Skip to main content

Teacher Preparation Program

Students who wish to be licensed as teachers must apply to the SESPTeaching, Learning, and Education Program. This program is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. Com­pletion of the courses alone does not result in licensure, nor is licensure required for completion of the SESP degree. The SESP teaching concentrations advisor will advise on the process and timing of application.

Undergraduate Pathways

BSEd in Elementary or Secondary Teaching 

Students will choose between the Elementary (1-6) or Secondary Teaching program within the School of Education & Social Policy (SESP). Students in the Secondary (5-12) program pick a concentration in English, Math, Science, Social Science, or Spanish (PreK-12). Upon completion of the program and all licensure requirements, students will be eligible for the Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL)with an endorsement in Elementary or Secondary Education. ESL and/or Bilingual Education endorsements, as well as additional subsequent endorsements in various subjects, are also available upon completion of coursework and licensure requirements. 

Other Paths to Teacher Licensure  

Northwestern undergraduates in schools other than SESP (i.e. Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences, School of Communications, etc.) have the option to complete requirements for teacher licensure eligibility while staying in their home school.  Please make an appointment with the SESP teaching concentrations advisor, Gabriela Langendorf at 

Accelerated MS in Education & Social Policy 

Northwestern undergraduates can earn their Bachelor’s and then Master’s degree in as little as 1 additional year by completing some coursework towards any of the MSED concentrations including Elementary and Secondary Teaching during their undergraduate studies.  Please make an appointment with the SESP teaching concentrations advisor, Gabriela Langendorf at 

Application and Admission

Students apply to theTeaching, Learning, and Education Program by the fall of their third year. To be admitted, they must have a minimum overall GPA of 2.5 and a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the subject-area courses in the fields of Physical, Life, and Earth and Space Sciences, Civics and Government, Economics, Geography, Literature and Fine Arts, History, and Mathematics/Statistics chosen from SESP and the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. For Secondary Teaching,a minimum GPA of 3.0 in a humanities teaching subject–area or meet an annually calculated and determined GPA in math or science subject-areas is required. Additional admissions requirements include letters of recommendation and responses to selected essay prompts.

Clinical Experience

Students in theTeaching, Learning, and Education Program complete two clinical experiences: a school practicum (typically during fall of the last year); and student teaching (typically during winter of the last year).

To be eligible for the clinical experiences, students must have met the GPA requirements for and been admitted to theTeaching, Learning, and Education Program. Students need to be on track to have completed a minimum of 9 courses in the elementary teaching subject area by the end of the practicum term for placement with a teacher mentor at a local school. Additionally, students must be available to begin the practicum at the start of the field-site placement’s academic school year. Please note that the students’ practicum/student teaching field-site placement can be postponed, stopped or withdrawn due to concerns over a student's health or academic or professional performance.

Clinical experiences gained at the field-site are central to the discussion of methods and theories in the practicum seminar.

For Secondary Teaching the practicum seminar is(TEACH_ED 378-0 or TEACH_ED 375-0 or TEACH_ED 376-0) and methodology courses are (TEACH_ED 355-0TEACH_ED 359-0).  For Elementary Teaching the practicum seminar is  TEACH_ED 377-0 Theory and Practice of Teaching: Elementary Teaching and the Elementary methodology courses are TEACH_ED 311-0 Elementary Science Methods, TEACH_ED 312-0 Elementary Social Studies Methods, TEACH_ED 323-0 Elementary Literacy Methods & Content, and TEACH_ED 326-0 Elementary Math: Methods and Content. 

To be eligible for student teaching, Secondary Teaching students must have successfully completed the applicable TEACH_ED 355-0TEACH_ED 359-0course(s) as well asTEACH_ED 378-0orTEACH_ED 375-0 or TEACH_ED 376-0, To be eligible for student teaching, Elementary Teaching students must have successfully completed Elementary methodology courses TEACH_ED 311-0, TEACH_ED 312-0, TEACH_ED 323-0 Elementary Literacy Methods & Content and TEACH_ED 326-0 Elementary Math: Methods and Content as well as TEACH_ED 377-0Theory and Practice of Teaching: Elementary Teaching.  In addition, to be eligible for student teaching, Secondary and Elementary Teaching students need to earn a passing score on the applicable ILTS Content-Area Test, fulfilled minimum GPA requirements for student teaching, have completed 9 teaching subject–area courses and have been recommended for continuation to student teaching. Most school districts also require a criminal background check.  

Student teaching involves full-time placement in a local school for the entire quarter. Teacher candidates attend an evening seminar.  For Secondary Teaching, this seminar is(TEACH_ED 385-0, TEACH_ED 386-0 or TEACH_ED 388-0). For Elementary Teaching, this seminar is TEACH_ED 387-0 . The internship and seminar together earn 4 units. No other courses are taken concurrently. Teacher candidates are evaluated by their school mentor, a Northwestern supervisor, and the seminar instructor. 

Recommendation for Licensure

Students are recommended for licensure when they successfully complete degree requirements, earn a rating of recommendation for licensure for practicum/student teaching and pass all outside tests as noted above. Although legal requirements for licensure vary from state to state, the SESP Teaching, Learning, and Education Program is flexible enough to permit students who plan carefully to complete provisional requirements for most states. As it is easier to obtain a teaching license in another state through reciprocity than through independent certification, all students who complete the program and are eligible are encouraged to apply for an Illinois license before leaving the state.

Students should apply for the license immediately upon graduation. Teaching, Learning, and Education Program graduates who are recommended, but do not apply for licensure upon graduation may not be eligible for licensure at a later date due to changes in state requirements.

The Illinois School Code has provided that school districts may not knowingly employ individuals who have been convicted of certain offenses (principally those related to sex or drugs). Illinois school districts require applicants to submit to a criminal background check.