Secondary Education Certification

Philosophical Foundation

The teacher preparation program at Northwestern University is approved by the State of Illinois. While subject to state requirements, the program at Northwestern is based on a philosophical foundation known as the Conceptual Framework.

It is also important to become familiar with the Illinois Professional Standards for Teachers as well as the Content Standards for the subject you intend to teach.

View the Illinois Content Area Standards for Educators webpage 


All teacher candidates must apply to the teacher preparation program, including SESP Secondary Teaching students. Application to the program occurs in the term that teacher candidates enroll in Teach Ed 304: Schooling in Communities, but no later than the first week of October of the junior year. Students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA as well as a 3.0 average in their subject area (major). Additionally, program candidates must have had a minimum of 25 hours working with middle school/high school-aged students as a tutor, coach, mentor, etc.

As a teacher candidate, you will be required to take and pass the Subject Test and the edTPA.

Download this PDF To see the institutional pass rate information on Illinois testing requirements.

Applying for the Teaching License

Students enrolled in the program who are recommended for certification become eligible for a teaching license upon completion of their degree work and a passing score on state-mandated external exams. Students moving out of state most likely will not be eligible for a license in their home state without first completing all the requirements for the state of Illinois.

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.

State requirements are subject to change. These statements and program completion do not guarantee licensure. Students should review licensure requirements – including non-educational requirements such as certification/examination work experience, background checks, etc. – for the states in which they intend to seek certification/licensure, and students who intend to change states should review their new states’ requirements.

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

To learn more about other states' requirements, click on one of the links below:

Illinois Montana Rhode Island
Alaska Indiana Nebraska South Carolina
Arizona Iowa Nevada South Dakota
Arkansas Kansas New Hampshire Tennessee
California Kentucky New Jersey Texas
Colorado Louisiana New Mexico Utah
Connecticut Maine New York Vermont
Delaware Maryland North Carolina Virginia
D.C. Massachusetts North Dakota Washington
Florida Michigan Ohio West Virginia
Georgia Minnesota Oklahoma Wisconsin
Hawaii Mississippi Oregon Wyoming
Idaho Missouri Pennsylvania Puerto Rico

Looking for a teaching job?

All candidates for teaching positions must have successfully completed the quarter-long practicum, student teaching, and other course requirements for certification as outlined in the program.

When all of the requirements are met, students will petition for certification through the teacher certification office. If eligible for entitlement, students will then be instructed to apply for their certificate electronically through the state's electronic certification system, Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS). This program will allow the new teacher to print a verification of eligibility for employment in Illinois schools and the actual number of the teaching certificate. The certificate itself will be mailed from the State Board of Education Office in Springfield.

The Illinois School Code requires school districts to perform a national fingerprint-based criminal history records check for all certified and non-certified applicants for employment. Certification can be denied or suspended for certain violations specified in the Illinois School Code, including certain felonies and violations of the Cannabis Control Act and the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, as well as other crimes. The criminal history check must be initiated prior to employment, but the individual may be hired and begin employment pending the outcome of the criminal history records check.

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