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30 minutes

Colorado Program Application Guide

Everything you need to know about teacher prep program requirements: From GPAs to applications and exams, this guide has you covered.

So you want to apply to a teaching program, and you’re figuring out what you need to enroll. That’s great news!

When you apply, program staff will look at a few different pieces to make sure you’re eligible, including: 

  • Your academic history. 
  • Your related work experience. 
  • Any required test scores.
  • Your essay.
  • Letters of recommendation.

In this guide, we’ll look at each of these components. 

If you have any questions about your program applications, reach out to a TEACH Colorado coach or admissions staff for support. We’re here for you.

Jump to:

Your academic history

When you submit your application, you’ll need to show your transcripts and any previous degrees or college credits you’ve earned.

What transcripts do I need?  

With your transcripts, teaching programs want to see your GPA and what courses you’ve already taken. That includes transcripts for any college classes you took in high school!

You may be able to upload unofficial transcripts for the initial application, but you will need to formally request your official transcripts before (or shortly after) you’re admitted.

To request your transcripts:

Contact the transcript office or records office of the schools you attended.

Follow their transcript request procedures. You can often find the procedures on the school’s website. You can also try calling or emailing the school.

Budget at least three to five days for processing.

Some schools will send transcripts by mail; others may have electronic copies.

In your request, be sure to include:

  • Your name. If your name has changed since you attended school, let them know your name as it appeared when you attended the school.
  • Your student ID number, if you have it.
  • How many copies of your transcript you need.
  • Your signature.

Sometimes you’ll need to pay a fee to order an official transcript. Not to worry! TEACH Colorado offers up to $100 in fee reimbursements for this kind of expense. Visit our Fee Reimbursements page to learn more. 

Do I need a degree?

You don’t need a bachelor’s degree when you start a teaching program, but you’ll need one before you become a Colorado Department of Education licensed teacher. Many programs let you earn your bachelor’s and licensure at the same time. To learn more about your program options, look at the statement below that best fits your situation.

You can also visit the TEACH Colorado About Programs page for a closer look at choosing a program.

Practical experience

In addition to your academic history, admissions staff will look at your work experience so far, including any experience you’ve had working in education.

What kind of experience do I need?

Most teaching programs will require you to have a certain amount of meaningful experience working in education. 

Ideally, you’ll already have experience working with the age group and subject area that you want to teach, but other education experience can work too. Maybe you’ve worked in an after-school program or as a classroom paraprofessional. Maybe you’ve been a camp counselor or an instructor for a weekend program, like Saturday school or Sunday school. Those all count! 

How much practical experience do I need?

The exact number of experience hours you’ll need will vary from program to program. Ask your program about their specific requirements.  

Whatever your experience, you’ll want to highlight your achievements and responsibilities. Check out our resume guide and template for ideas and advice on creating a top-notch resume.

Test scores

What tests do I need for a bachelor’s and licensure program?

None! As of May 2021, Colorado’s public four-year colleges and universities are test-optional. That means they do not require any tests like the SAT or ACT for admission—but you can submit your scores if you wish. 

If you choose to submit your test scores, some universities will use them for admissions decisions. Other schools will use your scores as a placement test, to help you enroll in the right courses once you start. Check out Colorado’s test-optional details chart to learn about how individual schools plan to use test scores going forward.

Private colleges and universities may still require SAT or ACT scores to apply. If you’re considering programs at any private institutions, check with admissions staff to find out what—if any—tests you’ll need to take. 

You don’t need any tests to enroll in a bachelor’s program, but you will need to pass a content area test to get licensed. See the next section for more on this.

What tests do I need for a master’s and licensure or alternative licensure program? 

Before you get your teaching license, you’ll need to pass a content area assessment, to show you know your stuff well enough to teach it. 

Depending on your program, you may need to pass your content area exam before you apply. Other programs only require you to have registered for your test before you submit your application. Check with program staff if you’re not sure when you need to take your content area assessment. 

Most Colorado teachers will take the Praxis content area test. If you’re getting a world languages license to teach Mandarin, you’ll take the NES Mandarin exam instead. 

Get more information on content area tests in our testing guide.

How do I send my test scores? 

As we discussed above, Colorado’s public colleges and universities are now test-optional, so you don’t have to include any SAT or ACT test scores if you don’t want to. 

If you decide you do want to submit your scores, you can usually send unofficial copies with your application. To get your hands on official copies of your scores, head over to the testing website to order them. We’ve gathered the links to make it easier for you! 

For most tests, including the Praxis and NES Mandarin exam, you can request that your scores automatically get sent to your program when you register for your test.

Other application materials

Finally, you’ll probably need to submit an essay or personal statement and at least one letter of recommendation. 

If there’s anything in your academic or work history that you’re worried about, these can be good places to address those. 


In most applications, you’ll need to either write a personal statement about your interest in the program, or answer a series of essay-style questions. This is your chance to share a little more about your background and interests to show why you’re a good fit.

For many people, the essay can feel like the most stressful part of the application process. But there are resources to make it easier! 

Check out our essay guide for advice and a template to get started. 

Letters of recommendation

You’ll usually need to include at least one letter of recommendation from a former teacher or supervisor in your application. Letters of recommendation can show off your strengths in a way that’s hard to do for yourself.

To get a stellar letter of recommendation, it’s important to follow some basic asking etiquette. We’ve got you covered there too—take a look at our letter of rec guide and template for more.


For many teaching programs, you’ll need to interview with program admissions staff. This is an opportunity to tell your story, share what you’ll bring to the program and show why you’ll make a great teacher. 

It’s a great idea to prepare for your interview—so we’ve gathered a few of our favorite pieces of interview advice. (Need more of an interviewing 101 refresher? Check out these interviewing tips from The Muse.)

How to prepare for your teaching program interview

Practice talking about yourself

You’ll get to explain why you want to be a teacher—and why you’ll make a great one—in your admissions essay. The interview is your chance to tell your story out loud. Ask a friend or family member to listen to your answer, then aim to tell the story in about two minutes, give or take.

You’ll also want to practice explaining what you will bring to the program. What will make you a great colleague to your fellow classmates? What unique perspectives or teamwork skills do you bring?

Get to know yourself on paper

Your interviewers may want to know more about your academic background or have questions about specific courses, changes in major or grades on your transcripts. Review your transcripts with a critical eye. What questions might your interviewers have? Practice answering them. 

As with your admissions essay, this is your chance to use potential negatives to your advantage, showing how you have grown from challenges.

Prepare to give specific examples that show how you work

Interviewers often ask about how your life experiences demonstrate the qualities they’re looking for. They may want to know how you creatively tackle challenges, collaborate on projects or handle stress. 

You’ll want to do more than tell them you’re creative and a great collaborator. This is your chance to show your great qualities with short anecdotes. Think of specific examples from your school work, jobs you’ve had or other experiences. Come ready with a few great stories that illustrate your skills and how you work.

To set yourself apart, follow your interview by sending short thank you emails or a handwritten card to your interviewers. Let them know you value their time and are excited to get started in the program!

International Applicant Requirements

If you’re from outside the U.S., you may need to provide additional paperwork to show that you’re ready for your program or licensure. This may include:

  • Documentation that you are eligible to work legally in the U.S. This could include a copy of a valid work authorization, a permanent resident card or a U.S. passport.

  • Copies of any relevant test scores. 

For more information, click on the statement below that fits you best.

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