Teachers

From weekend workshops and free online courses to full-fledged degree programs, get the inside scoop on continuing education from industry experts. Learn about federal, state and local requirements, and explore dozens of resources specifically for professional development.

EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS

Michael Hoffman

A graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara College of Law, Michael Hoffman nurtured his love for research and writing while a practicing attorney in Los Angeles. Now a freelance journalist and aspiring screenwriter, Michael researches and writes on a variety of topics including education, finance and the law.

Wes Harris

Wes Harris has worked in education for more than a decade. In addition to teaching kindergarten Spanish and lecturing at the college level, he has researched, written and edited more than a dozen nationally recognized works on a variety of educational topics.

Expert Sources

Barbara S. Calhoun

Dean

College of Continuing and Professional Education Winter “lyn” Cohn

Program Manager – Languages, ESL, TESOL

College of Continuing and Professional Education Michael Elium

Assistant Dean of External Partnerships

Kristy Mobley

Program Manager – Advanced Technology/Online

College of Continuing and Professional Education Dr. Chuck Zimmerly

Director

Intermountain Center for Education Effectiveness (ICEE), College of Education Dr. Charles Pearson

Master in the Art of Teaching

Joe Shapiro

Dean

College of Extended Studies

Introduction

If you are a working educator, you are certainly no stranger to the term “professional development.” Professional development for teachers can refer to many different types of educational situations, both formal and informal. Sometimes the best knowledge is gained via informal settings like discussions with peers or watching other colleagues at work. However, the term more commonly refers to a formal program or process, such as a conference, college course, seminar or workshop.

As with other major professions (attorneys, engineers and medical doctors, to name a few), teachers must complete a minimum amount of professional development training or continuing education to maintain their licenses. In the past, teachers could rely on their employers to provide workshops and seminars to satisfy these licensure requirements. Many teachers, particularly those on the K-12 level, have been through their share of “professional development days” at their respective schools, for example. Today, however, with constantly tightening budgets, school districts are cutting back on such programs, leaving the responsibility for professional development squarely on the shoulders of the individual.

The purpose of this guide is to provide teachers, principals, school administrators and others with valuable information and resources to help them in their search for quality professional development and continuing education programs. Topics covered include federal, state and local education requirements, and the training types and modes available. We have also included helpful tips and advice from professional development experts.

Reasons & Requirements

Research in the field has consistently proven two things:

  • Whatever form they take, professional development and continuing education are crucial to improving teaching skills; and
  • Quality teaching is the single most important factor for student success in the classroom.

Recognizing these facts, educational institutions at all levels encourage teachers to continue their training in their field throughout their careers by both requiring minimum levels of professional development for license maintenance and offering career incentives (such as higher pay and more secure employment) to those who pursue post-secondary degrees and certificate programs. Simply put, while professional development is required to move forward in a teaching career, earning a higher degree or certification is often mandatory for advancement up the professional ladder.

Federal Professional Development Requirements

While there are no professional development requirements for teachers directly mandated by the federal government, there are a number of requirements tied to federal educational funding through programs such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (better known as No Child Left Behind) and the Common Core State Standards. For example, language in the No Child Left Behind legislation sets out standards for professional development activities that state governments and local school districts must adopt in order to receive funding through the Act. As a result, states and districts have placed a great deal of attention on implementing professional development programs that focus on specific issues tied to federal educational concerns.

“We, like most providers of professional development programs, tailor our courses to the needs of individual school districts. At the moment, the biggest area of interest for teachers and school districts is the Common Core State Standards. Classes in mathematics proficiency are also huge right now, especially for teachers working on the elementary school level.”

— Dr. Chuck Zimmerly, Director of the Intermountain Center for Education Effectiveness (ICEE), College of Education, Idaho State University

State Professional Development Requirements

Almost all states require some amount of continuing professional development education and training be completed by teachers to maintain their licenses. Specific requirements for license renewal vary greatly from state to state, and are often quite complex. The table below provides general information regarding each state’s professional development requirements. Please note, however, that these requirements apply to each state’s most common teacher’s license, often (but not always) referred to as a Standard Teacher’s License or Certificate. Most states employ a multi-level licensing scheme that includes “initial” licenses for new teachers, as well as “advanced” or “professional” licenses for highly-skilled and experienced teachers, each with its own specific licensing periods and requirements for renewal. Therefore, it is extremely important that you check with your own state’s agency regarding the details of the professional development and other requirements for renewal of your license.

