New York offers one of the best environments for teachers, with highly regarded school systems and pay that typically ranks at or near the top among all 50 states for teachers at all grade levels.
To become a teacher in New York, the Department of Education requires candidates to follow a step-by-step process to earn certification. Aspiring teachers must:
The state also provides pathways into teaching for those who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in subjects like history, mathematics, science, foreign language and English, but don’t have a background in education. One proven path is to earn a Master of Science in Teaching (MST) degree, an ideal option for those with no teaching experience or teacher certification.
To determine which pathway works best, including whether an MST fits their career plans, future educators must first understand the New York teacher certification process. The state system allows professionals to discover the pathway that works best for them.
Learning the system prepares teachers to work in a state “widely recognized for its excellent teaching force, ranking in the nation's top 10 for ‘teaching attractiveness’ when it comes to compensation, teacher turnover, working conditions and qualifications,” according to labor union federation NYSUT.
Choosing an Area of Teaching
The first step toward teacher certification in New York involves making a choice. Teaching history to high schoolers requires different training than teaching reading to first graders. Some teachers may also want to follow a specialized track. For example, special education students or English as a Second Language students.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
New York requires that all teachers earn a bachelor’s degree. The specific degree field depends on your area of interest. Graduates must also complete a state-approved teacher preparation program, often part of the degree program itself. These programs give students the skills they need to succeed in the classroom, as well as fulfilling state requirements for fieldwork, experience and workshops.
Master’s programs also can serve this purpose. Graduates from the MST program at SUNY New Paltz earn an advanced childhood education degree that qualifies them for initial teacher certification in New York.
Earn Initial Teacher Certification
After earning a bachelor’s degree and completing a state-approved teacher preparation program, the next step involves passing state exams to earn initial teacher certification. Teachers must pass three state exams: the Educating All Students (EAS) exam; the Ed Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA); and the Content Specialty Test(s) in the teacher’s area of certification.
Earning Professional Certification
New York requires all teachers to hold a master’s degree within five years after qualifying for initial teacher certification. Those who already hold a master’s degree must still meet experience requirements before earning professional certification: at least three years of teaching in their certification area and one year of mentored teaching. Once earned, a professional certification remains valid throughout a teacher’s career as long as they meet the requirement of 175 hours of professional development every five years.
MST vs. MAT
The alternative route to enter the teaching profession typically involves completing an MST or Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree. Both are good for people with no prior teaching experience. The MAT is best for those wanting to teach in middle school or high school, while the MST is a better choice for those interested in teaching elementary or Pre-K. This includes career changers who transitioning into teaching.
The SUNY MST program is ideal for those with bachelor’s degrees in fields outside of education who are ready to teach in New York, whether you’re changing careers or just starting out. The program focuses on preparing teachers to work with diverse student populations. It features a curriculum covering core concepts, pedagogical best practices and the broader socio-economic context of schooling in the U.S.
The MST program requires students to participate in three fieldwork placements for a minimum of 120 hours, plus completion of two student teaching placements in which they demonstrate knowledge of early childhood/childhood education best practices. The MST program offers various student learning outcomes that make graduates better teachers. They include:
For those who earned a bachelor’s degree in another field motivated to join the teaching profession, earning an MST provides them a proven pathway to becoming a teacher in New York.