Skip to main content

PA Teacher Certification

Swarthmore College belongs to the Consortium for Excellence in Teacher Preparation, an organization of liberal arts colleges and universities that believe in the value of teacher education for social justice embedded within a liberal arts context. Watch this video and view this document for an explanation of these ideas.

As a Pennsylvania Department of Education-approved teacher preparation program, our students can apply for PA certification to teach grades 7-12 (secondary) in biology, chemistry, computer science, English, mathematics, physics, social studies, or citizenship and for PA PreK-12 certification in French, German, Russian, or Spanish. Through our partnership with Eastern University, students also have the option to seek PA PreK-4 grade certification and/or ESL Program Specialist by utilizing Swarthmore courses and by taking the remaining Eastern courses on Swarthmore’s campus with a cohort of other Swarthmore students. Our elementary candidates are advised to add-on PA grade 5 and 6 certification by completing additional state tests.

Swarthmore's programs for secondary certification are designed with guidance from faculty members in the discipline in which the student is being certified as well as members of the Educational Studies Department. Students preparing for elementary certification, and/or ESL Specialist certification, design their course of study with advising from the Swarthmore Educational Studies Department and Eastern University. Swarthmore's certification program is limited to undergraduates (matriculated Swarthmore students) at the College, Swarthmore alumni who have completed all certification requirements except student teaching, and to Swarthmore faculty and partners interested in certification.

In order to receive the PA state certification license, non-US citizen candidates must present a resident alien visa card and file a "declaration of intent" to become citizens within a six-year time frame. Unfortunately, undocumented students (with or without DACA) are currently ineligible for teacher certification in Pennsylvania. We encourage students to speak to an educational studies advisor to see if new options for teacher certification have become available through post-graduate study or fellowships in other states. More information on teacher certification and graduate study in Educational Studies for DACA and undocumented students may be found here.

Many of our students eventually return to other states to teach, after receiving their initial certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students interested in transferring their PA teaching credential to other states must contact that state’s department of education to determine whether they have reciprocity and/or additional requirements for attaining a license in that state. Due to the possible changing nature of state requirements, we cannot determine whether our curriculum meets the educational requirements of other states beyond PA, but our department will assist students in navigating other state certification websites or in clarifying the terminology used by different states when they describe their process for consideration of out-of-state PA teacher licenses.

Principal welcomes students to school.

Alumnus and principal greet students. 

student teachers at institute

Jennifer Lee presents at the Student Teacher Institute 

Alumnus and principal greet students. 

Photo /
1 of 2

Why teach?

Christina Keller '14  examines the intersection between her academic work at Swarthmore and teaching experience at the Philadelphia Montessori Charter School.
Read Christina's essay