Since its opening in 1899 as Northern Illinois Normal School, the purpose of educating teachers has been central to the mission of Northern Illinois University.
At NIU, teacher certification is distributed among four of the seven colleges — a unique model that ensures that all teaching candidates are not only provided with a solid grounding in educational theory and methodology, but are also given the opportunity to develop a depth and breadth of knowledge in their subject areas.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provides programs leading to Illinois Type 09 (Grades 6-12) certification in the eight subject areas listed on the right hand side of this page. All certification programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are designed to meet the state requirements for a middle school endorsement as well.
In general, secondary certification is earned through completion of an approved program with a major in the field the candidate wishes to teach, as well as a number of courses focusing on educational philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy. Program advisors guide candidates through their departments' specific certification requirements.
Teacher certification candidates in CLAS complete at least 130 hours of clinical experience in high schools and middle schools before they begin their student teaching semesters. These hours are completed in conjunction with clinical courses, during which candidates discuss their experiences in the schools with experienced educators and their peers, and complete assignments based upon their clinical visits. These courses provide candidates with extensive practical experience working with students in a variety of instructional settings and learning environments.
As the culmination of their rigorous program of study, teacher candidates complete a semester of student teaching under the guidance of experienced cooperating teachers in the secondary schools. After an initial phase-in period, student teachers assume all of the responsibilities of their cooperating teachers. Our student teachers are placed at schools all over the northern Illinois area (we work with hundreds of schools and districts) and receive visits approximately every two weeks by their university supervisors.
After completing student teaching, our candidates can establish a credential file, have their resumes and cover letters reviewed, participate in practice interviews, and attend educator job fairs through NIU's Career Services. They will also benefit from the extensive network of NIU alumni currently serving as teachers and administrators in school districts throughout the state (one in four district superintendents in Illinois is a graduate of NIU).