Educator Resources


Assistant Commissioner of Office of Teaching Initiatives


April 29, 2011


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From: Robert G. Bentley

Professional Certificate – Master’s Degree Requirement

I write to provide updated guidance regarding the Master’s Degree requirement for Professional Certification.  As more teachers are now applying for Professional certificates, The Office of Teaching Initiatives has experienced a number of situations where certain Master’s Degree Programs may not be registered under Department regulations to culminate in a new teaching certificate.  When this occurs, the Office of Teaching Initiatives frequently evaluates whether the subject area of the applicant’s Master’s Degree is the same as that of the Initial certificate or a sufficiently related subject area.  When the new regulations took effect, we published a guidance chart for certificate areas and related Master’s Degree areas.  We are now updating this chart based on several years of experience.


            Effective, in 2004, new certification regulations changed the types of certificates issued (i.e., Initial/Professional) and the requirements for these new certificates. These changes included more specific requirements for the Master’s Degree needed for Professional certification.  In addition to the requirement for degree completion at a regionally accredited Institution of Higher Education (IHE) or from an institution authorized by the Regents to grant degrees, the Master’s degree had to also meet one of the following criteria:

  • The degree must be part of a graduate level teacher preparation program registered  by SED as leading to an Initial or Professional certificate or its equivalent, or
  • The degree must have been accepted previously to satisfy requirements for another Permanent or Professional classroom teacher certificate, or
  • The degree must be in the Initial certificate area or related area, or
  • The degree may be in any field, however, the applicant for Professional certification must complete twelve semester hours of graduate study in the content area of the Initial certificate or related area.

Field Guidance:

            In the course of applying the above criteria to many applications over the last several years and after consultation with other staff in the Office of Higher Education along with individuals in the field, we have determined that Master’s Degrees from regionally accredited colleges and universities that focus on grades PreK-12 in Special Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Instructional Technology, Literacy, Bilingual Education, and Teaching English as a Second Language are also considered to be sufficiently related and therefore qualifying for Professional certification.  Master’s Degrees in these fields from IHEs located outside New York State must also be completed at an IHE that offers teacher certification programs approved by the state in which the institution is located. For additional information regarding related Master’s degrees see which also contains a chart with many common degrees or degree majors. This web page provides further guidance to those teachers holding Initial certificates who are seeking to meet the Master’s Degree requirement for the Professional certificate.

            Teachers who have additional questions regarding the required Master’s Degree should review the frequently asked questions available at the above link.  If the teacher’s question is still not answered, he/she may share and discuss the information available on our website with a college Master’s degree advisor. 


cc: James Baldwin
Valerie Grey
Allison Armour-Garb
Ken Slentz
Rebecca Cort
Barbara Meinert
Raymond Kesper
Regional Certification Officers

Last Updated: May 3, 2011
June 4, 2018June 4, 2018