State Hours Required Deadline Common Core State Standards State Agency Contact
Alabama 5 semester hours. (5-year license) September 1 of renewal year. Not adopted, but standards are aligned.
Alaska 6 semester or 9 quarter Hours (3 semester hours must be upper division or graduate level). (5-year license) Beginning of September of renewal year. Not adopted.
Arizona 180 clock hours or 12 semester hours. (6-year license) Before renewal date. Adopted.
Arkansas 60 clock hours per year. (5-year license) Either May 31 or June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
California Currently Clear Credential licenses can be renewed without verification of any professional development hours. Individual school districts may have specific requirements. (5-year license) N/A Adopted.
Colorado 6 Semester hours (90 clock hours). (5-year license) Before renewal date. Adopted.
Connecticut 18 clock hours annually. (8-year license) Prior to expiration date. Adopted.
Delaware 90 clock hours (6 semester hours). (Standard license not subject to renewal.) Prior to renewal date. Adopted.
Florida 6 semester hours. (5-year license) During the last year of the validity period. Adopted.
Georgia 6 semester hours of approved college credit or 10 Georgia Professional learning units or 10 continuing education units. (5-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
Hawaii Continuing education requirements not tied to license renewal. (5-year license) Prior to renewal date. Adopted.
Idaho 6 professional development credits. (5-year license) August 31 of renewal year. Adopted.
Illinois Bachelor’s degree holders: 120 hours. Master’s degree holders: 80 hours. (5-year license) Two or more advanced degrees: 40 hours. National Board Teacher: 40 hours. June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
Indiana 6 semester hours. (5-year license) Prior to expiration date. Adopted, but currently on hold.
Iowa 6 semester hours. (5-year license) Prior to expiration date. Adopted.
Kansas Non-graduate degree holders: 160 clock hours. Graduate degree holders: 120 clock hours. (5-year license) Prior to expiration date. Adopted.
Kentucky Renewal of first five-year license: 15 graduate semester hours or one-half of CEO requirements. Renewal after second five-year license period: completion of Master’s degree or completion of CEO requirements. (5-year license) Prior to expiration date. Adopted.
Louisiana 150 clock hours. (5-year license) Prior to renewal date. Adopted, with two year delay.
Maine 6 semester hours in each certification area. (5-year license) Prior to expiration date. Adopted.
Maryland 6 semester hours. (5-year license) January or July of renewal year. Adopted.
Massachusetts 150 Professional Development Points plus 30 PDP’s for each additional licensure. (5-year license) Prior to renewal date. Adopted, with two year delay on testing.
Michigan 6 semester hours at college or university or 180 clock hours of State Board Continuing Education Credits or a combination of both. (5-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
Minnesota 125 clock hours of locally-approved education. (5-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Adopted English standards only.
Mississippi 6 semester hours of college credit or 10 Continuing Education Units, or 3 semester hours and 5 CEU’s. (5-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
Missouri 30 contact hours annually. (4-year license) Prior to renewal date. Adopted.
Montana 4 semester hours or combination of semester hours and Office of Public Instruction renewal units. (5-year license) June 30 renewal date, but may complete hours by August 31. Adopted.
Nebraska 6 semester hours.(5-year license) August 31 of renewal year. Not adopted.
Nevada 6 semester hours. (5-year license) Prior to renewal date. Adopted.
New Hampshire Requirements vary by school district. (5-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
New Jersey Requirements vary by school district. (Standard teacher’s license does not require renewal.) N/A Adopted.
New Mexico New Mexico employs a three-tier licensing system. Professional development requirements vary according to tier. (5-year license) March 31. Adopted.
New York 175 professional development hours per five-year block. (Standard license does not expire as long as professional development requirements are met.) June 30. Adopted.
North Carolina 7.5 renewal credits. (5-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
North Dakota 6 semester hours. (5-year license) Prior to renewal date. Adopted.
Ohio 6 semester hours or 180 continuing education contact hours. (5-year license) September 1 of expiration year. Adopted.
Oklahoma 75 clock hours. (5-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
Oregon 125 Professional Development Units (1 colleges semester hour = 30 PDU’s. (5-year license) Prior to renewal date. Adopted.
Pennsylvania 6 semester hours or 6 DOE service credits or 180 continuing education hours or combination of above. (5-year professional development block.) June 30. Adopted, implementation paused.
Rhode Island Professional development is not mandatory on the state level. However, requirements may exist on the district level. N/A Adopted.
South Carolina 120 renewal credits. (5-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
South Dakota 6 semester hours.(5-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
Tennessee Ten year license holders: 90 renewal points/Five year license holders: 45 renewal points. (1 college semester hour = 15 renewal points/1 CEU = 10 renewal points) Note: these requirements change effective 9-1-15 Prior to renewal date. Adopted.
Texas 150 clock hours. 5-year license) Prior to the last day of the holder’s birth month in the renewal year. Not adopted.
Utah Requirements vary according to teacher’s “Professional Learning Plan”. (5-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
Vermont 9 professional development credits (135 clock hours). (7-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
Virginia 180 professional development points. (1 college semester hour = 30 points.) (5-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Not adopted.
Washington 150 clock hours (10 college semester hours.) (5-year license) Prior to renewal date. Adopted.
West Virginia 6 semester hours. (5-year license) Prior to renewal date. Adopted.
Wisconsin Requirements vary according to individual teacher Professional Development Plan. (5-year license) June 30 of renewal year. Adopted.
Wyoming 5 Professional Development/Renewal Credits. (5-year license) Prior to expiration date. Adopted.

