Georgia Teacher Certification Information
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Earning an education degree is the first step toward a fulfilling career as a teacher. An online teaching degree allows paraprofessionals to gain the credentials necessary for earning a teaching license while continuing to work full time. Students pursuing an education program online receive the same quality education as in on-campus classes.
All education programs in the state of Georgia that lead to teacher certification are approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). Students who are enrolled in an education program outside of Georgia may still seek teaching certification in Georgia if their academic program is approved by the college or university's state and prepares its graduates for state certification. Students residing in Georgia who are enrolled in an out-of-state online program may have the option of completing their student teaching requirements at a Georgia school.
GaPSC provides three induction pathways for students seeking initial teaching certification. Graduates of an education program in Georgia qualify for the first induction pathway; graduates of an out-of-state program who completed their student teaching in Georgia qualify for the second induction pathway; and graduates who completed their entire program including student teaching in another state qualify for the third induction pathway. While certification requirements differ across states, GaPSC provides alternative routes to certification for out-of-state or international educators.
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Teaching Programs in Georgia
All online education programs that lead to teacher certification in the State of Georgia must be approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). The schools listed below offer certificates and degrees in education which have all been approved by GaPSC.
Students interested in earning an online teaching degree in Georgia should investigate Albany State University. The university currently offers master's degrees in early childhood and special education. Each program prepares future teachers to work with children preK through fifth grade, although the early childhood program focuses more on preparing graduates for administrative and curriculum development positions. Both programs require students to complete 36 credits, a process that usually takes 12-24 months. Additionally, both programs charge out-of-state and in-state students the same per-credit tuition and deliver coursework asynchronously.
The early childhood education curriculum includes courses in science, math, and social studies experiences for young children, while the special education program focuses on areas like issues in special education and teaching reading and math to exceptional learners. The special education program includes a required practicum experience while the early childhood education program does not.
A private university based in Gainesville, Brenau offers four online teaching programs in Georgia: master's degrees in early childhood education, special education, and middle grades education (with language arts/social studies and math/science options). Each program requires 31-37 credits. Prospective students for all four programs must submit documents demonstrating a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 to earn consideration for admission.
Each program concludes in a comprehensive examination, which serves as each program's only capstone experience. Coursework also differs among programs. Early childhood education focuses more on methods, including studies in language arts, math, science, and social studies. Middle grades education allows students to study just one of those areas, focusing on the field in which they plan to teach. Finally, the special education program includes coursework such as assessment strategies for students with autism spectrum disorder and trends in special education.
Students looking to earn an online teaching degree in Georgia can pursue a master's in education in curriculum and instruction in accomplished teaching at Columbus State University. The university cooperates with Valdosta State University and Georgia State University to deliver the program, which consists of 36 credits and takes 12-24 months to complete. The online version of the program delivers all of its coursework asynchronously.
The program's curriculum covers field-specific studies in areas such as educational research, curriculum design, and enhancing student performance. All students compile a portfolio of their best work from all of their courses as a capstone experience. All prospective students must earn a minimum 2.75 cumulative undergraduate GPA in order to apply for admission. Transfer students may transfer up to nine approved credits with them.
One of the Peach State's flagship universities, GCSU offers four different online teaching programs in Georgia: M.Ed. options in early childhood education, secondary education, educational leadership, and instructional technology. The final three programs deliver all coursework asynchronously and never require students to visit campus in Milledgeville, while the early childhood education program uses a blended learning approach, requiring several on-campus residencies.
All of the programs include similar admissions requirements, as prospective students must either earn an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or earn an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 and possess professional teaching experience. Students in the secondary education program can choose a concentration in one of 12 areas, which include art, Spanish, business education, history, and mathematics. The early childhood education program uses a cohort model and offers courses beginning each May. The program also combines online learning with in-person attendance at GCSU's Macon campus.
Based in Statesboro, Georgia Southern University is one of the Peach State's flagship universities. As such, students interested in earning an online teaching degree in Georgia should investigate Georgia Southern, which offers over 25 different online graduate teaching programs, including master's, certificate, endorsement, and education specialist offerings. Standout programs include master's degrees in reading, elementary, middle grades, secondary, and special education. Students can also earn degrees or endorsements in teacher leadership, instructional technology, and online teaching and learning at Georgia Southern.
