Alternative Routes to Certification (ARC)

About the program

The Alternative Routes to Certification (ARC) program at SPU integrates a Washington state Residency Teacher Certificate with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

The ARC program recognizes the alternative routes to certification that have been identified by the  Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB). These routes are for individuals who possess a unique set of qualifications and wish to earn a Washington state Residency Certificate.

Alternate routes

Applicants to the ARC program fit one of these profiles, though all routes require a bachelor’s degree:

  • Route 2: Currently employed staff member (such as para-educators, instructional assistants, or education aides) with a school district or private school and a minimum of one year of career-related experience.
  • Route 3: Individuals not currently employed by a school district or private school (such as those considering career change).
  • Route 4: Teachers employed in a public school on a Conditional or Emergency Certificate or teachers employed in private schools.

Certification is earned in four academic quarters, from summer to spring. The MAT degree is earned through additional coursework, which you may complete concurrently with certification requirements or in subsequent quarters.

The certification component of the ARC program is 45 credits. Approximately one-third of these credits are allocated for your 41-week internship. Completion of certification courses, Internship requirements, and passing program assessments qualifies you for a Washington state Residency Certificate. This certificate enables you to teach in public and private schools in Washington state. The master’s degree is earned by completing an additional 15 graduate level credits or five classes.

All credits are offered at the graduate level and are adaptations of courses offered in the Master of Arts in Teaching program.

Coursework and internship

Coursework begins in the summer with online and on-campus classes in learning theory, general teaching methods, curriculum design, and literacy strategies. Coursework varies depending on endorsement area to provide discipline-specific emphasis.

  • You typically enroll in classes with peers who are earning the same primary endorsement to promote collegial interdependence.
  • The number of on-campus meetings for coursework varies by endorsement area.
  • Candidates endorsing in Special Education, Elementary Education, and K–12 Secondary may anticipate meeting on-campus once or twice a week, beginning at 4:30 p.m. and ending at 7:05 p.m. or 9 p.m., depending on the class and quarter.

Internships begin in late August as K–12 teachers return to school for in-service training. Candidates intern across the school year, while completing online and on-campus coursework. On-campus and online coursework integrates internship experiences to assist you in applying educational theory and research to planning, instruction, and assessment.

You are paired with a mentor teacher and field supervisor in a supervised school setting. Your internship is five days a week, for an entire K–12 school year, approximately 41 weeks, including in-service and end-of-the-year activities. You and your mentor teacher follow a co-teaching model where responsibility for planning, instruction, management, and assessment is shared.

  • Candidates begin an internship with focused observations and progress to independent teaching.
  • Throughout yours, you will complete assignments designed to maximize field experiences, such as portfolio reflections, unit plans, and program assessments.
  • Your internship concludes with you returning control of classroom responsibilities to your mentor teacher.

Completion of the MAT degree

You will earn the MAT degree by completing five graduate level courses, totaling 15 credits. Classes required for the MAT degree are not needed for certification. However, most candidates complete degree requirements immediately following certification to increase their base salary.

You may delay completion of degree requirements for up to five years following the quarter of admission as long as active enrollment status is maintained by completing one class every four quarters. Students admitted to the ARC program with a master’s degree may complete EDU 6085 to receive the MAT degree.

ARC for School Employees

The Alternative Routes to Certification for School Employees is a one-year, 24-credit certification program designed specifically for students working in schools under Limited Certificates (either conditional or emergency) and also para-educators or instructional assistants working in partner districts. ACRSE is focused on certifying teachers already in schools, working under Limited Certificates, to meet teacher shortages in partner districts.

Fifteen of the 24 credits are reserved for ARC Internship. Nine of the credits are for coursework in core areas, including lesson design, professional issues, professional development, and program assessments. Additional coursework may be required when an Approved Plan of Study is developed.

Partner districts may offer Approved Plans of Study courses, or collaborate with the Center for Professional Education in developing and staffing courses. Students may also enroll in regular program courses for meeting APS requirements. Students enrolled in the ARCSE program may earn certification after completing all program requirements and passing internal and external assessments.

