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School of Education - George Mason University

What does it take to become a teacher?

The pathway to teacher licensure depends on multiple factors, including the courses you’ve already taken and what area you want to teach. In general, a teacher licensure track has four parts:

Content Area Courses

These are courses in the area that you want to teach and are usually a prerequisite for admission into a teacher preparation program. For example, if you want to be a history teacher, you might need to take courses in world history and Virginia history. You’ll need to meet with an advisor to plan out your content area courses and make sure you’re meeting the requirements for your teacher preparation program. For some programs, you will need to complete a Content Area Review with a specialized advisor.

Teacher Preparation Program

These are courses that teach you how to teach. Teacher preparation programs may be part of your major, concentration, certificate, or graduate program. Different options are available at Mason for different teaching areas. Sometimes, you have to apply to and be accepted to a teacher preparation program separately from your content area program. An advisor can help you choose the best program.


All students in teacher preparation programs spend at least one semester in a teaching internship. Students are mentored by experienced teachers as they engage in classroom teaching.

Virginia Teaching License

When you have successfully completed a teacher preparation program, you can submit an application for a teaching license. You’ll apply through the Teacher Track office at Mason, which will send your application to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). Assuming you meet any additional requirements, VDOE will grant you a teaching license.*

*George Mason University will verify completion of the requirements of a Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) state-approved preparation program at the graduate or undergraduate level. Such verification does not guarantee the issuance of a Virginia Collegiate Professional, Postgraduate Professional, or Pupil Personnel license from the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is solely the student's responsibility to comply with all requirements for licensure by the Commonwealth. Under Virginia law, a social security number is required for licensure.