Choosing an Educator Prep Program
With the right preparation and mentorship, you can become a great teacher.
With the right preparation and mentorship, you can become a great teacher.

To become a fully licensed teacher in a Colorado public school, you need to complete an approved educator preparation program (EPP). EPPs arm you with the skills, experience and knowledge to teach in your chosen grade and subject. Not all EPPs are the same, though.

How to Pick an EPP

Here's what current teachers, educator prep program officials, and school district HR chiefs (you know, the experts) say you should look for when selecting an educator prep program (EPP).

Everyone seems to agree: The more hands-on, pre-service experience in the classroom—where you observe and practice with an effective teacher who gives you helpful feedback—the better.

Why is this important?

Practice makes perfect. In fact, teachers with classroom experience as a part of their prep program are more likely to feel prepared for their first year in the classroom. Having the opportunity to observe other teachers and practice teaching is important for success as a first-year teacher.

What can this look like?

Pre-service, hands-on experience can come in a variety of forms.

  • In traditional undergraduate or master's programs, your pre-service program typically includes one or two semesters of working in an experienced teacher’s classroom. This is usually called "student teaching" and often occurs during your final year. 
  • Alternative licensure programs may offer several weeks of pre-service practice with an experienced teacher during summer school. Once you are in the classroom, your learning continues as you teach your own class, supported by a mentor, and engage in additional professional learning with your program cohort throughout the school year.

Heads Up: Several alternative licensure programs have "internship” or “on the job" components. This can sound like pre-service experience, but it is just the term for your first year as the primary adult in the classroom before the program recommends you to receive your license. Some programs will have pre-service experience before this internship year and some will not—just make sure you understand the details of the program components before you sign up. 

As a rule, more pre-service experience is better, but quality definitely matters. Make sure to ask any prospective programs about what the pre-service experience entails, including how long it lasts, how they select mentor teachers and how you will receive feedback on your practice.

  • Hands on, pre-service experience
  • Preparation for teaching diverse populations
  • Mentoring and Coaching
  • Commitment to Improvement

Your Background—Your Path

You can become a teacher starting right where you are now. Whether you’re in school, out of school or considering a career change, there’s a pathway to becoming a teacher.

Where are you starting?

  • A high school degree: Consider a bachelor’s degree + licensure program for undergraduates.
  • Some college: You can finish your degree and then get licensed, or enroll in a bachelor’s degree + licensure program.
  • A bachelor’s degree: Consider a postgraduate program or alternative licensure (great for career changers).

Click through the tabs below for more information about each path. And don't forget, we have coaches on hand ready to answer any questions you have about the different pathways to teaching.

  • Complete your educator preparation program as part of earning your bachelor’s degree, reducing total cost and time.
  • Great for individuals who decide in high school or early in college that they want to become a teacher.
  • Bachelor’s degree + licensure
  • Post-graduate licensure
  • Alternative licensure

Not All Programs Offer Everything

Double-check that your program:

  • Is approved for licensure in Colorado. See our list of partner programs to get your search started.
  • Offers a credential in the grade and subject you want to teach.

Ready to explore some EPPs? Find the state-approved educator preparation programs in Colorado that fit your background and preferences.

Need help thinking through your options? Chat with an expert to learn more about your choices for educator prep.

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