Each of these programs strives for flexibility, doing away with in-person requirements and delivering all coursework asynchronously. Georgia Southern offers several benefits to veterans and their families in order to entice military students. The university also aims to make its online programs affordable for all, allowing all online students to pay in-state tuition with no additional fees.
Based just outside of Atlanta, KSU is a great option for students looking to earn an online teaching degree in Georgia. The school currently offers eight different online M.Ed programs in early childhood education, middle grades education, secondary education, special education, teacher leadership, instructional technology, educational leadership, and TESOL. Students in the middle grades and secondary programs can choose an endorsement area in English, history, mathematics, social studies, science, or language arts.
While each of the programs offers its own characteristics, they all share certain elements. Each program requires 30-36 credits and typically takes 12-24 months to complete. KSU's teaching programs differ in delivery method, as some operate as hybrid offerings while others are available entirely online. KSU's programs distinguish themselves from their online peers by offering options for both synchronous and asynchronous coursework.
Based in Athens, the University of Georgia is the Peach State's flagship university. The school excels in distance learning, as students interested in pursuing an online teaching degree in Georgia can enroll in M.Ed. programs in middle grades, reading, science, and workforce education at UGA. The university also offers adjacent M.Ed. options in learning, design, technology and learning, leadership, and organization development, although these programs do not qualify as teaching degrees. Each of the four programs requires students to complete 36 credits, a process that usually takes about five semesters (20 months). All of the programs deliver coursework entirely online and asynchronously.
The four programs maintain different admissions requirements. The middle grades program accepts students on a rolling basis and does not list a minimum GPA requirement. The reading program uses a cohort model and requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and strong GRE or GMAT scores, the same requirements that the workforce program uses. The science program requires a minimum 2.6 undergraduate GPA and GRE or MAT scores.
Formed in 2013 as the result of a merger between two universities, the University of North Georgia now boasts the resources of a larger school, including a significant distance learning presence. Students interested in pursuing an online teaching degree in Georgia should investigate UNG's online M.Ed. in middle grades education program, which includes an endorsement in either math or science. The program caters exclusively to working professionals, as all applicants must currently teach in a middle school at least 20 hours each week. As such, the program aims for flexibility, delivering all coursework asynchronously and eliminating in-person requirements. The program's 36-credit curriculum includes math and science content courses and professional education courses such as instructional leadership and research methodology.
Students can earn their M.Ed. at UNG in four consecutive semesters, or approximately 18 months. The program accepts students in the fall, spring, and summer terms. In addition to teaching at least 20 hours a week, all applicants must submit evidence of a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75.
Located less than an hour west of Atlanta in Carrollton, the University of West Georgia reaches a variety of students through its slate of online graduate teaching programs. Currently, students can enroll in a master's program in early childhood education and four different master's programs in special education at UWG. The university also offers adjacent master's programs in music education and reading instruction. Additionally, each of these programs entirely eliminates in-person requirements. Each program delivers coursework asynchronously to accommodate the schedules of busy working professionals.
The teaching programs require between 33 and 36 credits, and students can earn their degrees in 12-24 months, depending on how many courses they take each term. Core courses in the early childhood education program include literature for the young child, developing effective curricula, and teaching creative arts. The special education programs include studies in classroom management and the educational characteristics of learners with mild disabilities. The special education program includes a practicum experience, while the early childhood program does not.
Though Valdosta State University seems like a regional university at first glance, the college enrolls students in all 50 states. Students interested in pursuing an undergraduate online teaching degree in Georgia can find what they seek at VSU, which offers eight online education bachelor's programs. Each program delivers coursework asynchronously and eliminates on-campus requirements, keeping the busy schedules of working teachers in mind.
VSU's standout programs include elementary education and middle grades education. Each program requires students to complete 120-129 credits and usually takes four years, both standard elements of bachelor's programs. Students in the middle grades education program choose two content area specializations in math, language arts, science, social studies, or reading. Students in the elementary education program must also maintain a 2.75 GPA to apply for student teaching in their final year of study.
