Elementary Teaching

Elementary Teaching

Secondary Teaching


SESP’s interdisciplinary elementary teaching concentration combines subject-area courses in the fields of Physical, Life, and Earth and Space Sciences, Civics and Government, Economics, Geography, Literature and Fine Arts, Historical Studies, and Mathematics/Statistics chosen from SESP and the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences with courses in child and adolescent development, and elementary education theory and methods. In addition to the elementary teaching concentration-specific requirements, such as foundational, concentration cluster, and methods courses, elementary teaching candidates must also complete SESP’s Core courses, electives, distribution requirements, global engagement overlay, and Heterogeneities, Systems and Inequalities overlay. The program leads to an Illinois Professional Educator license as well as a bachelor of science in education and social policy degree.  The degree is 42 units. 

Similar to the other SESP concentrations, which have a four unit practicum in the third year, elementary teaching students must complete a one-quarter student teaching internship in the last year while enrolled in TEACH_ED 387-0 Student Teaching: Elementary.

Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences students who wish to pursue elementary teaching licensure must apply to the program by the fall of their third year and complete the requirements of the elementary teaching concentration. They also must complete the degree requirements of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. 

Students must also complete the Undergraduate Registration Requirement and the degree requirements of their home school.

At a Glance—42 units

  • Distribution requirements—10 units 
  • SESP core— 8 units 
  • Foundations Courses – 5 units 
  • Concentration Cluster Courses – 11 units 
  • Electives— 8 units 

Plus the SESP Overlay Requirements: Global Engagement, Methods in Context, and Heterogeneity, Systems, and Inequalities 

Plus additional licensure requirements of:*

  • History courses taken through the historical studies distribution requirement 
  • Literature courses taken through the literature and fine arts distribution requirement
  • Math and statistics courses taken through SESP 210-0 and 1 formal studies distribution requirement
  • Physical science, life science, and earth and space science courses; 2 of these courses can be taken through the natural science distribution requirements, 1 course is a part of the concentration course requirement. 
*All licensure requirements are included in the 42 units needed for the degree.

For a full description of coursework and requirements to complete the Bachelor of Science in Education and Social Policy Degree with a concentration in Elementary Teaching, please visit the Undergraduate Academic Catalog with attention to the About and Programs tabs.

Teacher Preparation Program 

Students who wish to be licensed as teachers must apply to the SESP Teacher Preparation 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. 

Application and Admission 

Students apply to the Teacher Preparation 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, Historical Studies, and Mathematics/Statistics chosen from SESP and the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Additional admissions requirements include two letters of recommendation and responses to selected essay prompts. Students must be eligible for entrance to the program no later than the end of fall quarter of their third year. 

Clinical Experience 

Students in the Teacher Preparation 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 the Teacher Preparation 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 TEACH_ED 377-0 Theory and Practice of Teaching: Elementary Teaching and the Elementary methodology courses TEACH_ED 311-0 Elementary Science Methods,TEACH_ED 312-0 Elementary Social Studies MethodsTEACH_ED 323-0 Elementary Literacy Methods & Content, and TEACH_ED 326-0 Elementary Math: Methods and Content.

To be eligible for student teaching, students must have successfully completed the applicable 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 377-0 Theory and Practice of Teaching: Elementary Teaching, earned a passing score on the applicable ILTS Content-Area Test, fulfilled minimum GPA requirements for student teaching, completed 9 elementary 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 (TEACH_ED 387-0 Student Teaching: Elementary). 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. 

Other Licensure Requirements 

In addition to successful completion of the clinical experiences, all teacher candidates must successfully complete the Teacher Performance Assessment, at the end of the practicum. 

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 Teacher Preparation 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. Teacher Preparation Program graduates who are recommended, but do not apply for certification upon graduation may not be eligible for certification 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.

After SESP

Graduates at the elementary level are prepared to become self-contained general education classroom teachers in grades 1-6. Some students may pursue work in administrative roles in school districts or move into education-related non-classroom jobs. 

Contact Us

Student Affairs Office

School of Education and Social Policy

Walter Annenberg Hall
2120 Campus Drive, Suite 123
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University

Phone: 847/491-3790

Email: sespsao@northwestern.edu