Teacher Certification

Summary of the Program

Currently students are required to take three (3) tests in order to complete their certification program and earn their Initial Teaching License (Type 09).  Those tests are:

  • Basic Skills Test: This exam must be taken and passed prior to admission into the program, which is concurrent with acceptance to ILAS 301.
  • Content Area test in the candidate's major: This exam must be taken and passed prior to enrolling in HIST 400: The Student Teaching Experience.
  • Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT): This exam must be taken and passed prior to being awarded your license)

While students indicate that they wish to have their scores sent to Northern Illinois University, they must also provide the History / Social Sciences Teacher Certification Office with a paper copy.  Information about the state certification exams and study guides may be obtained through the Illinois Certification Testing System's page on Study Guides.

Students can register to take any of the above listed required exams through the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS)  website

TB Testing

Prior to a student’s enrollment in their first clinical observation (ILAS 201) a student must provide evidence of a negative result on a tuberculosis (TB) test by an approved medical practitioner.  All students must then provide a new test result on an annual basis for each year of their continued enrollment in the program.  No student will be permitted to be in a secondary school setting without proof of a current and valid test result.

Enrollment in Teaching Methods and Student Teaching

Every effort will be made to accommodate all students admitted to the program.  However, enrollment is limited in the clinical courses and in both the teaching methods class and the student teaching experience.  Therefore, the department will give preference on the basis of grade point averages, number of hours completed at NIU, and hours left for completion of the program.  Once admitted, the certification office will schedule students for a particular semester of teaching methods which, after successful completion, will be followed by the final semester of student teaching.  It is important to note that all course work for certification and/or degree completion MUST be successfully completed BEFORE a student will be allowed to enroll in HIST 400 “Student Teaching.”  The program reserves the right to withdraw a student teaching placement should a student not meet this expectation.

Student Teaching Placements

There are many requirements and considerations taken into account before a student in placed in the final year of the program and in their student teaching placement.  When selecting a potential placement the program takes into account the demands on schools and teachers as well as the criteria imposed by the state for ensuring a diverse and successful clinical experience.  Placement of student teachers is entirely at the discretion of the Coordinator of the program.  Placement of student teachers is coordinated through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and no student may arrange his or her own placement. Students must be prepared to accept any assignment offered to them, either in middle school/junior high school or high school, and also must be prepared to drive long distances.  There are other qualifications and restrictions that will be outlined for students when they apply for their placement.


In order to achieve certification and be recommended by the program for your license, all students will have to maintain and submit a portfolio.  This portfolio will consist of the completed matrices for all ISBE, compiled coursework from a students’ entire academic career (as it relates to the standards) and statements of educational and discipline-specific learning.  Students will be apprised of the portfolio requirements once they are admitted to the program. 

All students are required to present their portfolio and discuss their performance throughout their enrollment in the program at a scheduled exit interview.  Only if the interview/review committee determines that a student has demonstrated that they meet state standards will they be recommended for their license and certification.  Please refer to the program’s webpage for the Portfolio description, requirements, and evaluation rubrics.

Teaching Endorsements

Students who finish the certification program receive a certificate to teach history in grades 6-12 in the state of Illinois.  In general, students who complete the program are endorsed to teach at both the middle school and secondary levels; there may, however, depending upon a student’s particular enrollment choices, be exceptions.

Students who finish the certification program are also eligible, once they have completed the state certification exam for their major area, for teaching "endorsements" in other social science fields or an entirely different discipline.  Endorsements in the social sciences can be qualified for by completing the required state subject content exam for that area:

  • Social Science: Economics (Field 109)
  • Social Science: Geography (Field 113)
  • Social Science: History (Field 114)
  • Social Science: Political Science (Field 117)
  • Social Science: Psychology (Field 118)
  • Social Science: Sociology and Anthropology (Field 121)

Students interested in endorsements in non-social science areas should consult the respective departments.

This description is prepared for the convenience of students seeking secondary teaching certification through the Department of History at NIU.  Students seeking certification should note that procedures and requirements may change and that this description therefore should not be taken as a legal document or as a binding statement of rights and obligations.  Students should always seek counseling and advising from the History/Social Sciences program Advisor and Coordinator before making any decisions or assumptions about their status in the program and their path to completion.