Teacher Certification and State Reciprocity
Teacher Certification in Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has two levels of teaching certificates. The first level is Instructional I (provisional) and the second level is Instructional II (permanent). Teaching certification may be obtained in several areas of special education (speech and language, visually impaired and blind, hard of hearing and deaf, etc.). The most common certification among special educators is an Instructional I certificate for students with Mental and/or Physical Disabilities -- sometimes called the MPH Certificate. This certificate enables the holder to teach students with physical disabilities, mental retardation, learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, chronic health impairments, and autism in any grade from kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Pennsylvania certifies teachers in one of two ways: transcript evaluation and program approval. For certification by program approval, teachers (as well as other education professionals) are certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) when (a) they graduate from a college or university program approved by PDE, and (b) when they are recommended by the college or university certification officer (for example, the Dean of the College of Education at Penn State). Penn State has program approval to recommend Instructional I MPH certificates. Thus, Penn State confers academic degrees and can recommend students who complete prescribed sequences of courses and experiences for MPH certificates. It is possible, however, to earn a baccalaureate or master's degree in special education with being recommended to teach students with disabilities.
Students who complete the program in Special Education, who hold a second area of certification (i.e., elementary education, secondary education, physical education, art education, or music education), who satisfy other (moral) criteria, and who have passed prescribed portions of the National Teacher Examination (PRAXIS) are recommended for certification. Passing scores are established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education--students must attain or exceed the score in effect at the time the examination is taken.
More information is available from the College of Education Advising and Certification Office, 228 Chambers Building, University Park, PA 16802; telephone: (814) 865-0488.
Written documentation of clearances are necessary for SPLED 395W, 495E, 495F, and 495G.
Certification Reciprocity with Other States
We have heard from graduates of our program that if you have dual certification in Pennsylvania (i.e., SPLED plus EL ED, Reading Specialist, or another certification), it is a relatively smooth process to obtain special education certification in
- New York
- New Jersey
If you have completed the SPLED undergraduate program but do not have a second area of certification (and therefore do not have SPLED certification in Pennsylvania), it is a relatively smooth process for PSU SPLED graduates to obtain special education certification in
- New York
Some additional coursework is sometimes required for special education certification in
- New Jersey
See below for information about obtaining certification in specific states.
The Ohio Department of Education website provides specific instructions about gaining Ohio certification when your teacher preparation program is outside of Ohio (certified or not).
Many graduates of our program go on to teach in Virginia - our graduates are regularly sought out by recruiters from Virginia. The Virginia Department of Education website provides clear information for out of state applicants.
The Maryland Department of Education website provides clear, straightforward information about requirements for obtaining teacher certification in Maryland.
Many Penn State SPLED graduates are teaching in New York, some for districts and several for charter schools. In general, graduates have not had difficulty with the certification process. provides very clear information for applicants from other states. website