Alternative Teacher Certification in Illinois: Programs & Schools

Apr 25, 2021

Requirements for Alternative Teacher Certification in Illinois

Alternative teacher certification in Illinois is available to applicants who hold a bachelor's degree in a related field but have not completed a teacher preparation program. In some cases, a master's degree may be required. Additionally, some programs require students to pass a basic skills test. These programs allow students to gain an Initial Alternative Teaching Certificate, which is valid for four years within the State of Illinois. Alternative teacher certification programs are mostly non-degree, though some schools allow credits to be transferred to a graduate degree program.

Alternate teacher certification programs combine classroom learning with internships and field work. In some cases, students will need to complete an assessment at the end of the program. Some programs also require students to complete a portfolio. In order to complete the alternative teaching certification program and begin teaching, teachers will need to apply for and earn an alternative license that allows them to teach while completing the program.

Illinois Alternative Teacher Certification Programs

Illinois teacher certification programs are offered at a variety of universities and colleges. These programs usually run for one to two years in length and offer students a chance to earn their teaching licensure while gaining teaching experience and completing coursework.

Aurora University

Aurora University offers a master's of arts in teaching (MAT) program for candidates that have a bachelor's degree in a different field and are interested in entering the teaching profession. The program is full time for one year and focuses on combining coursework and practical experience to allow candidates to earn their professional teaching license quickly. Coursework is front loaded throughout the summer and fall to prepare students for a student teaching experience during the spring semester. The program runs from June through May and is completed in one year.

Benedictine University

Located in Lisle, Benedictine University offers a 12-month program for students seeking alternative teacher certification. Students are expected to complete intensive courses in teaching theories, methods and practices. In addition, completion of a one-year internship in a middle or high school is mandatory. Graduates are able to either transfer 24 credit hours towards a master's degree or obtain Initial Teacher Certification in secondary education for the State of Illinois.

Concordia University-Chicago

An option for an alternative route to teacher certification in Illinois is at Concordia University. Based in River Forest, this university offers an initial certification program. Upon gaining admission to teacher candidacy, students must complete courses in cognitive development, classroom technology and communication. Next, students must complete a student teaching internship totaling in a minimum of 80 hours. Afterwards, participants of this certification program must successfully pass the Illinois Assessment of Professional Teaching Test.

Dominican University

An exciting teacher certification programs in Illinois is offered through Dominican University. Dominican University offers an alternative pathway to a professional educator's license in Illinois as well as a Master's degree in teaching. During the program, students take graduate courses and are placed in a two year paid residency program while completing additional courses. Dominican University allows students to complete real world teaching experiences while completing coursework, leading to faster certification and employment.

Eastern Illinois University

Applicants to the alternative certification program at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston must have a bachelor's degree and at least five years of relevant work experience. In addition, a passing score on the Illinois Basic Skills Test is necessary for admission. The program includes an intensive course of study, an internship and a comprehensive assessment. Students can expect courses in teaching foundations and methods over an eight-week period before completing the required yearlong internship.

Northwestern University

Northwestern university offers a Master's of Science in Education for candidates that are looking to complete a master's degree through an alternative teaching certification in Chicago. The program specializes in K-12 education where candidates can pick a grade level focus. Coursework can be completed on a flexible schedule within one year or more depending on student needs. The program focuses on a collaborative nature between professors and students to prepare candidates for a new career in teaching.

Transitioning to a Standard Illinois Teacher Certification

After four years of working under the Initial Alternative Teaching Certificate designation, graduates of a certification program can apply for a Standard Teaching Certificate. A comparison table with tuition information and individual school offerings at a glance can be found below.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Alternative Teacher Certification Programs Graduate Tuition & Fees (2019-2020)
Aurora University Four-year; private not-for-profit; large suburb Graduate program tuition for first year $12,600
Benedictine University Four-year; private not-for-profit; large suburb Graduate program tuition for first year $18,273*
Concordia University-Chicago Four-year; private not-for-profit; large suburb Graduate program tuition for first year $8,910*
Dominican University Four-year; private not-for-profit; large suburb Graduate program tuition for first year $20,400*
Eastern Illinois University Four-year; public; distant town Graduate program tuition for first year $7,356 in-state; $17,654 out-of-state*
Illinois State University Four-year; public; midsize suburb Graduate program tuition for first year $7,956 in-state; $9,233 out-of-state*
Northwestern University Four-year; private; small urban Graduate program tuition for first year $56,067*

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

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