Pennsylvania Department of Education Certification

Your path to becoming a certified teacher.

Upon enrollment in a Mercyhurst Education program, you must complete a set of steps to ensure your ability to achieve candidacy, earn your teaching certification, and complete field placement and student teaching. In just a few short years, you’ll be prepared to graduate with hands-on experience to begin a successful career in education!

What is Admission Review (Sophomore Review)?

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) requires undergraduate Education students in certification programs to meet specific requirements to progress toward certification and be fully admitted into our teacher preparation programs. At Mercyhurst, we refer to this process as "Admission Review." The requirements and processes of Admission Review are indicated below; all forms can be obtained from the program director. Please note: Eligible education students are not able to register for additional classes until they have successfully completed Admission Review.  

Step 1

In order to progress through Admission Review, students must submit an Admission Review Application Form to This is typically done in February of sophomore year. Students must meet the following requirements to successfully complete Admission Review:

  • Hold a 3.0 GPA with a minimum of 48 credits.
  • Completed six math credits.
  • Completed six English credits (three credits in writing and three credits in literature).
  • Evidence of passing the Basic Skills Assessment test (PAPA or PRAXIS); or evidence of SAT/ACT minimum score report. 
    • Waived until July 2025: Students must complete a Testing Requirements Acknowledgement Form.
Step 2

Students meeting the above criteria and who have submitted an Admission Review application must arrange a review meeting with their advisor. Prior to the meeting, students are required to upload the following documents to their SharePoint under a folder designated Professional File:

  • Clearances 
  • Professional Development Plan Form
  • An unofficial transcript 
  • A preliminary resume 
Step 3

The student and advisor will both complete the Admission Review Determination Form. One copy will be kept in their advisor's file. The student will be responsible for uploading an additional copy to their SharePoint within their Professional File folder.

What are the Admission Review requirements for undergraduate students?

  • Requirements for undergraduate students are as follows: 
  • Completed at least 48 credits
  • Have a 2.8 GPA
  • Passed PAPA, CORE (Reading, Writing, Mathematics) or be exempt through SAT/ACT scores
    • Waived until 2025 under ACT 136  
  • Completed two English courses
  • Completed two math courses 
    • Add to SharePoint Folder #1-6 of Professional Portfolio Requirements:
    • Preliminary Resume 
    • Self-Service Evaluation Report 
    • Clearances 
    • Basic Skills Assessment Scores or SAT/ACT scores
    • Professional Development Plan Form
    • Transcript (unofficial)
  • Admission Review Determination Form

What are the Admission Review requirements for graduate students?

Requirements for graduate students are as follows:

  • 3.0 GPA
  • Successful completion of applicable PRAXIS II exam
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume 

What are the Admission Review testing requirements?

The Content Area Qualifying Scores and the GPA Qualifying Scores are subject to change by PDE. It is the responsibility of the test-taker to refer to the required scores published by PDE at the time of sitting for the exam. The most current testing requirements including test codes, passing scores, qualifying scores, and composite scores can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.

What clearances are required for Mercyhurst Education students?

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Mercyhurst University require students pursuing a degree in Education to submit clearances. Clearances are an essential part of any education program as you work directly with minors who are protected under federal law. The list of clearances and forms below are required by all students in the Mercyhurst’s Department of Education and must be submitted before scheduling clearance-required courses.

Clearances must also be updated before student teaching. Additional clearances or site-specific documents may be required for field work. Do not secure new clearances for field unless you are contacted by our office. Any questions regarding clearances should be directed to Clearance documents should be uploaded and submitted to the Education Document Repository on SharePoint as they are completed. Once enrolled in the program, students will receive the link to their personal clearance folder in the Education Document Repository via email. Please bookmark this link for future use. All clearances must be submitted to be cleared. The results of all clearances can be submitted in the following manner:

To submit to the Education Document Repository on SharePoint, click on your personal clearance folder link, then click “Upload>Files.” Select clearance document files (.pdf, .jpeg, .png) from your device for upload. If you have issues with the Education Document Repository on SharePoint, email

Please note: The Department of Education cannot provide copies of clearances to students. Keep your originals in a safe and accessible location for the requirements of the university and K-12 school districts. Students not complying with this requirement will not be permitted to schedule clearance-required courses. Detailed instructions for each clearance can be found in the Clearance Instructions Document. For undergraduates pursuing sophomore review or field placement, all clearances listed are valid for up to 36 months (three years) from the date of submission unless otherwise noted.

For student teaching, all clearances listed must be renewed and valid within one year of the first day of student teaching or internship unless otherwise noted. These clearances will be submitted along with the Student Teaching Application Form. Please note: It is up to the student teaching site to determine if your clearances meet the necessary requirements. They have the right to ask you to update clearances at any time. The school district can ask you directly for your clearances while on site; be sure to have these available.