How to Become a Teacher in Georgia
Acquiring Georgia teaching certification allows educators to teach in Georgia public schools. To be eligible for certification, educators much have at least a bachelor's degree. Students currently pursuing their degree in education may apply for a pre-service certificate allowing them to complete clinical practice requirements and seek employment in a Georgia school.
Teacher certification requirements vary by state, and a license earned in one state does not automatically transfer to another. Educators with state licensure from another state seeking a teaching position in Georgia may qualify for interstate reciprocity. Although this does not guarantee certification, it does reduce the number of steps required to become certified. In addition to completing an initial certification application for the state of Georgia, educators from other states must also submit an experience verification form that documents relevant work experience over the previous year. GaPSC stipulates additional requirements specific to Georgia, including a special education course requirement, an ethics assessment, and content assessments. Some of these requirements may be waived based on previous experience. Most teacher educator programs fulfill the content pedagogy assessment.
How to Get a Teaching Certificate in GA
Even with a degree in education, students are not qualified to teach in a Georgia school system until acquiring certification. GaPSC-approved programs adhere to standards that prepare students for teacher certification, and students must begin fulfilling certification requirements prior to graduation. The following steps provide an overview of the process for earning a teaching certificate in Georgia. Students may visit GaPSC for more detailed information on the Georgia Department of Education teacher certification process.
All applicants must have a bachelor's degree. Students enrolled in a teaching program approved by GaPSC apply for a certificate of eligibility, which transfers to certification upon employment. Those who do not have a bachelor's degree in education may become certified by completing an educator certification program at an approved college.
Students who earned their bachelor's degree within 10 years of applying for teacher certification must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 to be considered. Minimum GPA requirements do not apply to students with a bachelor's degree earned more than 10 years prior to pursuing certification or to those with a graduate degree.
Students enrolled in a GaPSC-approved educator program complete a teaching residency as part of their degree requirements. Also known as student teaching or clinical practice, this internship experience lasts for an entire semester. Bachelor's students work full-time at a school or similar learning environment. Applicants for a GA teaching certificate must provide documentation of completed student teaching hours when they submit official college transcripts.
Candidates for teaching certification in Georgia must complete a series of tests through the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE). This battery of tests replaces the PRAXIS. The first test that teacher candidates face is a basic skills assessment required for admission to a Georgia education program. Certification applicants also complete a content assessment that tests subject area knowledge. GACE content assessments vary by type. Examples of potential content areas include birth through kindergarten, English, and middle grades science. In addition to content assessment, applicants must complete an ethics assessment that includes modules derived from the Georgia Code of Ethics of Educators.
Teachers must undergo a criminal background check in order to teach at a public or private school in Georgia. Educators must complete a criminal background check every five years to renew their certification. Additionally, students seeking a pre-service certificate prior to graduation must complete a background check. School systems pay for the background check as part of the hiring process.
Students seeking initial teacher certification must submit an online application, which is available on the GaPSC website. In addition to completing an initial certification application, candidates must provide official college transcripts, proof of U.S. citizenship, and a copy of a photo ID. Graduates of a Georgia education program submit an approved program completion form. Teachers who earned their degree from a state other than Georgia must submit an experience verification form. All documents may be submitted through the applicant's online GaPSC account.
Candidates for certification pay a $20 processing fee upon submission of an application. This fee is waived for initial certification. Students seeking enrollment in a GaPSC-approved program must complete an admissions assessment that costs $78. Educators also pay $30 for the Georgia educator ethics assessment and $123 for content examination.
Student Teaching in Georgia
Student teaching is a field experience that requires students to work full-time in a school for an entire semester. Students enhance their knowledge of theories and practices acquired through their degree coursework. Students enrolled in an online program receive faculty supervision through their program's online learning platform.
Students must acquire pre-service certification prior to student teaching in Georgia. The application for a pre-service certificate is available through GaPSC. Students submit their completed application to their program's educator preparation provider (EPP). Students must also complete Georgia's program entry educator ethics assessment. Student teachers should submit proof of completion and a notarized Verification of Lawful Presence form to their EPP.