Local Requirements

A number of states, including California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, have, to some extent, done away with mandatory professional development mandates for license renewal on the state level, and allowed individual school districts to determine the form and amount of professional development necessary for their teachers. Additionally, many other states have given local districts a strong voice in designing professional development courses and programs. Although the changes are partially due to budgetary considerations, they are also the result of recognition that educational issues can vary greatly between school districts and that these issues can be effectively addressed through professional development programs. Experts suggest that teachers consider local educational concerns when choosing the subject matter of their professional development courses.

“Teachers should look closely at the regulations and requirements for their state, reach out to their state’s organization, before choosing a professional development course. Also, check the requirements in any other state you might consider working in to see what professional development courses they will accept.”

— Lyn Cohn, CCP, Program Manager – Languages, ESL, TESOL, College of Continuing and Professional Education, Kennesaw State University

Additional Resources

Professional Development and Continuing Education Programs

The sheer number of professional development programs available to teachers is staggering. The market for these programs is hot and growing daily, particularly in regard to distance learning. Below you will find our listings of quality professional development and continuing education providers. We have compiled these lists with affordability in mind. However, it is important that teachers searching for professional development programs in a specific subject area consider as many different providers as possible. In doing so, you will discover that the costs of similar courses can vary significantly, sometimes by as much as several hundred dollars. In addition, many professional development courses are subsidized by government or private grants that result in no cost to the student. So, remember. It pays to shop around.

Subject Matter

Teachers will be happy to know that education providers offer professional development courses on almost every topic you can think of. And if they don’t, most are willing to tailor a course to one’s specific needs. We have listed some of the best sources of professional development courses for the most in-demand subject areas.

Behavioral Bucketfillers For Life

Provides anti-bullying professional development programs at its Great Lakes Region and Western U.S. Regional Centers. Prek-12.

Character Counts!

A program of the Josephson Institute, Character Counts offers seminars at its regional instruction centers. K-16.

Character Education Partnership (CEP)

Offers multiple support and training options to K-12 schools, districts, and state-wide initiatives. One-day to multi-year programs are available.

Just Do The Right Thing

Conducts on-site professional development seminars on the subjects of character development and classroom management. K-12.

Rachel’s Challenge

Provides a range of professional development programs on the subjects of harassment, bullying and teasing. K-16.

Classroom Technology, Techniques and Strategy
CUE

Produces a number of professional development programs through its Educational Technology Professional Learning division. K-12.

EdTechTeacher

Offers several professional development options, such as webinars and workshops, to improve the use of technology in the classroom. K-16.

Krause Center for Innovation

The Krause Center for Innovation designs and implements innovative professional development education and training courses with an emphasis on technology integration and the STEM curriculum. K-12.

Partners in Learning – Teaching with Technology

Partners in Learning provides online learning resources on the Teaching with Technology curriculum. K-16.

SMART Technologies

Offers technology innovation professional development options both on-site and online. K-16.

Common Core Achieve The Core

Teachers can access an array of Common Core professional development modules and courses. K-12.

ASCD Webinars – Common Core Webinar Series

Teachers can access upcoming and archived professional development webinars on a wide range of Common Core subjects. K-12.

California Department of Education

CCSS learning modules for educators can be accessed from this site and are available at no cost. K-12.

Education Development Center, Inc.

Provides resources and tips to get teachers up to speed on Common Core mathematics standards. K-12.

EdTech Leaders Online

Offers over 70 professional development courses aligned with national and Common Core standards. K-12.

Expeditionary Learning

Offers classroom-ready professional development programs to prepare K-12 teachers, instructional coaches, and district and school leaders to support Common Core success.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Provides professional development resources to help K-12 educators connect American History to the Common Core.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Supplies a large selection of Common Core aligned courses and other education tools. K-12.

