Teacher Licensure in Minnesota

Those who wish to teach in K-12 public schools in Minnesota must earn a professional educator’s license. PELSB is the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board.  PELSB is the state agency that oversees all new and renewing Minnesota teacher licenses.

Links to the important resources for becoming licensed are outlined below.  A great visual to start with this Tiered licensure Infographic created by Education Minnesota, the union representing over 70,000 preK-12 teachers and school support professionals in Minnesota.

Jump to: how to become a substitute teacher, and MN licensing for out-of-state candidates.


Becoming a Licensed Teacher in Minnesota

Minnesota has a tiered system for educator licensure with four different levels of license, or tiers, available depending on a candidate’s educational attainment, experience, assessment scores, and evaluation.  For traditionally prepared teachers, the licensing structure typically starts at Tier 2, which requires a bachelor’s degree and completion of an approved teacher preparation program. To move to Tier 3, teachers must meet Tier 2 requirements and complete passing scores on the state’s content and pedagogy tests plus meet experience requirements. 

Tier 1 licenses allow teachers that bring real-world experiences for niche classes and hard-to-staff positions.

In nearly all situations, becoming licensed as an educator in Minnesota requires a minimum of a bachelor’s Degree.   There are a few exceptions:  career and technical educators, and candidates with a substantial portfolio may not require a bachelor’s degree.  In addition, candidates are required to pass the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE), pass a criminal background check, and submit fingerprints.  Details of all requirements can be found on the PELSB website.



Other scenarios:

Short Call Substitute License

To work as a substitute teacher in Minnesota you need to first a obtain a substitute teaching license from PELSB, referred to as a “short call” license.  This license allows for teaching on a day-to-day basis, not to exceed 15 consecutive days replacing the same teacher. The license is valid for functioning as a short call substitute teacher at all grade levels in all teaching fields.

NOTE: A long call substitute teacher is one who replaces the same teacher for 15 or more consecutive days. A long call substitute teacher must hold a Minnesota Tier license or permission valid for the assignment.

To attain a short call you must meet at least one of the following criteria: 

  • Hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, as verified by a college transcript.
  • Hold a credential from outside the United States that is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.
  • For applicants in career and technical education fields have one of the following:
    • five years of relevant work experience aligned to the assignment
    • an associate’s degree aligned to the assignment, or
    • a professional certification aligned to the assignment from an approved certifying organization
  • Be enrolled in and making meaningful progress in a PELSB-approved teacher preparation program and successfully completed student teaching.


To obtain a Short Call Substitute license you must work directly with PELSB and apply for the license online at PELSB’s website, look for the link titled “Online Licensing System”.

Also see: 

  • Sub Center: find information about working as a substitute, including pay rates and application links.



Out-of-State Applicants

If you have obtained a bachelor’s degree from a teacher preparation program in another state you may qualify for a Minnesota teacher license under the tiered licensure structure.  

Most candidates who are coming from out-of-state apply for either a Tier 2 or Tier 3 license. To qualify for a Tier 2 license you must have a job offer with a Minnesota public school and meet Tier 2 requirements. Tier 2 candidates do not need to take any Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exams (MTLEs) prior to receiving a license.
A Tier 3 license requires the candidate to take and pass the appropriate MTLEs in content and pedagogy prior to applying for licensure. It does not require a job offer with a Minnesota public school. 
Both Tier 2 and Tier 3 applications can be found on PELSB’s Apply for a License webpage.
An out-of-state teacher may apply for a Tier 2 license prior to passing the MTLE content and pedagogy exams if they have met all Tier 2 licensure requirements and have been offered a position by a Minnesota public school district or charter school.