Once all required documents have been submitted, the EPP corresponds with GaPSC to complete the student's pre-service certification. GaPSC conducts background checks on applicants and issues pre-service certificates to qualifying students. If a student has a criminal history, GaPSC conducts an investigation and determines the student's eligibility. The pre-service certification process usually occurs at the beginning of the student's program, ensuring a seamless transition into clinical practice. The pre-service certificate is valid for five years, allowing recent graduates to pursue a teaching position in the Georgia school system prior to achieving professional certification.
The student's EPP selects appropriate student teaching placement sites and identifies mentor teachers who will guide students in their clinical practice. Once students receive their pre-service certificate, they receive a placement with a school matching their career interests. Students also receive instruction from a program supervisor who ensures the efficacy of a student's experience with the placement site. Under the supervision of their mentor teacher, student teachers gradually acquire more responsibilities in the classroom.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Georgia
According to the table above, Georgia teachers earn a salary slightly lower than the national average, with a difference of approximately $6,000. However, the cost of living in Georgia is also below the national average. Teachers with more experience generally receive higher pay.
As the following table illustrates, elementary school teachers' annual earnings closely mirror the national average. Primary and secondary teachers earn similar incomes, with secondary teachers earning roughly $4,000 more annually. Middle school and secondary teachers bring home earnings that exceed the national average, while preschool teachers' annual wages fall below the national average by nearly $25,000. This disparity in pay reflects differences in educational levels. While some privately operated preschools do not require employees to possess a postsecondary degree, preschools offered through public school systems require preschool teachers to have a bachelor's degree or higher. Public schools typically pay higher salaries than private schools.
|Occupation||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Elementary School Teachers||51,990||$54,890|
|Middle School Teachers||27,240||$56,410|
Excludes Special Education Teachers, May 2016
Scholarships for Georgia Teaching Students
College students have access to a wealth of financial aid resources, including grants and scholarships that do not require repayment. Georgia features several scholarship programs available to its residents who are pursuing careers in education. The following scholarships can help reduce the cost of college attendance.
Who Can Apply: Available through the Georgia Association of Educators, this scholarship supports junior and senior college students majoring in education. Students must be enrolled in an accredited teaching program at a Georgia college.
Who Can Apply: Offered by the Georgia Association of Educators, this scholarship is limited to Georgia educators who are pursuing an advanced degree in teaching. Eligible applicants are certified to teach in Georgia public schools.
Who Can Apply: Full-time students enrolled in a teaching program at a Georgia college may apply for this scholarship. Students must have junior or senior status with a minimum GPA of 3.25 to be considered. Eligible applicants must have attended a Georgia high school. This scholarship requires school nomination.
Who Can Apply: The Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) features scholarships for educators, school personnel, and college and high school students. All scholarship applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or better and agree to teach in Georgia for at least three years. Applicants must be active PAGE members.
Who Can Apply: This scholarship requires students to commit to teaching in underserved communities in Georgia. One year of service is equivalent to $2,500 of HOPE funding. Applicants must be Georgia high school graduates who are enrolled in a HOPE-eligible Georgia college. Students who earned a GED or equivalent are also eligible.
Amount: $1,500 to $3,000
Who Can Apply: Open to students pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree in education, this national essay contest consists of a prompt requiring a 500-700 word response. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and must be currently enrolled in an accredited school.
Resources for Teachers in Georgia
- Georgia Department of Education: The state's official governmental organization for the advancement of education, GaDOE administers a variety of services to teachers, students, and families. This comprehensive organization consists of six divisions that emphasize areas such as teacher development, technology services, and school improvement. Teachers benefit from the organization's professional learning programs, including ongoing leadership conferences emphasizing student achievement and community partnerships. This site offers information about state learning standards, curriculum development, and student assessments.
- Teach Georgia: Featuring all available teaching positions within the Georgia public school systems, this database allows certified teachers to easily upload resumes and apply for jobs. The site also includes upcoming job fairs throughout the state. Managed by GaPSC, this site also offers career resources for educators. Online resources include information on Georgia teacher certification, ethics for Georgia educators, and teacher salaries.
