No, Undergraduates in Arizona Cannot Teach Without a College Degree

An empty lecture hall-style classroom with brown wooden chairs, a wooden teaching podium and a blank chalkboard. Photo credit Pexels/Pixabay

By Camila Pedrosa

August 1, 2022

A bill signed by Gov. Ducey seems to allow undergraduates to lead the next generation of Arizona students, but that’s not really the case.

Various headlines have claimed that teachers in Arizona don’t need a college degree after Gov. Doug Ducey signed a new law on July 5, but the Arizona Department of Education says it’s a misunderstanding.

Soon after the governor signed SB 1159, some news outlets began reporting that undergraduate students would now be allowed to lead a classroom of public school students amid a severe teacher shortage. 

This is not exactly the case, says the state department of education. Under the new law, undergraduate students may begin a “classroom-based preparation program” before graduating. 

Under this program, students without a bachelor’s degree or an emergency teaching or substitute certificate must be supervised by a certified teacher and cannot be the teacher on record for the classroom.

Additionally, only three public school districts in the state have a classroom-based preparation program that the new law applies to — Vail Unified School District, Washington Elementary School District, and Lake Havasu Unified School District— and there’s no indication that the districts will drop the bachelor’s degree requirement. The three districts were not available for comment on the law at the time of publication.

While this law will not immediately help fill the nearly 2,000 classrooms without an official teacher on record, it can help students expedite their certification process by allowing them to get required training while earning their bachelor’s degree.
For more information on the requirements for teaching in Arizona, visit the Arizona Department of Education website.

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