Alternative Routes to Certification (ARC)

Program overview

Earn your teacher certification in one year with this online program from Seattle Pacific University

Prepare to be an effective educator by building upon your current knowledge and skills. This one-year online Alternative Routes to Certification program is Seattle Pacific University’s most affordable option to obtain your teacher certification. Designed for working professionals, this ARC program prepares you for a lifelong career as an educator in your local school.

Earn your Washington Teacher Certification with a full academic year of student teaching. 

Program Overview

Alternative Routes to Certification program distinctives

Since 2002, SPU’s School of Education has offered alternative routes to teacher certification. Over the past two decades, hundreds of teachers have been prepared for work in classrooms across Washington through this alternative-routes program. Here are just a few distinctives that sets us apart:

  • The Alternative Routes to Certification program is SPU’s most affordable option for attaining teacher certification.
  • A defining characteristic of ARC model is a full academic year of student teaching.
  • The ARC program is a one-year, (four quarters) online program.
  • School employees whose role overlaps with their student teaching internship (e.g., paraeducators or conditionally certified teachers) may have a job-embedded internship.
  • This program culminates with a Residency Teacher Certificate without a master’s degree.

Why Seattle Pacific to earn your Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification?

Seattle Pacific was founded more than 125 years ago, and the University has been preparing some of the most sought-after educators in the region for more than 90 years. Faculty members have worked to develop rigorous programs of quality.

The School of Education at Seattle Pacific University offers more than a dozen graduate programs. Students can choose from three doctoral programs, seven master’s degree programs, and five certification programs, all of which focus on developing competence, character, leadership, and service in educators. While many students train to become teachers, others prepare for roles as school counselors, principals, superintendents, district office personnel, or professors in higher education. SPU’s reputation in P–12 education in Washington and across the country is strong, and students who complete our graduate degree and certificate programs enjoy a higher rate of employment than the state’s average. At Seattle Pacific, you benefit from a program with the following:

  1. Accomplished faculty

    Expert, caring faculty have a desire to help students succeed. Faculty are known for mentoring their students during and following their educational programs. These professors model lifelong learning through scholarly activities of their own, publishing frequently, and presenting at professional conferences.

  2. AACU membership

    Seattle Pacific is a member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. SPU certification programs are approved by the Washington state Professional Educator Standards Board. The School of Education is also a member of the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education, and has a chapter, Sigma Phi Upsilon, of Chi Sigma Iota, an international honor society that values academic and professional excellence in counseling.

  3. Deep character emphasis

    Built on a character education foundation, the graduate programs at SPU offer first-class education through the lens of Christian faith and values. Students take ethics courses, and character issues are integrated throughout the curriculum.

  4. Flexible format

    Designed for working professionals, this program is fully online.

  5. Connected alumni

    School of Education graduates move on to purposeful careers in schools and district-level leadership throughout the country. When you obtain a graduate degree from SPU’s School of Education, you join a community of alumni who stay connected.

Related programs

Master of Arts in Teaching Online

Accelerated Master of Arts in Teaching

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All courses are offered online.

Program Schedule and Cohort Info

The Alternative Routes to Certification program starts and ends every year in June, covering four quarters. It is designed to be completed entirely online, including both synchronous and asynchronous courses. In addition, there will be some face-to-face opportunities to connect with faculty and your cohort.

Sample course sequences

Depending on your endorsement area, your required program coursework will vary. Please refer to the sequences currently listed in the Graduate Catalog listings below to view course requirements.

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Continuing Education

To meet the changing needs of adult learners, Seattle Pacific University offers a wide range of programs and courses to meet the needs of today’s professionals. With competitive credit and program rates, these personal and professional development opportunities make lifelong learning very affordable. As the largest provider of continuing education credits for teachers in Washington state, SPU’s Center for Professional Education is focused on the current needs of K–12 educators.

Courses taken for credit and numbered at the 5000-level are graduate-level courses and are designed primarily with the needs of teachers and other professionals in mind for the purpose of meeting certification, endorsement, district pay-lane requirements and other professional needs. These graduate-level courses may be considered to meet elective requirements in some cases.

Still have questions? Review these FAQs

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Tuition and fees for 2023–24

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$215 or $670

per credit, course dependent

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application fee

See additional fee details.

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credits to complete

Note: The estimated cost of tuition is between $17,000–$19,000* (more for dual endorsing candidates such as special education and elementary).

*Candidates may be required to take additional content-area courses prior to enrolling in the program depending on their undergraduate major and chosen endorsement(s).

