Endorsements on Teaching Certificates


Endorsements Issued at the Time of First Certification

The first endorsement on a certificate must be earned through completion of an approved certification program with an area of concentration in the form of a major ( e.g., mathematics endorsement on a secondary certificate).

Additional endorsements can be earned at the time the certificate is issued through completion of either

  • a major in the additional area (32 semester hours or as defined by the institution), or
  • 24 semester hours directly related to the endorsement area, plus passage of the relevant content-area test.

For additional information, please refer to the Guide to Requirements for Certification, Endorsement and Assignment of Teachers, School Service Personnel, and Administrators and the Northern Illinois University Endorsement Application page.


Subsequent Endorsements

Most additional endorsements on an existing certificate require either

  • completion of a major in the field (32 semester hours or as defined by the institution), or
  • completion of 24 semester hours directly related to the endorsement area, plus passage of the content-area test for that area.

Exceptions or "special circumstances" are discussed below.


Special Circumstance - General Elementary Education Endorsement

Individuals who want to teach in a general classroom in kindergarten through grade 9 must

  • complete an elementary education program, including 32 semester hours in elementary education or a major in that field as defined by the institution,
  • pass the elementary education content-area test,
  • be recommended for the general elementary education endorsement by the higher education institution, and
  • pass the elementary education Assessment of Professional Teaching.

Elementary certificate holders who wish to teach in a departmentalized middle grades setting (grades 5-8) must also meet special requirements for teaching at this level. See separate section on middle grades.


Special Circumstance - Science and Social Science Endorsements

The State Board rules for science and social science require that the candidate meet the core standards in the area AND the standards for at least one area of specialization. Thus, all secondary certificates with either a science or social science endorsement must also have a "designation" for each area of specialization.

For example, a candidate who completes an approved program in history will earn a secondary certificate with a social science endorsement and a history designation. A candidate who completes an approved biology program will earn a secondary certificate with an endorsement in science and a designation in biology.

The requirements for a science or social science designation differ based on the candidate's certification status.

  • A candidate for an initial certificate in an area of science or social science must complete an approved program (e.g., science-physics or social science-economics) and pass the corresponding content-area test.
  • A teacher who already holds a certificate with one or more designations in science or social science may add another designation in that field by:
    • Passing the applicable content-area test, or
    • Completing a major in the content-area of the desired designation.

An individual who holds a certificate endorsed in other fields, such as mathematics or English language arts, may add a science or social science endorsement/designation by passing the relevant content-area test (e.g., science-biology) and meeting one of the following requirements:

  • Recommendation by an institution of higher education based on the candidate's completion of coursework within an approved program that is sufficient to meet the standards for that area; or
  • Provide evidence of having 32 semester hours from one or more higher education institutions, at least 12 hours of which must be in the area of desired designation and some portion of the remaining coursework must have addressed at least 2 other areas within the field.

The holder of a science or social science endorsement and designation may teach any subject in the science or social science field, except when the subject is taught as an Advanced Placement (AP) class, or as an "honors" class as defined by the district. Teaching AP or honors classes requires a designation specific to the subject area (i.e., teachers of AP biology must have a science-biology designation).


Special Circumstance - Reading Endorsements

No one may be assigned to teach reading in Illinois, other than reading as part of general classroom instruction or reading instruction in departmentalized grades 5-8, unless he or she holds a reading teacher endorsement or a reading specialist endorsement.

Both reading teachers and reading specialists are authorized to teach reading to students; holders of the reading specialist endorsement may also provide professional development and engage in other leadership activities.

A Reading Teacher endorsement may be earned through completion of a state-approved Reading Teacher program or by meeting specific requirements for coursework and a practicuum. These options, which provide for a period of transition, are outlined in the State Board rules in Part 25.100(i) of the State Board Administrative Rules pdf document.

Requirements for the reading specialist endorsement include two years of teaching experience, completion of an approved K-12 reading specialist program, passage of the reading specialist test and passage of the K-12 Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT), if he or she has not already taken and passed that test.

Candidates participating in a reading specialist program may earn, through entitlement by the institution, a reading teacher endorsement after completion of an identified 24-hour program-within-a-program; this must include a practicum.


Special Circumstance - Foreign Language Endorsement

A candidate for initial certification/endorsement in a foreign language must complete an approved program in a specific language (e.g., French, Spanish, Russian) and pass the relevant tests of content and professional teaching.

A foreign language endorsement may be added to an existing certificate based on evidence that the candidate has either

  • completed a major of 32 semester hours in a specific language, or
  • completed 20 semester hours in a foreign language and passed the content-area test for that area.