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Professional Development for Teachers: A Guide

Everything you need to know about improving your instruction with professional development, including national and state requirements, practical courses, and online PD courses for credit.

Use Study.com for Teacher Professional Development

Professional development (PD) allows teachers to enhance their classroom practice, stay updated on research and trends in education, and strengthen their content knowledge. Teacher PD can take many forms, with varying degrees of significance and impact on a teacher's career. With teachers' schedules as demanding as ever, they need a more manageable method to gain professional development. That is where alternative professional development sources come in.

Teachers can save time and money by understanding which professional development options work best for their needs. Quality professional development resources will in turn increase the quality of classroom instruction, boosting students' learning and achievement. Study.com offers teachers a flexible and comprehensive solution to their professional development needs with the following three paths.

Why Do Teachers Need Professional Development?

Professional development helps teachers who are passionate about their craft stay up-to-date with teaching trends while also improving their skills. PD is also one of the methods administrators use to make sure teachers have an opportunity to strengthen their expertise and advance their career. Professional development is valuable for teachers who want to excel at what they do and progress in the field. In many states and school districts, earning professional development credits or hours also allows teachers to progress on the salary schedule.

Professional development can take many forms, with varying degrees of significance and impact on a teacher's career. College and university programs are necessary to become a teacher in the first place, but they can only develop a new teacher's skills to a certain extent. That is where alternative professional development sources come into place.

Teachers can save time and money by understanding which professional development options work best for their needs. Quality professional development resources will in turn increase the quality of classroom instruction, boosting students' learning and achievement.

What Activities Count as Professional Development?

Traditional modes of professional development can include:

  • Professional events like conferences, symposiums, and workshops
  • Coursework from state or district approved higher education courses
  • State or district prepared workshops and seminars

Other states allow teachers to use additional types of resources for their professional development needs. Depending on local mandates, the following activities may also fulfill professional development requirements:

  • Online courses and webinars
  • Networking events
  • Action research in the classroom
  • Volunteering
  • Self-study
  • Independent research

Professional development also happens naturally when teachers talk to their colleagues, observe peers in their classrooms, or even read a book. Higher education coursework is the most prevalent type of PD for teacher certification renewal or for salary advancement goals, but many teachers live far from colleges and universities.

Online courses for credit and non-credit coursework could be a good option for teachers with limited access to colleges or with tight schedules. Some states offer a list of approved topics for this type of professional development coursework, for example, differentiated instruction or computer literacy.

In general, states agree that some flexibility is necessary to fulfill the needs of an individual teacher working with a specific grade, subject, or type of student in the classroom.

State Requirements for Teacher Professional Development

Ongoing education is a requirement for every public school teacher in the United States. Requirements for teacher professional development differ by state and school district, and sometimes even by individual school.

Select your state from the map
Alabama Requirements
Meet one of the following criteria:
  • 3 complete years of full-time professional educational work experience and 50 clock hours of allowable professional development
  • 3 complete years of full-time professional educational work experience and 3 semester hours of allowable credit
  • 3 semester hours of allowable credit and 50 clock hours of allowable professional development
  • 6 semester hours of allowable credit
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Alaska Requirements
During the life of the certificate being renewed, applicants must complete:
  • 6 semester hours of renewal credit; and
  • 4 Mandatory Trainings
The 6 renewal credits must be related to or required for:
  • The certificated person's employment at the time of renewal, if the employment requires a certificate;
  • The certificated person's endorsements, or
  • A state-approved preparation program that will lead to an endorsement that the certificated person seeks to acquire.
At least 3 of the renewal credits must be upper division or graduate credit. The remaining three renewal credits may be upper division credit, lower division credit, continuing education units or non-academic credit. One renewal credit is equal to one semester hour, 1.5 quarter hours, or 15 hours of continuing education or non-academic training.
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Arizona Requirements
180 clock hours of professional development or 12 semester hours of education courses verified by transcript and by the school district. Documentation for professional development is required and must be mailed with the renewal application.
Arkansas Requirements
36 professional development hours per year are required.
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California Requirements
California's Clear Teaching Credential does not require teachers to complete additional coursework or service requirements in order to renew. Teachers must go online to renew every 5 years.
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Colorado Requirements
An equivalent of 6 semester hours of credit from an accepted, regionally accredited college or university, which may include up to 90 clock hours of professional development (in-services, workshops, being on a committee, etc.) earned during the validity of the professional license.
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Connecticut Requirements
Teachers seeking to continue their professional educator certificates must complete the 90 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) every 5 years. Teachers must apply to the department of education's Bureau of Certification and Professional Development no earlier than 6 months and no later than 6 weeks before the professional educator certificate expires.
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Delaware Requirements
A teacher's Continuing License is valid for 5 years. To renew the Continuing License, teachers must complete 90 clock hours of professional development during that 5-year period.
Washington, D.C. Requirements
Teachers have two options for credential renewal.

