New York’s public schools serve more than 2.5 million students across 735 districts in the state, according to The New York City district alone is the largest district in the United States, both in terms of students and spending. Career teachers are needed more than ever: The demand for elementary, middle and secondary school teachers in New York State is expected to grow by 7.5% through 2026 and New York is a top-10 hiring region, according to the labor database Burning Glass.

This page offers a broad overview geared towards students researching Adelphi’s online graduate degrees in education. Please visit the New York State Education Department (NYSED) teacher certification page to view full, official details for certification and check for recently updated information.

Already know the type of certificate you need? Use the links below to access info specific to your certification needs.

NYSED Certification Overview

In New York State, all teachers and administrators, as well as many school personnel, must be certified. You cannot teach in NYS public schools without certification.

There are many different types of NYS teaching certificates and licenses. Adelphi’s College of Education and Health Sciences has a brief overview of the different credentials.

In general, certificates and licenses require:

  • A college degree
    • Most initial certificates require an undergraduate degree
    • Professional certificates require a graduate degree
  • Certification exams
  • Workshops
  • Classroom teaching experience
  • Mentored experience (teaching supervised by an experienced teacher)
  • Fingerprint clearance
  • The applicant to be a U.S. citizen or hold INS Permanent Residence
Many certificates have additional requirements, such as taking classes in specific subject areas or gaining additional on-site experience. You can check the requirements for your area of interest at the NYSED website.

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Initial and Professional Teaching Certificates

Two important certificates for teachers in New York are the initial certificate and the professional certificate. Think of these as entry-level and advanced credentials, respectively.

A key difference between them is the required education: initial certificate holders need to complete a program that leads to certification, while professional certificate holders must have a master’s degree and three or more years of paid, full-time teaching experience.


Initial Certificate

Previously known as a provisional certificate

An initial certificate is the first step for teachers, administrators and other school personnel. This is a starter credential that is good for five years. During this time, you must complete the necessary requirements and apply for a professional certificate. In some cases, you may qualify for a time extension so that your initial certificate is valid beyond five years.

Pathways to Initial Certification
While all certifications are issued by the NYSED, there are multiple pathways to certification. These pathways depend on your previous experience and how you would like to earn your certificate. The NYSED Office of Teaching Initiatives website lays out 10 potential pathways, which are based on your educational and professional experience.

A couple common pathways to an initial certificate are:

  • Completing an approved teacher preparation programs, such as the Adelphi online Master of Arts in Art Education
  • Fulfilling the requirements independently and being evaluated by a regional certification office

Professional Certificate

Previously known as a permanent certificate

The next step for initial certificate holders who want a career working in schools is to obtain a permanent certificate. This credential is a lifetime qualification, though professional certificate holders must complete a certain number of hours of continuing teacher and leader education (CTLE) every five years.

To move to a professional certificate, you must have:

  • A current initial certificate
  • Paid, full-time school teaching experience (usually three years required)
  • A master’s degree from an accredited college or university

For specific subject-area requirements, use the certification search tool at the NYSED website.

The Certificate Progression Pathway
Graduate students in the Adelphi MA in Educational Technology (MA in EdTech) and in the MA in Art Education (MA in Art Ed) who want to teach in New York State usually proceed to their professional certificate through the pathway known as the “Certificate Progression Pathway.”

These students hold an initial certificate in the state and have the required two years of teaching experience. Once they earn their master’s through Adelphi, they apply for their professional certificate themselves directly through the NY Education Department’s online NYS TEACH system.

How an Adelphi Master’s Matches Your New York State Certification Plans

Adelphi University is based in Long Island and has a deep connection to New York. We partner with educational institutions across the state to give our students practical experience and to gain real-world insight from working teachers and administrators. Whether you are a recent grad or an established professional, you’ll have the support you need to take the next steps in your career.


I Need an Initial Certificate

The MA in Art Ed’s curriculum and fieldwork lead to eligibility for a Visual Arts Pre-K–12 certificate.

This art education master’s offers a unique hybrid approach: MA in Art Ed students take their classes online and do their field work in person. Adelphi will work with you to secure a placement in a New York K-12 classroom. You’ll graduate prepared to earn your Visual Arts Pre-K–12 initial teaching certification.

Note: While the MA in Art Ed leads to an initial certificate, the MA in EdTech does not. It is meant for already-certified teachers who want to pursue their professional certificate. See below for more information.


I Need a Professional Certificate

The MA in EdTech and the MA in Art Ed fulfill graduate education requirements.

According to NYSED, those pursuing the professional certificate must have a master’s degree that’s from a “regionally accredited institution of higher education” and includes at least “12 graduate semester hours in the content core.”

Adelphi’s MA in EdTech and the MA in Art Ed fulfill these requirements.

  • The MA in EdTech is considered “related to ALL content areas” by the NYSED and can be applied to any subject matter, with the exception of the STEM pathway. Your professional certificate will be in the same subject area/grade level as your initial certificate.
  • The MA in Art Ed fulfills the coursework content core for the Visual Arts Pre-K–12 professional certificate.

How to Get Started With Your Education Master’s at Adelphi

At Adelphi, we understand that certification is one of many reasons why our students choose to earn an advanced degree. In our education master’s programs, you’ll have many opportunities to shape the degree to your own goals and unique teaching style, while also meeting all the requirements you need to earn professional credentials.

To get started, download the program brochure for the MA in Educational Technology or the MA in Art Education. You can also talk with an Adelphi enrollment counselor by calling 888.252.4110.