Frequently Asked Questions


What are the requirements to be a teacher in Washington State?

Washington State teacher certification requirements are apt to change frequently. There are also alternative routes to teacher certification. To ensure accurate information, verify current requirements with the State of Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). 

In order to teach in WA state, you should meet the following four minimum requirements:

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. (Seattle University is regionally accredited.)
  2. Pass Washington State’s assessment for basic skills (the WEST-B) prior to starting a teaching certification program.
  3. Pass Washington State’s content assessment (either the NES or WEST-E) for at least one endorsement area (subject). Each teaching certificate must include at least one endorsement. This test must be passed prior to teacher certification. 
  4. Earn, at minimum, a WA Teaching Certificate from an approved program. Some programs may also offer a master’s degree along with teaching certification. Visit Washington Professional Educator Standards Board’s Pathways to Teaching for more approved programs.

Where can I go to learn more about the process to become a teacher in a specific state?

Teaching requirements for each state vary. To gain the most current information about requirements to become a certified teacher in a particular state, it is recommended that you contact the state's department of education. The U.S Department of Education maintains a list of contact information for each state here. Another website that offers information on state-specific teaching certification requirements is Certification

In Washington State, contact the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction or the Washington Professional Educator Standards Board

What major should I pursue while at SU?

Interested in teaching at elementary levels (grades K-8): Subject requirements vary for each certification program. You must contact the certification program directly for specific application requirements. When selecting a major(s) and/or minor(s), consider that it will be most helpful if you are able to incorporate a variety of courses in basic subject areas such as English, math, social studies, language, life science and physical, earth or space science. Students are also encouraged to select a major with an interdisciplinary focus. 

Seattle University's Master in Teaching (MIT) program gives admissions preference to students who graduate from SU with a BA in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies with a specialization in Elementary Education or a BA in Humanities for Teaching.

Interested in teaching secondary levels (grades 6– 12): It is advisable to choose a major, double major or minor in the subject-area you want to teach. This way, you will complete the coursework required for the endorsement-area you desire to teach. In order to ensure you are taking the appropriate courses to meet your educational goals, meet with the Pre-Education Advisor.

Are there specific classes that I should take?

Subject requirements vary for each certification program. Therefore, you must contact the certification program directly for specific course prerequisite requirements.  

What should I do in my freshmen and sophomore years to prepare for a teaching career?

Gaining hands-on experience in a school setting is the best thing you can do at this stage in your academic career. Teacher preparation programs are looking to admit candidates who have broad exposure to children of various ages and diverse classroom environments. In this way, you demonstrate to teacher certification and preparation admissions committees that you have tested and proven that teaching is your true vocation.

Seattle University offers many opportunities for students to gain experience in the classroom. The Center for Community Engagement sponsors many opportunities to work with youth, especially through the Seattle University Youth Initiative.

What should I do in my junior and senior years to prepare?

Continue to gain exposure and experience in the classroom. Work with populations of youth with which you have not yet had experience. For example, if all of your previous volunteer or work experience has been with youth in grades 6 and younger, seek out experience working with middle or high school students.

It is important to gain experience in diverse classrooms and communities. Consider volunteering or working in a school that is considered by the state to be high-need or high-risk (defined as a school where 40% or more students quality for the free or reduced lunch program). 

Working with the Pre-Education Advisor is critical at this point in your academic career. If you have not yet done so, make an appointment to begin developing your plan for applying to graduate-level teacher preparation and certification programs. 

Are there other pathways to teaching?

After graduating from Seattle University, some students decide they would like to pursue other paths before entering the teaching field. There are numerous opportunities. A sampling of these include Urban Teacher Center, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, or Teach for America. Still other students decide to teach English overseas through the many programs available. 


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