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Alternative Teacher Preparation Program - Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are Alternative Teacher Preparation (ATP) programs?

Alternative teacher preparation programs are teacher education programs offered by colleges and universities (IHE's) in partnership with local school districts.  The purpose of these programs is to prepare teachers for rapid entry into teaching in shortage areas.  The IHEs must have programs registered for this purpose.

2. How did ATP programs come into existence?

On July 14, 2000, the Board of Regents approved regulations permitting alternative teacher preparation programs.  The purpose of the regulation was to attract highly competent people who hold at least a bachelor's degree (with a major in the subject to be taught or the liberal arts and sciences) into teaching to address a statewide teacher shortage.

3. How do ATP programs differ from traditional teacher preparation programs?

In a traditional teacher preparation program, a candidate completes all the necessary study and required exams leading to the first teaching certificate before beginning employment in a school district. The program could lead to a baccalaureate or a master's degree, or a certificate of program completion. Institutions offering the programs ensure that all the required preparation has been completed before a candidate can be recommended for a teaching certificate and employed as a teacher.

ATP programs are designed for candidates who already have strong academic backgrounds in the areas they wish to teach. They are designed to prepare candidates to be teachers of record before completing the requirements for initial certification. Candidates complete a 200-clock hour introductory component (including 40 clock hours of field experiences) and must pass several New York State Teacher Certification examinations to qualify for the Transitional B teaching certificate.  The candidate then becomes eligible for employment in a partnering school or district as a beginning teacher.   The candidate receives mentoring support and college supervision while completing his or her degree while teaching.

4. Is the ATP program designed to make it easier to become a teacher?

No, it is not easier, it is just different.  All candidates in both traditional and alternative programs must ultimately meet the same standards for teacher preparation.

5. Does the NYS Education Department offer these ATPs?

No, the NYS Education Department does not provide ATP programs.  Only colleges and universities are authorized to offer these programs in NYS, in partnership with school districts.

6. Will all colleges and school districts in the State participate in this program?

No. We expect that school districts experiencing teacher shortages may be interested in partnering with colleges that serve their communities.  If school districts are presently not experiencing teacher shortages, there may be little incentive for them to participate in this program.

7. Which colleges are participating in the program?

Go to The Inventory of Registered Programs (IRP) for a listing of colleges participating in the program. Select "Programs by Subject Area - Programs Bachelor's and Higher" and then "08 Education" in the subsequent menus.

8. How does a college become eligible to offer an ATP program?

IHEs who are interested in offering ATP programs must submit an application for Program Registration just like any other college, with some specific information that only applies to ATP programs.

Go to Register a Program to Prepare Candidates for State Teacher, Educational Leader, or Pupil Personnel Services Certification for complete application  and supplemental materials.

9. What qualifications do I need in order to enroll in an ATP Program?

First, you must meet all admission requirements established by the institution for matriculating into its program.  In addition, minimum requirements for ATP programs, established in Commissioner's Regulations, are:

  • completion of a baccalaureate degree program with a major in the subject area you wish to teach (for middle/high school subjects) or one of the liberal arts and sciences (for elementary grades);
  • at least 30 semester hours in the certification area that may include up to 12 semester hours in cognates (related subjects);
  • a 3.0 undergraduate grade point average or a positive recommendation from the college offering the ATP program stating that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in the program;
  • a minimum score, to be set by the institution, on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), or a substantially equivalent admission assessment; and 
  • prior to commencing teaching, you must pass the Educating All Students test (EAS) and the Content Specialty Test (CST) in the subject area in which you plan to teach.  For more information go to Search Certification Requirements.
10. How do I apply for such a program?

ATP Programs are offered by colleges and universities who have had programs reviewed and registered by the Department's Office of College and University Evaluation for this purpose. You must apply directly through the IHE offering the program.

See #7 for instructions on locating a list of colleges participating in the program.

11. When will I begin to earn a salary if I am enrolled in an ATP program?

After completing the 200 clock hour introductory component and passing the required tests, you will qualify for a Transitional B certificate, which makes you eligible for employment as a full-time teacher.  A teacher employed with a Transitional B Certificate will receive a salary that is determined by the employing school district.

12. How long will it take me to complete an ATP program?

This depends in part on your educational background and experience when you enter the program. Most ATP programs are intended to be completed in two years, though this varies by institution.  Colleges may offer ATP programs that require up to three years to complete or a one-year extension may be provided for the candidate to achieve a bilingual extension.  Candidates may also be required to make up certain coursework deficiencies before completing the program.

13. What is a Transitional B certificate?

A Transitional B certificate is an electronic teaching certificate obtained by a candidate enrolled in an ATP program that qualifies an individual to teach in the public schools of New York State,  after completing an introductory component of the registered program and passing required NYS exams, currently the  EAS and CST.  It is valid for up to three years, and only as long as the candidate is enrolled in an ATP program and is teaching in a partner school.

14. Is the Transitional B certificate valid for teaching any subject or grade?

No.  Based on the candidate's qualifications and education program, the certificate is issued for a specific subject/grade.  For example, if you are issued a Transitional B certificate to teach Mathematics in grades 7-12, you may not use it to teach in a different subject area or developmental level.

15. Can I get a Transitional B certificate without entering a college's teacher education program?

No.  You must be enrolled in a teacher education program registered as an Alternative Teacher Preparation Program, as well as complete the introductory component and pass the EAS and the CST, to qualify for a Transitional B certificate.  The certificate then allows you to teach for up to three years in a school that has partnered with a college's ATP program. 

16. How long is a Transitional B certificate valid?

A Transitional B certificate is valid for up to three years while the individual is matriculated in the Transitional B program. When a student completes or leaves the program, the certificate is no longer valid. The Transitional B certificate may be extended for up to two years in the event the candidate requires additional time to complete the preparation program.

17. Where can I teach with a Transitional B certificate and do I always have to teach for the school district in which I started?

You may teach with a Transitional B certificate, in a school district that has partnered with the IHE offering the Alternative Teacher Preparation program.  Once you have completed the Alternative Teacher Preparation program, you can be recommended by your IHE for an Initial or Professional teaching certificate, which can be used in any public school district throughout New York State.

18. Do I always have to teach the same subject I started in?

You can only teach the subject for which you have a valid certificate.  However, it is possible to take additional courses that may qualify you for additional or supplemental certificates.