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Office of Educator Licensure

District School Resources

District and school administrative staff such as human resources officials, are integral to the hiring and professional support of licensed educators. Here you will find an overview of topics and tools that may assist with these functions.

Massachusetts Educator Licensure Legal Requirements:

To be eligible for employment by a school district in any position covered by 603 CMR 7.00, a person must have been granted a license by the Commissioner that is appropriate for the role.

The role covered by each license is defined by the title and requirements of the license. Superintendents and principals intending to employ an educator in a role not obviously defined by an existing license must determine the most appropriate license set forth in 603 CMR 7.00 or 603 CMR 4.00 by comparing the actual duties and responsibilities of that role with the license requirements.

Please note that this guidance relates to legal employability as outlined in M.G.L., Chapter 71, s. 38G, and 603 CMR 7.00. It does not cover the federal requirements for Highly Qualified teachers.

Useful Resources:

  • Information on qualifications and licensure requirements for teachers in charter schools.
  • The guidance document known as Matching Licenses can assist you in determining the most appropriate license for the roles assigned to your personnel.
  • Download Word Document
    Matching Licenses

Licensure Hardship Waiver:

According to Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval 603 CMR 7.00, in order to be employed as an educator in Massachusetts, most roles require a license. In the event that an employer has not been able to recruit a licensed educator for a particular position, they may consider applying for a hardship waiver to permit employment of an educator who does not yet hold the appropriate license. The hardship waiver is an exemption from the requirement for one (1) school year to employ an unlicensed individual. It is the district's responsibility to follow the instructions for logging the waiver request in ELAR and submitting the requested evidence that a good faith effort has been made to hire licensed personnel.

  • Persons employed under hardship waivers must demonstrate that they are making continuous progress toward meeting the requirements for licensure in the field in which they are employed in order for an additional waiver to be granted after one year.
    View HTML Page
    Set-up to Request a Waiver for Educator Licensure
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    How Continuous Progress is Calculated for an Additional Licensure Hardship Waiver

Critical Shortage Waiver (for retired educators)

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Critical Shortage Waivers

In addition to hardship waivers, Massachusetts law also provides for 'critical shortage' waivers that permit a school district to employ a retired educator beyond their usual earning limits – in certain circumstances. Pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 32, s. 91(e), the earnings limitations on re-employment of retirees in Massachusetts public schools are eased in the event that the district has made a good-faith effort to hire qualified non-retirees and has been unable to find them. The 'critical shortage' application process is similar to that of requesting a hardship waiver, but it is done via hard copy, not the ELAR system. School districts that are interested in hiring a retired educator to fill a critical shortage position must fill out and submit the application and supporting evidence as requested. For questions regarding pension and salary, please contact the Massachusetts Teachers Retirement System (MTRS) at (617) 679-MTRS (6877).

The Commissioner's Hotline:

The Commissioner's Hotline is a designated phone number that superintendents and appropriate central office staff may call to:

  • Ask licensure questions
  • Troubleshoot pending licenses
  • Expedite an application
  • Check a license/waiver status

DropBox Central:

DropBox Central is a tool you can access after logging into the DESE Security Portal. There are two Drop Boxes, in particular, that the Office of Educator Licensure recommends:

  • Educator Licensure Status DropBox: Use this when you are interested in downloading a spreadsheet of the current licensure status and details of your entire staff. Instructions within the DropBox will guide you through uploading your roster of staff to the InBox, and an overnight process will run to return all related licensure data for your staff to the OutBox.
  • Educator Licensure Expedite DropBox: Use this when you want to expedite our evaluation of an application for licensure. Make sure the application status is "Ready for Review," and follow the instructions within the DropBox to upload your applicant's name and ID information. Our office will then review it and respond to the applicant within 24-48 hours.

Upload Supporting Documents Directly into ELAR:

There is now a streamlined way that works even better than the existing Documents DropBox to submit licensure support documents. You may log into ELAR, look up an applicant, and upload documents directly to their profile on the Activity Summary page via the Administrative Inquiry function.

Uploading Documents Guide

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Statewide Applicant Fingerprint Identification Services (SAFIS)/ National Background Checks (Fingerprinting):

In January 2013, the Governor signed Chapter 459 of the Acts of 2012, "An Act Relative to Background Checks." This new law expands what public, private, and parochial schools, including approved private special education schools and child care facilities, already do in conducting state Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) checks on all employees at least once every three years. It requires a fingerprint-based state and national criminal record check for all school employees and contractor employees. All newly hired school employees, including educators, student teachers, maintenance staff, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers, who work in the schools and may have direct and unmonitored contact with children, are now required to complete the new fingerprint-based state and national background check for the 2013-2014 school year. Volunteers at schools will continue to be required to submit to state CORI checks at least once every three years, as currently required by statute, but the decision to require the submission of fingerprints by volunteers for the fingerprint-based state and national checks will be made locally, by schools or districts.

For all current K-12 school employees and early educators, the law directs the Board of Early Education and Care and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to adopt regulations that phase in fingerprint-based state and national background checks prior to September 1, 2016. Unlike most state CORI checks that have no associated fee, individuals will pay a fee to comply with this requirement that ranges from $35 for non-licensed employees to $55 for individuals licensed under G.L. Chapter 71, Section 38G (licensed educators and specialists). The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) has designed the system to meet this new national background check requirement.

Licensure Requirements Tool:

Need to find the requirements for a specific license? Please use the Licensure Requirements Tool to search for individual pathways/licensure requirement sets.


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Employment/Induction and Mentoring Verification Form
Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.