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Choosing an Educator Prep Program

With the right preparation and mentorship, you can become a great teacher.
Browse Programs

Choosing an Educator Prep Program

With the right preparation and mentorship, you can become a great teacher.
Browse Programs

To become a fully licensed teacher in a North Carolina public school, you need to complete an approved educator preparation program (EPP). EPPs arm you with the skills, experience and knowledge to teach in your chosen grade and subject. Not all EPPs are the same, though.

How to Pick an EPP

Here's what current teachers, educator prep program officials, and school district HR chiefs (you know, the experts) say you should look for when selecting an educator prep program (EPP).

Everyone seems to agree: The more hands-on, pre-service experience in the classroom—where you observe and practice with an effective teacher who gives you helpful feedback—the better.

Why is this important?

Practice makes perfect. In fact, teachers with pre-service (classroom) experience as a part of their prep program are more likely to feel prepared for their first year in the classroom. Having the opportunity to observe other teachers and practice teaching is important for success as a first-year teacher.

What can this look like?

Pre-service, hands-on experience can come in a variety of forms.

In traditional undergraduate or master's programs, your pre-service program typically includes one or two semesters of working in an experienced teacher’s classroom. This is usually called "student teaching" and often occurs during your final year. 

Some alternative licensure programs offer several weeks of pre-service practice with an experienced teacher during summer school, and some will allow you to do a semester of student teaching while enrolled.

Residency programs, or one-year programs for candidates that meet the content requirements of licensure but may still need pedagogy requirements, usually offer a full year of pre-service teaching experience, where you may have some practice in the summer and then a "clinical year" embedded in a school. 

Heads Up: Several alternative licensure programs have "internship" components. This can sound like pre-service experience, but it is just the term for your first year as the primary adult in the classroom before the program has recommended you to receive your license. Some programs will have pre-service experience before this internship year—just make sure you understand the details of the program components before you sign up. For more information about our partner programs, click on a program in the Program Explorer and read the profile.

As a rule of thumb, more pre-service experience is better, but quality definitely matters. Make sure to ask any prospective programs about what the pre-service experience entails, including how long it lasts, how they select mentor teachers and how you will receive feedback on your practice.

  • Hands on, pre-service experience

  • Preparation for teaching diverse populations

  • Mentoring and coaching

  • Commitment to improvement

  • Use data to pick the right program

3 Ways to Complete Your Teacher Preparation

Everyone approaches the teaching profession differently. Depending on where you are in your current situation, you might consider earning your teaching license as part of your undergraduate degree, or as part of your master's degree or post-graduate coursework. You might also consider an alternative licensure program. 

Here are a few recommendations on where to start if you currently have:

  • A high school degree: Consider undergraduate licensure + bachelor’s
  • Some higher education, but no bachelor’s degree: Consider undergraduate licensure + bachelor’s
  • A bachelor’s degree, but not in education: Consider post-graduate licensure or alternative licensure
  • A bachelor's degree from another state/country: Apply for your North Carolina license today!

Click through the tabs below for more information about each path. And don't forget, we have coaches on hand ready to answer any questions you have about the different pathways to teaching.


  • Complete your educator preparation program as part of earning your bachelor’s degree, reducing total cost and time.
  • Great for individuals who decide in high school or early in college that they want to become a teacher.
  • Undergraduate licensure + bachelor’s

  • Post-graduate licensure

  • Alternative licensure

Not All Programs Offer Everything

Double-check that your program:

Start Exploring

Ready to explore some EPPs? Our program explorer, 1-on-1 coaching and the North Carolina EPP dashboard can help you find your best fit.
  • Browse Programs

    Find educator prep programs that match your needs. 

  • 1-on-1 Coaching

    Need help thinking through your options? Chat with an expert to talk more about your choices for educator prep.


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