Secondary Teaching

Secondary Teaching


SESP’s interdisciplinary secondary teaching concentration combines subject-area courses in a chosen field from Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences—biological sciences, chemistry, economics, English, history, mathematics, physics, political science, or Spanish—with courses in child and adolescent development, and secondary education theory and methods. The program leads to an Illinois Professional Educator license and 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, secondary teaching students must complete a one-quarter student teaching internship in the last year while enrolled in TEACH_ED 388-0 Student Teaching: Humanities or TEACH_ED 385-0 Student Teaching Seminar: Math or TEACH_ED 386-0 Student Teaching Seminar: Science.  

Students from Weinberg who want to pursue secondary teaching licensure must apply to the program by the fall of their third year and complete the requirements of the secondary teaching concentration. They also must complete the Weinberg degree requirements.

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

At a Glance 

Total requirements—42 units 

  • Distribution requirements—10 units
  • Professional core—12 units 
  • Teaching subject–area requirements—varies 
  • Electives—8 or fewer as needed to complete the 42-unit degree requirement 

For more information about these requirements, please see the Undergraduate Academic Catalog for Secondary Teaching

Applying to the Teacher Preparation Program

Students who want to be licensed as teachers must apply to the SESP Teacher Preparation Program. This program is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. Com­pleting the courses alone doesn't not result in licensure, nor is licensure required to earn a 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 a humanities teaching subject area or meet an annually calculated and determined GPA in math or science subject-areas. Additional admissions requirements include two letters of recommendation and responses to selected essay prompts. Students must be eligible to start 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 nine courses in the teaching subject area by the end of the practicum term for field-site placement with a department or 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 their 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 378-0 or TEACH_ED 375-0 or TEACH_ED 376-0) and methodology courses (TEACH_ED 355-0TEACH_ED 359-0). 

To be eligible for student teaching, students must have successfully completed the applicable TEACH_ED 355-0TEACH_ED 359-0 course(s) as well as TEACH_ED 378-0 or TEACH_ED 375-0 or TEACH_ED 376-0. earned a passing score on the applicable ILTS Content-Area Test, fulfilled minimum GPA requirements for student teaching, 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 (TEACH_ED 385-0, TEACH_ED 386-0 or TEACH_ED 388-0). 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.  

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. 

World language teacher candidates are required to complete the Oral Proficiency Interview of the ACTFL with a rating of upper-intermediate-high or better.  

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.  

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