Environmental Science

Our environmental science licensure program will prepare you to teach the following courses in grades nine to 12 at all levels, including honors and AP:

  • Ecology
  • Environmental science
  • Related science courses

You'll also be able to teach these introductory level classes:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth and space science
  • Physics

The program consists of 36 credits taken over four semesters. If you're an undergraduate student, you'll most likely complete the program during your last two years at NIU, along with your upper-level content classes.

Start Your Application

In order to enter the program, you must be pursuing a bachelor's degree in environmental science with an emphasis in educator licensure at NIU. You're also eligible if you hold a bachelor's degree in a related discipline.

You must also have the following minimum GPA:

  • Undergraduate: cumulative GPA of at least 2.50.
  • Graduate: cumulative GPA of at least 3.00.
  • GPA in all science and math courses must be at least 2.70.

You must complete the following requirements to earn your professional educator licensure with an endorsement in environmental science.


During your clinical placements, you'll complete a minimum of 100 hours of observations in at least three different high school classrooms in the northern Illinois region.

Subject Matter Test

You must successfully pass the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS) content test in environmental science (112) before student teaching.

EdTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment)

You must successfully pass the edTPA during student teaching in order to receive an Illinois teaching license.

Criminal Background Checks

The schools at which you complete your clinicals may require a criminal background check. You will learn how to complete this in your clinical classes.

Health Checks

You must pass a TB test prior to your third semester in the program. TB tests are available for free to NIU students at Health Services and are good for one year.

Required Coursework

In order to earn your license, you must complete all required courses with a grade of C- or better. If you earn a D or F, you must repeat the course.

Contact us for guidance on course requirements if you are a transfer student or if you already earned a bachelor's degree in a related discipline.

You can read detailed descriptions of the following required courses in the NIU catalog. Equivalent courses from other accredited institutions may be substituted at the discretion of the certification advisor.

You may have some flexibility in your courses, as long as selections meet the requirements for environmental science educator certification.

Environmental Science (15 Hours)

  • ENVS 301 Environmental Science (3 hours)
  • ENVS 302  Sustainable Ecosystems (3 hours)
  • ENVS 303 Nature in Society: Environmental Social Sciences and Humanities (3 hours)
  • ENVS 304 Sustainability Governance: The Politics of Environmental Solutions (3 hours)
  • ENVS 305 Green Technologies (3 hours)

Biology (8 Hours)

  • BIOS 208 Fundamentals of Cellular Biology (3 hours), plus BIOS 210 Lab (1 hour)
  • BIOS 209 Fundamentals of Organismal Biology (3 hours), plus BIOS 211 Lab (1 hour)

Chemistry (8 Hours)

  • CHEM 210 General Chemistry I (3 hours), plus CHEM 212 Lab (1 hour)
  • CHEM 211 General Chemistry II (3 hours), plus CHEM 213 Lab (1 hours)

Physics (8 Hours)

  • PHYS 210 General Physics I, including lab (4 hours)
  • PHYS 211 General Physics II, including lab (4 hours)

Math (6-11 Hours)

  • MATH 211 Calculus for Business and Social Science (3 hours) or MATH 229 Calculus I (4 hours) and MATH 230 Calculus II (4 hours)
  • STAT 200 (3 hours)

General Education

Your general education courses must include:

  • Oral communication (3 hours)
  • Written communication (3-6 hours): ENGL 103/104, ENGL 103/203 or ENGL 204
  • Psychology (3 hours)

Electives (12 hours)

  • ANTH 410 - Environmental Archaeology (3 hours)
  • ANTH/ENVS 420 – Waterworlds (3 hours)
  • ANTH 425 Environment and Anthropology (3 hours)
  • ANTH 432 Nature and the Environment Across Cultures (3 hours)
  • ARTH/ENVS 361 - History of Sustainable Design (3 hours)
  • BIOS 406 Conservation Biology (4 hours)
  • BIOS 407 - Restoration Ecology (3 hours)
  • ECON 186 - Introduction to Environmental Economics (3 hours)
  • ECON 386 Environmental Economics (3 hours)
  • ENVS 210 - Introduction to Sustainable Food Systems (3 hours)
  • ENVS 409/BIOS 409X/ EAE 409X Water Quality (4 hours)
  • EAE 253 Environment and Society (3 hours)
  • EAE 303 Water Resources and the Environment (3 hours)
  • EAE 368 Climate Change: Science, Impacts and Mitigation (3 hours)
  • EAE 453 Environmental Management (3 hours)
  • EAE 455 Land Use Planning (3 hours)
  • HIST 377 American Environmental History (3 hours)
  • HIST 389 - Global Climate History (3 hours)
  • MEE 101 Energy and the Environment (3 hours)
  • PHIL 335 Environmental Ethics (3 hours)
  • POLS 324 Politics of Environmental, Health and Safety Regulation (3 hours)
  • TECH 245 Pollution, Pestilence, Prevention and the Cost of Doing Business (3 hours)
  • TECH 484 Energy Management (3 hours)
  • WGSS/ENVS 435 – Gender and the Environment (3 hours)

In most cases, you'll take licensure courses during the last four semesters before graduation. You'll be able to take upper-level content courses at the same time. During your final semester in the program, your entire schedule will consist of student teaching.

First Semester (Fall)

  • ILAS 201 Introductory Clinical Experience (30 hours of observation, 1 credit)
  • EPS 406 Human Development and Learning, Middle School and High School (3 credits)
  • ENVS 403x Nature of Scientific Inquiry (2 credits)

Second Semester (Spring)

  • ILAS 301 Second Clinical Experience (30 hours of observation, 1 credit)
  • LTIC 420 Methods and Materials for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (3 credits)
  • ENVS 414x Interdisciplinary Teaching of Science in Secondary Education (3 credits)
  • EPS 452: Classroom Management

Third Semester (Fall)

  • ENVS 401 Pre-student teaching clinical (40-plus hours of observation, 2 credits)
  • ENVS 416 Methods in Teaching Environmental Science (3 credits)
  • SESE 457 Integrating Exceptional Students in the Regular Classroom (3 credits)

Fourth Semester (Spring)

  • ENVS 428 Student Teaching (12 credits)