EKU Becomes First Public University to Offer Option 9 Alternative Route to Teacher Certification

Published on February 14, 2023

By Sarah Bashford

Eastern Kentucky University became the first public university in Kentucky to offer an Option 9 alternative route to teacher certification following recent approval by the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB). According to the Kentucky Department of Education, “Option 9 is a new alternative route to certification that allows a person to complete a bachelor’s degree and initial teacher certification in a three-year period while working in a non-teaching position in a school district.” In partnership with multiple educational cooperatives, EKU Option 9 increases the aspiring educator pipeline and addresses teacher shortages in the Commonwealth. 

“EKU is committed to serving and supporting partner school districts in a variety of ways, including by offering the expedited, streamlined and tailored Option 9 route to teacher certification for eligible candidates,” said Dr. Nicola Mason, chair of EKU’s Department of Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership. “In conjunction with the launch of our new 100% online elementary education degree program in August 2023, there are now more reasons than ever to pursue a career in education at EKU.”

EKU Option 9 students will pursue their bachelor’s degree and initial certification in elementary education while employed in a participating school district. Students will complete coursework online and work with students and in classrooms to complete field experience and student teaching requirements. Local districts and schools will help ensure student success by providing necessary mentoring and support throughout the program.

“Once again, Eastern Kentucky University is stepping up to enhance educational opportunities in our region. The Option 9 program is an innovative pathway to teacher certification that permits candidates to work and learn in the school environment while obtaining certification,” said Dr. David Gilliam, superintendent of Madison County Schools and chair of the Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative Board of Directors. “This will open the door for many non-traditional candidates and will meet an immediate need for staffing in our public schools. Through this move, there is great potential for continued collaboration between EKU and Madison County Schools.”

EKU has partnered with the following education cooperatives and their school districts in offering Option 9: 

  • Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative (CKEC) and its 24 school district members

  • Kentucky Educational Development Corporation (KEDC) and its 74 school district members

  • West Kentucky Educational Cooperative (WKEC) and its 26 school district members

  • Southeast South-Central Educational Cooperative (SCEC) and its 26 school district members

"We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with Eastern Kentucky University in the implementation of Option 9 programming. This partnership will give our districts an additional tool they can use to support those who are passionate about pursuing teaching as a profession,” said David Young, CEO of the CKEC. “Among other outcomes, we hope that the Option 9 route will assist districts in strengthening the pipeline of high school students who pursue education as a career. Districts will be able to support students through their transition to post-secondary education, providing them valuable work experience in their home district. Upon receiving their certification, many of these students may very well choose to teach in their hometown. That can be a game-changer for our public schools. We couldn't be happier about this opportunity."