Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Student teacher assisting student reading textbook
What is required to teach in the State of Illinois public schools?

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 and English language learners.
  • Passing all state-required licensure tests.
  • Recommendation for licensure from the higher education institution.

For additional information, please refer to the ISBE Educator Licensure Requirements and the Northern Illinois University Endorsement Application.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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.

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.

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.

Licensure at NIU

Does NIU offer alternative routes to teacher licensure?

No alternative route programs are being offered at this time.

What reading credentials are available through NIU?

NIU offers a Reading Specialist licensure program and can also recommend for the Reading Teacher endorsement any candidate who completes 24 specifically-identified hours of coursework within that program.

NIU does not offer a separate reading teacher endorsement program. Candidates for that endorsement are expected to enroll in a reading specialist program and earn the endorsement as described above.

What social science designations are available through NIU?

The following social science designations are available:

  • History
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology/Anthropology
What science designations are available through NIU?

The following social science designations are available:

  • Biology.
  • Chemistry.
  • Earth and Space Science.
  • Environmental Science.
  • Physics.
What foreign language licensure programs are offered by NIU?

The foreign language licensure program is available for French, German and Spanish.

Does NIU provide any special programs to assist Provisional Bilingual License holders earn full licensure?

Yes, NIU works with a number of school districts in the region to help their Provisional Bilingual License holders attain full licensure. Typically, this is through a cohort of candidates who come from one district or area and who go through the program together. For more information, contact the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

What is NIU's policy on transfer credit from another four-year institution in Illinois? From an institution outside of Illinois? From outside the United States?

NIU welcomes candidates from other institutions and countries. Interested candidates should review NIU's transfer admissions information and then consult with an advisor in your program of choice.

Does NIU have any teacher licensure requirements in addition to those required by the State of Illinois?

NIU teacher licensure candidates are required to successfully complete coursework which contributes directly to an awareness of cultural diversity. Additional requirements may be defined by the individual department or college.

Why does NIU require coursework related to students with disabilities?

This is a state law.

I have a bachelor's degree. Will I need to earn another degree to earn a license at NIU?

Not necessarily. Each licensure program at NIU has specific requirements. However, certification can be earned by:

  • Completion of an approved program as a postgraduate/postbaccalaureate earning a second bachelor's degree.
  • Completion of an approved program as a student-at-large without completing a second bachelor's degree.
  • Completion of an approved program through a master's degree.

Find out more about initial teacher licensure programs or general requirements information.

Will I be able to complete a teacher preparation program at NIU in four years?

NIU is committed to working with undergraduate students to design their course of study so they will be able to complete their degree and licensure work in four years. However, individual circumstances vary so greatly that it is impossible to guarantee the length of time each person will need to complete their program. Candidates are encouraged to work with their advisors to plan the most efficient course of study.

How do I make an appointment with an advisor?

Find your advisor from the programs listed by license.

How can I get my transcripts evaluated to identify what is needed to obtain a subsequent teaching endorsement through NIU?

Candidates who wish to obtain a subsequent endorsement will need to submit:

  • Official transcripts from accredited institutions of higher education where the individual has taken coursework or clinical experiences.
  • Evidence of prior teaching experience and teaching performance.
  • Evidence of other relevant professional experiences.

There is a modest fee for the review of these materials. For more information, prospective candidates should read NIU's policy on subsequent endorsements and contact advisors in the program of choice.

What advanced programs provided by NIU require a teaching license?

Applicants for the following advanced programs must hold a valid Illinois teaching license: principal and superintendent, reading and media specialists.

The following advanced programs do not require a teaching license: school psychologist, speech-language pathologist and school counselor and chief school business official.

What is the "School Counselor Intern" approval?

This approval was adopted by the State Board of Education to allow a district to employ a school counseling student while he or she is completing the internship requirements. NIU students and candidates should talk about this option with an advisor in the school counseling program.

How much does it cost to attend NIU?

The cost of a college education includes tuition, fees, housing and/or travel and many other variables. Specific information about these costs can be obtained from the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office.

State law requires that Illinois residents enrolling for the first time at NIU (or other state university) as degree-seeking undergraduate students in or after the fall semester, 2004, be charged a fixed tuition rate schedule for four continuous years, beginning with their initial enrollment. This will help candidates plan for the costs of obtaining a license through NIU.

