Background Clearance Information, General

General 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; therefore, students must follow background clearance instructions for their state found in this student handbook. Students who are completing field experiences in one state but licensing in another may be required to complete separate background checks for each state. 

Unless specifically noted in the student handbook, 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, the student 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; therefore, the student must upload the background clearance results to the Field Experience portal under PCE Background Clearance and/or DT Background Clearance. 

It is the student's responsibility to keep a copy of their background clearance for their records; WGU does not keep copies of background checks.

If the results of a background clearance indicate a minor criminal record, a student 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 Professional Behaviors and Dispositions. The Background Clearance Specialist will provide the student with the appropriate forms necessary to fulfill this requirement. Although WGU can clear a student to proceed with field experiences, the state of licensure may also review the student’s background information prior to granting a license and WGU can make no guarantees of the state’s approval. It is the student’s responsibility to understand their state’s criminal history regulation.

In certain circumstances, even though a student has been cleared for field experiences by WGU, the hosting school district may have an additional background check requirement or may make a different determination regarding a record. Therefore, students must also abide by the school district’s procedure and decision of approval or denial of the submitted background clearance information.  

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

If there are any questions regarding background clearances, the student may contact the Background Clearance Specialists by e-mailing

Using a Teaching License to Satisfy the Background Check Requirement

In some circumstances, WGU students may submit a copy of their valid substitute or teaching license to satisfy the background check requirement. 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, upload it to the student Field Experience portal under PCE Background Clearance and/or DT Background Clearance.


Click to View the List of States That Require a Background Check for Licensure


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., international placements are not permitted, unless in a Department of Defense (DOD) school.