Frequently Asked Questions - Alternative Certification Program - University of Houston
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Frequently Asked Questions - Alternative Certification Program

General Information

When is the application due?
Please refer to the application due date provided on the Alternative Certification Program for STEM at UH webpage.

Where can I find the application?
On the Alternative Certification Program for STEM at UH webpage.

Is funding available?
Prospective students have three ways to pay for the program:

  1. Scholarships are awarded based on the availability of funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education.
  2. Additional funding in the amount of $20,000 is also provided by many of our partner districts through a paid Teacher Residency.
  3. Prospective students may also pay for the program themselves and forego receiving scholarship funds.

What grade levels will I be able to teach upon completion?
You will be certified to teach grades 7–12 in mathematics, computer science or general science depending on your STEM expertise.

Will I be able to work during the program?
Working will be difficult as the first semester is tightly packed with observations, teaches and multiple class responsibilities. During the second semester, you will be student teaching as if you are the classroom teacher. This will be a full-time responsibility during regular school-day hours.

How many students are in a cohort?
15–20 students.

How is this program different from other alternative certification programs?
Observations and teaching experiences are in secondary public-school classrooms provided by the program. Not all alternative programs have practical teaching experiences.

You will have the opportunity to student teach for an entire semester under the guidance of a mentor teacher and university supervisor. This experience is critical for your future success and is not offered by any other program.

Student teaching includes weekly support and coaching visits by a university/field supervisor to grow your strength in teaching before you ever enter the classroom.

Program Experiences

What does the Alternative Certification Program for STEM at UH certify me to teach?
Our program certifies STEM degree holders to teach grades 7–12 in Mathematics, Science or Computer Science.

In which districts could I teach with this program?
We are currently partnered with 11 districts in the greater Houston area. Our students are placed in a district close to their residence. You will be certified to teach in the state of Texas.

Are there other exams I need to take to be certified to teach in Texas?
Applicants to the program take the TX PACT exam as an entrance exam if they are entering as post baccalaureates (degree holders). Undergraduates are not required to take the PACT exam.

During the program, students must take qualifier exams for the TExES Pedagogical and Professional Responsibilities exam as well as the content certification exam. Please plan to complete the TExES exams by the start of your spring student teaching semester.

What type of technology will I need to take classes with this program?
The University of Houston provides access to the type of technology you need to be successful in this program.

How large are the class sizes while in the program?
15–20 students

Is there a daycare facility available to students who have young children at home?
The University of Houston Children’s Learning Centers (UHCLC) - This facility provides care for children ages 3 months to 5 years. The UHCCC mission is to provide exemplary childcare, for the children of students, staff, and faculty at the University of Houston, by offering a model program tailored to ensure the quality of a child's daily experiences. The hours of operation are 7:30 am–5:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks are provided. For more information about the Center and to obtain a Waitlist Application form, visit or call 832-842-0500.

Admission Information

Do I need to take an entrance exam? If so, what is the passing score?
Due to COVID-19, the admissions process will require STEM degree holders to meet coursework requirements based on the desired content certification area. Applicants must have 15 credit hours in the area in which you intend to be certified. The general entrance exam for teacher preparation in Texas through alternative certification is the TX-PACT exam. Applicants must earn a passing score of 240 in the content area in which they intend to be certified to be eligible for admissions.

Do I need to have a certain degree to complete this program?
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in a STEM field or sufficient hours in a STEM field. Non-STEM degrees may be audited for appropriate STEM content.

Do I need a certain GPA to be admitted into the program?
The minimum GPA for admittance is a 2.5 on a 4.0 scale.

Do you perform criminal background checks?
Our program does not perform background checks; however, to be approved for field experiences, students must complete a background check with the district to which they are assigned.

Do I need to disclose information about my health (i.e., chronic illness, mental illness, disabilities, etc.)?
It is not a requirement for students to disclose this information. As we want to make sure we meet the needs of all of our students, any information that will assist in your learning can be shared with your instructors.

