Additional Qualifications – Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions

Jan 11th, 2024  |  Other

Whether you are about to graduate from your Teacher Education degree or already an in-service K-12 teacher in Ontario, knowing which Additional Qualifications (AQs) you need to meet your professional goals can be confusing. Read on for answers to some of the questions we hear frequently.


For Ontario Certified Teachers, Additional Qualifications (AQs) are the key to building your professional portfolio and improving your teaching practice. AQ courses can provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to teach in other divisions and subject areas. All teachers, (practicing or teacher candidates) are encouraged and welcome to explore OISE CPL’s variety of AQ courses.

HOWEVER, if you’re new to AQs, you may have some questions – and we are here to help! Below are frequently asked questions and answers to help support your Additional Qualification decision-making process:


This post will include answers to questions most frequently asked by new grads, or anyone new to taking Additional Qualification (AQ) courses.

We strongly encourage you to read the full post, but have also provided some “quick links” below to guide you through some of the broader themes.

Quick Links

Understanding Additional Qualification (AQ) Courses

Choosing an AQ

Eligibility and Enrollment Information

Advancing on the Pay Scale (QECO)

What to Expect When Taking an AQ

Preparing for Leadership Roles

Understanding Additional Qualification (AQ) Courses

What is the difference between an AQ and ABQ course? How do I know when to take which type of course?

First, we want to clarify that “AQ” is a blanket term that generally applies to all additional qualification course types, including one-session and three-session additional qualifications (also referred to as AQs), additional basic qualifications (ABQs), and Honour Specialist qualifications.

An AQ course enhances the knowledge that you have in your current teaching divisions. For example, if you are a Primary/Junior teacher candidate, taking Visual Arts Part 1 will allow you to enhance your knowledge on how to teach Visual Arts in the Primary and Junior Grades. However, it does not qualify you to teach Visual Arts in other divisions that you do not hold. If you wanted to teach Visual Arts at the Intermediate level, you would require an Intermediate ABQ.

An ABQ allows you to teach in a new teaching division. For example, if you are an Intermediate/Senior teacher wanting to expand into the Junior Division (grades 4-6), you would take the Junior Basic ABQ. Or, if you are a Junior/Intermediate teacher wanting to expand into the Senior division (grade 11-12), you would take a Senior ABQ in a specific subject area.

Important Note: Intermediate and Senior level ABQs are subject-specific, so you would be qualified to teach only the subject of the ABQ taken.  For example, completing the Mathematics Senior ABQ will qualify you to teach Grade 11 or 12 Math, but will not qualify you to teach Grade 11 or 12 History.

View our program offerings here.

If I want to become qualified in the Intermediate/Senior levels, do I take ABQs based on the course I want to teach, or is there a general ABQ course that will qualify me in that grade?

All Intermediate and Senior ABQs are subject specific – there is no general Intermediate or general Senior ABQ. Note that most Intermediate and Senior ABQs also have credit pre-requisites. Please ensure to read the pre-requisites on our website when considering course registration.

If you are unsure that you meet the pre-requisites, feel free to send us a digital copy of your undergraduate transcripts for pre-assessment.

Important Note: we cannot count courses taken as part of your initial teacher education program.

Does the Teaching in Ontario’s Catholic Schools course count as an AQ?

No, the Teaching in Ontario’s Catholic Schools course, consisting of 36 hours of learning, does not count as an AQ, and will not be listed on your Certificate of Qualification and Registration.

Do I have to take AQs in a particular order or can I enroll into courses applicable to my interest?

If you are looking to take a three-part AQ, you will need to complete Part 1, followed by Part 2 and Part 3. However, for all others, such as ABQs, you can take them in any order that suits your needs. (For example, you can take Senior Math before taking Intermediate Math. You aren’t required to take them in order).

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Eligibility and Enrollment Information

I currently hold a Temporary or Transitional OCT certificate. When will I be eligible to begin taking AQ courses?

Those who have successfully completed an initial teacher education program (i.e. a BEd or OISE’s MT/MA CSE degrees) are eligible to take AQ courses.

“Transitional Certificate” holders who are in the process of completing their initial teacher education program are not eligible to earn an additional qualification. (Source)

“Temporary Certificate” holders who have completed their initial teacher education program are eligible to enroll in an additional qualification course, however, the qualification will not be recognized by the OCT until the members’ Temporary Certificate has been converted to a (permanent) Certificate of Qualification and Registration. (Source)

Important Note: AQs completed before an OCT member has officially concluded their initial program of teacher education will not be recognized by the OCT and will instead be considered to have been taken for professional learning purposes.

If I graduate in April/May/June, how early can I sign up for my first AQ course? Can I register for an AQ before I have an OCT registration number?

Your earliest opportunity to begin taking AQs will be the New Grad session, following submission of your final grades. You’ll be eligible to take courses as long as you’ve successfully completed all requirements of your program, even if your OCT certification is still in progress (though your application should have been submitted by the time the course begins

If I don’t have the credits necessary from undergrad for a new ABQ, are there other ways to qualify to take the course?

