Future Teacher Candidates

Student teacher smiles to young students

Your path to becoming a teacher begins with being admitted to NIU. You'll then select the program you wish to pursue and work to meet its requirements. You'll also need to pass required tests in order to obtain your teaching license. Read more about the process below.

Get Started

Before you can be admitted to a specific licensure program, you must first be accepted for admission by the university.

Each department offering a licensure program establishes its own program admission requirements. However, all candidates for initial licensure must have at least a 2.5 grade point average.

NIU gladly welcomes students transferring from other schools, states and countries. Transfer students should view the transfer admissions requirements, get an idea of how their credits will transfer and consult with an advisor in the program of choice.

Your Student Classification
If you already have a bachelor's degree and are seeking a master's degree or doctorate, you are a graduate student.
If you are seeking a second bachelor's degree, you are a postbaccalaureate student.
If you are not seeking a degree, but wish to complete coursework for a certificate or professional development, you can enroll as a student-at-large.
Your Program Goals

If you are seeking an initial license, you must first be accepted for admission by the university and meet the criteria relevant to your student classification.

If you are seeking an advanced license, you must:

  • Be at least 19 years of age, of good character, in sound health, and a citizen of or legally present in the United States.
  • Already hold a bachelor's degree from a recognized institution.
  • Have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 (some programs require higher GPAs).
  • Complete the requirements for the state-approved, standards-based licensure program, including the "major area of specialization" for the area in which the certificate is sought.
  • Complete clinical experiences plus an internship or practicum as designated by the program.
  • Pass the relevant test(s) of subject matter knowledge.

You must also meet specific program requirements as established for the licensure area. These requirements differ significantly, so candidates should seek additional information through your program advisor.

Choose Your Licensure Program

If you already know which licensure program you'd like to pursue, the next step is to meet with your program advisor to develop a plan to obtain your desired teaching endorsements.

Read our mandated disclosures for an estimate of the costs involved in becoming a teacher. Please note that while student teaching, you will be enrolled for a full-time courseload and it is strongly encouraged that you do not hold any other employment.

Staying on Track

After you're accepted into a licensure program, you need to meet certain requirements in order to stay in it. In general, these requirements include:

  • Maintaining a certain GPA.
  • Having good character and being in sound mental and physical health.
  • Demonstrating the skills, attitudes and behaviors necessary for working with children and/or adolescents.

Each program determines the specific requirements for retention in its licensure program. Contact your program advisor for more information.

Required Testing

As a candidate for licensure, you need to pass tests that measure your knowledge and skills in relation to educator standards. The Illinois Licensure Testing System has two components:

  • Content Area Tests evaluate your knowledge in specific subject areas, such as elementary education or general administration. You need to pass the test(s) before you can student teach.
  • The edTPA (or APT, if you finished student teaching before Aug. 31, 2015) assesses your readiness to teach. It focuses on your impact on student engagement and learning.

NIU offers programs to help you get ready for these important tests. Check in with your program advisor about how to prepare for and schedule your tests.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) provides information about licensure testing, including dates, locations and costs. Their website also includes links to study guides and other materials.

Additional Requirements

Contact Us

Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation
Williston Hall 320