North Dakota School Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: Library Media Specialist Endorsement, Library Credential

by Staff

Updated: August 23rd, 2022

Licensor: ND DPI

Curious about becoming a North Dakota (ND) public school librarian? Prospective librarians (library media specialists) in ND “go mano a mano” with multiple licensing agencies when becoming a teacher. Once you clear these hurdles, procuring the coveted Library credential (Advanced Program for Educators, Code 50065) is relatively simple.

At the outset, candidates should study the ND Education Standards and Practices Board (ESPB) website. This educator licensing board — its members appointed by the state’s governor — is financially independent, receiving its funding from license fees paid by ND educators. Applicants should also familiarize themselves with the ND Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Elected by voters, the DPI superintendent is an ex officio member of ESPB.

To quote the DPI:

“Credentialing educators in North Dakota is the responsibility of DPI (while) licensing and endorsements are issued by ESPB.” In other words, DPI credentials educators; ESPB hires them. Prepare to battle entrenched bureaucracies and excessive red tape when applying for teaching positions despite the state’s glaring need for educators.

In ND, like many states west of the Mississippi River, librarians are teachers first. The Flickertail State has difficulties luring qualified teachers, let alone library media specialists, to rural areas. Indeed, in April 2021, ESPB “declared all content areas critical shortage areas.”

Understand that ND librarians and libraries are a funding afterthought since the state prioritizes resources for other educational areas.

Initial School Librarian Certification Process

To best grasp the ND educator hiring process, we suggest applicants divide the journey into three steps based on the three agencies they will engage before arriving at a job:

  1. The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence — a non-profit, independent agency licensing educators in 15 states. Hereafter called “American Board.”
  2. DPI
  3. ESPB

American Board

The DPI outsources initial ND educator licensure to American Board. All “credentialed positions” — including librarians — must first possess an ND Educators Professional Teaching license (issued by ESPB) before receiving a library media endorsement. The applicant must also procure this license before applying for educator jobs in the state.

Applicants enroll online in the American Board program to become certified to teach the following subjects in ND schools:

  • Biology (9-12)
  • Chemistry (9-12)
  • Elementary Education (1-8)*
  • English (5-9)
  • English (9-12)
  • Science (5-9)
  • Science (9-12)
  • Math (5-9)
  • Math (9-12)
  • Physics (9-12)
  • Special Education (K-12)*

*Note: Applicants can bundle a reading endorsement with Elementary Education certification. Contact for details.

First: The applicant must possess a Bachelor’s degree in any field from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university.

Second: To enroll in the American Board’s course studies, the applicant must pay $1,900 (as of September 2021, an applicant can apply a promo code to lower the cost to $1,550). Applicants have the option of a seven-day free trial.

Third: Upon enrollment, applicants must provide American Board an official copy of their school transcripts. International applicants educated abroad must submit credential evaluations with their transcripts. Again, refer to the “info” email address above.

Fourth: Applicants must authorize American Board to conduct a background check on their past. This inquiry is similar to one performed by ESPB.

Fifth: American Board-licensed applicants apply for a position teaching one of the 11 school subjects cited above. Once employment is secured, the educator applies to ESPB for an initial two-year license. Within two years, educators must complete the American Board Clinical Experience (a year-long program) and the ND Teacher Support System (TSS) mentor program. Applicants must also fulfill cultural diversity (e.g., Native American studies and teaching diverse learners) coursework and youth mental health competency training.

Certification is given online; applicants “self-pace and self-guide” their study. However, they must finish the course within one year. A six-month extension costs $389. Applicants can extend multiple times if necessary. According to American Board, applicants typically achieve certification within 7-10 months. Some, however, finish within two months.

After completing the American Board regimen of pedagogy and content area tests, licensees are assigned to a mentor from the school district where the educator teaches. Note that the testing year and the Clinical Experience may not overlap. IMPORTANT: If Clinical Experience is not completed within three years of the date of American Board initial certification, applicants must re-enroll and re-test.

Note that American Board offers two programs: Standard and Premium certification. Premium offers all Standard features plus additional study materials and practice tests. Premium also provides a job counseling webinar and workbook for employment searches.

American Board certification consists of a Professional Teaching Knowledge (PTK) exam and a subject area exam. Each additional exam after initial testing costs $850. Be advised that applicants who pay by installment should not enroll online but call 877-669-2228 for assistance. Unlike some states, ND does not require applicants to have a minimum GPA to enter the American Board program.


As alluded to above, the DPI credentials educators as librarians. To become credentialed as an ND public school librarian, educators complete an online application process at NDTeach. ND Administrative Code 67-11-04 prescribes the steps educators must take to become credentialed as a librarian.

“For purposes of school accreditation, a school may employ as a librarian only a person who holds a library media credential as outlined in this chapter or who has been authorized by ESPB in this specialty at a level the DPI determines meets or exceeds the requirements of this chapter and is consistent with the North Dakota teacher education program approval standards adopted by ESPB. An individual holding a library media credential issued under this chapter may serve students in pre K through grade 12.”