Option A: Performance evaluation. Teachers must submit performance evaluations along with FBI criminal history report and required documents. Requirements:
  • Teachers must have been employed by an appropriate DC Local Education Agency (LEA)
  • Teachers must have achieved at least an effective performance rating for at least three school years of the four-year validity of the credential
  • The performance evaluation review must match assignment area of credential
Option B: 120 Professional development activity hours, 8 college credit hours or combination. An equivalent of 60 hours must be directly related to the content area of the credential being renewed.
Florida Requirements
6 semester hours of college credit, to include at least 1 semester hour of teaching students with disabilities (SWD), must be earned during each 5-year renewal period.
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Georgia Requirements
Georgia's Clear Renewable Certificate is valid for 5 years. To renew, teachers must:
  • Complete 6 semester hours of college course work from accredited Georgia colleges/universities; or
  • 10 credits of Georgia Professional Learning Units; or
  • 10 credits of U.S. Department of Education Teacher-to-Teacher Workshops; or
  • 10 credits of continuing education units under the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET)
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Hawaii Requirements
Teachers must renew their licenses online every 5 years. These two forms are required: Verification of Experience for Renewal Form and Verification of Satisfying the Hawai'i Teacher Performance Standards. Licenses may be renewed up to six months before their expiration date.
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Idaho Requirements
For renewal of a 5-year license, professional developement of 6 semester credit hours (15 contact hours are equal to 1 semester unit) are required.
Illinois Requirements
120 professional development hours are required for renewal every 5 years.
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Indiana Requirements
Individuals renew by completing 6 semester hours of approved college courses or obtaining 90 Professional Growth Points between the issue date of the license and the time at which the license is renewed.
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Iowa Requirements
4-6 renewal credits from a regionally accredited college/university and the mandatory reporter training for child and dependent adult abuse are required. Points toward 2 credits may be earned through the supervision of student teachers and practicum students.
Kansas Requirements
Applicants with a graduate degree:
  • Earn 120 professional development points awarded by a Kansas local professional development council under an approved individual development plan.
  • If retired and participating in an educational retirement system, earn 60 professional development points.
  • Verify three years of accredited experience during the current professional. This type of experience renewal may be used only twice.
Applicants without a graduate degree:
  • Earn 160 professional development points awarded by a Kansas local professional development council under an approved individual development plan, including at least 80 points for college credit.
  • If retired and participating in an educational retirement system, earn 80 professional development points, including at least 40 points for college credit.
Applicants can also complete all components of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards assessment for National Board Certification.
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Kentucky Requirements
  • First renewal: completion of 15 graduate hours or half of the Continuing Education Option (CEO) requirements.
  • Second renewal: completion of an approved Master's degree or an approved Fifth Year program (32 graduate hours) or completion of the CEO requirements.
  • Subsequent renewals: completion of 3 years of classroom teaching during the last 5-year period of the certificate or 6 semester hours of additional graduate credit.
  • The signature of the superintendent verifying 3 years of teaching experience or an official transcript of courses completed for renewal and the recommendation from the college of education official (if applicable) is required for every renewal application.
Louisiana Requirements
To move to a Level 2, teachers must complete 3 years of Louisiana teaching experience in their certification area and have 3 years of positive evaluations. Teachers must complete 150 clock hours (CLU) of professional development during the 5 years between certificate renewals with a Level 2 or Level 3 Professional Teaching Certificate.
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Maine Requirements
Teachers must renew their Professional Certificate every 5 years by preparing and implementing a renewal plan for 6 credits of approved study in each certification area.
Maryland Requirements
6 semester hours of acceptable credit are required. Teachers must submit official transcript(s) in an unopened mailer or MSDE Continuing Professional Development (CPD) credits earned within the past 5 years.
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Massachusetts Requirements
Every 5 years, teachers 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.
Michigan Requirements
One of the following is required for renewal every 5 years:
  • 150 hours of education-related professional learning
  • An education-related masters or higher degree earned at any time from a regionally accredited college or university (may be used one time to renew the Standard Teaching Certificate)
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Minnesota Requirements
Teachers must complete 125 professional development clock hours every 5 years. These may be in courses representing a combination of each of the 4 areas below:
  • Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies
  • Accommodation, Modification, and Adaptation of Curriculum, Materials, and Instruction
