Things to Consider

Things to consider when selecting an approved Alternative Licensure Program

Type of Program

NM Alternative Licensure Programs are offered by non-profit organizations, community colleges and 4 year colleges. Some are focused on licensure while others are licensure plus a Masters in Education. Some are cohort-based (everyone who enrolls at the same time sticks together, taking the same courses, and completes the program together) and others ask you to choose and register for classes each semester.

Licensure Only – Are shorter and cost less than Masters programs. You typically earn credits but not a degree when you finish these programs.

Masters Programs – Often take 3 or more years but allow teachers to get both a teaching license and a Masters in Education. Eventually becoming a Level 3 teacher requires having a Masters degree, so this type of program can be advantageous in the long run, even if they take longer and cost more up front.

Cohort-based Programs – typically do not require you to register each semester or to keep track of your progress toward completion. They also allow you to get to know one group of educators over time.

Semester-based Programs – tend to be more flexible and customizable. Because you select and register for your courses each semester, you can choose ones that fit better with your schedule and/or are aligned to your personal needs and interests.


Being a good teacher requires both a set of foundational skills as well as contextualized knowledge unique to the school and community where you teach. Although most programs are online right now, Alternative Licensure Programs taught nearby the community where you’ll be teaching are more likely to include community-specific context. Bigger programs located in more urban areas may have less community-specific context but may meet your other needs. There is no perfect answer, but it’s important to consider both foundational teaching skills as well as community-specific context when choosing a program.


Programs tend to range from 1 year for intensive, cohort-based programs to 3+ years for Masters Degree programs.


Program cost ranges from $350 for the Online Portfolio for Alternative Licensure (OPAL) to ~$15,000+ for some Masters Degree Programs. Non-profit and Community College programs tend to be on the less expensive side (a few thousand) while programs at 4 year institutions tend to be more expensive.

Program Fit

All of the licensure programs in New Mexico align to the same set of InTASC Standards but have unique approaches and styles. If you have considered the above factors and are still choosing between a few different approved options, try looking at program websites, reaching out to program graduates and program advisors/faculty to ask a few of the following questions. These questions are not designed to have right answers but, rather, to help you find a program that will work for you.

  • What is the program’s philosophy?
  • What supports does the program offer?
  • What types of assignments / assessments are typically assigned? (i.e. paper-based, project-based, individual, group, etc.)
  • What is the balance of theoretical knowledge to practical knowledge?