The DPI offers three separate librarian credentials plus a plan of study option to qualify for a library media credential:

  • Librarian credential  (LMO3) — must complete at least 15 semester hours of undergraduate or graduate credits in library media.
  • Library Media Specialist (LMO2) — must complete at least 24 semester hours of undergraduate or graduate credits in library media.
  • Library Medial Director (LMO1) — licensee must have a Master’s degree in library science. The degree must be certifiable by ESPB.

All three credentials above are “issued to coincide with the period for which the individual is licensed to teach or approved to teach by ESPB; however, an individual holding a lifetime educator’s professional license (see section C below for the types of teaching licenses issued by ESPB) must renew the credential every five years.”

Further, 67-11-04 requires licensees to take coursework from a state-approved library media program. This means applicants must take “at least one course… from a subdivision of each of subsections 1 through 5 of section 67-11-04-05,” as defined below:

  1. The learner and learning, which includes:
    • Learner development
    • Learner diversity
    • Learning differences
    • Learning environments
  2. Planning for instruction, which includes:
    • Instructional strategies
    • Integrating ethical use of information into instructional practice
    • Assessment
  3. Knowledge of application and content, which includes:
    • Reading engagement
    • Information literacy
    • Technology-enabled learning
  4. Organization and access, which includes:
    • Access
    • Information resources
    • Evidence-based decision-making
  5. Leadership, advocacy, and professional responsibility, which includes:
    • Professional learning
    • Leadership and collaboration
    • Advocacy
    • Ethical practice

The “plan of study option” for a librarian credential cited above is issued to an individual who:

  • is licensed to teach or approved to teach by the EPSB;
  • is employed as a librarian in a school and who does not meet the qualifications for an LM01, LM02, or LM03 credential;
  • is enrolled in a state-approved course of study in school library preparation and have obtained a letter from a supervisor recommending the individual for a school library plan of study credential; and
  • submits a written plan of study for approval to become a credentialed librarian and annually submits college transcripts showing a minimum of six semester hours of undergraduate or graduate credits in library media until the licensed teacher qualifies for the required credential.

Note that if a librarian credential “will expire within 12 months of issuance because the educator’s professional license will expire within 12 months of issuance of the credential, the credential will be issued for a period coinciding with the period of licensure of the succeeding educator’s professional license.”

The librarian endorsement to an ND educator’s teaching license costs $80. Unlike many states, ND does not require a Praxis test for the librarian endorsement (but ESPB requires applicants to pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators. See subsection d below). Call the DPI at (701) 328-4571 for more information.


ESPB offers two broad types of licenses: Initial and Renewal. Renewal licenses are discussed in section III. Certification Renewal Procedure section below.

Applicants may choose among the following options for Initial licensure:

  • Initial In-State License — “Issued to first-time applicants who have met all of the ND requirements for licensure.” 
  • Initial Interim Substitute License (2-Years)  — “Issued to individuals with a minimum of 48 semester hours of college coursework (and) expires on the applicant’s birthday.”
  • Initial Out-of-State Reciprocal License (2-Years) — “Issued to individuals who graduated from an out-of-state university but do not hold a teaching license in another state. A transcript analysis is completed and a plan of study is developed for each individual indicating the coursework and testing needed. This license can be issued twice, so the educator has a total of four years to complete all requirements.”
  • Alternate Access License (1-Year) — “Issued in a documented shortage area. This license is for those who do not have a teaching degree but do have a bachelor’s degree in a content area where the vacancy exists in the school. It is expected that the applicant will work with a university to complete their education coursework over the next 3 years (if needed.) The license must be requested in writing by the local school administrator indicating the unsuccessful search for a qualified applicant and the desire for this license to be issued. Requirements include the completed online application, a bachelor’s degree in the content area to be taught (official transcripts), and a plan of study from the college of education where the applicant will complete 1/3 of the program of study each year toward the teaching degree. This license can be issued a year at a time for a maximum of 3 years.”
  • Initial Other State Educator License (OSEL)  (Available for 2 and 5 years) — “A two or five-year license issued to those applicants who hold and submits a valid teaching license received from an approved regular teacher education program from another state. If the applicant has not tested in the sending state and has been licensed after 2002 in that state, they will have two years to complete ND tests. The regular application will be submitted including official transcripts, a completed background packet, a copy of your current teaching license from another state, and/or confirmation form or test scores. If you have completed an approved program, including student teaching, hold a license in another state, and have met their testing requirements, there will be no additional requirements.”
  • Out-of-State Reciprocal License (2-Years) — “Issued to individuals who graduated from an out-of-state university but do not hold a teaching license in another state. A transcript analysis is completed and a plan of study is developed for each individual indicating the coursework and testing needed. This license can be issued twice, so the educator has a total of four years to complete all requirements.”
  • 40-day Provisional License (40 Calendar Days) — “Issued to applicants who have been offered a job (either substitute or teaching) and have w completed the entire application process (except for) the background investigation. A letter from the school administrator indicating their desire to hire that person without the background investigation being [sic] complete and a letter from the applicant indicating their criminal background history is needed by ESPB (before) issuing this license.” See this for instructions on applying for this license.
  • Probationary Licence — “Issued to individuals who have not completed the reeducation requirements for the five-year or re-entry license. Only one probationary license is issued to an applicant.”
  • 30-Year Life License — “Issued to a teacher who has held an ND license for 30 years and met the requirements of their current teaching license. (If an applicant currently holds a 5-year license and would like to move into the 30-Year Life License, they must submit 6 semester hours of re-education credit as required for the 5-year license they currently hold.” No expiry.

