The DistinguishED Program is designed to:

  • Increase the number of highly qualified ethnically diverse teachers in elementary, middle and secondary schools, and the state.
  • Identify and recruit individuals who are interested in teaching.
  • Recruit professionals seeking a career change to the teaching field and support their enrollment in the Alt A graduate teaching education program.

The DistinguishED program strives to offer students the support they need to be successful in the Alt A program, to persist, graduate, and to be effective and marketable teachers. We offer programmatic support including:

  • One-on-one advising
  • Student networking and support through a Men of Color Teacher Network
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Access to appropriate workshops/seminars
  • Community collaborations/partnerships
  • Praxis assistance/resources
  • Job placement support
  • Scholarships and more

Financial Assistance

This initiative provides:

  • Tuition assistance through a scholarship amount of 40% toward tuition, plus a $500 stipend towards testing and licensure fees, and book stipend. 

Orientation Experience

Once a student is admitted into the Alt A Teacher Education Program, they will receive individual advising from the program’s coordinator. This face-to-face meeting covers program specifications including coursework and graduation requirements. Students entering the program have varied backgrounds and life experiences; this meeting allows the program advisor to understand each student’s unique situation before any coursework is completed. Students will also take orientation special topics course as a cohort. 


In addition to the co-curricular experiences, students will be matched with an experienced professional in our Men of Color Teacher Network, who will provide social and cultural support, encouragement and coaching, guide their development as a professional and teacher, and personal advocate.

Program Requirements or Criteria

All candidates are admitted to the University on a conditional basis. Conditional admission to the University for candidates pursuing the Alt A program requires that candidates have the following:

  1. Degree: A bachelor's or higher degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  2. Grade Point Average: A minimum GPA overall of 2.50 (4.0 scale) is required and must be documented on the official transcript from the degree granting institution and must be the GPA that was used as the basis for granting the degree. If a graduate degree is used as the basis for admission to the Alternative A program, no graduate credit from that degree may be applied to the Alternative A program for certification purposes.

Exception: Individuals who have earned a bachelor’s degree from a senior institution that was regionally accredited at the time the degree was earned and do not meet the minimum overall undergraduate GPA of 2.50, but have at least a 2.0 overall undergraduate GPA, may seek unconditional admission to an Alternative Class A program if the alternate score on the Alabama prescribed Praxis subject-area test is obtained. The alternate scores can be found on the Alternate Score Requirements document at https://www.alsde.edu/sec/ea/Policies/Alternate%20Score%20Requirements.pdf (Department Offices: Educator Assessment: Educator Assessment Policies). The ONLY tests and scores accepted are those listed on the Alternate Score Requirements document. All other requirements for unconditional admission must also be met.

  1. Entrance ExamA passing score on the appropriate Praxis II exam is required for unconditional admission; therefore, it is recommended that the Praxis II be used for conditional admission purposes. 
    • PRAXIS II - this exam is based on your content area. There are many different subjects available, so you need to decide what you want to major in before taking this exam (i.e., if you choose to major in biology, you will need to take the Praxis II exam in biology; whereas if you choose to major in mathematics, you will need to take the Praxis II exam in mathematics). More information about the Praxis II exam
  2. Background Clearance: Suitability clearance from the Alabama State Department of Education based on ABI/FBI fingerprints is required. The candidate is responsible for the non-refundable, non-transferable fee. A candidate whose suitability determination precludes admission to a State-approved teacher education program has the right to due process. More Information on Background Clearance
  3. Major: Declare the major you wish to pursue and make sure the registrar's office has this major on file for you. Admission to one program does not necessarily guarantee admission to another. View a complete list of available majors and their checklists here.
  4. Graduate Coursework: All candidates are admitted to the University on a conditional basis. Candidates are limited to a total of five graduate courses prior to unconditional admission. Any coursework exceeding the five-course rule may not be used for certification purposes.

Outcomes or Program Expectations

Graduates of the program will in turn:

  • Teach in the state of Alabama for minimum of three years
  • Mentor the next cohort through the Men of Color Teacher Network