- Georgia Science Teachers Association: This organization advocates for Georgia science teachers and collaborates with science organizations to advance science education. A proponent of phenomena as a teaching tool, the Georgia Science Teachers Association uses the Science Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) to guide curriculum development. This site provides detailed explanations of phenomena-focused instruction and includes several resources to assist science teachers in lesson planning.
- Georgia Historical Society: Founded more than 150 years ago, this organization promotes knowledge of Georgia and American history through its education programs and ongoing research. The Georgia Historical Society provides teachers with access to educational resources including online exhibits, publications, and research services. Students gain inspiration from the society's collection of manuscripts, photographs, and maps. The society features teacher guides that adhere to the social studies state standards for eighth graders. The guides include access to primary sources along with background information for teachers.
- Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning: With resources for teachers and families, this website offers a variety of strategies to enhance the early school experiences of Georgia preschoolers. The pre-kindergarten teacher resource list includes state-approved curricula, professional guidelines, and an overview of the state's Planning Educational Activities for Children initiative. Education students benefit from this site's learning resources, which include topics in classroom management, room set-up, and daily routines.
Networking Opportunities in Georgia
As technology continues to alter the academic landscape, the possibilities for innovative teaching strategies are expanding. Not only do teachers use technology in the classroom daily, they now have the opportunity to seek the support of fellow educators while gaining exposure to new ideas and perspectives on teaching. From contemporary classroom management to navigating educational policies, Georgia educators who join networks find the support needed to promote lifelong learning.
Georgia STEM Teachers
Open to K-12 STEM teachers in any of Georgia's public, private, or charter schools, this organization promotes collaborative teaching relationships. The group discusses innovative lesson planning guided by best practices. Teachers who attend meetups hosted by this organization gain insights into the latest technology used in STEM instruction. Teachers also have the opportunity to interact with educators who teach similar subjects.
Comprised of more than 150 Georgia educators and business professionals, this Meetup group supports K-12 Atlanta schools by connecting progressive thinkers in education. These meetings foster brainstorming, resource sharing, and problem solving. Previous meetup topics include bridging the gap between education and employment and achieving goals through 4.0 fellowship programs.
Cool Cat Teacher
This LinkedIn account features the work of Vicki Davis, an educator currently working in Camilla, Georgia. Davis documents her teaching experiences in a BYOD classroom. She hosts a podcast five days a week and participates in online conferences. With over 16,000 LinkedIn followers, Davis' account presents many networking opportunities for new and aspiring educators.
|Teach Junkie||This online community includes a blog, newsletter, and classroom activities for kindergarten through fifth grade students. Developed by a kindergarten teacher to connect teachers with free classroom resources, this site offers tips on classroom management and organization in addition to numerous creative lesson plan ideas.|
|Teach for Us||Created for Teach for America teachers, this website allows members to share their teaching experiences in underserved urban and rural school environments. The site houses blogs managed by Teach for America teachers, alumni, and their sponsors. Educators comment on daily teaching challenges and inspirations, as well as articles from Scholastic Book Clubs.|
|Pearson Teaching and Learning Blog||Operated by Pearson assessment and publishing company, this blog features resources for primary, secondary, and postsecondary teachers. The site includes more than 22 pages of scholarly articles with topics in areas such as peer relations, education technology, and inventive spelling. Pearson offers state-specific learning resources, including science, literacy, and world languages for Georgia educators.|
|Feed the Teacher||This bilingual Twitter feed poses provocative questions that challenge teaching norms. It provides links to articles that address issues of inequality in education, controversies surrounding educational technology, and holistic learning. Managed by a Google-certified innovator, this Twitter feed includes tips for using Google Classroom and features articles on the use of artificial intelligence in schools.|
|The 1:1 Classroom||Written by a third grade teacher who works in a classroom in which every student has a digital device, this blog features study techniques, math and spelling games, and reviews of professional development books. This blog frequently provides recommendations for manipulatives and educational software to enhance learning.|
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