Jul 23, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 

Educator Licensure Information

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The following information is provided as a service to students; educator licensure requirements and procedures are not under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Students seeking initial educator licensure should contact the academic department offering the licensure program (see below). NIU’s Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation answers general questions about state licensure requirements and refers students to the appropriate academic department for specific advising. General NIU educator licensure information is available at www.teachercertification.niu.edu/teachercertification.

To teach in a public school in the state of Illinois an individual must possess an Illinois Professinal Educator License (PEL). NIU offers initial educator licensure programs which are approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). NIU is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Requirements for NIU educator licensure programs are developed by the faculty in the context of state, national, disciplinary standards and requirements. Because students must meet the requirements of state law to be recommended for licensure, a student may find his or her licensure requirements changed for reasons beyond the university’s control.

A student pursuing licensure should meet with his or her adviser to develop a plan of study that will satisfy the licensure requirements as they then exist. Once that plan of study is formally approved by the adviser, the requirements that that student must meet in order to be recommended for licensure will not be changed by the adviser except to the extent that it may be necessary to satisfy changes in state licensure requirements. However, if other aspects of applicable departmental or university requirements are changed, the student may, with the approval of the adviser, modify the plan of study to conform to the new requirements. Because there may be delays in physical publication of new requirements as they are developed, departments and programs will make efforts to disseminate information about changes in requirements by other, more immediate means, including electronic media. A student who becomes aware of discrepancies between an approved licensure program plan of study and other published descriptions of licensure requirements is responsible for contacting his or her adviser to ascertain whether there have been changes in state requirements that will necessitate changes in the plan of study.

Following is a list of ISBE-approved initial educator licensure entitlement programs together with the academic department (or departments) at NIU with responsibility for administering each program.

Licensure Program   Academic Department/School
Early Childhood License (birth through grade 3)   Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences; Special and Early Education
Elementary License (1-6)   Literacy and Elementary Education
Middle School License (5-8)   Literacy and Elementary Education
High School License (9-12)
Biological Science    Biological Sciences
Chemistry   Chemistry and Biochemistry
English   English
Family and Consumer Sciences   Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences
Health Education   Health Studies
History   History
Mathematics   Mathematical Sciences
Physics   Physics
Social Science including economics, geography, political science, psychology, sociology, and anthropology   History
Special License (K-12)
Art (Students with an undergraduate degree must be admitted to the M.S. program in art with a specialization in art education to enter the licensure program.)   Art and Design
Blind and Partially Seeing   Special and Early Education
French   Foreign Languages and Literatures
German   Foreign Languages and Literatures
Learning Behavior Specialist I   Special and Early Education
Music   Music
Physical Education   Kinesiology and Physical Education
Spanish   Foreign Languages and Literatures

Students who wish to pursue more than one educator license must complete the NIU program requirements for each certificate. Endorsements (see “Definitions of Terms Used in This Catalog”) are available for persons interested in broadening their qualification as teachers in conjunction with certain initial educator licensure programs.

Admission to Educator Licensure Programs

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Each department has determined whether enrollment in a degree program is necessary to pursue the educator licensure program(s) administered by that department.

Admission to the university or to a degree program in an academic department, school, or college does not necessarily constitute acceptance into a licensure program. Candidates for admission to an educator licensure program should apply directly to the academic department responsible for administering the program regarding information about admission.

All candidates for admission to educator licensure programs must demonstrate competence in reading, communication, and mathematical skills. Candidates should contact the department responsible for administering the licensure program regarding specific procedures for demonstrating this competence.

University Requirements for Educator Licensure

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These are the minimum university-wide requirements for educator licensure. See also the individual academic departments, because some programs exceed these requirements. Departmental coordinators for educator licensure may require additional course work of individual students to address identified deficiencies in the students’ preparation for teaching.

Common Requirements for Educator Licensure

Upon satisfactory completion of one or more of the above initial educator licensure programs, students will be recommended for licensure. In order to be licensed to teach or supervise in Illinois public schools, a person must be of good character, in sound health, a citizen of the United States, and at least 19 years of age. The following general requirements must be satisfied by all candidates for licensure. (See the academic department for specific information on other requirements.)

