Teaching Here

Teaching Here


Just over fifty years ago, volunteers from across the country helped open Freedom Schools in Mississippi. These leaders believed that Mississippi’s African American students were brilliant—but that brilliance needed to be set free.

Today, still too few believe in Mississippi. In particular, still too few notice the structural obstacles blocking the opportunities available to our state’s African American students. But we know that all of Mississippi’s students, of all races and all economic backgrounds, possess the capacity for brilliance. To set loose that capacity, Mississippians need to come together, creating strong public schools that celebrate students’ culture and equip them to lead.

Consensus is building across Mississippi that that bright future can is achievable only by ensuring every child receives an excellent education. But the pool of highly qualified teachers from which administrators can hire remains too small. Each year Teach For America receives requests from our partnering districts exceeding our total corps size. By attracting remarkable people from within and beyond Mississippi’s borders into our classrooms to provide rigorous and culturally responsive instruction—and by providing top-notch training from our team of coaches and content specialists to teachers inside and outside our program—we are working every day to expand that pool of teachers and leaders.

Teach For America brings remarkable people to help Mississippi deliver on the promise of equal opportunity for all students—with an increasing emphasis on recruiting native Mississippians with a long-term commitment to this state. Our teachers invest in their local communities and push themselves to lead rigorous and culturally responsive classroom—and find as a result that their hearts are forever tied to the brilliant students of Mississippi.


A headshot of a young white woman with long blonde hair, standing outside.
My husband and I moved back to Mississippi because we loved our time in this state. Living here allows us to live a life we want: own a house, build strong ties to our community, and travel. - Allie Osborne, Financial Analyst (Mississippi ’10)
A headshot of a young African American woman with a bob haircut wearing a grey sleeveless blouse.
I choose to live and work in Mississippi not just because I’m from here, but because Mississippi children are unique individuals that deserve the right to an equal education. - Brittaney Boyd (Mississippi '16)

What You Need to Know


Average starting salary is $35,000




Online programs available, not required


By completing all certification exams and Teach For America programming, you will be licensed and fully certified to teach throughout and beyond your corps commitment.

Becoming Certified to Teach

  • Overview
  • If I was not an education major and/or I do not have a license to teach, can I still do Teach For America in Mississippi?
  • If I was an education major and/or I do (or will) have a license to teach, can I do Teach For America in Mississippi?
  • What are the required certification exams?
  • Do I have to come to Mississippi to take the exams?
  • Is a Master’s degree required to be certified in Mississippi?
  • How much will it cost to be certified in Mississippi?

Teach For America is an alternative certification agency within the state of Mississippi. This means that by successfully completing the Teach For America program and passing certification exams, you meet the the legal requirements of a fully certified, “highly qualified” teacher.

The information below is intended to provide a general overview of how certification works in our region. If you are considering applying to Teach For America in Mississippi, please do not yet register for certification exams. A more detailed overview of testing requirements will be available for incoming corps members upon your admission and assignment to the Mississippi region.

Looking for more info?

Our region has a certification manager to help you navigate the licensure process. Feel free to reach out to Kevin Parkinson at (662) 402-2207 or kevin.parkinson@teachforamerica.org.

Yes! Since Teach For America-Mississippi is an alternative certification agency, you can earn your teaching license by completing the Teach For America program and passing a series of required certification exams.


Yes! If you have a license to teach in a state other than Mississippi, we can almost always help you transfer that license to the state of Mississippi through a process called “reciprocity.” In the rare instances in which reciprocity is not possible, we are still able to certify you by your completion of the Teach For America program and through your passing of required certification exams.

Teachers who will be earning certification through the Teach For America program are required to complete a series of exams.

  • First, teachers are required to pass the “Praxis Core” exam. This is a basic skills assessment that tests reading, writing, and math. Note that you may be exempt from the Praxis Core exam if you scored at least a 21 on the ACT or a 990 on the SAT.
  • Secondly, teachers must pass at least one content exam (a few subject areas, such as elementary, require more than one content exam). Generally, this corresponds with the subject you will be assigned, though in some instances this will vary.
  • Our teachers in Mississippi may choose to voluntarily take additional certification exams and thereby be certified in multiple subjects. For instance, if you were to pass the English and art certification exams, you would be eligible to teach both subjects, and at some schools you would be able to split your schedule between the two.