  • Key Warning Signs for Early-Onset Mental Illness in Children and Adolescents
  • Reading Preparation
  • College courses count towards these hours, with 1 semester credit equaling 24 clock hour credits.
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Mississippi Requirements
Requirements for a 5-year Class A license:
  • 10 continuing education units (CEUs) in content or job/skill related area; or
  • 3 semester hours in content or job/skill related area and 5 continuing education units (CEUs) in content or job/skill related area; or
  • 6 semester hours in content or job/skill related area; or
  • Completion of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards process
Requirements for a 5-year Class AA, AAA or AAAA license:
  • 3 semester hours in content or job/skill related area; or
  • 5 continuing education units (CEUs) in content or job/skill related area; or
  • Completion of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards process
Missouri Requirements
The initial Missouri teaching certificate is valid for 4 years. To renew, teachers must:
  • Complete 30 contact hours of professional development
  • Complete two years of mentoring, determined by school district
  • Develop and implement a professional development plan
  • Participate in school district's yearly performance-based assessment program
To upgrade to a Career-Continuous certificate, teachers must complete 15 hours of professional development each year and maintain a professional development plan. Teachers can become exempt from reporting professional development if they:
  • Have ten years of experience as a certified teacher; or
  • Earn the next highest college degree; or
  • Become nationally certified to teach
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Montana Requirements
Teachers with either a Class 1 license (have an MA, 3 years of experience in K-12) or a Class 2 (standard license; for people who have a BA and completed prep program, but have no MA) must renew by completing 60 Office of Public Instruction (OPI) renewal units or any combination of OPI renewal units and semester/quarter college credits. All renewal units and credits must have been completed in the previous 5 years. Each semester credit is worth 15 OPI renewal units and a quarter credit is worth 10 renewal units.
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Nebraska Requirements
Teachers must renew every 5 years with proof of either 1 year of teaching experience or 6 completed graduate semester hours in education or their content area.
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Nevada Requirements
6 continuing education or professional development (CPE) credits from an approved post-secondary institution or CE provider are required every 5 years. These credits must:
  • Directly relate to a person's current license or an area that will enhance the effectiveness of that person's teaching; or
  • Pertain to a subject for which shortages of personnel exist; or
  • Be part of an approved program leading to an advanced degree
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New Hampshire Requirements
75 continuing education units (CEUs), which is equal to 5 semester hours (college credits), are required every 3 years. Both non-credit and credit courses are accepted. 30 CEUs are required for every additional endorsement area a teacher has.
New Jersey Requirements
The provisional license is valid for two years and may be renewed twice. Once you have completed all the requirements of the Provisional Teacher Program, the administrator of your employing school will recommend you for Standard Certification and will file the paperwork on your behalf.
New Mexico Requirements
A Level I teacher must advance to Level II by completing a dossier or a summative evaluation application through the school district. A Level I teacher may advance to Level II after the 3rd year of experience, but must advance to Level II by the end of the 5th year of experience at Level I. For Level I, II or III license renewal, New Mexico teachers must complete an application for New Mexico Continuing Licensure and obtain a superintendent's recommendation for continuing licensure (which must be on school district letterhead).
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New York Requirements
175 hours of professional development approved by the teacher's school is required every 5 years.
North Carolina Requirements
For teachers of Kindergarten through 5th grade, 8 renewal credits are required: 3 in the teacher's subject area, 3 in addressing literacy, and 2 general credits at discretion of LEA (Local Educational Agency). Teachers of grades 6 through 12 must complete 3 credits in their subject area and 5 general credits at discretion of LEA. Licenses must be renewed every 5 years.
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North Dakota Requirements
If a teacher has had more than three 2 year licenses in a row, 8 re-education credits are needed if they sign a teaching contract. If they do not sign a contract, no credits are needed. If they had contracted time but not appropriate credits, they should apply for a probationary license. If they hold a 5 year license they must complete 6 semester hours of college coursework during the 5 years in which they hold that license. If they've had 30 years of licensure and 6 credits, they may apply for a lifetime license. Otherwise, they can apply for a new 5 year license. If they do not have 6 credits, they can apply for a probationary license (only 1 allowed per lifetime).
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Ohio Requirements
Most teachers hold a 5-year license, and in order to renew must complete:
  • 6 semester hours of coursework related to classroom teaching and/or the area of licensure; or
  • 18 continuing education units (CEUs) (180 contact hours); or
  • other equivalent activities related to classroom teaching and/or the area of licensure as approved by the Local Professional Development Committee of the employing school, district, or agency since the issuance of the license to be renewed.