Education Requirements

All pathways to educator licensure require at least a four-year degree from a regionally accredited college or university EXCEPT for the Interim Substitute License (2-Years), which requires individuals to complete at least 48 semester hours of college coursework.

Experience Requirements

As mentioned above, ESPB requires educators to fulfill the American Board Clinical Experience and the TSS mentor program.

Testing Requirements

ESPB requires applicants to pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators. See the table below:

Required Tests and Scores


Test Code

Qualifying Score

Minimum Score













Source: ESPB

Note that applicants must satisfy individual qualifying scores or meet a composite score of 466 with no scores below the minimum for each teach test. As mentioned above, a librarian endorsement to an ND teaching license does not require additional Praxis testing.

As noted above, ESPB does not require librarians to test for library media licensure. However, applicants who seek licensure in specific areas must take the relevant Praxis test (e.g., elementary education, special education, secondary education, etc.).

Background Checks

In addition to the American Board background check, applicants must also undergo ESPB background inquiries. ESPB requires applicants to submit to fingerprinting and criminal history record checks. See the form here.

Applicants may opt for fingerprinting done by a police department, a sheriff’s office, or an “authorized” fingerprinting agency. The applicant must complete two cards with a ten-finger check. Once applicants have been fingerprinted, they submit:

  • Two completed fingerprint cards; if fingerprints were sent electronically by an ND law enforcement agency, one fingerprint card and a fingerprint acknowledgment form.
  • ESPB Fingerprint Verification form
  • Criminal History Record Check Request form
  • A money order for $44.50, payable to ESPB.

ESPB requires criminal history record inquiries for both initial educator licensure and re-entry licensure. See NDCC 15.1-13-14.

Application Process

Applicants must create an online account with NDTeach. Note applicants must pay a non-refundable $30 fee to apply. For the library media credential, applicants must submit a copy of their college transcripts showing the required coursework needed for certification.

Certification Renewal Procedure

Librarians renew their credentials by completing an online application at NDTeach and submitting “a copy of college transcripts showing completion of two semester hours of graduate-level continuing education credit in library media and information science, computer science, cybersecurity, or other related content.”

Certification Reciprocity Process

While ND participates in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) interstate agreement, it does not grant full reciprocity to out-of-state teachers. ESPB does not allow applicants to “test out” of coursework requirements (e.g., Native American studies, etc.).

ESPB welcomes applicants with a valid teaching license from another state or with a degree in education from educational institutions outside ND or the U.S. The following provisos apply:

Applicants who “have completed a transcripted teacher education program” must provide “a copy of their valid and current out-of-state teaching license and confirmation of the OSEL form completed by your state’s licensure agency.” Those who have fulfilled an alternative certification program in another state and hold a valid license in that state must satisfy Praxis I and Praxis II testing requisites before receiving an ND OSEL. NDTeach will inform applicants of the information required from them.

ESPB encourages those with an out-of-state teaching degree to procure a teaching license in the state where they received their degree. Applicants with an out-of-state teaching license can apply for an OSEL, thereby avoiding ND standards (since the licensed applicant has fulfilled standards required by the out-of-state licensure agency).

Those who do not have a teaching license from the state where their degree was earned must apply for an Out-of-State Reciprocal license. These applicants, as cited above in subsection C, then receive a reciprocal license and up to four years to meet ESPB requirements.

Those who completed a teacher education program outside the U.S. must have their transcripts evaluated by a member agency of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) before ESPB will issue them a teaching license.

Licensing Fees

Consult the following table for ESPB licensing fees. Note that all new ESPB applications require an additional $5 “maintenance” fee.

Late Fee Fine for Lapsed License 


Initial Application Fee




Interim Substitute License – 2 year


Initial In State 2 Year License


2 Year Renewal License


Out-of-State Reciprocal License


5 Year License


30 Year Life License


Re-entry License


Alternate Access License


Probationary License


40 Day Provisional License


Transcript Review (only applies to individuals who graduated from institutions outside of ND and do not hold a valid teaching license in another state.)




Duplicate License Request 



OSEL FEES – only applies to those with an OSEL license


Initial 2 year OSEL 


2 Year OSEL 


5 Year OSEL 


OSEL Endorsements 


Source: ESPB

Note that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ESPB temporarily does not accept walk-in visitors. However, applicants may contact ESPB via email and phone. Have questions? Email