  • An overall GPA of 2.50 or above in all course work taken at NIU for admission to and retention in a licensure program. A passing grade is required in all course work taken for educator licensure. Some programs have higher GPA and/or course grade requirements. (See the academic department about specific requirements.)
  • Successful completion of designated clinical experiences, including a minimum of 100 clock hours of approved clinical experience prior to student teaching. These experiences must be gradual and sequential throughout the preparation period.
  • Completion of the requirements for the Illinois State Board of Education approved “Major Area of Specialization” for which the license is sought.
  • An earned baccalaureate degree from a recognized institution.
  • Successful completion of a test of general academic proficiency (TAP) and a test of subject matter knowledge administered by the Illinois Licensure Testing System.
  • Successful completion of course work and/or experience which contributes directly to an awareness of cultural diversity. (See the academic department about meeting this requirement.)

General Education Requirements for Educator Licensure

The university’s general education requirements for educator licensure are met when the general education requirements for an NIU baccalaureate degree have been met. A student who already holds a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, or the equivalent from a recognized foreign institution, is considered to have met the university’s general education requirements for licensure.

Professional Education Requirements for Educator Licensure

Each type of license requires the student to complete professional education courses.

Early Childhood Endorsement
Elementary Endorsement
Middle Grades Endorsement
High School Endorsement
Special Endorsement

The course requirements for the Early Childhood, the Elementary, the Middle Grades, the High School, and the various Special Endorsements are listed in the department sections of this catalog.

Student Teaching

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Students must apply in advance for student teaching. (See the department adviser regarding the time to apply for placement.) Transportation to the student teaching site is the responsibility of the student. In addition to having completed the NIU licensure program requirements, prior to student teaching the graduate student or student-at-large must (a) have earned a minimum of 14 semester hours at NIU and (b) make all arrangements for student teaching through the appropriate department. Students may not make their own arrangements for student teaching sites nor may they request a change once an assignment has been confirmed by the cooperating school. For additional requirements students should see the appropriate department adviser.

Retention in Educator Licensure Programs

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Admission to educator licensure programs does not guarantee continued acceptance unless the student maintains satisfactory grades and other qualifications. A candidate for a student teaching assignment or licensure must have good character, sound mental and physical health, and must demonstrate the skills, attitudes, and behaviors necessary for working with children and/or adolescents, as applicable.

Specific requirements for retention in an initial educator licensure program are determined by the faculty offering that program; students should consult the academic department for information.

Specific degree, content-area, professional education and clinical course work that forms part of an application for licensure, endorsement, or state approval must have been passed with a grade no lower than C, or the equivalent, in order to be counted towards fulfillment of the applicable ISBE requirements. Students must see individual program advisors for the list of courses required.


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A graduate student or student-at-large who wishes to appeal a grade or grades should utilize the current NIU Procedures for Use in Appealing Allegedly Capricious Semester Grades of Graduate-Level Students (Grade Appeal Policy). A student who wishes to appeal a decision regarding admission to, retention in, or completion of an initial educator licensure program should consult with the appropriate college advising office regarding the procedures to be followed.

Criminal Background Check

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Illinois law requires Illinois school boards to conduct a criminal background investigation on applicants for employment. This law also prohibits the employment of any person who has been convicted of committing or attempting to commit any one or more of a number of offenses. At present, offenses include first degree murder; any Class X felony; juvenile pimping; soliciting for a juvenile prostitute; exploitation of a child; obscenity; child pornography; harmful material; criminal sexual assault; aggravated criminal sexual assault; criminal sexual abuse; aggravated criminal sexual abuse; offenses set forth in the Cannabis Control Act; and crimes defined in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. Employment must be denied whether the offenses and/or conviction occurred inside or outside the state of Illinois.

All candidates for Illinois educator licensure through programs under the purview of NIU’s Committee on Initial Teacher Certification are required to submit to a criminal background check by the Illinois State Police prior to their initial field experience in the schools. A student convicted of an aforementioned offense may not be placed in any schools, and NIU will not recommend for licensure a person convicted of an aforementioned offense.

Persons whose criminal background check reveals an offense other than the foregoing may be recommended for clinical placement if, in the judgment of the discipline coordinator, the offense should not disqualify the individual from such placement. In making this judgment, the discipline coordinator will consult with the college licensure office, and will take into account the nature and circumstances of the offense, the lapse of time since it occurred, whether there are repeated offenses, and the nature of the licensure program and of the students that it prepares candidates to teach. An adverse decision may be appealed through the appeal procedure approved by the Committee on Initial Teacher Certification.

Out-of-State Employment in Public Schools

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Other states have similar or additional licensure, licensing, or employment requirements. NIU is not responsible for informing any student of statutes, rules, or regulations which might affect the future licensure or employment of teachers. Students wishing admission to any NIU educator licensure program are responsible for determining their own eligibility for eventual licensure in another state.


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