FAQ for Upcoming Graduates

This website is designed as a resource for upcoming graduates in BSED and BME programs and for post bac, MAT and SEACT program students who are finishing their certification programs at Missouri State.  If you have a question that is not addressed below, please contact the Teacher Certification Office at 417-836-8772 and we will be glad to assist you.

1.  What if I don't want to start teaching right away?  Should I wait to request my certificate?
You should NEVER wait to get your certification, even if you never plan to teach.  Once certified, it is a very simple process to re-active your certificate if it expires. However, if you plan to go to graduate school or work outside of education for a few years and therefore decide to wait to request your certificate, you must meet all certification requirements in place at the time Missouri State recommends you for certification.  If certification requirements have changed since you graduated, you would be required to complete additional coursework before being recommended for certification.  So, we recommend that all graduates complete the certification process at the time of graduation.  This may save you a great deal of time and money later on. 

2.  How do I get verification of my certification for my job search? 
During student teaching, most students are also searching for their first teaching job.  Many school districts will require proof of your certification at the time of application.  Therefore, around mid-terms each semester the Teacher Certification Office sends out a letter to all students who have filed for graduation stating they will be certified at the conclusion of the current semester pending the completion of their remaining requirements (coursework and Praxis II exam).  That letter will also state the area of certification you are earning.  This mass mailing is only done once per semester, is mailed to your permanent address, and is only sent to those who have filed and have been approved for graduation.  Therefore, it is very important that you have filed for graduation at the very beginning of your student teaching semester.  This letter will not include areas of certification added through Praxis II exam.

3.  I received my verification letter, but it doesn't mention the certification I am adding through Praxis II exam.  What do I do?
Missouri State University can only verify for school districts the area of certification you are earning through the completion of a program at Missouri State.  We cannot verify areas that you are adding to your certificate by completing the Praxis II exam in that area.  We recommend students who are adding additional certificates through Praxis II exam attach a copy of those Praxis scores to your applications as verification.  Missouri State also cannot recommend you for certification in an area you are earning through Praxis II exam.  For instruction regarding how to add certification through Praxis II exam, visit our "adding additional certificates" website.

4.  How do I add additional certifications to my existing certificate?
For more information on adding additional certificates, please visit our "adding additional certificates" website.  The DESE application for additional certificates can be found in the DESE online certification system.  Please note:  You cannot apply for an "additional" certificate until your initial certificate has been issued by DESE.  

5.  When will I receive my actual teaching certificate?
At the end of each semester, education students will participate in graduation.  However, it is important to note that while everyone is allowed to walk at graduation, each year some students don't actually graduate.  After graduation, the Office of the Registrar at Missouri State starts the process of verifying graduation for each person who files for graduation, and the Teacher Certification Office starts the process of completing certification paperwork for each graduate.  This process will take several weeks.  Typically, it will be a month or more between graduation day and the day the Teacher Certification Office can actually recommend you for certification.  Here is a timeline for a typical spring semester as an example:

  • May 15th - Commencement Day
  • June 4th - Transcripts with final grades will be available.  Teacher Certification Office starts certifying all post bac, MAT and SEACT students.
  • June 12th - Transcripts with Degrees will be available.  Teacher Certification Office starts certifying all undergraduate and counseling MS students. Letters will be sent to all graduates verifying that they have been recommended for certification.  A copy of this letter should be given to your hiring school district.
  • June 30th - Your certificate should be available to view online in the DESE certification system.  Beginning Spring 2011 DESE will no longer mail paper certificates.   You can always check the status of your certification by logging into the DESE online certification system.  

6.  Is there anything else I need to do to get my certificate once I graduate?
All students are required to create a profile in the DESE online certification system and initiate an application for certification.  Detailed information on the process, including step-by-step instructions can be found on the Teacher Certification Office website.  That's the only "paperwork" you need to complete for your initial teaching certificate.  You also need to complete an FBI background check.  You were required to complete one prior to student teaching, and effective November 1, 2009 they are now valid for ONE year.  So, you as long as you have had an FBI background check within the last 9-10 months you won' need another one.  If your background check will be more than 12 months old at the time of certification, you must get a new one.  For instructions regarding the FBI Background check, visit our background check information website.

7.  What if I graduated but did not pass the Praxis II exam?
Missouri State University cannot recommend you for certification unless you have completed your program AND passed the Praxis II exam.  After graduation, we will send a letter to all graduates who did not pass Praxis asking your intentions.  Please make sure to return that letter to our office so we know your plans.  If you have a job offer but now will not be certified, you can be hired on a Provisional Teaching Certificate.  This would give you two years to pass the Praxis II exam while teaching in Missouri. 

8.  What if I didn't actually graduate?
Each semester, a few students are short a class or two for graduation and must return the following semester to finish their last courses.  If you have not graduated but are within 12 credit hours of finishing your program, you would be eligible for a Provisional Teaching Certificate.  If you will be starting a teaching position before your last courses are completed, you will need to file for a Provisional Certificate.  If you are finishing your last courses in a summer semester and will not start teaching until fall, this process will not be necessary as we will recommend you for certification at the end of summer and it will be back-dated to August 15th.

9.  How do I know the type of certificate I will receive and the effective date?
Everyone who earns certification at Missouri State University will be recommended for an "Initial Professional Certificate" (IPC).  This is a 4-year certificate.  Teachers will receive a "Teaching" certificate.  Counselors, Psychological Examiners and Administrators will receive a "Student Services" certificate.  However, all will be an IPC.  The effective date of your certificate depends on when you graduate and are recommended for certification.  Regardless of the actual date Missouri State submits your paperwork, your certificate will be dated as follows:

  • Fall Semester Graduates:  Effective January 1
  • Spring Semester Graduates:  Effective June 1
  • Summer Semester Graduates: Effective August 15

10.  What if I am moving out of state? How do I transfer my certification to another state?
Because you are completing a certification program at an NCATE and state-accredited institution, your certification is very transferable to other states.  However, each state has different certification requirements.  Some states, especially in the midwest will accept your certification with no additional coursework or testing.  Other states, especially on the east and west coast, may require that you complete additional testing or complete additional coursework before being issued a full certificate.  In those cases, you would be issued a "Provisional" certificate allowing you time to make up those deficiencies while teaching.  For information on transferring certification to all other states, please visit our Transferring to Other States website. 

11.  What if my certificate expires?  How do I renew it? 
For information on renewing an expired certificate, please visit our Renewing Your Certificate website. 

12.  I was told I need to complete a "Beginning Teacher Assistance Program" to maintain my certificate.  How do I do that?
If you are teaching, you will need to complete a Beginning Teacher Assistance Program to maintain your certificate.  Missouri State offers a Beginning Teacher Assistance Program (BTAP) in cooperation with 5 other institutions in SW Missouri to help you meet that DESE requirement.  If you are not teaching, there is no need to attend a BTAP workshop since you cannot maintain your certificate if you are not teaching. 

13.  On my job applications, it asks what type of certificate I will have earned.  What do I put? 
All graduates will be granted an "Initial Professional Certificate (IPC)" in the area they are pursuing for certification.  This is a 4-year certificate.  So, if you are an elementary education major, you would put on applications that you will have an Initial Professional Certificate (IPC) in Elementary Education (Grades 1-6).