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Upgrade Your Certificate

Each Georgia educator certificate has an associated level, which is dictated by the highest qualifying degree held by that educator. For more information about certificate levels, please visit the Understanding Your Certificate page.

Eligible Georgia educators may upgrade the level of their certificates by completing qualifying advanced degree programs. The following types of certificates may be upgraded:
  • Renewable, professional certificates: Includes Standard Professional, Performance-Based Professional, Advanced Professional, & Lead Professional. Permits may not be upgraded.
  • Induction Pathway 1, 2, or 3 certificates. Induction Pathway 4 certificates may not be upgraded.
This page reviews the requirements for upgrading a level 4 or higher certificate; please see GaPSC Rule 505-2-.02 for information about upgrading level 1 or 2 certificates.
Accreditation Requirements
In order for an advanced degree to be recognized for a certificate upgrade, it must be earned at an institution that meets one of the following standards at the time the educator is admitted to the program:
  • Accredited by NCATE
  • Accredited by TEAC
  • Accredited by CAEP
  • Holds a Carnegie classification of Research University/High or /Very High
  • Approved by GaPSC (Georgia institutions only)
Degree Requirements
  • The major or concentration of the advanced degree must be in a field in which the educator is certified. For example, an educator who holds a Standard Professional certificate in the field of Health and Physical Education may upgrade his or her certificate with an advanced degree in Kinesiology earned at a college or university that meets the accreditation requirements outlined above. Please use the GaPSC Certificate Upgrade Advisor to identify degree majors that are in-field with your current certificate field(s).
  • The certificate field must be currently offered by the GaPSC. For example, an educator who continues to hold the now obsolete field of Instructional Supervision may not upgrade his or her certificate by earning an advanced degree in Instructional Supervision.
  • The advanced degree program used for an upgrade may not be one that leads to initial certification if the educator has previously completed a certification program in that field. For example, an educator who holds a level 4 certificate in Middle Grades Science based on completion of an approved bachelor’s degree program in that field may not upgrade his or her certificate by completing an M.A.T. program that would also lead to initial certification in Middle Grades.
It is possible to earn a new certificate field while also upgrading based on a degree in that field. This is known as a new field upgrade. For example, an educator with a level 4 certificate who is not currently certified in the field of Curriculum and Instruction may complete a master’s degree that is GaPSC-approved to lead to certification in Curriculum and Instruction. Once the educator has completed the GaPSC-approved master’s degree and passed the GACE in the field, he or she may simultaneously add the field of Curriculum and Instruction and upgrade to a level 5.

It is also possible for an educator to earn certification in a new field in order to be able to upgrade based on an advanced degree that was previously earned. For example, a teacher who is professionally certified only in Science and completes an advanced degree in Math Education at a college or university that meets accreditation requirements would not qualify for an upgrade until he or she becomes certified in the field of Mathematics. The educator can add this field by passing the appropriate GACE assessment, at which point he or she may apply to upgrade based on the advanced degree in Math Education.

If the certificate field in which the educator completes an advanced degree is not a leadership field, the resulting level upgrade will apply to all fields held. For information about upgrading by completing advanced leadership degrees, please see the Advanced Leadership Degrees section below.

Grandfathering Timelines
Georgia educators who were enrolled in advanced degree programs (enrolled means admitted to the program and actively participating in program coursework) by July 15, 2011, may upgrade their certificate level according to the rules in place prior to the adoption of the in-field and new-field upgrade standards as long as they complete the program by the date specified for each degree level:
  • Master’s or Specialist degree programs must be completed by December 15, 2014.
  • Doctorate degree programs must be completed by December 15, 2016.
The second grandfathering timeline applies only to advanced degree programs in the three new fields of certification being developed by GaPSC: Curriculum and Instruction, Instructional Technology, and Teacher Leadership. In these three fields only, Georgia educators enrolled in a program and actively taking courses by January 15, 2013, may upgrade their certificate level according to the rules in place prior to the adoption of the in-field and new-field upgrade standards as long as they complete the program by the date specified for each degree level:
  • Master’s and Specialist degree programs must be completed by September 1, 2015.
  • Doctorate degree programs must be completed by September 1, 2017.
Georgia educators who complete advanced degree programs within these timelines will earn a certificate level upgrade – and the commensurate pay increase according to their employing LUA's certification pay schedule – regardless of the program’s state approval status. Institutions must meet only the basic accreditation status required by the GaPSC, which is to be accredited by an agency recognized by CHEA or the U.S. DOE. It is important to note that while completing an existing program in one of these fields will lead to a certificate upgrade, it will not result in the addition of a new certification field. GaPSC-approved programs have completed conversion mechanisms to allow completers of grandfathered degrees in these fields to add the certification fields to their certificates. Please click here for GaPSC-approved programs that offer conversion mechanisms in the three new fields.

During the grandfathering period for the three new fields, existing programs similar in name or content to Curriculum and Instruction, Instructional Technology and Teacher Leadership degrees will be honored. Please see the examples below of names of degrees the GaPSC is accepting in each of the three fields:
  • Instructional Technology: Specialization in Classroom Integration of Technology, Educational Technology, Technology in Education, Technology Integration, Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Technology in Schools;
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Teaching and Learning, Accomplished Teaching, Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Curriculum and Teaching, Curriculum Instruction Management and Administration;
  • Teacher Leadership: Instructional Leadership.
Advanced Leadership Degrees
Georgia educators who complete an advanced degree leading to a new field upgrade in a leadership field will receive a leader level which will be applied to their certificate along with the general level that they held before upgrading. A leader level will only be used to determine salary if the educator is working in a leadership position. Otherwise, the educator will be paid according to his or her general level. Subsequent in-field upgrades earned by completing advanced degrees in a leadership field will upgrade the educator’s leader level, but will not affect the general level. For more information about pay increases related to advanced leadership degrees, please read the guidance document found here.

Georgia educators who already hold certification in a leadership field but have not been issued a leader level may upgrade their general level by completing an advanced leadership degree leading to an in-field upgrade. These educators will not receive a leader level.

Please be sure to check out the GaPSC Certificate Upgrade Advisor if you are considering options for upgrading your certificate level.

For more information about certificate upgrades, please consult the Certificate Upgrade Rule .

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