The Marzano Center

Provides on-site professional development for teachers through its Common Core and the Art and Science in Teaching Series. K-12.

WestEd

Offers self-paced online courses to help educators become Common Core specialists. K-12.

English and Reading Center on Instruction

Offers online courses, written materials and other free resources. K-12.

Literacy First

Literary First is a provider of professional development services delivering the Literacy First Process though a network of reading and leadership professionals. PreK-12.

National Council of Teachers of English

Offers a variety of professional learning products, including conferences, online services and web seminars. K-16.

Neuhaus Education Center

Provides professional development courses online through video conferencing and at its center in Bellaire, Texas. Pre K-12.

Reading Recovery Council of North America

Offers a wide range of professional learning options, including webcasts, videos and presentations, as well as an annual conference with over 100 sessions for K-6 literary professionals.

English and Reading Center on Instruction

Offers online courses, written materials and other free resources. K-12.

Literacy First

Literary First is a provider of professional development services delivering the Literacy First Process though a network of reading and leadership professionals. PreK-12.

National Council of Teachers of English

Offers a variety of professional learning products, including conferences, online services and web seminars. K-16.

Neuhaus Education Center

Provides professional development courses online through video conferencing and at its center in Bellaire, Texas. Pre K-12.

Reading Recovery Council of North America

Offers a wide range of professional learning options, including webcasts, videos and presentations, as well as an annual conference with over 100 sessions for K-6 literary professionals.

Mathematics California Mathematics Project

The California Mathematics Project sponsors professional development institutes, academic year systematic and sustained support, coursework in mathematics, support for students and administrators, and California Subject Examination for Teachers preparation. K-16.

JUMP Math

JUMP Math primarily offers one-day education sessions in both the United States and Canada. Grades 1-8.

Math Buddies – Marshall Cavendish Education

Offers a variety of professional development courses and the support to successfully teach the Singapore Approach. K-12.

Math Solutions

Offers content and pedagogical instruction, and Common Core-based courses in mathematics. K-12.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)

Sponsors conferences, interactive institutes, E-Seminars and more, on a national level.K-12.

Science AAAS

Offers programs and courses focused primarily on the STEM curriculum. K-12.

National Consortium for Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST)

Holds a national conference and other events in support of secondary education programs in mathematics, science and technology. Secondary and college level.

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)

Offers conferences and professional development in science content, teaching strategy and research. K-12.

Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading

Conducts professional development presentations and events regarding its integrated science and reading curriculum program. Grades 2-5.

The EdVenture Group

Provides professional development opportunities for educators and administrators in face-to-face and online formats. K-16.

Special Needs Council for Exceptional Children

Provides a number of professional development options on the subject of special needs education. K-12.

Perkins – Professional Development for Special Education Teachers

Provides video programs that can earn continuing education credits. K-12.

Portland State Graduate School of Education: Continuing Education

Provides advanced coursework in special education on various topics for teachers seeking opportunities to continue their professional development. K-16.

National Center for Learning Disabilities

Offers a variety of professional development resources regarding students with learning disabilities. K-16.

National Association of Special Education Teachers: Professional Development Courses

Provides access to over fifty online professional development courses in a wide range of special education subjects, including physical, mental, and behavioral disabilities. K-16.

Training Modes

“When it comes to a professional development course or continuing education program for teachers, my best advice is to do your homework. Make sure that the course or program meets all of their needs for both their career and learning goals. If considering distance learning, be sure that it is right modality for you and that the online environment will provide you with a satisfactory learning experience.”

— Joe Shapiro, Dean, College of Extended Studies, San Diego State University

Providers employ virtually every mode available for the delivery of their professional development and continuing education programs. Colleges and universities still offer courses in a traditional classroom setting both on their main campuses and at satellite locations. Smaller, private providers are more likely to offer shorter-length seminars and workshops at local, often rented, facilities, and even bring their classes directly to you. And virtually all providers today offer programs through distance learning. Strong competition in the field means that providers are designing their programs to be convenient to you. So, again, be sure to shop around. Below we have listed quality professional development providers by the most popular training modes.

“My advice to anyone paying for their own professional development course is to be sure that it also counts toward a degree, certificate or credential program.”

— Michael Elium, Assistant Dean of External Partnerships, Benerd School of Education, University of the Pacific

Online Courses For Credit Adams State University

ASU offers over 20 online continuing education credit courses for educators. K-12.

Annenberg Learner

Employs media and telecommunications to advance teaching excellence by funding and broad distribution of educational video programs with coordinated web and print materials for K-12 teachers.