How do I apply for field placement and student teaching?

Speak directly with your advisor for detailed information regarding field placements and when you will register for a field experience. Fill out the Application for Student Teaching/Clinical I/Internship Form and submit to your advisor for review and approval. Please note: Students are unable to schedule for field via Self-Service until field/student teaching application is completed and on file with the Department of Education.

Application Deadlines:

  • Applications for fall semester: Friday before Easter
  • Applications for spring semester: Friday before Thanksgiving

What do I need to apply for certification?

In order to graduate from Mercyhurst's Department of Education and receive a teaching certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), you must:

  • Complete and obtain all clearances required, as outlined below. 
  • Meet the requirements of and obtain “Teacher Candidacy” through Mercyhurst University.
  • Pass all required state-level testing and upload to SharePoint.
  • Meet all Field and Student Teaching requirements.
  • Earn a 3.0 GPA by your intended graduation date.
  • Upload all necessary documents listed in the Student Folder Checklist to SharePoint. 
  • Complete and submit all required forms to PDE through the TIMS portal. 

Note: If you are seeking teacher certification from a state other than Pennsylvania, please follow the procedures required by that specific state. It is the student’s responsibility to investigate certification requirements from states other than Pennsylvania. Only international students who hold immigration status and have submitted a form of intent to become a citizen are eligible to apply for PDE teacher certification.

  • Letter of Eligibility: While waiting for certification approval, students can use this form to request an Approved Program Completion Letter.
  • State Reciprocity: The Mercyhurst Department of Education holds interstate reciprocity with 45 U.S. states. Students may be required to complete additional testing and fees to receive reciprocity in their desired state. To learn more, visit Mercyhurst’s Professional Licensure Information webpage
  • Request for Act 48 Credits/PERMS: The following information is required to submit your request for Act 48 Credits.
    • Please fill out the Act 48/PERMS Excel document for each course that you have taken and make sure that all of the information is correct and complete. You may list all courses on one Excel document. Save the completed document and send to
    • Mercyhurst's Department of Education will electronically forward your information to the state via PERMS. 

How do I apply for certification?

Know Before You Begin

  • TIMS does not work with Google Chrome; Use Firefox or Internet Explorer.
  • An email to requesting PA certification recommendation is required in order for Mercyhurst to Affirm and Recommend your TIMS application to PDE. Apply to TIMS, then immediately email a request for recommendation so that your application can move forward in a timely manner.
  • If possible, sign up with a non-Mercyhurst permanent address and email. Your Mercyhurst contact information will soon be out of date.
  • You must complete your certification program before applying to TIMS. Bachelor’s and master’s degrees candidates can apply after receiving your final program cumulative GPA (in May, August or December). 
  • TIMS does not routinely require transcripts. However, if they are needed to confirm your credentials, TIMS will contact you directly.
  • You can submit your TIMS application after you've completed your program.  You are advised to meet all tests required for your certification area at the time of application to avoid delays in processing. Any tests taken in PA will automatically be sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (You will be able to see which tests are on file with PDE via your TIMS application dashboard).
  • It is highly recommended that you apply for certification as soon as you meet all requirements. Test and program requirements change over time and are applied at the time of application. To avoid disappointment later on, apply as soon as you can. Even if you don’t plan to use the credential straight away, you have earned it, so don’t lose it!


  • Complete your Educator Preparation program at Mercyhurst.
  • Apply on TIMS and email a request for recommendation to
  • Your TIMS Application Status will say “Waiting for Educ. or Work Exp. Verification.”
  • Mercyhurst University is your Institute of Higher Education—IHE.  The Certification Office will verify your credentials and make a recommendation to PDE via the TIMS system.
  • Your Application Status will change to “Awaiting Evaluation.”
  • Wait in the PDE line for PDE to reach your application. 
  • PDE review.
  • Certificate approved. Your Application Status will change to “Approved.”
  • PDE processing times vary, so allow 4-12 weeks for your certificate to be approved. Be sure to check your TIMS dashboard for application status.   

What do I do when I'm ready to apply for my certification?

It is recommended that you have these notes available for reference as you work through the TIMS application.

