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Getting Started

Understand Your Options

The first step is to understand your options. Review the Overview article to better understand the Reach Pillars, Benefits, and Roles involved in the creation of an apprenticeship-based degree program. You can create an apprenticeship-based program without official approvals, though if you then choose to register that program, you may be able to access additional resources. These options are outlined below. 

Apprenticeship-Based Program

  • Apprenticeship-based education embeds on-the-job learning in the homework requirements of taught courses, rather than via credit for prior learning, which results in more credit, more quickly.

  • In practice, this means that participating employees in your district continue to work as a paraprofessional or instructional aide and enroll in your partner Education Preparation Provider’s apprenticeship-based degree granting program. Your district provides a mentor who oversees your apprentices’ work and confirms that they have completed certain activities. The Education Preparation Provider provides coursework to the participating employees and grants their degree. 

  • Reach University can support the Education Preparation Provider to design their program, identify ways to reduce the costs of the program, and implement this based on our experience. 

  • For support, please connect with your Reach University contact or email

Registered Apprenticeship Programs 

  • To access certain state and/or federal funds that are specifically for apprenticeship programs, your apprenticeship-based education program as outlined above would need to become a Registered Apprenticeship Program, meaning that it has been officially approved by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Apprenticeship (OA) or your state’s apprenticeship agency. 

  • The program will also need to comply with certain state-specific requirements for program design and reporting. 

  • If you decide to pursue this status, please connect with your Reach University contact or email us at for more information and support. 

Complete a Landscape Analysis

The questions below can help you understand your landscape and identify opportunities and potential partners in your community. 

Opportunities in Your Community

  • What existing programs in your community might be integrated or leveraged into your program? 

  • Do you have an existing “grow your own” or teacher preparation program that is getting strong results? 

  • Are there funding benefits for teacher education or higher education for your state or community?

Higher Education Landscape

  • Which educator preparation programs may want to partner with you? 

  • What types of degrees do they offer? 

  • How many teachers are they currently producing?

  • How are they addressing the needs and priorities of local school districts?

  • What changes would you like to see in terms of how teachers are prepared?

Internal Support

  • Who is interested in pursuing this within your district? Principals, superintendent, etc.? 

  • Who will need to be brought along?


  • Does your district have a budget to contribute to the education of your candidates? (This is not required but some districts choose to do this.)

  • If so, how much can your district contribute per degree based on the funds available and the number of candidates who would need to participate in your program to meet your goals?

Other Districts

  • Are there other districts nearby that have similar needs? How would they answer the questions above? (They might be able to increase the critical mass for a program at an education preparation provider.)

Set Your Goals

Questions to Consider

As you set your goals, consider the following questions.

  • How many paraprofessionals/instructional assistants need to participate in your program to fill your district’s vacancies? The Estimation Tool worksheet below can be used to help you estimate this.

  • Who is your target population? Are they current paraprofessionals, instructional aides, or teachers?

  • What degrees/credentials would you like participants to achieve? 

  • How will you address each of the Reach Pillars or other values that are critical for your district?

  • Which stakeholders within your district need to be engaged to ensure program success?

Estimation Tool - District Teacher Needs
Download XLSX • 31KB

Sample Goals

A set of sample goals is as follows:

  • Ending teacher vacancies: Our apprenticeship-based teaching degree program will end teacher vacancies by enrolling [number] of our paraprofessionals / instructional assistants each year in an apprenticeship-based degree program. 

  • Target population: Our program will help paraprofessionals / instructional assistants who have [completed some college, no college, any amount of college, or are 1, 2, or 6 years away from completing their BA] obtain their BA and teaching credential. 

  • Student-teacher demographic alignment: [Percentage] of our district’s students identify as [demographic]. Currently, [percentage] of our teachers identify as [demographic]. [Percentage] of our paraprofessionals / instructional assistants identify as [demographic]. Our apprenticeship-based teaching degree program will increase our student-teacher demographic alignment by supporting more of our paraprofessionals / instructional assistants in becoming teachers. 

  • Program participation rate: We will need [percentage] of our paraprofessionals / instructional assistants to participate in the program, so it will be important that our program is:

    • Efficient: Teaching apprentices work full time and still graduate on a standard timeline because their job as a paraprofessional counts towards the degree’s credit hours.

    • Flexible: Classes are online and scheduled around apprentices' workday so that they do not need to travel far from home, miss work, or arrange childcare.

    • Relevant: Class discussions analyze apprentices' work experience (rather than theoretical problem sets, essays, or performance tasks) to ensure immediate applicability.

    • Affordable: Districts/parishes pay apprentices, and federal funding – such as Pell grants, WIOA funding, and other sources – covers the cost of tuition. Apprentices do not take on debt; they are paid to earn their Bachelor’s degree and teaching credential/license.

    • Building Professional Capital: Apprentices know they have a teaching position waiting for them in their school district/parish when they graduate.

  • (Optional) District contribution: To help the program be more affordable, our district will contribute [amount] per degree. 

  • Stakeholder engagement: To ensure the success of our program, we will engage [list roles within the district]. 

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