Intended learning outcomes (standards and competencies) for Graduate Teacher Education (including ARCSE) may be found on the Professional Educator Standards Board website. However, the School of Education aligns state-mandated learning outcomes with eight program standards, which include the following:

  1. Expectations. The teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.
  2. Instruction. The teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students.
  3. Differentiation. The teacher acquires and uses specific knowledge about students’ cultural, individual intellectual and social development and uses that knowledge to adjust their practice by employing strategies that advance student learning.
  4. Content Knowledge. The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning.
  5. Learning Environment. The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.
  6. Assessment. The teacher uses multiple data elements (both formative and summative) to plan, inform and adjust instruction and evaluate student learning.
  7. Families and Community. The teacher communicates and collaborates with students, families and all educational stakeholders in an ethical and professional manner to promote student learning.
  8. Professional Practice. The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

Program standards are integrated across coursework and internship. All program standards are included in various assessments deployed across student teaching.

Following certification, students may apply to earn a master’s degree through another degree program in the School of Education, which will require additional coursework.

Admission requirements

Applicants must submit the following items to Graduate Admissions:

  • Application and $50 application processing fee.
  • Official transcript(s) from each college and/or university attended.
    • If your degree is not from a U.S. college or university, please arrange for your transcript to be evaluated by an accredited transcript evaluation company such as WES. Have the report forwarded directly to Graduate Admissions.
  • Personal statement (1–2 pages).
  • Résumé
  • GRE (Graduate Record Exam) or MAT (Miller Analogies Test) scores taken within five years of application.
    • On the former GRE exam, preferred minimum combined Verbal and Quantitative score of 950
    • On the revised GRE exam, preferred minimum scores of Verbal: 148 and Quantitative: 147
    • On the MAT, preferred minimum scaled score of 400*
  • Two to four letters of recommendation
  • Passing WEST-B and scores including 240 on each sub-test: reading, writing, and mathematics.
    • Applicants may use a combination of SAT, ACT, and WEST-B scores to meet the WEST-B requirement (reading writing, mathematics). Please contact Graduate Admissions if you have questions.
    • Minimum SAT scores required: Math: 515, Reading: 500, Writing: 490.
    • Minimum ACT scores required: Math: 22, Reading: 22, Writing: 8.
  • Passing the State Endorsement Test.
    • Those endorsing in designated world languages or bilingual education must also pass oral and writing proficiency tests (OPI and WPT) in their language area.
    • Several NES study guides are located on the main floor Reference section of SPU’s Ames Library.
  • Endorsement Verification form
    • Endorsements are the content and grade levels a teacher is prepared to teach. The Professional Education Standards Board (PESB) provides a comprehensive list of all endorsements offered at SPU.
    • 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 contact Kristi Kanehen, certification officer. Complete the Endorsement Verification form only after contacting Kristi Kanehen. On the form, indicate that you have been in contact with her and list your “Approved Plan of Study” if one has been developed.
  • Moral Character and Personal Fitness Policy form (found in the online application).

*The GRE or MAT will be waived for students who achieved at least (a) a 3.0 cumulative undergraduate GPA or (b) a 3.0 in the last 45 quarter credits.

Applicants with complete files submitted by the deadline are screened for interviews, held on the SPU campus in March. Invitations to interview are sent by email. Applicants are advised to add these email addresses as contacts to avoid inadvertent delivery of correspondence to spam or junk folders.

Enrollment policy

  • You must be continuously enrolled in required SPU courses to earn this master’s degree, or until you officially withdraw from the program. Exceptions to continuous enrollment must be approved by the program chair.
  • You may be granted a leave of absence for up to four quarters by the program chair. Once the leave of absence has expired, you will either enroll in graduate coursework or be dropped from the program.
  • SPU’s Student Academic Services requires continuous enrollment to remain admitted in a graduate program. After four quarters of non-enrollment, students will be placed in “inactive status” and will need to reapply for admission.
  • If you decide to no longer pursue a master’s degree, you may officially withdraw from the program and SPU by notifying the program chair and the graduate programs manager.


Admissions materials should be directed to Graduate Admissions. If you have questions about graduate education or certification programs: