Background Clearance Information

Background Clearance Policy

Western Governors University (WGU) requires all students who participate in field experiences (preclinical experiences, demonstration teaching, and/or practicum) to provide WGU with verification of a cleared background check prior to placement in the classroom. The type of background clearance accepted varies by state. Visit the Teacher Licensure Home Page (opens new window) and follow background clearance instructions for the state which you are seeking licensure.  If you who are completing field experiences in one state but licensing in another, you may need to complete separate background checks for each state. 

Unless noted differently on the state specific background clearance article, all background clearances must be less than two years old at the time of field experience completion. If the clearance will be more than two years old before the end of the field experience, you must submit an updated clearance prior to beginning the field experience.


Most states send background clearance results directly to the requestor and not to WGU. To ensure WGU receives your clearance, go to your Field Experience page and upload the background clearance results under PCE Background Clearance and/or DT Background Clearance. 

WGU does not keep copies of background checks instead students are advised to keep a copy of background clearances for their own records.

If the results of a background clearance indicate a minor criminal record, you may be allowed to proceed with field experiences provided they submit information explaining the circumstances surrounding the charges and confirmation of agreement to abide by the Teachers College Code of Ethics, Professional Behaviors and Dispositions (opens new window). This information will be reviewed for approval. The Background Clearance Specialist will provide you with the appropriate forms necessary to fulfill this requirement. Although you may receive clearance from WGU to proceed with field experiences, the state of licensure may also review the background information prior to granting a license.  It is your responsibility to understand your state’s criminal history regulation.

Once WGU clears you for field experiences, the hosting school district may have an additional background check requirement or may make a different determination regarding your clearance. In these situations, you must abide by the school district’s procedure and decision of approval or denial of the submitted background clearance information.  

In some instances, the state Department of Education will determine your clearance to work in a school. If the Department of Education concludes that you cannot enter a classroom and will not be granted teacher certification, or if a background check indicates an offense that involves children, you will be advised to transfer to a non-licensure program and will not be allowed to proceed with any field experiences.

International Placements in Department of Defense Schools Only
WGU placement policy states that all students must have a background clearance in order to be allowed in the classroom. This policy protects the students in the classroom, the student teacher, and WGU. Since WGU cannot obtain a background check outside of the U.S., students cannot complete field experiences in international placements, unless placed in a Department of Defense school.


Using a Teaching License to Satisfy the Background Check Requirement

WGU students may submit a copy of their valid substitute or teaching license to satisfy the background check requirement in some states. The Background Clearance Specialists must be able to verify, through a published written policy of the respective Department of Education, that an appropriate background check was required in order to obtain the license. Additional restrictions may apply and WGU or the hosting school district may still require an additional background check. To submit a teaching license as a background check, go to your Field Experience page and upload it under PCE Background Clearance and/or DT Background Clearance.


To know if you can use your teaching license to satisfy the background check requirement in your state, see the attachment States Who Allow a Teacher License for a Background Check at the bottom of this article.


School District Background Clearance

You must meet all the following requirements to use a school district background clearance:

  • Your school district background clearance must be a fingerprint-based background check that will be fewer than five years old on the last day of your field placement.
  • There has been no lapse in your employment with the district since the background check was complete.
  • An authorized school district representative must complete this form on school district letterhead. Forms not submitted on letterhead will not be accepted.
  • The form must include a handwritten signature by the authorized school district representative who completes the form.


To submit a school district background clearance form, go to your Field Experience page and upload it under PCE Background Clearance and/or DT Background Clearance.


Note: Students in programs that license through the reciprocity process (except Educational Leadership) (opens new window), and who wish to use a school district background clearance, must also obtain a Utah State Office of Education background clearance (opens new window).


Depending on the completion date of the school district background clearance and the state where you reside, WGU may determine that an additional background clearance is necessary before you receive clearance to participate in field experiences (preclinical experiences, demonstration teaching, and/or practicum). Your background clearance must be within five years of the date you will complete the field experience. You must submit a new background clearance before you can begin any field experiences if the expiration date is before the scheduled completion date.

Your state may require you to complete a new background check when you apply for licensure. Check the state certification application article available through the Teacher Licensure Home Page (opens new window) to determine if you will need to complete an additional clearance for certification. 

See the attachment School District Form for Background Clearance at the bottom of this article for a School District Background Clearance form.


Students in the following states cannot use a school district clearance form to meet the background check requirement:


If there are any questions regarding background clearances, contact the Background Clearance Specialists by emailing