Alternative Routes to Certification (ARC)

About the program

The Alternative Routes to Certification (ARC) is a one-year certification program designed specifically for candidates working in partner school districts (Routes 2 and 4) or who bring substantive background knowledge to teaching (Route 3). With employer support, classified staff such as para-educators or instructional assistants (Route 2), or teachers under limited certification (Route 4, conditional or emergency) may use their employment as part of their job-embedded internship if it overlaps with their teaching endorsement. The program begins in the summer and completes in the spring, comprising four quarters. Candidates complete coursework entirely online, though there are opportunities for on-campus participation in various events such as the annual job fair. The ARC program uses entirely online coursework, though it still requires some scheduled/synchronous online course participation. The courses are not self-paced but generally follow one learning topic/module per week to maximize cohort interaction.

Candidates in the ARC program become effective teachers by:

  • Demonstrating effective and equitable teaching practices.
  • Centering instruction on high expectations for student achievement, including culturally responsive teaching practices.
  • Recognizing and responding to individual student learning needs.
  • Providing clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum.
  • Fostering and managing a safe, positive, and inclusive learning environment.
  • Using multiple student data elements to modify instruction and improve student learning.
  • Communicating and collaborating with parents and the school community.
  • Exhibiting collaborative and collegial practices focused on improving instruction and learning.
  • Developing professional wellness habits in order to persist and thrive in the teaching profession.

Coursework and internship

The program includes core credits taken at the 6000-level and professional development credits taken at the 5000-level. Depending upon endorsement track, the program is between 35 and 45 credits. 

  • Twelve of the core credits taken at the 6000-level are reserved for a full year of student teaching internship.
  • Nine of the 6000-level credits are for coursework in core areas including lesson design, professional issues, professional development, and program assessments.
  • Between 14 and 24 of the 5000-level credits will comprise the rest of the program depending upon endorsement track. 

Candidates and mentor teachers follow a co-teaching model, where responsibility for planning, instruction, management, family communication, and assessment is shared. Student teaching interns begin with focused observations and progress to independent teaching. Across internship, interns will complete assignments designed to maximize learning from field experiences, such as creating a classroom management plan, a portfolio of internship reflections, lesson plans, a family engagement plan, and program assessments. The internship concludes with the intern returning control of classroom responsibilities to the mentor teacher. Credits completed at the 5000-level are housed in the Continuing Education (CE) Office for professional development. Individual course descriptions for 5000-level courses can be found on the CE website.

Course descriptions for 6000-level courses are found in this catalog. Students enrolled in the ARC program earn a Washington Residency Certificate after completing all program requirements and passing program assessments. This program does not lead to a degree (i.e., master’s) and therefore does not participate in Graduate Commencement.

Admission requirements

Applicants must submit the following items to Graduate Admissions:

  • Online application and $50 application processing fee.
  • Official transcript(s) from each college and/or university attended.
  • Personal statement (1–2 pages).
  • Résumé.
  • Two letters of recommendation.      
    • Routes 2 and 4 applicants who are employed by a district/school: 1) a current school administrator, and 2) a teacher who is familiar with your work with students.
    • Route 3 applicants, not employed in schools: two letters from supervisors or academics who have knowledge of either your work with children or your endorsement content knowledge
  • Preferred WEST-B 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 preferred score of 240 (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.
  • Taking the state endorsement test.
    • You must take the endorsement test(s) for your intended endorsement area(s). Tests should be passed prior to the start of the graduate teacher education program.
      • Those endorsing in designated world languages or bilingual education must also pass oral and writing proficiency tests in their language area.
    • Several NES study guides are located on the main floor Reference section of SPU’s Ames Library. If you are admitted, you may use your SPU account to check out online study guides from the library.
  • Verify endorsement readiness.
    • Endorsements are for the content and grade levels a teacher is prepared to teach. The Professional Education Standards Board (PESB) provides a comprehensive list of endorsements and the required content competencies and assessments.
    • 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 the certification office. Complete the Endorsement Verification form only after contacting the certification office. On the form, indicate that you have been in contact with the certification office and list your “Approved Plan of Study,” if one has been developed.
  • Shortage area requirement.
    • Students enrolled in an alternative routes to certification program must be pursuing at least one endorsement in a subject and/or geographic area as defined by PESB, including, but not limited to, special education, elementary, health and fitness, math, science, English language arts, Spanish, social studies, and English language learners. Students with a local shortage area (district-wide) are eligible as long as the district is able to verify there is a local shortage. The current shortage areas can be found on the PESB website.
  • Moral Character and Personal Fitness Policy form (found in the online application).

Applicants with complete files submitted by the deadline are screened for interviews, held in March. Invitations to interview are sent by email. 

Enrollment policy

  • Students must be continuously enrolled in required SPU courses to earn this certificate, or until officially withdrawing from the program. Exceptions to continuous enrollment must be approved by the program coordinator.
  • Students may be granted a leave of absence for up to four quarters by the program coordinator. Once the leave of absence has expired, the student will either enroll in graduate coursework or be dropped from the program.
  • University academic policy 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 a student decides to no longer pursue a residency teaching certificate, the student may officially withdraw from the program and SPU by notifying the program coordinator and the associate director of graduate programs.


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