How to Become a Teacher in Mississippi

How to Become a Certified Teacher in Mississippi

If you want to become a certified teacher in Mississippi, you must first meet the criteria set forth by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE). These include both testing and educational requirements that must be met before you can apply for licensure. Most teaching licenses will require you to have earned at least a bachelor's degree in education. However, there are some alternate routes to becoming a teacher if you have a bachelor's degree in a field other than education. We will cover the traditional and alternative routes to teacher licensure here.

There are many different types of teaching licenses in the State of Mississippi. These include:

  • Pre-service licenses for active students working towards licensure
  • Standard traditional licenses for teachers who possess at least a bachelor's degree in education
  • Nontraditional standard or alternate route licenses for students who possess or are working towards a non-education bachelor's degree
  • Special subject licenses for teachers who have education in a particular subject area
  • Career technical licenses for educators who possess an associate's degree and are experienced in a technical field
  • Reciprocity licenses for out of state teachers who are licensed but wish to teach in Mississippi
  • Administrator licenses for individuals who wish to serve in an administrative capacity

In addition to these licenses, there are special licenses for experienced individuals that are available by district request only.

Most Mississippi teaching licenses include four separate levels or "classes" that represent different degrees of educational accomplishment. Class A requires a bachelor's degree, class AA a master's, class AAA requires a specialist degree (which includes Juris Doctorate and Master of Fine Arts degrees), and class AAAA requires a doctorate. While the State of Mississippi does allow for a small number of unlicensed educators, these teachers are limited in the number of classes they can teach per day.

Mississippi Teacher Certification Programs

To get started, you'll want to find a Mississippi teacher preparation program. The State of Mississippi Department of Education only recognizes coursework and preparation programs offered through schools or colleges that are nationally or regionally accredited at the institutional level, so it's important to make sure your target school(s) meet this requirement. Regionally accredited schools are approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Some examples include the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

There are two kinds of accreditation: institution-level accreditation, which covers the entire school and programmatic accreditation, which covers specific programs within the school. several accrediting organizations, some of which are focused on specific areas of childhood education and development.

The Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is the most commonly cited accreditation organization for teacher programs at Mississippi colleges.

Accredited teacher preparation programs are taught in some of Mississippi's most highly regarded colleges. To give you an idea of what these look like, we'll dive into three of the top-ranked accredited and MDE approved colleges: Mississippi State University, The University of Mississippi, and The University of Southern Mississippi.

Mississippi State University Accreditation and Programs

Mississippi State University is accredited by CAEP and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). They offer the following teacher preparation programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

  • Elementary, Secondary, and Special Education - Bachelor of Science degree
  • Elementary - Master of Science degree and Educational Specialist
  • Secondary Education - Alternate Route Master of Arts degree
  • School Administration - Master of Science degree and Educational Specialist
  • Teacher Leadership - Master of Science degree and Educational Specialist

University of Southern Mississippi Accreditation and Programs

The University of Southern Mississippi is accredited by the CAEP and the SACSCOC. Their teacher preparation programs cover the following:

  • Elementary Education - Bachelor of Science degree
  • Secondary Education - Alternate Route Master of Arts Degree
  • Higher Education Administration - Master of Education degree, Doctor of Education degree, Doctor of Philosophy degree
  • Special Education - Bachelor of Science degree, Masters of Science degree, Education Specialist, Doctor of Philosophy
  • Curriculum and Instruction - Masters of Education degree
  • Educational Administration and Supervision - Master of Education, Education Specialist, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Philosophy

University of Mississippi Accreditation and Programs

The University of Mississippi is accredited by NCATE and offers the following Mississippi teacher preparation programs:

  • Elementary, Secondary, and Special Education - Bachelor of Arts in Education degree, Master of Education degree, Education Specialist, Doctor of Education degree, and Doctor of Philosophy degree
  • Higher Education - Master of Arts degree, Doctor of Education degree, and Doctor of Philosophy degree
  • Educational Leadership - Master of Education degree, Education Specialist, Doctor of Education degree, Doctor of Philosophy degree
  • Alternate Route - Professional Practice - Master of Arts in Teaching
  • Alternate Route - Mississippi Teacher Corps - Master of Arts in Teaching

Additionally, The University of Mississippi's undergraduate programs cover English, Science, Mathematics, and Social Studies as well as Health and Physical Education. They also offer graduate programs in Counselor Education and Early Childhood Education.

