The most important step in earning an Illinois teaching license is getting a degree. However, the level and subject matter of the degree dictates other aspects of Illinois teacher certification, like whether or not prospective teachers can seek traditional or alternative certification. Prospective teachers are required to earn their degrees from one of the many accredited teaching schools in Illinois. Some of the best and most reputable schools have specialized programs in Illinois teacher education.
The four largest schools offering degrees approved for an Illinois teacher license are DePaul University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois State University, and Loyola University Chicago. Each of these schools offers a unique approach to education and can prepare those interested in becoming teachers in different ways.
The Department of Teacher Education at DePaul University offers degree programs in early childhood education, elementary education, physical education, secondary education, and world language education. Over the course of their studies, students will have to complete case studies, as well as meet student teaching requirements. Students enrolled in these programs are considered pre-majors and, after completing 48 credit hours of course work, are permitted to apply for advanced standing in the major.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s (UIUC) College of Education offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in education. Undergraduates have the option to major in early childhood education, elementary education, or special education, while the master’s and doctoral programs take in-depth looks at each of those areas. All undergraduates enter the education program as “pre-teachers” before being granted admission to a specialized area of study. Admission requirements for each program can differ. For example, those applying to the special education program will need to have 50 logged hours of experience with people with disabilities.
The College of Education at Illinois State University (ISU) is divided into five different departments. These departments give students highly specialized instruction and opportunities to gain real-world teaching experience. For instance, the University Laboratory Schools provide students with the opportunity to observe and learn from actual classrooms. Also, according to the College of Education’s website, 24% of all first-year teachers hired in Illinois between 2008 and 2011 graduated from ISU. Similarly, one in eight Illinois public school teachers earn their degrees from ISU.
At Loyola University Chicago’s School of Education, potential teachers can earn an undergraduate degree in education with the choice of more than 20 different concentrations ranging from elementary education to international higher education.The school maintains enrollment of about 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Loyola University’s affiliation with the Jesuit order of priests means its education programs emphasize service and social justice. Due to the high level of specialization and variation between programs, each concentration has a specific set of admission requirements.