Deciding between Alternate Route NJ Programs: Traditional Alternate Route vs. New Pathways to Teaching

There are many paths one can take to become a certified teacher in NJ with alternate route teacher preparation programs. The New Jersey Department of Education partners with colleges and universities across the state to make pursuing a teaching career financially accessible to anyone with a Bachelor’s degree. Rutgers Center for Effective School Practice’s Alternate Route program is one of nearly ten alternate route teacher preparation programs in the state.  These programs historically have allowed career changers with bachelor’s degrees from any discipline to become licensed teachers without having to invest in a master’s degree in education. Also available are hybrid alternate route programs that allow teaching candidates to gain college course credits towards a master’s degree as well.

Identical content, but higher cost?

In these tough economic times, the costs associated with becoming a teacher are extremely important. New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey (NPTNJ), a hybrid alternate route program, allows its candidates to either gain course credits that can be applied to a master’s degree program or complete their certification program without receiving course credits. Regardless of which option candidates choose, they enroll in the same courses and pay more than they would as candidates of a traditional alternate route program.

As an example, phase I of Rutgers’ alternate route program costs $580. The same stage of New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey (NPTNJ) costs $3,202 or $1,300 depending on whether candidates want masters degree credits from New Jersey City University. Those who choose not to have their phase I alternate route course count towards a master’s degree would be paying double the amount they would in a traditional alternate route program. The second stage of New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey’s program is also nearly triple the price of both phases II and III courses offered by most traditional alternate route teacher preparation providers. Thus, those participating in a hybrid alternate route program can pay up to seven times as much as those engaged in a traditional alternate route program.

What distinguishes one program from another?

You can rest assured that the course material of alternate route teacher preparation programs are the same. Whether a hybrid or traditional program, the course topics are mandated by the New Jersey Department of Education.

The instructional styles and imperatives of each program, however, may differ. For instance, Rutgers CESP’s alternate route program is focused on allowing candidates to practice using digital technology for learning purposes. This past semester, the program experimented with using Twitter to share resources and debate course topics. The program also frequently shares professional resources for alumni and current candidates in its blog and LinkedIn group. Many of the assignments are also job-embedded, so that candidates can immediately practice all that they’re learning.

Which option is best for YOU?

There are many paths you can take to becoming a certified teacher—all having unique pros and cons. If affordability is a top concern for you, seek advice from people in teaching and educational leadership positions you aspire to before applying to a master’s degree program. You can search through your university’s official alumni directory or LinkedIn to identify fellow alumni and local peers in the roles you aspire to. Don’t be shy to ask for advice! 

When it comes to assessing whether alternate route teacher preparation programs are right for you, first consult the NJ Department of Education’s overview of the state’s requirements. Then, consult the websites of each program to compare costs. For a deeper understanding of the caliber of the program, reach out to their past participants on LinkedIn. Those interested in Rutgers’ Alternate Route program, for instance, can join our LinkedIn group to connect with alumni and current candidates of our program.  

What other questions do you have about the alternate route teacher training preparation process? Share your questions in the comments.


Original Publish Date: July 16, 2015
Updated: June 20, 2017

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Lori Cobb

Lori Cobb is an innovative school leader who taught for 4 years, served as a school principal for 3.5 years and is now leading iLearn Schools as Chief Academic Officer.