Getting Started
  • Visit the TIMS login page to begin. If this is your first time on the TIMS system you will need to establish your TIMS profile by following the Applying for PA Teacher Certification Form. 
    • Important: Make sure you write down and save your PPID Number!
  • Welcome to TIMS. Click on “New Credential Application” at the bottom left side of the screen. 
  • Be ready to make your selections from the drop-down menus. Select “Credential Type” and “Subject Area(s).”
  • Mercyhurst University will be verifying your credentials, so answer YES when asked “Will a PDE approved education or other certification program in PA verify that you meet requirements for the certification for which you are applying?” 
In Your TIMS Application 
  • Tab 1: Background Questions
  • Tab 2: Demographic Details
  • Tab 3: Education Details
    • This section is very important, so take your time.
    • Click “Add New Credential”
    • Institution name: Use the search tool to find Mercyhurst University. 
    • Contact official: Amy Burniston 
    • Degree Information: If you already have one or more degrees – from any institution—you must list these first.  
    • “Did you receive a degree at this institution?”—Select YES or NO. Click YES if you've completed an Undergraduate or Master’s degree preparation program for this certificate application.  New fields will appear. Under Degree, select Bachelors …or Masters.
    • Date conferred: List the month and year of your graduation.
    • Use your final cumulative GPA.
    • Add Major Subject Area. Select the major that most closely matches your major at Mercyhurst.
    • “Did you complete the PDE approved Educator program(s) for this subject area(s) at this institution?”—Select YES. 
    • Click to add your program: Undergraduate or Graduate—Traditional
    • Add attendance start and end dates—for end date use your graduation month and year.
    • You will have to complete these steps again if you are applying for two subject areas (E.g., Dual-Certificate PreK-4 and Special Education). 
    • Click “Save” and “Next.”
  • Tab 4: Answer Survey Questions
  • Tab 5: Certification Details (unless you currently hold a PA certificate, this area will be blank).
  • Tab 6: Proof Items
    • You do not need to provide a transcript unless specifically requested by PDE.
    • Your tests scores should be listed in the “Documents on File” section.  You can also check your test records from your TIMS dashboard— “Test Scores on File”.
    • My tests are missing from my profile, but I did take them!
      • The most common reasons are: You recently took the test and PDE has yet to receive the results from the testing agency or PDE may not be able to automatically make a match between your scores and your TIMS application.
      • Why? Maybe you forgot to include PDE as a test score recipient; You changed your name between test time and your TIMS application; You did not provide a Social Security number or possibly you incorrectly transcribed Social Security numbers or date of birth etc. on your test application or TIMS application. 
      • You will need to call the TIMS Helpline to find out what your specific issue is and to seek a resolution. Failure to follow up with TIMS will delay your application.
Summary and Review
  • Carefully review your application, check boxes for Code of Conduct. 
  • Check your TIMS application for accuracy before you click Submit and proceed to payment.  TIMS has no mechanism for informing you if something is amiss. Inaccurate or missing information will delay your application. You must check everything.
  • Make sure you have applied as an IN-STATE applicant. Sometimes, applications are incorrectly routed to the TIMS OUT-OF-STATE applicant dashboard which means they won’t appear on Mercyhurst’s dashboard. 
  • Log out of TIMS. Log back in again and check under “Certificate/Request Type.” If Out-of-State appears, call TIMS to rectify.  
Payment Processing and Application/Request Submission
  • Pay by credit card or money order. If you select money order you will need to print a copy of the Coversheet, sign and mail to PDE with your money order.  
    • The Coversheet: Print and /or save a copy of the Coversheet for your records but you will only need the Coversheet if:
      • You are paying by money order.
      • You have been asked to submit specific proof documents. 
      • If you only see “Other” then you do not need to send anything else and you do not need to submit a Coversheet. 
  • Click “Process Payment and Submit Application/Payment.” 

Congratulations! You have successfully submitted an application to TIMS! But before you go, let’s make sure to tidy-up a few items:

  • Log out of TIMS and log back in. You should be able to see your application. Your Application Status should say “Waiting for Educ.” or “Work Exp. Verification.”
  • If you can’t see it, we can’t see it.  We won’t be able to recommend you. Please call TIMS for help.
  • After you have completed and submitted your TIMS application, you must let the Mercyhurst Certification Office know that that you have applied on TIMS and are now waiting for our verification and recommendation. Request a recommendation from Mercyhurst Certification Office ( 

What happens after I apply for my certification?

Please allow adequate time for us to review your records and application in TIMS. Provided you have met all the requirements for certification AND submitted your Request for Recommendation form to, Mercyhurst will proceed as quickly as possible with your recommendation.
Mercyhurst’s Certification Officer cannot make a recommendation to TIMS until your degree has been officially conferred. Degrees are officially conferred by the Office of the Registrar several weeks after the semester finishes. This is not the same date as Mercyhurst’s graduation ceremony.
TIMS takes approximately 4-12 weeks to process an application from the time they receive our recommendation.
You can check your status at any time by logging on to your TIMS dashboard.