Mississippi Teacher Education Requirements

Minimum education requirements for teachers in Mississippi differ depending on the grade level taught. Educators at the Pre-Kindergarten level will need to complete a teacher education program or they may obtain a bachelor of science degree with an emphasis in child development. The degree must follow the standards set forth by the AAFCS, CAEP, or the NAEYC. Completion of a teaching education program is also a prerequisite for Kindergarten teachers in Mississippi. Teachers for grades 1-8 will need to complete an interdisciplinary program of study. If you are teaching grades 4-8, that interdisciplinary program will need to have two or more areas of concentration. Teaching grades 7-12 will require a major in an academic field or a combination of disciplines. If you wish to teach a subject such as English or Mathematics, a major in that subject is required.

All coursework completed requires a score of "C" or higher.

Mississippi Teacher Certification Test Requirements

Mississippi teacher testing requirements vary for different types of licenses. Modules from the Praxis tests, produced by the Educational Testing Service, are the most common assessments for Mississippi teacher testing requirements. Teachers wishing to teach on an Elementary school level will also need to take and pass the Pearson Foundations of Reading Assessment.

Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators

The Praxis Core is a computer-administered test that is meant to assess your knowledge and skills in reading, writing, and mathematics. It should be noted that the portion on Praxis Core Math of the Praxis Core Assessment provides an on-screen four-function calculator. These assessments can be broken down into three separate tests. Alternately, you have the option to take them all at the same time.

Tests are scored individually and reported directly to the Mississippi Department of Education. Assessment subjects, passing scores, and test codes for the Praxis Core Assessment tests are listed below. If you have already taken and passed the ACT or SAT equivalent you do not need to take the Praxis Core.

Assessment Subject Praxis Test Code Passing Score
Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading 5713 156
Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing 5723 162
Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics 5733 130

Praxis Subject Assessment

The Praxis Subject Assessment contains over 90 different tests. The Mississippi Board of Education requires only a portion of these to satisfy state teaching criteria. Subject areas for this assessment, test codes, and passing scores are included in the table below.

Assessment Subject Test Title Praxis Test Code Passing Score
Early Childhood Education of Young Children 5024 160
Elementary Education Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment 5017 153
Middle Grades Education Middle School English Language Arts
Middle School Mathematics
Middle School Science
Middle School Social Studies
5047
5164
5442
5089
164
150
147
149
Secondary Education Algebra I
Biology: Content Knowledge
Chemistry: Content Knowledge
Computer Science
Economics
English Language Arts: Content Knowledge
Geometry
Mathematics
Physics: Content Knowledge
Social Studies: Content Knowledge
Speech Communication: Content Knowledge
5162
5235
5245
5652
5911
5038
5163
5165
5265
5081
5221
148
150
151
149
150
167
139
152
139
150
143
All Grades Art: Content Knowledge
Health Education
Music: Content Knowledge
Physical Education: Content Knowledge
5134
5551
5113
5091
158
149
161
145
World Languages Chinese(Mandarin)
English to Speakers of Other Languages
French
German
Latin
Spanish
5665
5362
5174
5183
5601
5195
164
149
153
154
152
160
Administrator - School Leader School Leaders Licensure Assessment 6990 151
Special Education Braille Proficiency
Teaching Students With Behavioral Disorders and Emotional Disturbances
Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students
Core Knowledge and Applications
Fundamental Subjects: Content Knowledge
Core Knowledge and Applications
Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
0633
5372

5272
5354
5511
5354
5282
165
154

160
152
142
152
163
Instructional Support Personnel Audiology
Professional School Counselor
Library Media Specialist
School Psychologist
Speech-Language Pathology
5343
5421
5311
5402
5331
156
156
143
147
162

Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT)

The Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching Assessment is designed to test the educator's knowledge of the various methods and principles of teaching. Educators taking an alternate route to acquire their Mississippi teaching license are not required to take these Praxis tests. These tests, their test codes, and Praxis exam passing scores are included in the table below.