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Oklahoma Requirements
Every five years, teachers must complete a 'Summary of Professional Development Points for Certification Renewal' showing 75 clock hours of PD and supply transcripts to verify college coursework. To qualify for renewal, teachers must also have worked 3 of the past 5 years in an Oklahoma school.
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Oregon Requirements
To renew a Professional Teaching License, teachers must:
  • Complete 125 continuing professional development units (PDUs) every 5 years; and
  • Verify their continuing PDUs through their employing school district or Education Service District.
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Pennsylvania Requirements
A Level II certificate is considered permanent. However, to maintain certification, teachers must complete continuing education requirements. Options include:
  • 6 post-baccalaureate college credits
  • 6 Pennsylvania Department of Education-approved in-service credits
  • 180 continuing education hours
  • A combination of the above; each college credit equals 30 continuing education hours
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Rhode Island Requirements
Professional certification must be renewed every 5 years, and requires 5 assessment ratings for renewal (1 for each year), 1 of which must be at developing level.
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South Carolina Requirements
Teachers must earn a minimum of 120 renewal credits during the renewal period of their certificate to meet their requirements. Any teacher who has not earned a master's degree must earn at least 60 of the required renewal credits (3 semester hours) in graduate-level coursework to renew. In addition, teachers holding a professional certification expiring in 2020 and beyond must earn the appropriate Read to Succeed endorsement to be eligible for further certification renewals.
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South Dakota Requirements
A teacher's license is renewable online every 5 years, and teachers must complete 6 renewal credits based on degree held. Teachers with a bachelor's degree must complete 3 credits at a college/university and verify them by transcript. The other 3 credits may be continuing education or professional development courses. (Oone credit equals 15 continuing education contact hours.) For teachers with a graduate degree or National Board certification, their 6 renewal credits may be a combination of college courses and continuing education hours.
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Tennessee Requirements
Submit 60 PDPs (professional development points) to renew a professional educator license every 6 years. Approved options for PDPs include professional learning, continuin education, college coursework, overall level of effectiveness rating (approved TN model), and National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Certification.
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Texas Requirements
Classroom teachers must complete 150 continuing professional education (CPE) hours to be eligible to renew, while educators with professional certificates must complete 200 CPE hours. Licenses must be renewed every 5 years. Study.com is officially approved as a Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Provider for the state of Texas. Teachers can take any Study.com course to fulfill their CPE needs.
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Utah Requirements
A Level 1 license is valid for 3 years, a Level 2 license is valid for 5 years, and a Level 3 license is valid for 7 years. Teachers earn Professional Learning Points (each clock hour equals one learing point) based on license level:
  • Complete a Level 1 License Renewal Form itemizing a minimum of 100 points
  • Complete a Level 2/3 License Renewal Form itemizing a minimum of 200 points
  • Complete 2 hours of Youth Suicide Prevention Training within the License Cycle through an educator's employing Local Education Agency (LEA).
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Vermont Requirements
Teachers are required to earn professional learning credits based on license level:
  • 3-year Level I License = 3 credits (45 hours)
  • 7-year Level II License = 9 credits (135 hours)
  • 5-year Level II License = 6 credits (90 hours)
A portion of credits must apply directly to the knowledge and performance standards, and the rest must apply directly to the core teaching and leadership standards.
Virginia Requirements
Teachers must renew every 5 years with 180 professional development points from the following activities:
  • College Credit (One semester hour = 30 points, One quarter hour = 20 points)
  • Professional Conference
  • Curriculum Development
  • Publication of Article
  • Publication of Book
  • Mentorship/Supervision
  • Educational Project
  • Professional Development Activities
All activities must have prior approval from the chief executive officer or designee if the license holder is employed in a Virginia educational agency.
West Virginia Requirements
Teachers must renew a Professional Teaching Certificate every 5 years. Requirements include:
  • Must have 6 hours of college credit (degree or non-degree) in education-related courses; or
  • Must have a master's and a 30 salary classification; or
  • Must be age 60 and present a birth certificate; and
  • Must have recommendation from county superintendent or RESA director
Wisconsin Requirements
The Provisional Educator License is valid for three years and can be renewed as many times as needed without any professional development requirements.
Wyoming Requirements
5 professional development/renewal credits are required to renew. Options include college courses from an accredited institution (including community colleges in the area) and PTSB approved workshops, which can include school district workshops, community workshops, or workshops by educational organizations.

