding the General Science 7-12 Extension, the application pathway is via “Individual Evaluation” and either the “Initial Extension Annotation” or “Professional Extension Annotation” depending on what your valid certificate is. For those holding a valid certificate in one of the sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Physics), candidates can apply for a second science discipline certificate with an additional 18 credits in another (single) science discipline and by passing the appropriate content specialty test. Applicants will apply in either transcript evaluation pathway, “Additional Science Discipline Certificate," or  “Additional Classroom Certificate.”

IMPORTANT: Requirements for additional certifications are subject to change at any time. Please check the Search NYSED Certification Requirements tool for current requirements. The information above is meant to provide general guidance for pursuing additional certificates. NYSED has full discretion for approving any and all coursework for additional certificates.  When applying for additional certificates, applicants must send official transcripts to NYSED Office of Teaching Initiatives for the evaluation process. There are no program codes for this process.

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

Note: If you have a case-specific question that is not answered by the information in the overview menu items above, please submit your question to Career Services for assistance using the Teacher Certification Questions Formstack Form.