Background Clearance Information, General

General Background Clearance Policy


In order to prevent those who may pose a danger to children from working with them in the classroom, 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. Each state has a specific type of background clearance required. Detailed instructions on how to obtain the required background clearance(s) as well as helpful links are found in the student handbook at click on "Teacher Licensure Home Page,” and then on the table of contents for the state in which the student is completing field experiences and/or seeking licensure. 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 by the state in the student handbook, all background clearances must be less than two years old at the time the field experience (preclinical experiences, demonstration teaching, and/or practicum) is complete. If the clearance will be more than two years old (or otherwise specified in the individual state background check article) by the time the student will complete the field experience (preclinical experiences, demonstration teaching, and/or practicum) portion of their program, he/she will need to submit an updated clearance prior to beginning the field experience.


Most states will send the results of the background clearance directly to the student and not to WGU. Therefore, the student will need to upload your background check results in your student 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 he/she submits to the Background Clearance Specialists information explaining the circumstances surrounding the charges and confirmation of reading and agreeing to abide by the Teachers College Code of Professional Behaviors and Dispositions. The Background Clearance Specialist can provide the student with the appropriate forms necessary to fulfill this requirement. The Specialist will review the information provided and, in some cases, discuss the charge(s) with the state Department of Education. Although WGU and the Background Clearance Specialists 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. Students with criminal records are encouraged to contact their local Department of Education to discuss any potential criminal history issues prior to licensure.

In certain circumstances, even though you have been cleared for field experiences by WGU, the school district in which you are placed may have an additional background check requirement that is not required by WGU. Or, the school district may make a different determination regarding a background clearance. You may be required to provide additional documentation to the school district. If so, you are also required to abide by the school district’s decision of approval or denial of the submitted background clearance information. 

In some cases, the student’s state Department of Education will determine whether a student is cleared to work in the schools; WGU does not make this determination. If a student completes a background check through his or her state Department of Education, and the DOE concludes that the student 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 at WGU.  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 the Background Clearance Specialists or your school district may still require an additional background check even with the submission of a substitute or teaching license to WGU.  Upload your Teaching License in your student Field Experience portal under PCE Background Clearance and/or DT Background Clearance (Advanced Program upload to 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. Clearances only come from a U.S. state, school district, or the FBI. For international preclinical and demonstration teaching placements, other than Department of Defense (DOD) schools, WGU does not have these protections because WGU cannot track background clearance activity on international soils. Therefore, it is WGU policy to allow international placements in Department of Defense (DOD) schools only.







Article Number: 19312, 1492

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