Alternative Pathways to Teaching

Career Administrator

Interested in teaching and education, but not currently in the Curry School or don't hold a teaching license? Don't worry - there are multiple ways you can transition to a teaching career. There are three main avenues you can pursue, namely:

  • Applying for a teaching residency program
  • Teaching in a private or independent school
  • Attending graduate school

Most alternative pathways require a bachelor’s degree, preferably in the subject the applicant want to teach in. Make sure you check teaching license requirements of the state you want to teach in - they can very by location.


Teaching Residencies

You don’t need a teaching certification or education background to apply for a teaching residency, but many look for at least some relevant courses or experience with kids. Teacher residency programs are a hybrid of a full-year classroom apprenticeship with graduate-level education content, often focusing on bringing in quality recent grads to teach in areas of high need. There are a lot of different types of teaching residency programs. Some provide short-term training while others pair a teacher-in-training with a mentor teacher. In addition, some residencies often require that trainees work toward a master’s degree in education. Some ask applicants to commit to teaching in a specific district for three or more years beyond the residency, creating a teacher pipeline. Others only require a short-term one or two-year commitment. Come chat with a counselor to talk about what program is right for you.

A Sample of Residency Programs:

Independent and Private Schools

While it varies by institution, for most private schools, you don’t need a license to teach to apply for a job! They often hire uncertified teachers who have some sort of experience or background in a specific field, for example, having an undergraduate history major or master’s in English. Since private schools do not adhere to the same state regulations/requirements, they are also more flexible in their curriculum. Teachers are often expected to wear many hats and may be assigned responsibilities to coach sports, handle administrative work, or serve as resident faculty in dorms beyond their time in the classroom.

Teacher Placement and Independent School Information:

Graduate School

Attending graduate school is the most traditional route of these three when considering a pathways to certification. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree to apply, and there are many universities across the nation that offer teaching licensure certifications.

UVA’s Curry School of Education is ranked 18th in the nation as the best education university (US News & World Report), and has several individual programs ranked in the top 10. Curry offers the 5-year Bachelor's/Master of Teaching degree, Post-Graduate Master of Teaching for Secondary (one-year) and PG-Graduate Master of Teaching for Elementary or Special Education (two-year). Some programs like Mary Baldwin University also offer a post-bac teaching licensure program designed for career switchers. If financing graduate school is a problem, be sure to reach out to the university’s financial aid office and apply for grants from outside scholarships.

Additional Resources

For a sample list of more options, check out the ECYD “Find Opportunities” page