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

Minnesota offers a variety of licenses for practicing teachers, new teachers, and those with experience teaching outside of Minnesota.  

This article identifies essential resources for your initial or renewal application.

A great visual to start with is 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 or 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, or tiers, available depending on a candidate’s educational attainment, experience, assessment scores, and evaluation.     

In nearly all situations, becoming licensed as an educator in Minnesota requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Tier 1 and Tier 2 licenses are more restricted because they are attached to the employing district or charter school. With a Tier 3 or Tier 4 license, you can take the license with you. Of course, you still have to be hired, but the employer does not have to meet any other requirements in hiring you. 

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, pass the state’s content and pedagogy tests, and meet experience requirements. 

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

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 must pass the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE), pass a criminal background check, and submit fingerprints. You can find details of all requirements on the PELSB website.



Other scenarios:

Short Call Substitute License

To work as a substitute teacher in Minnesota, you must first 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: You’ll often see postings for “long term substitute” teaching positions. These assignments are usually 15 or more consecutive days, such as maternity leave. A long term substitute assignment requires a full Minnesota teaching license or permission valid for the assignment.

To attain a short call license, 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.
  • Applicants in career and technical education fields have one of the following:
    • five years of relevant work experience aligned with 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 and make meaningful progress in a PELSB-approved teacher preparation program and successfully complete 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: 

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



Out-of-State Applicants

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

Most out-of-state candidates 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 before applying for licensure. It does not require a job offer with a Minnesota public school. 


You can find both Tier 2 and Tier 3 applications on PELSB’s Apply for a License webpage.


An out-of-state teacher may apply for a Tier 2 license before 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.