Does NIU provide any financial aid for prospective teachers?

Northern Illinois University assists students in obtaining financial aid through a variety of financial aid programs and provides financial aid for students through a variety of scholarship and loans. Individuals who want specific information should visit the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office or contact the office in person or by email. Prospective teachers may consult with advisors in their departments and/or contact the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

Does NIU have job placement or similar services available to its education graduates?

For educator employment resources, visit Career Services.

In addition to these formal programs and services, most educator candidates are able to obtain information about job opportunities from their departments. School districts and other employers in Illinois and surrounding states frequently contact NIU to advertise their need for certain kinds of candidates. However, because NIU is known for the quality of its educators, the colleges also receive job announcements from across the nation and the world.

How does a person obtain verification of completion of a licensure program at NIU?

Persons needing verification that they have completed an educator preparation program at NIU can request a completed State-Approved Program Verification form from the Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation, Williston #320, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115. The phone number for this office is 815-753-0846 or 815-753-0847.

Licensure and Endorsements

What is the difference between a license and an endorsement?

A "license" is required for an individual to teach in an Illinois public school.

An "endorsement" is a descriptor that is placed on a license to identify and limit the specific areas in which the individual is qualified to teach in conjunction with that license.

For example, a candidate who completes a secondary licensure program in mathematics will receive a license endorsed in secondary mathematics (grades 9-12). If that person later meets the requirements for an endorsement in English Language Arts, the new endorsement would be added to the license.

How can an individual obtain more information about licensure and preparation programs in Illinois?

There are three primary sources of information: the educator preparation institutions, the Regional Offices of Education, and the State Board of Education.

The best strategy is to secure general information about licensure and preparation opportunities and then meet with a knowledgeable person at the institution and/or Regional Office of Education to explore individual interests, needs and circumstances.

What is the Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS)?

The Illinois State Board of Education maintains an electronic file on each Illinois license holder. Upon admission to a licensure program, you should create an ELIS account by going to the ISBE website and selecting ELIS/Educator Credentials at the top. Go through Educator Access and then choose "Sign Up Now" on the left side to create an account for the first time. This step is free of charge.

Subsequently, educators may access their personal files through ELIS to check that ISBE has received test results and transcripts. After the licensure program is completed, an entitlement for a license and the program's associated endorsements will appear in ELIS. The educator will then apply for and register the license/endorsements via ELIS. There are fees associated with these steps.

Employers will be able to check an educator's credentials in ELIS to affirm he/she has a license with appropriate endorsements and areas in which they are "highly qualified." The general public (for example, parents of school children) will also have limited access to view an educator's credentials via ELIS.


When do I complete the edTPA?

You will complete your edTPA during your student teaching experience.

What score do I have to earn in order to get my teaching license in Illinois?

In 2018-2019 the passing score in the state of Illinois is 39 or above. In 2019-2020 and beyond the passing score in the state of Illinois is 41 or above.

How long will it take to get my scores back?

Scores are normally sent to the candidates three weeks after submission.

The handbooks mention using the "lesson plan template" when writing our lesson plans for the edTPA. Does that mean there is a required lesson plan format that we have to follow when writing our lesson plans?

The "lesson plan template" referred to in the handbooks is more like a writable form that you will paste your lesson plans and other instructional materials in. The edTPA has no required lesson plan formats; however, your program may require you to use a specific lesson plan format for this assessment.

Do I need to leave the guided information and questions in the edTPA templates and begin answering the questions below, or where it says "Start Response Here"?

Yes. Please begin your response AFTER the question/instructions. Be sure to put your answers in between the brackets { }. The questions must be left in the template so the scorers will know what question you are responding to.

What do I need to capture in my TPA video clips?

Each program area has its own specific requirements for video clip content. Refer to your program's edTPA Handbook for video specifications.

Can students copy and paste their materials into the Live Versions of the TPA handbooks?

No. Candidates submit their materials for each edTPA task in Pearson provided TEMPLATES, not in the Live Handbooks. Most NIU teacher licensure programs will supply you with the templates. You can also find them on the Pearson edTPA website. When visiting the Pearson website and clicking on one of the downloadable ZIP files for the handbooks, both the handbook PDF file and various Microsoft Word template files will come up. The Microsoft Word templates are "fillable forms" in which students will cut and paste their plans, materials, reflections, etc.

