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Office of Educator Licensure

Emergency Licenses

"This was the best year of my professional experience. I've learned so much about myself and serving the community. I love the team approach and all of the factors that relate to teaching and managing students. I would love to have an extension with my current license and status until I am able to pass the MTEL. I sincerely thank you for this process."

— Emergency License Holder

Do you currently have an emergency license?

If no, review this announcement that describes the Department's Reissuing of the Emergency License. It is likely easier than you think to obtain an Emergency License—just follow a few steps through our online application. For more information, this announcement describes the Department's Reissuing of the Emergency License.

If yes, review the following information as there are different processes depending on when you received your emergency license.

  • If you received your emergency license on or prior to December 12, 2021 review the following options:
    • For the following six licenses in a special education field or English as a Second Language, your license expired automatically on June 30, 2022, unless you began the process for Emergency License Validity Extension for ESL & Special Education Licenses.
      • Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities
      • Teacher of Students with Severe Disabilities
      • Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ASL/TC)
      • Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Oral/Aural)
      • Teacher of the Visually Impaired
      • English as a Second Language (ESL)

    • For all licenses other than the six licenses mentioned above, please review the following information:
      • In May 2022, the validity of your Emergency license was extended through June 30, 2023 and on December 16, 2022, the Department announced that "old" Emergency licenses can be extended to June 30, 2024.
      • For those that have an "old" Emergency license with an expiration date of June 30, 2023, you will be able to apply for an extension and obtain it so long as you have made progress towards obtaining a license. Progress is the same for an "old" or "new" emergency license and includes attempting or passing a required MTEL test since earning an Emergency license.
      • You can apply for a "new" Emergency license even if you have an "old" Emergency license as long as you do not currently hold a Temporary, Provisional (Preliminary for Vocational), Initial or Professional teacher license in that licensure category.
      • This "new" Emergency license will be valid for one calendar year from the date of issuance and can be extended twice so long as the individual is making progress towards obtaining a license.
      • In addition, in order to obtain an Emergency license in a special education field or in English as a Second Language (ESL), the applicant will need to demonstrate that they have satisfied the subject matter knowledge requirements.

If you received your Emergency license on or after May 25, 2022, review the following information:

"Receiving my emergency license enabled me to begin my second career sooner than I imagined. I love my job and I'm so thankful that it was able to begin with the 2021-2022 school year."

— Emergency License Holder

Licensure Requirements

Online resources such as the DESE Licensure Requirements Tool or the Massachusetts Educator Licensure Series can help you assess what you need to do to obtain your license. As you move towards advancing your license (see more for license types and requirements at How to Obtain an Academic PreK-12 License), additional information on the DESE website can assist in understanding more about the requirements for licensure.

  • Provisional: Bachelor's Degree, passing of MTEL(s) or Alternative Licensure Assessment(s), and for some licenses a competency review.

  • Initial: Bachelor's Degree, passing of MTEL(s) or Alternative Licensure Assessment(s), the SEI endorsement (for some licenses), and completion of one of the approved routes (preparation program or performance review program).

Time spent working under an emergency license can count towards Professional Teacher Status if you obtain a provisional or initial academic license or a preliminary vocational license within two years of the date of issuance of the Emergency license in the field and continue to work for the same employer under the newly acquired license.

Education Preparation Programs

DESE supports a variety of tools to locate approved educator preparation programs that will meet your specific needs:

  • List of Approved Educator Preparation Program Providers (EPPP)
  • Find an Educator Preparation Program Provider Near You
  • Performance Review Program for Initial Licensure (PRPIL)
  • EPP/District Partnerships with Dedicated Licensure Supports for Emergency Licensed Educators
    • Bridgewater State University/multiple districts
    • Cambridge College/Malden Public Schools
    • Collaborative for Educational Services/Fitchburg State University/Lowell Public Schools
    • Framingham State University/Framingham Public Schools
    • Merrimack College/multiple districts
    • Mount Holyoke College/Holyoke Public Schools
    • Northeastern University/Boston PS, Worcester PS, Holyoke PS
    • Springfield College/Springfield PS, SEZP
    • Teach for America/multiple districts
    • University of Massachusetts — Boston/JET/Boston PS, Everett PS

MTEL Support

Utilize the following MTEL resources to prepare for the required assessments:

  • Review the Test Objectives: All MTEL Test Objectives are derived from the Subject Matter Knowledge Requirements , which are in turn directly linked to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. You can find test objectives for each MTEL in order to guide you in your preparation.
  • Preparation Courses: Preferred MTEL preparation vendors and information about test prep courses can be found on the Department's website. Courses may be offered virtually or in person.
  • Practice Tests: Most of the MTELs have practice tests available online at the MTEL website. If you select a test, you will find preparation materials available at Practice Tests.
  • Interpret your Score Report: Score reports can provide you with guidance in the specific areas where you need to bolster your content knowledge. You can find information on how to interpret your score report at Score Report Explanation.
  • Alternative Licensure Assessments: In October 2020, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved a pilot of alternative licensure assessments. To access currently approved alternative assessments for the Communication and Literacy Skills and Subject Matter Knowledge MTELs, please see Pilot of Alternative Assessments to the MTEL. (The Department will update this webpage as additional alternatives are approved.)
  • Seek a mentor: Teachers who have passed the test may serve as valuable resources for knowing how to prepare. Seek out an educator who holds the license you are seeking to see if they might offer you guidance on your preparation.
  • Other Available Resources: If you have not already reviewed them, there are other resources, including test information guides and test preparation videos, available on the MTEL website at Test Preparation Materials and Courses List.

"I graduated from college taking the long road, having come from a background of being financially incapable to attend college after high school. I worked very hard to support myself and take college courses over many years to earn a degree. I feel very proud that I have been able to pass on my first attempt the three MTEL exams I have taken by studying independently. I look forward to being given the opportunity to help nurture this love of independent learning in many students. I never would have tried to obtain this goal without the emergency license as a tool."

— Emergency License Holder

Last Updated: December 22, 2022

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.