Initial Teacher Certification

There are four primary steps needed in order to obtain initial teacher certification in Missouri.

1. You must pass the Missouri Content Assessment (MoCA) for the initial certification area for which you are eligible based upon your MU coursework.

    1. Content exam information

2. You need to create or login to your user profile with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and create an application for the “initial professional” certification.

    1. Access your Account Portal
    2. DESE site navigation

3. Double-check that your most recent fingerprint/background check is up-to-date. If you log in to your DESE profile and scroll down to the bottom, you can click on “fingerprints” to see your most recent submissions. Fingerprints expire after 12 months. Your most recent fingerprints should carry over until the start of your first year of teaching. If not, please follow this link to renew your fingerprints.

4. Submit your official MU transcript with your degree posted to DESE. Electronic transcripts are the quickest option and can be ordered through the Registrar’s Website. Mailed transcripts can be sent to: DESE Certification P.O. Box 480, Jefferson City, MO 65102

    1. Registrar’s Website
    2. You will request your formal transcript from the MU Registrar’s Office, making sure you choose ‘After Degree is Awarded’ if you are a recent or soon-to-be degree
    3. DESE will accept paper copies mailed to the address above or electronic transcripts only sent through the National Student Clearinghouse. Here are instructions on what to select when ordering electronic transcripts through NSC to make sure they go to the correct department at DESE.

If you desire additional certifications, you will apply directly through DESE following receipt of your initial certification and passing of the additional content assessments.

Initial School Administrator, School Counselor or School Psychologist Certification

There are three primary steps needed to obtain school administrator, counselor, or psychologist certification in the state of Missouri.

  1. Pass the exam for the certification area(s) for which you are eligible based upon your MU coursework. Click here for more information.
  • Principal
  • Superintendent
  • School Counselor
  • School Psychologist
  1. Have copies of all your official transcripts (including your undergraduate degree) with your degree posted sent to DESE Certification, PO Box 480, Jefferson City, MO 65102. Request your formal transcript from the Registrar’s Office. Choose “After Degree is Awarded” if you are a recent or soon to be degree completer.
  2. Log in to your user profile with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and create an application for certification. You should not submit this application until you have passed all content exams required for certification.

All individuals who are applying for initial certification for the principalship must pass the content area exam and the performance assessment. The only exception is for individuals who graduated with their leadership degree prior to the Fall 2014 semester. Completing the course work only, but not graduating, is not sufficient to be excused from the performance assessment.

Career Administrator Upgrade

If you already have certification in Missouri and are seeking a career upgrade, you should only contact our office if you are a school administrator. All other career upgrades are taken care of by your district and DESE.

If you are a school administrator seeking a career upgrade, we will need an official copy of your transcript (which includes your most recent EdS, EdD or PhD degree) to be sent to DESE Certification, PO Box 480, Jefferson City, MO 65102. Request MU transcripts here.

Log in to your user profile with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and create an application for a career upgrade.

Check Certification Status

  • Log into your DESE profile and choose Licensure (Educator Certification System) under the Office of Educator Quality tab.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Application Status tab. This will display a listing of your current applications and provide information about your certification status.
  • Click on the gray bars to view the status on your fingerprints, exam scores, and application information.
  • Once your certification has been issued, you will be able to print a copy from your profile.

If your status says Pending Institution Verification:

If you have submitted your transcript to DESE and passed the content exam, this status indicates that your application is currently being processed by the certification officer.

Once your application has been approved by the certification officer, your status will change to Pending DESE Verification. If you are concerned about the receipt of any of your application materials, please contact the Certification Officer at 573-882-5069 or

Out-of-state Certification

Most states require applicants to become certified in the state where they received their education degree before they can become certified in another state. There are a couple who do not (i.e. Virginia, Washington). If a state does not require Missouri certification, the university can complete the required forms for that state upon your degree being posted. However, if you ever move from the state you are seeking initial certification from, you may have issues in your next state. You may then be required to obtain Missouri certification before you can pursue certification in your new state. At that time, you would have to meet all of the requirements of Missouri certification including finger prints, background checks, and any required exams. This could slow up certification in your next state. Therefore, it is recommended to acquire Missouri certification in order to make any moves in your future easier.

When you are in the process of considering other state certification, feel free to email to have information sent to you on any state you are considering. The certification office will be glad to assist you in the process of acquiring out-of-state certification.

*Note licensure/certification for administrators, counselors, and school psychologists vary from the requirements mentioned above.

Federal regulations as per Section 668.43(a)(5)(v) requires all institutions enrolling students in programs for which a specific professional license or certification is required by a state for employment to disclose information regarding whether completion of the institution’s program is sufficient to meet the licensure or certification requirements in the state for that occupation.  In compliance with the requirement, a list has been compiled of all States for which the institution has determined (or not) that its curriculum either meets or does not meet the State educational requirements for licensure or certification. The list can be accessed here.

Copies of Certificates

DESE no longer mails paper copies of teaching certificates. Once your certification has been issued by DESE you will be able to print a copy from your online profile. If you would like the state to issue you a copy of your teaching certificate, you may request a duplicate certificate at a cost of $25.

Duplicate and Returned Applications

If you submit multiple applications or the certification officer has questions concerning your certification application, you will receive an email alerting you that one or more of those applications have been returned to you.

This email will prompt you to log into the Educator Certification System. Scroll down and click on Application Status, where you will find a memo field which provides an explanation of why your application was returned.