How You Can Become a Licensed Teacher in the State of Tennessee Through WGU Tennessee
WGU Tennessee offers bachelor’s, master’s, or post-baccalaureate teacher preparation programs that prepare students for certification for initial teacher licensure in the state of Tennessee.
The Path to Teacher Licensure in Tennessee
Below is the standard process for earning your initial teaching license in the state of Tennessee through WGU Tennessee. For answers to specific questions, please read the FAQ below.
1a. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree.
WGU Tennessee’s online bachelor’s teaching degree programs include coursework and assessments, a preclinical experience that includes observation hours and teaching lessons, and Demonstration Teaching (student teaching, explained in step 5).
1b. Complete a Teacher Prep Program or Master’s Degree (if you already have a bachelor’s degree).
If you already possess a bachelor’s degree, one of WGU Tennessee's Post-Baccalaureate or Master of Arts in Teaching programs are the choice for you. These Teacher Prep programs qualify you to become licensed in the field of your choice (Elementary Education or secondary Mathematics, Science, or Social Science), training you to become a highly qualified teacher. These programs include supervised practice teaching (see step #5: Demonstration Teaching) in an actual classroom setting.
2. Pass a Background Check.
The state of Tennessee requires all teacher certification program candidates to provide the university with verification of a cleared background check prior to placement in the classroom for preclinical experiences and Demonstration Teaching. This is a necessary precaution designed to prevent from entering the classroom those who may pose a danger to the students in the classroom. You must be at least 18 years of age before you may begin the application process or participate in preclinical experiences and Demonstration Teaching.
3. Pass Basic Skills, Content, and Pedagogy Exams.
The state of Tennessee has specific testing requirements that must be met or completed in addition to completing your teaching degree program at WGU Tennessee. Students must complete and pass:
1. Basic Skills Exam: Pass the Basic Skills Exam required by WGU Tennessee for students who reside in Tennessee.
2. Content Exam: You must pass the designated Content Exam(s) required by Tennessee for certification.
3. WGU Program Exam: WGU Tennessee also requires you to pass a specific Praxis exam to graduate from your program (with the exception of elementary programs) in addition to the Content Exam(s) required by Tennessee.
4. Pedagogy Exam: Finally, Tennessee requires the completion of a Pedagogy Exam, which assesses your knowledge of teaching methods.
4. Complete Preclinical Experiences.
In preparation for your formal Demonstration Teaching (described in step 5 below), you will complete preclinical experiences designed to introduce you to the classroom through a series of activities, including observations and lesson planning. Working under the guidance of a WGU Tennessee Placement Specialist, you will be asked to make arrangements with a local school to complete these activities.
5. Complete a Term of In-Classroom Student Teaching (Demonstration Teaching).
Demonstration Teaching (or student teaching) is a critical component of any teaching degree program. This in-classroom experience is invaluable in helping you integrate the academic knowledge and teaching skills you’ve developed to this point into a practical application that will prepare you to tackle the challenges of your own classroom effectively and with confidence.
Demonstration Teaching (DT) at WGU Tennessee covers the competencies required for in-classroom proficiency. DT is a full-time, supervised, in-classroom experience of a minimum of 12–20 weeks. During DT, you will be hosted by an experienced teacher. You will undergo a series of at least six observations by a Clinical Supervisor and also receive evaluations from your Host Teacher to evaluate your performance based on accepted professional standards.
As you approach your Demonstration Teaching, a WGU Tennessee Placement Specialist will work with you to set up your placement. The process of scheduling your DT placement may take up to six months. You may be required to assist in the process of setting up your placement. In some cases, you may be required to commute up to two hours (or in rare cases longer than this). Note that students are not permitted to work during their DT experience. You must be at least 18 years of age before you may begin the application process or participate in preclinical experiences or DT.
Demonstration Teaching may not be waived, and prior experience may not be used to satisfy this requirement as you must demonstrate competency in the classroom in order to complete your WGU Tennessee degree program.
Upon completion of your WGU Tennessee program, you can apply directly for your initial teaching license with the Tennessee Department of Education. The steps described above give you a general idea of what’s required, but we recommend that you speak to an Enrollment Counselor to learn more. You can also learn more by visiting:
What grades will I be able to teach?
Your WGU Tennessee program will align with specific grade levels defined by your state Department of Education.
Does WGU Tennessee have NCATE accreditation?
Yes, as part of Western Governors University, WGU Tennessee’s online teaching programs are NCATE approved.
What is NCATE accreditation and what does it mean to me?
NCATE is the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Five groups were instrumental in the creation of NCATE: The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC), the National Education Association (NEA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the National School Boards Association (NSBA). NCATE is the agency responsible for accreditation in teacher education, representing a strong, independent quality-assurance mechanism composed of all key stakeholders in education.
NCATE accreditation is a mark of distinction and provides recognition that WGU’s Teachers College has met national professional standards for the preparation of teachers and other educators. WGU is the first exclusively online teacher education institution in the nation to have earned this distinction.
How long will the licensing program take?
It depends on the individual student and varies by program. Refer to your individual program guide for the projected standard path and number of terms to completion.