Upgrade Your Certificate Level

Georgia certification may list an associated level based on the highest qualifying degree held by an educator. For more information about certificate levels in general, please see Understanding Your GA Certificate.

Eligible Georgia educators may upgrade the level of their certificate by completing qualifying advanced degree programs as outlined below. The following types of level 4 or higher certificates may be upgraded:
  • Renewable, professional certificates: Standard Professional, Performance-Based Professional, Advanced Professional, and Lead Professional.
  • 5-year Induction certificate.
The following types of certificates may not be upgraded:
  • Permits, Provisional certificates, International Exchange Certificates, Paraprofessional Licenses and other certificate and license types that do not receive a level.
Certificates issued at a level 1 or 2 are not subject to upgrade requirements when increased to a level 4 based on a bachelor’s program completed at a GaPSC-accepted accredited institution. Please see the Classification Rule for more information.

If you have completed an advanced degree and wish to view documentation required to apply for an upgrade to existing certification, please see Common Documents Required for Each Certification Transaction Type.

We request that educators who have completed a degree apply for an official review rather than contacting our office through phone or email for approval post-completion. Only a complete application will result in an official decision in an individual case.

Legacy 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 legacy 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 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 legacy 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 legacy 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.

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.