Local Requirements for Teacher Professional Development

Some states have moved away from mandating professional development requirements and put power in the hands of the school districts, partially for budgetary reasons and partly because state officials recognize that educational issues vary significantly by school district. This means that the professional development needed to renew a teaching license is decided at a local level. It is essential for teachers to check with officials from their school district about professional development requirements and opportunities.

List of Questions to Ask Your School About Teacher Professional Development

  • What budget is available for each teacher's professional development?
  • What in-house staff can provide coaching and professional learning communities?
  • What external resources qualify for professional development?
  • Is using in-house resources more budget-wise and effective for the goals of professional development, or is it better to have a combination of in-house and external resources?
  • What are the requirements for online courses teachers take? Should those courses be pertinent to the subject they teach? How do teachers know which courses qualify for PD hours?

How to Save Time and Money Choosing Professional Development Resources

Choosing the right options for your professional development can be confusing and time-consuming. The resources and courses below provide options for improving your teaching practice and progressing in your career.

Explore Teacher Resources, organized by category, to save time and money with self-study.

Browse Most Popular Courses for Teachers to satisfy professional development coursework requirements, from topics like classroom management and instructional strategy to literacy instruction. Study.com also offers a selection of courses on Teaching Students with Special Needs, helping you differentiate instruction for your students.

Teacher Resources

Most Popular Courses for Teachers

Teaching Students with Special Needs

How Do Study.com Courses Work for Teacher PD?

Flexible and Self-Paced

Study.com professional development courses for teachers are flexible and self-paced. Watch video lessons and complete quizzes from your computer, tablet, or phone. Study.com also has a mobile app that allows you to download lessons so you can work on professional development wherever you are.

Study.com Account Type

You can use your Teacher's account to take non-credit Study.com professional development courses. The courses cover every major subject area, such as reading, computer science, psychology, science, math, history, foreign languages, music, and business. Each course is self-paced and includes quizzes for lessons and practice exams throughout. If you want to get transferrable credit from our college credit-granting courses, and/or you want the official transcript to be sent from one of the partner universities, simply change your account to College Accelerator.

Right Type of Credit

All college credit-recommending courses on Study.com let you know the number of college credits you would receive upon completion. All eligible courses grant 1, 2, 3 or 4 credit hours. Information about eligible credit hours is available on each course page. You can request a transcript for the courses you take on Study.com through ACE or NCCRS, through one of our partner schools, or transfer credit to one of the 1,500 colleges or universities around the U.S. All other courses can provide professional development hours, depending on your district or state's requirements.

Affordability

You don't need to pay extra for professional development courses on Study.com if you already have a Teacher's account. If you need to take courses for college credit, you only need to upgrade to a College Accelerator account to complete the course.

Request Certificate

Once you've completed a course, you can request a Certificate of Completion, which shows your professional development credit hours. You can use it on LinkedIn, in your portfolio, or as proof of professional development for your employer.

Refund Policy

You may cancel your Study.com subscription at any time, which will discontinue future billing. Refunds are not automatically issued. You will have access to your Study.com account through the date you've paid for.

Eligibility

There are no prerequisites for Study.com non-credit professional development courses or for-credit college courses. Anyone can enroll to take these courses.

Registering for Class

Find the course that satisfies your needs in the library of professional development for teachers courses or among college credit-granting courses and click "Start This Course".

Are you still in the process of becoming a teacher? Check out our resources here.

General FAQ

  • Are professional development hours earned in one state good for another?
    Each state has different requirements. Please check with the department that grants teacher licenses if you plan to move to a different state before committing to professional development coursework.
  • How do I know if my district would count the course I want to take for professional development?
    Most districts offer pre-approval. We recommend seeking pre-approval for your professional development plan before committing to it.
  • Can I apply college credit that I earned to get a degree to my license's professional development renewal requirement?
    Usually, you can use earned college credit to satisfy professional development requirements for teachers. However, double check with your state and school district requirements.

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