No. The tests are offered by the non-profit companies ETS and Pearson. Both companies have locations worldwide. You can find a testing location within 60 minutes of nearly any location in the U.S.

No. Many teachers will choose to seek advanced degrees on their own, but it is not a requirement to teach through the Teach For America program. In Mississippi, you can be certified through Teach For America without incurring the large costs of graduate programs. Many corps members who are interested in a Master’s degree choose online programs such as those offered Johns Hopkins University. Others start a Master’s program at a traditional brick-and-mortar institution during their second year, or if they stay in Mississippi beyond their corps commitment.


Because Teach For America is an alternative certification agency in the state of Mississippi, there are NO required programming or graduate school expenses. The only certification-related expenses involve documentation and exam costs. These costs may vary slightly, but will be approximately as follows:

  • CMs are required to order four copies of their transcripts (approximately $50)
  • CMs are required to pass the Praxis Core exam ($150) or submit ACT or SAT scores (approximately $40)
  • CMs are required to pass at least one certification exam (most exams are $120; a few are as much as $160).
  • Some CMs choose to purchase study aids or tutors to assist with certification preparation. 


Subjects And Grade Levels

  • Early Childhood
  • Elementary
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • English Language Arts
  • Math
  • Physics
  • World Language (especially Spanish and French)
  • Social Studies
  • General Science
  • Dance, Music, and Art

Neighborhood Highlight

  • Greenville
  • Clarksdale
  • Marks
  • Jackson
A road going over a high bridge in Greenville, MS.

Nestled on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi, Greenville is a literary haven and home to numerous authors, as well as Mississippi’s fourteenth largest school district. After five decades of outmigration, Greenville is poised for rebirth. New leadership, a growing arts community, and a burgeoning population of young professionals ensure a bright future. Many alumni and corps members live and teach in Greenville, where they take pride in its people, its history, and, of course, its food (the town hosts a Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Festival each October).

An old brick building with a neon sign that reads, "Ground Zero Blues Club."

Clarksdale, Mississippi, is known as the home of the blues—some legends suggest that the famous crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul are on the edge of town. Live music still echoes from “juke joints” nearly every night; in April thousands of international tourists arrive in town for one of the state’s biggest blues festivals, with musicians playing in the town’s impressive array of art galleries and restaurants. Challenges remain: economic opportunities are limited and de facto segregation persists. But over the past decade, community members, including corps members and alumni, have launched important ventures that help sustain the beating heart of this legendary region.

Rural Quitman County, one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s stops on the Poor People’s Campaign, faces the same issues as many of Mississippi’s farming communities: mechanization has decimated the number of farm jobs available; the population has plummeted; and many of those who remain—nearly a third—live in poverty.

Yet its schools are thriving. More than 90 percent of Quitman County third graders passed the new elementary reading test last year, matching statewide averages—and showing marked improvement over recent years. Despite its rural location and a statewide teacher shortage, the county’s high school has attracted a highly qualified staff.

What makes the difference? An investment in leadership and community. For years, school leaders, including our alumni, have been intentional about building a strong culture of collaboration and support between students and teachers. In preparation for the reading test, Principal Cynthia Guynes mobilized teachers and instructional coaches to increase the amount and rigor of reading instruction. The school has also received ongoing support from the Barksdale Reading Institute, an organization committed to improving public education in Mississippi. There is also a local culture of excellence; when educational issued are being discussed by politicians, parents and families show up to advocate for their students—and for the positive changes being made.

A group of historic brick buildings, see at dusk.

Jackson, as the state’s largest city, is a center for art, culture, food—and politics. Much of the work to reform the state’s education system is centered here, at the state capitol, including an ongoing discussion about the state’s new charter schools. An affordable city, Jackson has attracted waves of artists and chefs, especially to the Fondren neighborhood, which hosts a monthly block party and houses many of the state’s finest restaurants.

Regional Expenses

Monthly Salary

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What's Left Over
Ongoing Certification Costs
You may be able to offset ongoing certification costs with an AmeriCorps education award. Learn more.
One Time Summer Start Up Costs
Estimated Start Up and Certification Costs