Issue and expiration dates:
Each license issued has a specific period of validity. Educators are expected to take note of the amount of time for which each license is valid and work toward advancement of each license to its next stage, i.e., from Preliminary to Initial or from Initial to Professional. Licenses at the Professional stage must be renewed every five years or else they become inactive/invalid.
Validity dates by license:
- Temporary license – valid for one calendar year (cannot be extended; must advance to preliminary or initial)
- Preliminary – valid for five years of employment (cannot be extended, must advance to initial)
- Initial – valid for five years of employment (may be extended once, must be advanced to professional)
- Professional – valid for five calendar years (renewable every five years thereafter)
How to Advance a License:
To advance a license from one type to the next type: Preliminary to Initial; Initial to Professional; you will need to apply for the new type of license and send in all required documentation verifying that the requirements for the new/advanced license have been met.
To determine the requirements for a particular type of license, please use our Licensure Requirements Tool.
The quickest way to apply for the new/advanced license is through the Educator Licensure And Renewal (ELAR) system.
Calendar years (for temporary and professional licenses):
Temporary licenses are only valid for one (1) calendar year, and professional licenses are only valid for five (5) calendar years. Time elapses regardless of employment status under these licenses.
Calculation of years of employment (for preliminary and initial licenses):
Time elapses only while actually employed by a school or district (that requires a license in the state of MA) and is used to calculate total years of employment with respect to how long a preliminary or initial license remains valid. For example, if an educator works under a license (in a MA school requiring that license) for one (1) year and is then released or goes on maternity leave, that educator’s license remains valid for an additional four (4) years upon his/her return to teaching.
(Note: Initial Administrator licenses cannot be extended)
The Initial license is valid for five years of employment and may be renewed (extended) at the discretion of the Commissioner for an additional five years. Educators who have worked in a Massachusetts public school under an Initial license for more than 4-1/2 years and have not yet satisfied the requirements to advance an Initial license to the Professional license, have the option of applying for an Extension of their Initial license. ‘Under a license’ is defined here as meaning; “employment in the role and at the grade of the license from the date it was issued”.
How to Apply to Extend an Initial License
To apply for an extension of your Initial license, you will need to apply for your Initial license again. The quickest way to apply for the Initial license is through the Educator Licensure And Renewal (ELAR) system. When you apply for the Initial license in the ELAR system, the system will tell you that you already hold the Initial license and ask if you wish to apply for an extension; select, yes, complete the application and make payment.
Please refer to the Extension of Initial License Guide and Template for a checklist of what is needed to apply for and to obtain an Initial-Extension license. The guide also includes a form that may be used to verify that you plan to meet requirements for the Professional license.
Professional licenses are valid for five (5) calendar years and must be renewed in order to remain active. Professional licenses that are either one (1) year from expiring or currently on inactive status can be renewed only if the required number of Professional Development Points (PDPs) has been earned.
Regardless of when an educator is expected to renew their professional license, if employed the educator must obtain final approval of their individual professional development plan by their supervisor; the educator must have a minimum of 10 PDPs in a topic area in order to use the PDPs towards license renewal. Each additional license that an educator renews requires 30 PDPs in the content area of each license to be renewed.
How to Renew a Professional License:
The quickest way to renew your Professional license is through the Educator Licensure And Renewal (ELAR) system. After you log into the ELAR system, select the Apply to renew your professional level license link on your Welcome to ELAR home page. Follow all of the prompts, pay the required fees ($100 for primary license, $25 for additional licenses), and your license(s) will be renewed automatically.
Do not send in any of your supporting documentation (verifying the attainment of the required PDPs) unless you are selected for an audit. If selected for an audit, you will be required to submit documentation in support of the license(s) that you renewed.
Please note that the Office of Educator Licensure no longer sends out hard copies of newly approved or renewed licenses.
If renewing a professional-level license with an expiration date that falls prior to July 1, 2016, the following requirements apply to renewal of a primary license:
- Individual professional development plans (IPDP)* must include at least 150 PDPs for the designated Primary Area. At least 120 of the PDPs must be in the content area of the license or in pedagogy directly related to the educator's primary license, with at least 90 of these PDPs in the content area of the educator's primary license.
If renewing a professional-level license with an expiration date that falls on or after July 1, 2016, the following requirements apply to renewal of a primary license (even if you renew your license early):
- Professional development activities shall be identified by the educator and supervisor during the development of, and review of, the Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP)* in order to better support student achievement. Individual professional development plans must include at least 150 PDPs including:
- At least 15 PDPs related to SEI or English as a Second Language.
- At least 15 PDPs related to training in strategies for effective schooling for students with disabilities and instruction of students with diverse learning styles.
- At least 90 PDPs in the content area of the license or in pedagogy, with no less than 60 PDPs in or related to the content area of the educator's primary license.
*As indicated in 603 CMR 44.04(1)(c), the same plan can be utilized to satisfy license renewal and educator evaluation.
Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) and its impact on Renewal:
The SEI Endorsement requirement is at the center of the Department's RETELL initiative to transform the teaching and learning of ELLs across the Commonwealth.
- All incumbent core academic teachers of ELLs, must earn a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Teacher Endorsement, and
- All incumbent principals/assistant principals and supervisors/directors who evaluate core academic teachers of ELLs must earn an SEI Administrator Endorsement.
Application & Guidelines
- Renewal of License Application
- Recertification/Renewal Guidelines
- Recertification/Renewal 2015 Guidelines Addendum
- Professional License Renewal: Audit FAQs
- Verification of Professional Development Plan: Form A
- License Renewal Activity Log Primary Area Form B-1
- License Renewal Activity Log Additional Area Form B-2
Educators looking for current Department PD offerings should consult the ESE-sponsored offerings page.
Educators are required to earn 150 professional development points (PDPs) in order to be recertified in their primary area of licensure, and 30 PDPs for each additional license. Generally, 1 clock hour of professional development activity is equal to 1 PDP, although Advanced Academic Studies and some Department professional development can award 1.5 PDPs for each hour of activity. Please consult the professional development Frequently Asked Questions if you have additional questions.
Additional professional development guidelines and tools:
- Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Professional Development website
- Guidelines for Reviewing, Approving, and Endorsing Individual PD Plans
Information for supervisors who must review and approve educators' IPDPs and endorse recertification applications.
- Template for Individual PD Plans
A sample format for the plan that individual educators are required to develop and maintain with review and approval of a supervisor.
- Template Activity Record Sheet
150 PDPs/each additional license: 30 PDPs. A license with an Invalid status requires 150 PDPs to renew.