Frequently Asked Questions


What are the requirements to become a teacher?

Teaching is a regulated profession just like medicine, law and accounting. In order to teach in a New York State public school, you first need to get a license or certificate – the more common term for a teaching license. Teachers get certified to work with specific age groups and to teach individual academic subjects. To qualify for a teaching certificate, you have to satisfy the educational, experiential, and testing requirements specific to each certificate.

Your first task in becoming a teacher is to think about what age group you want to work with and if there is a particular subject you want to teach. That way you will know what type of certificate to pursue.

Then, look for a New York State-approved degree program that will prepare you for the teaching certificate you want. We do not offer any undergraduate certification programs. The School of Education offers many New York state-approved graduate degree programs that lead to initial or professional teaching certificates. For a list of these certificate programs, please go to Teacher Education.

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I want to teach elementary school. I have a bachelor’s degree, but I haven’t taken any education classes. What should I do?

Teaching is a regulated profession just like medicine, law and accounting. In order to teach in a New York State public elementary school you first need to get a license or certificate – the more common term for a teaching license. Elementary teachers get a Childhood Education certificate to work in grades 1 through 6. To qualify for a Childhood Education certificate, you have to satisfy the educational, experiential, and testing requirements specific to that certificate. A New York state-approved degree program in Childhood Education will prepare you for the teaching certificate and the career you want.

Although the School of Education does not offer a specific Childhood Education certification program, we do offer a combined certification program in Special Education and Literacy that will prepare you for three different teaching certificates, including Childhood Education 1-6. The M.S. program in Special Education and Literacy does not require applicants to have any previous education coursework or prior certification. It is a full-time, 67-credit program that takes two years to complete. At the end of those two years, you will be prepared to teach Literacy (birth – Grade 6), Childhood Education (Grades 1-6), and Special Education (Grades 1-6).

 Our combined program might take longer to complete than a stand-alone Childhood Education program, but we think it is worth the extra time to earn the two additional teaching certificates that complement and support Childhood Education.

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I have my initial certificate. How do I get a professional teacher certification?

One of the many requirements for earning your professional certification is getting a master’s degree. The School of Education offers many graduate degree programs that are New York State-approved for professional teacher certification depending on your area of initial certification. Please contact the PIE Center for help in determining which programs are appropriate for you.

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Is there someone I could contact with my questions about UAlbany graduate programs or teacher certification?

Yes, you can contact The Pathways Into Education Center at (518) 442-3529 or PIECenter@albany.edu.

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What’s the difference between a School Psychologist and a School Counselor?

A School Psychologist provides comprehensive psychoeducational and mental health services to children and youth, most typically in schools. He or she engages in academic and social/emotional assessment, consultation, in-service training, counseling, and other services. School Psychologists emphasize the use of data-based problem solving, including the use of assessment linked to intervention and evidence-based treatments for academic and behavioral problems.

A School Counselor is a development specialist who addresses the personal, social, and vocational needs of school-aged children and young adults. School counselors provide individual counseling, academic counseling, and group counseling to target personal and social adjustment as well as academic and career readiness. They may also coordinate and provide resources needed for school-wide programming.

Both School Psychology and School Counseling are regulated public school professions. In order to become a School Counselor or Psychologist, you must satisfy a set of educational and experiential requirements specific to each field. The School of Education offers both a CAS in School Psychology as well as a PsyD in School Psychology. We do not offer a program leading to certification as a School Guidance Counselor.

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How do I become a school administrator?

New York State issues 3 different school administrator certificates:

- School Building Leadership (SBL)
- School District Leadership (SDL)
- School District Business Leadership (SDBL)

UAlbany’s School of Education is a national leader in the field of Educational Administration. In order to be eligible for our Advanced Graduate Certificate in School Building Leadership or School District Leadership, you need to have a permanent or professional certificate in Teaching or Pupil Personnel Services (e.g. School Counseling, School Psychology). In order to be eligible for our Advanced Graduate Certificate in School District Business Leadership, you need to have a master’s degree. All the programs require coursework and an internship.

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Should I get a PhD in Counseling Psychology or Clinical Psychology?

It really depends on what type of work you want to do in the field of psychology. Clinical Psychologists assess and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral abnormalities and pathologies. These range from short-term crisis, such as difficulties resulting from adolescent rebellion, to severe, chronic conditions such as schizophrenia.

Counseling Psychologists specialize in the facilitation of human growth and development. While recognition of abnormality and pathology is an essential skill, Counseling Psychology emphasizes patterns of normal development as well as the theory and methods related to prevention and remediation of inter-personal human concerns. Counseling Psychologists frequently provide vocational and career assessment and guidance.

The Counseling Division of our Educational & Counseling Psychology Department offers an APA accredited Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology.

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Does UAlbany have an undergraduate certification program?

No, UAlbany does not have an undergraduate certificate program. We do offer an education minor which offers introductory courses in education. There are also educators clubs and an honor society for undergraduates.

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Does UAlbany have online degree programs or courses?

Yes, UAlbany offers four fully online Master's degrees and an online certificate of graduate study in the School of Education.

M.S. in Curriculum Development & Instructional Technology
Certificate in Online Learning and Teaching (COLT)
M.S. in Childhood Education
M.S. in Early Childhood Education
M.S. in Reading

These programs as well as individual online courses from the School of Education are run through the Blackboard Learning System. Please contact the Pathways Into Education Center with questions about online programs.

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