Assessment Subject Praxis Test Code Passing Score
Principles of Learning and Teaching
Early Childhood
5621 157
Principles of Learning and Teaching
Grades K-6
5622 160
Principles of Learning and Teaching
Grades 5-9
5623 160
Principles of Learning and Teaching
Grades 7-12
5624 157

Pearson Foundations of Reading Assessment

The Pearson Foundations of Reading Assessment tests your ability to teach reading. It covers reading development, instruction, and assessment and is aligned with the International Dyslexia Association Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading and the International Literacy Association Standards for Reading Professionals. This test is required for teachers who wish to teach at the Elementary Education level.

Mississippi Teaching Licensure Requirements

As stated above, Mississippi Department of Education licensure requirements vary by type of license. Below is a table outlining the types of licenses and the tests that are required for each one.

License Term ACT Or
Praxis Core
Praxis Subject
Assessment
PLT Foundations of
Reading Assessment
Educator License 5 yrs. X X X
Educator License - Elementary 5 yrs. X X X X
Educator License
Child Development Pre-K to K
5 yrs. X X X
Educator License
Guidance and Counseling
5 yrs. X
Educator License
Library and Media
5 yrs. X
Educator License
Performance Arts
X X
Educator License
Speech and Language Clinician
5 yrs. X
Educator License
Special Education Birth-K
Early Intervention
5yrs. X X
Educator License
Special Education
Mild to Moderate Disability K-12
5 yrs. X X X
Educator License
Audiologist
5 yrs. X
Educator License
Early Oral Intervention
X X
Educator License
Administration
5 yrs. X
Alternate Route
Educator License
5 yrs. X X
Alternate Route
Teach Mississippi Institute
3 yrs. X X
Alternate Route
Master of Arts in Teaching
3 yrs. X X
Alternate Route
Master of Arts in Teaching Grades 4-6
3 yrs. X X X
Alternate Route
American Board of Certification
1 yr. X X

Additional Mississippi Teacher Certification Requirements

In addition to the requirements listed above, teaching candidates must present documentation that verifies their lawful presence in the United States to apply for a Mississippi teaching license. United States citizens will need to provide this proof only once, usually during the initial licensure application process. Candidates and established teachers from other countries will be required to provide proof of lawful presence with every application for licensure, including license renewal. Before licensure, prospective teachers will also be fingerprinted and subjected to criminal history background checks.

Mississippi Teacher Licensing Process

Application for a Mississippi teaching license must be done online through the Educator Licensure Management System (ELMS). You can access this system through the Mississippi Department of Education's website. There, you can apply for Mississippi teaching licenses, upload any required documents, and check the status of your application. Processing may be anywhere from three to five weeks. Applications with a "pending" status of more than 180 days will be closed. If your application is closed and you did not receive your teaching license, you may reapply. If you are denied a teaching license, you may appeal the decision with the Mississippi Department of Education.

Mississippi Alternative Teacher Certification

In addition to the various types of traditional Mississippi teaching licenses, there are several alternate routes to licensure. The 5-year alternate route Administrator License requires that the candidate hold one of the following: a Master of Business Administration degree, a Master of Public Administration degree, a Master of Public Planning and Policy degree, or a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. Candidates must also have 5 years of administrative or supervisory experience during which they have directly supervised individuals or programs in their company, industrial field, or organization. Additional requirements are the completion of an MDE approved alternate route training program and a passing score on the School Leaders Licensure Assessment.

Alternate route Educator Licenses may be valid for one, three, or five years. All candidates for alternate route Educator Licenses must possess at the least a Bachelor's degree outside of the field of education. They must also have passed either the ACT (or SAT equivalent) or the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators and the Praxis Subject Assessment. Additional requirements for each alternate route license are listed below.

