Jul 20, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 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 https://teachercertification.niu.edu/educator-licensure/index.shtml.

To teach in a public school in the state of Illinois an individual must possess an Illinois Professional 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 their licensure requirements changed for reasons beyond the university’s control.

A student pursuing licensure should meet with their advisor 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 advisor, the requirements that student must meet in order to be recommended for licensure will not be changed by the advisor 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 advisor, 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 their advisor 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 programs together with the academic department (or departments) at NIU with responsibility for administering each program.

Licensure Program


Academic Department/School

Early Childhood (birth through grade 2)   Special and Early Education
Elementary (1-6)   Curriculum and Instruction
Middle Level (5-8)   Curriculum and Instruction
Secondary (9-12)
Biological Science    Biological Sciences
Chemistry   Chemistry and Biochemistry
Earth and Space Science   Geology and Environmental Geosciences
English   English
Environmental Science   Geology and Environmental Geosciences
Family and Consumer Sciences   Family and Consumer Sciences
Health Education   Health Studies
History   History
Mathematics   Mathematical Sciences
Physics   Physics
Social Science
(Including economics, geography, political science,
psychology, sociology, and anthropology)
Special (K-12)
(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
French   World Languages and Cultures
German   World Languages and Cultures
Music   Music
Physical Education   Kinesiology and Physical Education
Spanish   World Languages and Cultures
Special Education (Pre-K - age 21)
Learning Behavior Specialist I   Special and Early Education
Visual Impairments   Special and Early Education


Students who wish to pursue more than one endorsement must complete the NIU program requirements for each endorsement. Additional 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, 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. Educator licensure requirements are deemed to be met only by obtaining a grade of C or better in courses using traditional A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, D, F grading or an S in those professional or clinical courses in which S/U grading is used. An S is the equivalent to a C or better and a U is equivalent to a D or lower in educator licensure courses using S/U grading. In those courses in which S/U grading basis is applicable, the use of S and U will apply to all students registered in any class section in which S/U grading is employed. Individual students may not elect S and U grading. 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.
  • Candidates must take and pass any state mandated tests prior to student teaching (test may vary by program).
  • Successful completion of the state mandated Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA).
  • 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 endorsement requires the student to complete professional education courses.

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

The courses are listed in the specific department sections of this catalog.

Student Teaching

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Students must apply in advance for student teaching. (See the department advisor 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 advisor.

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.

For initial educator licensure and advanced programs with students who do not hold current employment in a school or district: Students should contact the school district office of their placement site to confirm the location and availability and to determine how to proceed to obtain an FBI finger-print based CBC. Students should follow the district’s policies and use their preferred provider and payment options. Students need to be aware that a new CBC will be required for each new district they will be placed at for a clinical or student teaching placement. This means there will be a charge for each new CBC required.

Students need to be aware there are potential consequences of having any criminal history. This FBI-mandated change means schools will now be the owners of the CBC information, and they will decide whether or not a conviction warrants exclusion from their schools and classrooms. Schools have the option of rejecting candidates based on their criminal history.

Contact your advisor for further details.

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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