Top Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is required to teach in the State of Illinois public schools?

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

A teaching license issued by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) based on

  • Completion of a bachelor's degree,
  • Completion of a state approved licensure program at an institution of higher education,
  • Completion of coursework related to the exceptional child, particularly the learning disabled, reading methods, reading in the content area, English language learners
  • Passing all state-required licensure tests, and
  • Recommendation for licensure from the higher education institution.

2. Can an individual who is certified in another state obtain a corresponding Illinois license and endorsement?

Yes. In most cases, an individual who holds a valid certificate from another state, territory or country can obtain a corresponding Illinois license upon submission of appropriate documentation and passage of the relevant tests/courses. Information on specific requirements for out-of-state teachers, administrators and school service personnel is available through the State Board of Education and/or a Regional Office of Education.

3. Are there ways for a person with a degree in another field to obtain a Professional Educator License in Illinois? Can it be done without completing a regular or traditional program or earning another degree?

Illinois law authorizes higher education institutions to develop and, with state approval, provide alternative routes to licensure programs. Although these programs are designed to provide a faster way to obtain licenses, the programs must address the same standards as required for "regular" route programs.

NIU does not offer alternative licensure at this time. 

4. Are there opportunities to teach in Illinois without a Professional Educator License?

State law allows individuals to teach in non-public and charter schools without a teaching license. However, many of these schools choose to require that some or all of their teachers hold such relevant licensure.

State law also allows individuals who do not hold a teaching license to teach on a substitute license. Substitute licenses may be issued to individuals who meet the general requirements for certification in Illinois; i.e., be 19 years of age, be a citizen of or legally present in the United States, and have good character and sound health; and have either a bachelor's degree or two years of teaching experience plus 60 hours of college credit, including six semester hours of professional education courses.

Substitute licenses are also issued to individuals who meet the general requirements for certification and have a license valid for teaching in the public schools.

Some individuals who do not have a license may be eligible for a transitional bilingual education certificate. This license has a limited period of validity during which the holder must work toward full licensure. It is available to individuals who have a bachelor-equivalent degree from the U.S. or a foreign country; or who have held a valid certificate or comparable teaching authorization from another state, territory or foreign country; and who can meet specified language requirements in English and another language.

For more information, contact a Regional Office of Education or the State Board of Education.

5. Does a master's degree certify a person to teach in a public school?

No, an Illinois teaching license is required. However, some master's degree programs provide opportunities for acquiring Illinois teacher licensure.

6. Is a master's degree required to teach in the State of Illinois?


7. What is a "highly-qualified" teacher in Illinois and how does a teacher earn that status?

In response to the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 , the State Board of Education has established criteria for teachers to be considered "highly-qualified." The state criteria are aligned with the federal requirements and are intended to provide educators and school districts with guidance for assuring that all teachers in core academic subjects are "highly-qualified" in each area of teaching responsibility by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. To learn more, please refer to Part 25, Appendix D of the State Board Administrative Rules.

8. In which areas of education is an individual most likely to get a job? What areas of licensure are in high demand?

Demand for teachers and education specialists depends on many factors, including region of the state, district type and size, district finances, prior year turnover, etc. However, in general, there is a strong and continuing need for special education teachers and other specialists such as speech-language therapists; bilingual education and ESL teachers; school service personnel (counselors, social workers and psychologists); remedial reading teachers; and math and science teachers. There is also an increasing need for superintendents and principals.

Although there is a need for general classroom or self-contained elementary teachers in some districts, the overall supply of elementary teachers exceeds the demand in any given area. Prospective elementary teachers may want to talk with an advisor about the pros and cons of seeking certification in subjects other than, or in addition to, elementary education.

The State Board of Education regularly studies the supply and demand for various types of educators in Illinois. For more information, please refer to the Educator Supply and Demand in Illinois.

9. I want to teach outside of the State of Illinois. How do I find out what is required in other states?

The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) website provides links to the licensure departments in all states and territories.

10. I want to teach in another state. How do I prove that I completed an approved NIU program?

Complete a State-Approved Program Verification Form 70-05 provided by the ISBE, or contact the board of education in the state you choose to teach in for their required forms.