  • The 5-year alternate route Educator License requires the candidate to complete a 1 to 3-year alternate route program or a record of completion of student teaching in a state, NCATE, or CAEP approved program.
  • The alternate route Educator Teach Mississippi Institute License is offered in the areas of Art, Business, Biology, Chemistry, Chinese, Economics, English, French, German, Health, Home Economics, Latin, Library Medica, Marketing, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education, Physics, Social Studies, Spanish, Speech Communications and Special Education. It is valid for 3 or 5 years and requires admission to the Teach Mississippi Institute. Candidates must complete an 8 week online or in-person training session before applying for licensure.
  • The alternate route Educator Master of Arts in Teaching License is valid for 3 or 5 years. It is offered in the areas of Art, Business, Biology, Chemistry, Chinese, Computer Science, Economics, English, French, German, Health, Home Economics, Latin, Library Medica, Marketing, Math, Music, Physical Education, Physics, Social Studies, Spanish, Speech Communications and Special Education. Candidates will need to complete and provide online verification for 6 hours of pre-teaching courses and be enrolled in an MAT program. It should be noted that licensure requirements in Computer Science can only be completed through Mississippi State University while Special Education licensure requirements must be completed at either William Carey University or Mississippi State University.
  • The three-year alternate route Educator Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education Grades 4-6 License requires the enrollment of a candidate in an MAT program and the completion and online verification of 6 hours of pre-teaching courses. Candidates will also need to take and pass the Foundations of Reading Assessment. The passing score is 229.
  • The alternate route Educator American Board of Certification License is valid for either 1 or 5 years. Candidates must pass pre-testing assessments for enrollment in the American Board of Certification for Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) program. They must also pass the ABCTE Passport to Teaching exam to earn their certification. This license is offered in the areas of Biology, Chemistry, English, Mathematics, and Physics.

In addition to alternate route licenses, special licenses may be made available. There are Expert Citizen Licenses, JROTC licenses, the License for Veteran Teachers, and special, non-renewable licenses. Requirements are generally minimal for these licenses, but they are awarded by district request only.

Certification in Mississippi for Out-of-State Educators

The Mississippi Department of Education grants reciprocity licenses to out-of-state educators who wish to teach in Mississippi. Teachers with a valid license from another state may apply for a Mississippi teaching license. The candidate must be licensed in the state where they completed their program and they must submit verification that the program was approved for licensure in that state. This can be done by submitting an Institutional Program Verification Form (found on the MDE website) along with program documentation to the Division of Educator Licensure office.

There is currently no international teacher reciprocity in Mississippi. Candidates with a degree from outside of the United States must have all documents associated with the degree translated and evaluated by an evaluation agency approved by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. A detailed course-by-course evaluation must be submitted before applying for a Mississippi teaching license.

Mississippi Educator Advancement and Professional Development

It is important to think about long-term career goals as you begin your new job as a licensed teacher in Mississippi. Understanding the difference between career advancement and professional development is likewise important. Career advancement allows you to move forward in small steps. Pay raises are an example of career advancement. Professional development, however, defines where you want your career to eventually lead. The Mississippi Department of Education offers several paths to career advancement and professional development.

The best way to advance while working toward your professional goals is to invest in higher education. Earning a higher degree may not only raise your rate of pay, but it may also open new opportunities and take your career to the next level. While advancement routes for Mississippi teachers will vary from one teaching district to the next, a combination of experience and education will generally result not only in higher pay but also more advanced positions.

When thinking of professional development, be sure to include non-tangible forms of career advancement. Adding supplemental endorsements to your license or becoming board certified may or may not affect your salary or position. However, it will enhance and reinforce your teaching skills, which will allow you to help your students succeed in learning.

Mississippi Teacher Employment Outlook and Salary

There is an urgent need for teachers across the United States and Mississippi is no exception. The website for the Mississippi Department of Education lists hundreds of open positions for teachers in many districts and areas of the state. The greatest areas of need are in elementary and high school education with many of the positions being open in economically disadvantaged and more populated counties of Mississippi.

There are 456,400 public schools and 47,450 private schools in the state. The student-to-teacher ratio is currently 16:1 with 31,641 teachers and 503,850 students across Mississippi. Salaries for teachers in Mississippi range from $45,354.00 to $59,975.00 per year with the average pay rate being $51,952.00, according to Salary.com. How much you will earn as a Mississippi teacher is based on your level of education, experience, and whether or not you have any license endorsements. Teacher certification can also raise your rate of pay.

Benefits for teachers in Mississippi are administered through the state's Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). This program provides health benefits and retirement for public employees working in the state of Mississippi.

Expert Contributor

Amy Mayers

Amy Mayers, M.Ed. has taught middle school math for over 7 years. She is a Texas certified teacher for grades 4-12 in mathematics and has passed the TExES Math 4-8 and the TExES Math 7-12. Amy graduated with a B.S. in Mathematical Sciences from the University of Houston and a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Thomas.

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