It is common for teachers to take additional undergraduate-level courses in order to satisfy AQ eligibility requirements. You can do so through U of T as a non-degree student or through Toronto Metropolitan University’s “Chang School” (just ensure that the course(s) are for credit).

Does the New Grad AQ discount apply to Master of Education or Master of Arts graduates?

Unfortunately, AQ discounts only apply to current year OISE Teacher Program graduates (i.e. MT or MA-CSE).

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What to Expect When Taking an AQ

Are AQs/ABQs synchronous or asynchronous? What is the time requirement?

The majority of AQs are asynchronous, though some do have required synchronous components (i.e. Dramatic Arts, FSL1, Health and Phys Ed, Environmental Education to name a few). This information will always be included in the section notes of the course page, so you’ll know what’s expected before registering.

Outside of this, all AQ courses will require consistent engagement / online “attendance” each week (or daily during the Summer session. This will take the form of participation in online discussion, and submission of individual and group assignments.

You can estimate the average time commitment expected based on the length of the session you register for. Based on all AQs requiring 125 hours of learning engagement we can determine:

  • New Grad session (5 weeks long): 25 hours/week
  • Summer sessions (3 weeks long): ~42 hours/week
  • Fall, Winter and Spring sessions (10 weeks long): ~12 hours/week
  • Late Fall & Late Winter sessions (7 weeks long): ~18 hours/week

Can I take multiple AQs at the same time?

Learners can take up to two AQs concurrently, though we don’t recommend this during the New Grad/Summer sessions as they are condensed in length, and require more intensive learning engagement (approximately 25 hours/week during New Grad, 40 hours/week in the Summer).

We strongly encourage all learners to carefully consider any personal circumstances or professional obligations that will require your time and attention, and plan your learning accordingly. Generally speaking, it is best to pace yourself with one course at a time, especially when first engaging with AQ courses.

How intense is the typical AQ course workload? Is it possible to complete AQs while teaching?

Our courses are designed with working teachers in mind, so it is entirely possible to complete courses during the school year or summer – it will depend on your personal work style and other personal or professional obligations on your plate.

When planning your learning, please keep in mind that all AQ courses require 125 hours of learning engagement – this means that you can expect to spend anywhere from 12 – 40+ hours per week engaging in learning, depending on the length of the session you choose. We highly encourage you to keep this in mind when deciding when to take courses, as you will need to balance your time accordingly.

If I am registered, or planning to register for an AQ course in the Spring or Summer, will I be able to obtain proof of course registration for interview purposes?

Absolutely. Please login to your learner profile, navigate to My Enrolment History, click “Print”, select confirmation of registration, then select “Print” to download it as a PDF.

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Choosing an AQ

Are there any AQs or ABQs you would recommend for Intermediate/Senior teachers post-graduation?

If you are looking to enhance the knowledge that you have in your current teaching divisions, a three-part AQ such as Special Education, Guidance and Career Education or Teaching English Language Learners may be of interest. These types of courses add breadth to your teaching skillset, as they allow you to enhance your knowledge within a specific learning function.

While not a requirement, if you take all three parts of a “three-part AQ” you will also cultivate a deep knowledge in the subject area, which can lead to leadership opportunities down the line.

View our list of three-session AQs here.

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Advancing on the Pay Scale (QECO)

How many AQs do I have to take to earn more money/reach A4 status?

The number and type of courses required to move you up the pay scale may vary depending on your individual education record. QECO (the Qualifications Evaluation Council of Ontario) considers things like the length of your undergrad degree, grades earned, and the initial teacher education program you completed, among other factors.

We strongly encourage all new grads to submit an application to QECO as soon as you’re eligible to do so, to obtain a formal compensation assessment.

Once your application has been assessed, QECO will provide a letter along with a breakdown of what courses you would need to take to climb the pay scale and/or reach category A4 (the top of the scale).  At this stage, we would be more than happy to provide you with additional guidance.

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Preparing for Leadership Roles

Are there courses available for educators who may want to move from classroom experience to administrative roles in school boards?

Yes! Junior Basic – Focus on Administration is often taken by educators looking to transition from the classroom to roles of leadership, such as becoming a principal. There may be other providers that offer other AQ courses that support a similar transition.

What AQ courses should I take if I want to become a Principal in the future?

Here is a general overview of the PQP requirements:

  • Certificate of Qualification in Good Standing
  • Basic Qualifications in 3 divisions (one of which MUST be the Intermediate division)
  • One of the following:
    • A Master’s degree OR
    • 2 Specialists OR
    • a half Master’s (15 post-graduate credits) and 1 Specialist
  • 5 years of successful teaching experience signed by your Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent

Important Note: the MT and MA-CSE programs combine an initial teacher education program with a master’s degree. Please note that we cannot double dip and have this count as both towards the PQP.

Feel free to connect with us should you wish to create a learning plan to help you meet the pre-requisites for the PQP.

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More questions?

If you have any questions or need guidance, you can email us anytime to speak with a professional learning advisor at or connect with us on our social channels for news, future events and possible opportunities that spark your interest.

Additional Reading: As a Teacher Education graduate, you may be interested in reading about alternative professional pathways you may not yet have considered.

Graduates of Teacher Education programs can explore career opportunities that go far beyond the classroom


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