Teaching Degrees in Illinois

There are several things to consider when thinking about becoming a teacher in Illinois, including:

  • The value of a master’s degree
  • Grant and scholarship programs
  • Illinois teaching certification requirements

Also included here is a list of additional resources and a comprehensive directory of fully accredited teaching degrees in Illinois.

Teaching Degrees in Illinois

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education credential required to receive teacher certification in Illinois. Sixty colleges in the state of Illinois offer teaching degrees. Almost half (49.8 percent) of all Illinois teachers hold a Master’s degree. This is slightly above the national average of 44.5 percent.

As far as salaries are concerned, using a populated district like Naperville as an example, the lowest salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $43,993 and the highest is $49,026. With a master’s degree the lowest salary is $49,470 and the highest is $76,364. A bachelor’s degree is eventually maxed out at less than the lowest salary of a teacher with a master’s degree. There is no better example than this to prove the long-term importance of having obtained a master’s teaching degree in Illinois.
Source: Illinois Teacher Salary Study, 2012-2013, Illinois State Board of Education

Teaching Scholarships and Grants in Illinois

To help with the cost of obtaining a teaching degree in Illinois look into possible grants and scholarships. Here are a few:

Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois
The Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program encourages academically talented Illinois students, especially minority students, to pursue teaching careers in teacher shortage disciplines or at hard-to-staff schools. Aspiring teachers must agree to teach full-time for a period of no less than five years at an Illinois school of need.

Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics
ICTM awards yearly scholarships to juniors or seniors enrolled in an Illinois college or university who are majoring in mathematics education.

Illinois Dollars for Scholars
Every Illinois Dollars for Scholars chapter offers financial support to students from one or more schools within its area. Individuals interested in applying should contact their local chapter’s officials, who will provide details regarding application requirements.

Illinois Education Association
The IEA -NEA has established a scholarship program for children/legal wards of current IEA-NEA members who plan to pursue a career in teaching.

Illinois Future Teachers Corps Program
This program provides scholarships for students who are studying to become preschool, elementary or secondary school teachers. Students must demonstrate the required level of financial need, and must maintain a 2.5 GPA. Award amounts range from $5000 to $10,000, and recipients must agree to a predetermined term of service teaching in one of Illinois’ under-served schools.

Illinois Retired Teachers Association Scholarships
Awards scholarships to promising students majoring in teaching or education at Illinois colleges or universities.

Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver Program
Student must be in the upper half of an approved high school’s graduating class and have taken the ACT or SAT I. Also, they must be enrolled or accepted at a public four-year college in Illinois as an undergraduate or graduate seeking certification in special education.

Illinois State College of Education scholarships
Scholarships for College of Education students at Illinois State University.

Illinois Troops to Teachers
Financial support for certification and employment in a high-need school. Must be willing to teach in a district or school of need for three years.

MIA/POW Scholarship
This scholarship is administered by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs to be used at public colleges in Illinois. Recipients must be dependents of a person who was an Illinois resident at the time he/she entered active duty and has been declared to be a MIA/POW.

Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program
Recipient must be African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, or Native American with a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED). The student should be enrolled or accepted at an Illinois college/university studying to be certified by the Illinois State Board of Education to teach preschool, elementary, or secondary school.

Monetary Award Program (MAP)
This program provides grants to Illinois residents who attend approved Illinois colleges and demonstrate financial need based on the information provided on the (FAFSA).

Illinois Teacher Certification

The most basic requirements for obtaining teacher certification in Illinois are as follows:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Completing the teacher preparation program
  • 18-32 credit hours of subject area study
  • Passing the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS)

Unlike most states, Illinois does not require fingerprinting or a background check as part of the teacher certification process.

There are three levels of teaching certification:

  • Initial Level
  • Standard Level
  • Master Level

Types of Teaching certificates include:

  • Early Childhood Education (Birth –Grade 3)
  • Elementary Education (K-9)
  • Secondary Education (6-12)
  • Special Education (K-12)
  • Special/Special Education (P-21)

Continuing education credits are required for Illinois teacher licensure renewal. Professional development increases the educator’s critical knowledge and skills to be consistent with Illinois Professional Teaching Standards and Illinois Content Area Standards. The requirements depend on degree level and are as follows:

  • Bachelor’s Degree– 120 hours or one uniquely qualifying activity
  • Master’s Degree– 80 hours or one uniquely qualifying activity
  • Two+ Advanced Degrees– 40 hours or one uniquely qualifying activity
  • National Board Teacher– 40 hours or one uniquely qualifying activity

Additional Resources about Teaching in Illinois

The following resources provide additional information about earning a teaching degree and working as a teacher in Illinois:

Illinois State Board of Education
Information for teachers, parents and students – all in one place.

Illinois Education Association
IEA is an association of more than 130,000 Illinois teachers, and a good source of information about teaching careers.

Illinois Student Assistance Commission
An invaluable resource for information on grants and scholarships.

Illinois Department of Labor
The Illinois Department of Labor provides insights on the labor market and job openings in the state.

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