Educator licensure requirements apply to teachers, specialist teachers, professional support personnel and school administrators. Maintaining educator licenses is the responsibility of the educator. Being employed in a Massachusetts public school without holding the correct license is illegal.

Teachers may work up to 20 percent of the school day outside of the field of their license. To check the requirements for a specific license, please visit the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s web page on educator licensure at


A Provisional License is valid for five years of employment and may not be renewed. The most common path to obtaining a Provisional License is by passing the communications and literacy portions of the Massachusetts Tests for Education Licensure (MTEL) and a subject-area MTEL. Teachers working under a Provisional License are required to hold the SEI Endorsement or obtain it within one year if there are English language learners in the teacher’s assigned classes.

According to changes approved in 2017, an educator will be permitted a total of only five years of employment under a Provisional License after July 1, 2019, even if the educator holds more than one Provisional License.


An Initial License requires passing scores on the appropriate MTEL exam and completion of a DESE-approved educator preparation program. An Initial License is valid for five years of employment and may be extended once, for five years. After that time, an educator is required to advance to a Professional License. Any new application for an Initial License for core academic teachers, supervisors/directors and principals/assistant principals requires the Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement.


A Temporary License is granted to an educator who holds an out-of-state license and has taught for three years. The license is valid for one year. The educator must complete application requirements to obtain a Massachusetts license after one year of employment under a temporary license.


An educator may apply for a Professional License only after completing three years of employment under an Initial License in the same field. Time spent employed while working under a Provisional, Temporary License or a waiver does not count toward obtaining a Professional License. In addition to the three years of employment under the Initial License, an educator must have completed a district induction and mentoring program, and additional advanced study in the field. Please check specific requirements at


Any educator working without a valid license must have a waiver if he or she will be teaching without the appropriate license for more than 20 percent of his or her role or employed as a long-term substitute for 90 days or longer. Only a superintendent may apply for a waiver, and the district must demonstrate that a more suitable licensed applicant for a position is not available.

A waiver is valid for one year, and an educator must demonstrate progress toward earning a license in order for a waiver to be renewed for an additional year. Employment under a waiver does not automatically apply toward Professional Teacher Status (PTS) for educators who have not yet obtained PTS.