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Licensure is required to teach in any Illinois public school. Elementary Teaching students earn a master's degree and Professional Educator License (PEL) with an endorsement to teach all general classroom subjects at the elementary level (grades 1-6). Students with a sufficient undergraduate background in a core subject can pursue a Middle Grades endorsement in that subject (grades 5-8).

Licensure Tests

Elementary Teaching students must take a content area test through the Illinois Licensure Testing System. You can find test dates and register for the test on the ILTS website. You are responsible for your own test registration fees.

Access Teacher Licensure Program Exam Pass Rates.

Content-Related Course Work 

Elementary teachers must have a broad background in several different subject areas, as they are responsible for teaching all subject areas to their students. Content-area licensure requirements are considered additional degree requirements beyond the core master's degree curriculum. They are to be taken at Northwestern, unless approved by petition.

License Requirements by Content Area

Elementary Teaching (general classroom, grades 1-6)

Natural sciences: Coursework covering each of the following three areas:

  • physical science
  • life science
  • earth and space/astronomy science

Math: 2 courses (math or statistics only; linguistics, logic, and other non-math "quantitative" courses will not satisfy this requirement)

Social/Behavioral Science: Coursework covering at least four of the following areas:

  • history
  • economics
  • political science
  • geography

Literature/Fine Arts: 2 courses

Education-Related Course Work

You don't need to have any background in education coursework upon entry to the MSEd Program. The MSEd curriculum will satisfy all state-required education coursework. This includes observations, student teaching, and portfolio creation.

Licensure Portfolio

During your engaged practicum in the MSEd program, you will build a licensure portfolio. This includes artifacts such as lesson plans, videos, and assessments from classes you've taught. You will reflect on and analyze your work, your present development and your understanding of learning and teaching. You will not be eligible for student teaching until your portfolio has been approved.

Other Issues Related to Licensure 

Professional licensure and certification disclosures

Federal regulations require Northwestern University to publicly disclose, for each educational program designed to meet educational requirements for a specific professional license or certification required for employment in an occupation (or advertised as meeting those requirements), information about whether program completion would meet those requirements in a state.

These disclosures are posted on Northwestern's consumer information web page.

Teaching outside of Illinois

Most states recognize other states' teaching licenses. The following portal provides links to the 50 states' boards of education. If you plan to teach outside of Illinois after graduating, you may want to investigate the target state's requirements. Note that even if you never teach in Illinois, you must first get an Illinois PEL before transferring your license to another state.

Transcripts from schools outside the U.S.

If you earned an undergraduate degree outside the United States, you must submit your transcripts to a private transcript evaluation service approved by the Illinois State Board of Education before applying to the program. A list of the approved transcript evaluation services is available on the Illinois State Board of Education's website under "International Resources."