Armchaired.com

Offers over 60 continuing education courses in affiliation with Seattle Pacific University. K-12.

CE Credits Online

CE Credits Online is a nationwide provider of university-accredited online professional development courses focused on improving teaching and student achievement. K-12.

Framingham State University

FSU offers professional development graduate credit courses in many subjects. Students can earn up to 22.5 professional development credits for every one graduate credit received. K-12.

Grand Canyon University

Students can choose from a number of undergraduate and graduate education programs. K-12.

Intermountain Center for Education Effectiveness, College of Education – Idaho State University

The ICEE offers professional development and teacher certificate courses for academic credit at affordable prices. K-12.

Kennesaw State University

Professional development for-credit courses are available in numerous subjects through KSU’s College of Continuing and Professional Education. K-12.

Learners Edge

Offers for-credit continuing education courses geared toward salary advancement and license renewal for PreK-12 teachers.

Marygrove College

Marygrove offers a substantial number of distance learning courses through its partnership with Learner’s Edge, Inc. K-12.

PBS Teachers

Supports professional development for teachers through its STEM Education Resource Center. K-12.

San Diego State University

Through its College of Extended Studies, SDSU offers a variety of certificate and professional development programs. K-16.

Southern Utah University

SUU offers both a Masters of Education program and professional development courses online through its School of Continuing & Professional Studies Online division. K-16.

Teacher Professional Training

Offers professional development online courses in a wide range of subjects. K-12.

Professional Development Courses

PDC delivers graduate-level, non-degree credit courses via distance learning. Affiliated with the University of La Verne. K-16.

University of the Pacific

Online professional development courses are available through a partnership between the university’s Center for Professional & Continuing Education and Virtual Education Software, Inc. K-16.

Non-credit Online Courses Anne Arundel Community College

Offers over two-dozen online non-credit continuing education classes. K-12.

Mount Wachusett Community College

Offers non-credit continuing education courses for K-12 teachers.

Wichita State University

Through its ED2Go program, WSU provides professional development non-credit courses to hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the United States. K-16.

Workshops and Seminars aha! Process Workshops

Provides workshops, publications, and consulting services to help improve lives and build sustainable success in communities, schools, and higher education. K-16.

CollegeBoard

Offers professional development workshops and summer institutes for K-12 teachers, administrators and coordinators.

The Creativity Workshop

Offers workshops for K-16 teachers and students throughout the world.

Heinemann

Offers a wide variety of on-site, off-site and online workshops. K-12.

Kagan Workshops

Kagan offers professional development workshops for teachers at locations both within and outside the United States. K-12.

Lindamood-Bell Workshops

Provides teacher workshops both on-site and through live video conferencing. K-12.

Pearson ELT

Offers online workshops and webinars, as well as other professional development resources. K-12.

Scholastic Professional Development Workshops

Provides customizable professional development workshops and classes. K-16.

Staff Development for Educators (SDE)

SDE provides workshops, conferences and other events both online and on-site. K-12.

United Federation of Teachers

Provides professional development workshops online and in-classroom throughout the greater New York City area. K-16.

The VHS Collaborative

The Virtual High School Collaborative offers a variety of classes to assist teachers in becoming better educators in today’s technology rich educational environment. K-12.

Faq

Q:

What is the difference between “professional development” and “continuing education”?

A:

In most cases, there is no difference. The terms are often used interchangeably. In some instances, however, institutions use the term “professional development” to describe courses with credits applicable to state license renewal requirements, while “continuing education” is used to describe non-credit courses. Therefore, it is crucial that teachers determine exactly what they are getting from a professional development course before signing up.

Q:

Are teachers required to take a test to complete a professional development course?

A:

It depends on the course. However, most states require that teachers pass a test at the end of a course in order for course credits to count toward license renewal.

Q:

Are professional development credits earned in one state good in another?

A:

It depends on the course and the state. That’s why it is very important that you check with the licensing agencies in all states where you are considering employment to be sure that a professional development program’s credits are valid there before taking the class.

Q:

Are college credits earned in pursuit of a degree also applicable to my license’s professional development renewal requirements?

A:

They probably are, but check with your licensing agency to make sure.

Q:

Are professional development courses good for all teaching levels?

A:

No. Most courses will indicate teaching level (K-12, K-16, grades 2-6, etc.). If the grade level is not clearly stated in the course description, be sure to find out what it is before taking the course.

Q:

How do I know if a specific course is a good value?

A:

You don’t. Only you can determine if a professional development course is worth your hard-earned money. Try asking colleagues who have previously taken the course, or check online. You can almost always find someone who has blogged about a program’s quality.