Financial aid

Before applying for aid, you must first be admitted to a graduate program. Make sure you:

  • Enroll in at least 3 master’s level credits (or half-time) toward a degree or eligible certificate each quarter.
  • Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year.

You may take advantage of scholarships and loans. SPU does not have a deadline for graduate financial aid, though earlier is always better than later! 

Learn more about the FAFSA and applying for financial help.

Learn more about scholarships, assistantships, and loans available to graduate students.


Find out more about administrative and other School of Education program fees.

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Admission requirements

To be eligible for the ARC program, you must:

  • Be seeking certification with an endorsement in a shortage area. Find information here about which endorsements are experiencing shortages in Washington state.
  • Have earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Have taken the WEST-B skills tests (or their equivalents) and at least one content area endorsement test (WEST-E/NES/ACTFL).
  • Secure two letters of recommendation.
    • If employed in a school, one recommendation should be from an administrator and another recommendation should be from a teacher.
    • If not employed in a school, one recommendation should be from someone who knows your work with children and another recommendation should be a professional recommendation.
  • Have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA or a master’s degree.

Application requirements

To apply for admission into the ARC program, please submit the following items and credentials:

  1. Graduate application form, available online here.
  2. $50 application fee.
  3. Official college/university transcript(s).
  4. One- to two-page personal statement.
  5. Professional résumé.
  6. Two letters of recommendation
    • If employed in a school, one recommendation should be from an administrator and another recommendation from a teacher. (Note: Route 2 is for classified staff working with students, such as para-educators or instructional aides; Route 4 is for limited certificate teachers of record, such as a middle school math teacher.)
    • If not employed in a school, one recommendation should be from someone who knows your work with children and the other recommendation should be a professional recommendation.
  7. WEST-B scores (or equivalent)*
  8. Passing (or attempt at) WEST-E or NES score(s)
  9. Verify endorsement readiness through PESB (if your college major matches your intended endorsement, complete the Endorsement Verification form in the application. If your major DOES NOT match your intended endorsement, please email the Certification Office at
  10. Moral and Character Policy form.

*NOTE: Applicants may use a combination of WEST-B, SAT, and ACT scores to meet the WEST-B requirements in Math, Reading, and Writing.

  • Preferred SAT scores required (for test date beginning 03/05/2016) — Math: 27.5, Reading: 27, Writing: 28.
  • Preferred SAT scores required (for test date up to 03/04/2016) — Math: 515, Reading: 500, Writing: 490.
  • Preferred ACT scores required — Math: 22, Reading: 22, Writing: 8 (for test date beginning 09/01/2016), or Writing: 23 (for test date 09/01/2015 through 08/31/2016), or Writing: 8 (for test date up to 08/31/2015).

Application deadline

Early decision: November 15

Regular admission: February 1

Application or admissions questions?

Contact Graduate Admissions at 800-601-0603 or

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Frequently Asked Questions

How selective is admission to the SPU School of Education graduate degree programs?

This varies by program. Admission to some programs, such as the Accelerated Master in Teaching Mathematics and Science (AMTMS), Accerated Master of Arts in Teaching (AMAT), and MEd in School Counseling, is very competitive. Admission to each of SPU's graduate programs in education is standards-based, and all applicants must meet all standards for admission.

Can I continue to work while enrolled in a graduate degree program in the SPU School of Education?

Yes, in most cases. Most of the graduate degree programs offered by the School of Education are part-time programs, with classes offered in a variety of worker-friendly venues. Education graduate courses are scheduled at SPU or off campus, in the evenings, occasionally on Saturdays, and during the summer.

The Acclerated Master of Arts in Teaching (AMAT) and Accelerated Master in Teaching Mathematics and Science (AMTMS) programs are exceptions. They are one-year full-time programs due to their full-time internships.

Is it possible to complete a graduate degree from SPU's School of Education online?

The School of Education offers several fully online programs, including the AMAT-OnlineAMTMS-OnlineDigital Education Leadership, and Teacher Leadership programs. Please review the program pages for eligibility requirements.

Is a graduate program at SPU more expensive than comparable education programs at other universities?

SPU's graduate tuition rates are competitive with other accredited universities in Washington.

How does a graduate degree or graduate certificate from SPU compare with a similar degree or certificate from other universities?

SPU's School of Education has been offering a wide range of fully accredited master's and doctoral degrees in addition to graduate certificates for more than 20 years. SPU's reputation in P–12 education in Washington and around the country is strong, and students who complete our graduate degree and certificate programs enjoy a higher rate of employment than the state's average.

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