Do I need to be proficient in speaking English to teach?
There are resources available through the University of Houston such as Toast Masters to build English language proficiency. Applicants may be required to demonstrate English language proficiency through the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with an equivalent “good user” (C1) score in order to be recommended for certification in Texas.

Am I eligible if I completed my undergraduate degree with an institution outside of the United States?
All applicants must submit a copy of their undergraduate transcript. Please refer to any of the resources in the link provided for approved transcript evaluation services.

Program Costs & Scholarship Information

What is the total program cost?
Due to cost changes that may occur with adjustments to tuition, please refer to the tuition and fees calculator to get an accurate estimate of your semester expenses. The Alternative Certification Program for STEM at UH coursework includes 12 credit hours in the Fall semester and 9 credit hours in the Spring semester.

Estimated Costs for Fall 2021

Category Possible Expense
Tuition Calculator
Texas Resident Tuition $4,610.52 undergraduate
$5,133.00 – $6,054.24 graduate
Non-Resident Tuition $11,397.00 – $12,318.20
Books and Supplies $25.00 – $35.00
Gas and Tolls Travel to field observation sites should be considered on an individual basis.

Do I need to be a U.S. citizen to receive a scholarship for the Alternative Certification Program for STEM at UH?
Yes. Our program is currently funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education, which requires scholarship recipients to be designated either a U.S. citizen or permanent alien status.

What are the requirements for receiving a scholarship?
The following criterion are required to receive the scholarship: (1) Admittance into the program, (2) Degree in a STEM area, (3) 2.5 GPA, (4) Must be a U.S. citizen or have permanent alien status

Does everyone receive the same amount?
Scholarships are awarded based on the availability of funding by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education. If awarded, the standard full scholarship amount received by students admitted into the program is $11,000. Additional funding in the amount of $20,000 is provided by many of our partner districts through a paid Teacher Residency.

What costs does the scholarship award cover?
Course tuition and fees

Does my GPA affect whether I can receive a scholarship?
A 2.5 GPA is required.

What if I realize I don't want to be a teacher and I decide to leave the program, do I have to pay the scholarship back? If so, how long do I have to pay it back?
Scholarships are awarded to students who intend to complete the program. Students who leave the program must repay the scholarship by the end of the semester in which they have exited.

Program Requirements

How many courses are required for the Alternative Certification Program?
A total of 18 credit hours are required for the program. Four courses (12 hours) are taken during the fall semester and two (6 hours) are taken during the spring semester. A list of courses by semester is included below.

Fall Semester (12 hours)

  1. Introduction to STEM Teaching
  2. Knowing and Learning
  3. Classroom Interactions
  4. Multiple Teaching Strategies

Spring Semester (9 hours)

  1. Student Teaching
  2. Student Teaching Seminar
  3. Classroom Management

Will I be able to keep my full-time job while taking courses with this program?
The program requires two full-time semesters from students, which does not allow time for a typical full-time work schedule. To be successful in the coursework at University of Houston, we encourage students to practice setting aside 3 hours of study time a week for every course hour in which they are enrolled.

When will I get to practice teaching?
At teachHOUSTON, our philosophy on teaching and learning stems from pragmatic use of theories on socially constructing knowledge through experience. Our students begin teaching from their first course. We will prepare you for the basics of planning inquiry-based instruction before you teach your assigned lessons.

Do I have to teach as a result of completing this program?
Yes. We expect all of our students to become highly-qualified STEM educators! Those who receive scholarships have the minimal expectations of completing one full year of teaching in a high-need school district upon graduation. Most, if not all, districts meet the high-need school district definition (high-need school districts have at least one high-need school in the district).

How many field hours do I need to complete for certification with this program?
During the fall semester, our students complete 60 field-based hours observing in-service STEM teachers in our partnering districts. During the spring semester, our students complete clinical teaching (student teaching) for approximately 70 days. Our students will have nearly 500 hours of instructional experience at the end of the program.

Career & Salary Information

How much do teachers make in Texas?
It varies by district. As teachers are state employees, their pay scale is part of public record. According to, in Houston, the average teacher makes over $59,000 a year.

What are the standards I have to abide by as a teacher in Texas?
TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) and PPR (Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities EC–12)