Alternative Certification

Alternative Certification programs are a primary function of Murray State University’s Teacher Quality Institute.  This alternative route to certification was developed to provide a way for highly qualified candidates to enter the teaching profession while helping local school districts fill the need for teachers, particularly in those areas with a critical shortage.

Candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree, meet established admission criteria, and have an offer of employment in teaching the field of their major.  Candidates then take master’s-level education courses, concurrently with teaching in a Western Kentucky school district, to earn full certification.  This alternative route can be used to become certified in: middle and high school content subjects, special education (learning and behavior disorders), and administration.  Additionally, P-12 certification is offered in some content areas, including foreign language, art, music, health and physical education, and library media.

Those interested in entering an Alternative Certification program can view the general admission criteria here.  Bear in mind that these are the general criteria.  Each program is different and can have additional qualifiers.  For full details, please reach out to the appropriate contact at the bottom of this page based on your interest.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Am I an ideal candidate for Alternative Certification?

Participants in these programs already have certifiable college degrees but did not complete teacher education requirements while in college.

Are any other tests accepted as substitutions for the CASE or GRE?

This is a state-mandated standard for Alternative Certification, and substitutions cannot be accepted.

Is it mandatory that I have a bachelor’s degree for at least three years before applying for Alternative Certification?

In high-need areas, it is possible for the three-year requirement to be waived.

Are the GPA requirements flexible?

Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 or have a 3.0 GPA on the final 30 hours of coursework.  This minimum GPA requirement is set by the state, but participants who are willing to take additional college courses may be able to raise their GPA to meet this requirement.

Are the courses needed for Alternative Certification offered online?

Some classes are offered online, but many courses will require on-site attendance and participation at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky.

May I participate in the Alternative Certification programs if I live outside of Western Kentucky?

Because program participants must attend some courses on-campus, those living outside of the Western Kentucky area will not be considered.  To find out if your location is considered to be within our service region, please contact Cindy Thresher at or 270-809-3280.

How many program courses must I take to receive certification?

This depends on which content courses you have already taken and can only be determined upon review of your transcript.

How much does it cost to participate in the Alternative Certification programs?

In addition to the cost of tuition and course hours, there is a $250 Alternative Certification fee.

How long do I have to complete the requirements for certification?

Program requirements are to be completed within three years in order to receive certification.

 When will I know if I’m admitted into an Alternative Certification program?

Once you’ve received an acceptance letter from the appropriate program coordinator AND have been offered a job within a Western Kentucky school district, you are then considered to be admitted into an Alternative Certification program.

What are the next steps to getting started?

You will need to provide your college transcript, CASE or GRE scores, and completed entry packet to the appropriate contact below based on your area of interest.  This information will then be reviewed to determine your eligibility.  You will be contacted to learn whether eligibility requirements are met or if further supportive evidence is needed for consideration.

Alternative Certification Contacts

Middle and High School Teacher Certification
(including P-12 certification in foreign language, art, music, health and physical education, and library media)
Ms. Cindy Thresher
336 Alexander Hall
Murray, KY 42071

Special Education Certification: Learning and Behavior Disorders
Dr. Alesa Walker
2101E Alexander Hall
Murray, KY 42071

Administration Certification
Dr. Thomas Pharis
3107 Alexander Hall
Murray, KY 42071