Do candidates need to submit their edTPAs separately to their professors or can faculty access student TPAs on the Pearson ePortfolio system at any time to grade them?

The Pearson system will allow faculty to go into students' edTPAs and review/comment on their work, but must be done while students are still working on their Tasks (BEFORE it is submitted for scoring by Pearson). If a faculty member has time to review students' work on the edTPA before they push the "submit" button, then faculty do not have to ask candidates to submit the edTPA to them separately. Check with your program faculty to make sure you are following their recommendations.

What should candidates do with all of the permission forms they receive from their students? Do they need to be collected and filed away?

Faculty should collect and file all original permission forms collected for the edTPA. You should also keep a copy for yourself. Ultimately you are responsible for making sure the video is never shared publicly. All students and adults that appear in the video must sign a video permission form.

How can faculty verify that a candidate has submitted the edTPA?

Faculty members may contact the associate director edTPA for the NIU University Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation at The associate director will be able to confirm dates of registration and submission by candidates.

May the cooperating teacher or university supervisor assist the student in the production of the edTPA?

The assistance must be minimal. They cannot tell candidates what to say in their edTPA or edit their writing. They may not suggest specific changes, instead, they should ask good questions.

If I teach a co-taught class may the cooperating teacher appear in the video segments?

Yes, however the teacher candidate must take the lead role in planning, instruction and assessment for the learning segment. The candidate must explain the classroom dynamics in the Context for Learning document.

May I edit the video? No. All video segments selected for submission should be continuous with no breaks, additions or deletions.

Cooperating Teacher

Who can use the instructional waivers?

Many districts award the instructional waivers to the teachers/professionals directly responsible for the students' field experiences. However, waivers are valid for use by the district's professional employees as defined in the district/institutional agreement and many districts have alternative policies. "Professional employees" shall be defined as teacher aides and substitute teachers who have worked a minimum of 20 days during the past academic year for the district. Please check with your district office to determine the policy for waiver allocation.

How and when are waivers allocated?

Waivers are allocated based on a contractual formula and Institutional Agreement on file with each district; the actual waiver hours awarded vary by the type and/or length of the course for which they are earned. The waivers are sent directly to the district and the agreement allows each district to distribute the waivers as it deems appropriate. The waivers are sent out to the districts the week of November 15th for the spring semester and April 15th for the fall semester.

What do the instructional waivers cover?

Waivers will cover the instructional portion of tuition for the number of hours awarded. It does not cover any cost recovery, international programs, registration fees, student fees or related fees that may apply. All such fees are the responsibility of the student. Currently, a one-hour instructional waiver equates to $357.00 for graduate courses.

When can I submit waivers?

Waivers should be submitted only after a student has enrolled in a class for that current semester. Please do not submit any waivers in advance of being registered for a course or for a future semester. Waivers must be submitted no later than the last day of the term the course was taken.

Where do I send the completed instructional waiver forms?

Anyone using a waiver must first send the completed waiver form to their district and then the district will send the originals to the University Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation (UOELP).

Completed tuition instructional forms can be sent to UOELP. They should be sent either electronically or by fax.

Electronic submission:
Fax submission: 815-753-1848

What is an estimated turn-around time for the processing of completed waiver forms?

Completed waiver forms are usually assigned an instructional waiver number within 48 hours of its receipt by UOELP. The waivers are then sent to the Office of the Bursar to be credited to the student's account. The waiver credit is usually entered within another 48 hours, with the exception of holiday periods (please note that NIU closes for two weeks in late December and January).

Why do I have to pay late fees?

Anything received after NIU's posted payment due dates will be charged a late fee; late fees are charged to an account when the instructional waivers have not been received before the scheduled payment due date or if there is not a zero balance on the student's account, meaning they have not paid any fees or other related charges. Payment due dates can be found at the Office of the Bursar.

If a student does not have a zero balance at the time the waiver is posted he/she will still incur late charges for any unpaid balance that remains. A zero balance means all fees and other charges have been paid.

Where do I check to see if my waiver has been credited to my account?

Students can view their accounts via MyNIU at any time. Please visit and click on "MyNIU" in the top, right navigation line and follow the links to log into the system.

Please note: The Office of the Bursar does not refund any money for unused portions of a waiver.

Contact Us

Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation
Williston Hall 320