Master of Arts in Teaching

Specialization in Elementary Education with Initial Certification

The Master of Arts in Teaching specialization in elementary education with initial certification prepares students to become teachers in elementary and middle schools. They will complete all requirements for the Type 03 Illinois Elementary Education Certificate to teach grades kindergarten through 9. Students who plan to teach at the middle school level are required to take additional course work for the middle school endorsement. The specialization is grounded in a commitment to preparing teachers to nurture democratic citizens.

For the specialization in elementary education with initial certification, in addition to other graduate school requirements, applicants must submit an essay discussing ?What it means to nurture democratic citizenship in students.? For applicants who are currently teaching, one of their two reference letters must be from the principals of their schools.

Checklist - Master of Arts in Teaching, Elementary Education

Typical Program Sequence

Deficiency Study

For students whose undergraduate major was not in education or who have limited background in their chosen specialization, may need to complete deficiency requirements established by the department. Deficiency course hours will not be counted toward the minimum semester hours of the master's degree program. Students may demonstrate their basic knowledge of the use of computers in education by completing ETT 229, its equivalent, or by passing a proficiency test. Deficiency courses may be completed prior to admission to the program or during their first semester at NIU or at community colleges that offer equivalent course work. For information on course work to take as a student-at-large please visit the Graduate School web site.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination is conducted in conjunction with a portfolio completed in the last semester of course work containing required artifacts and reflections which demonstrate mastery of the professional teaching standards and degree requirements.

Students who do not complete the entire program of courses will not be granted the certification or the Master of Arts degree.

Checklist for MAT in Elementary Education

Graduate Student Responsibility

It is the responsibility of students to know and observe all regulations and procedures relating to the program they are pursuing, as well as those of the university and Graduate School. In no case will a regulation be waived or an exception granted because students plead ignorance of, or contend that they were not informed of, the regulations or procedures. Questions on regulations and their interpretation pertaining to studies at the graduate level should be addressed to the office of the dean of the Graduate School.
Students planning to graduate should familiarize themselves with the dates relating to application for graduation and other pertinent deadlines (see the Graduate School Calendar). It is necessary to apply for graduation by the specified deadline in order to graduate in a particular term, whether or not the student plans to attend the commencement ceremonies.

Students must satisfy the degree requirements of the catalog in force during the term for which they have been admitted to and begin course work in a degree program; or they may, with the consent of their advisers, meet graduation requirements by complying with the provisions of a later catalog. Students readmitted to a degree program must meet degree requirements of the catalog in force at the time of the later admission (or of a subsequent catalog, as provided above). Aside from degree requirements, all students are subject to the regulations and policies stated in the catalog currently in force. Exceptions to regulations contained in the Graduate Catalog require the written approval of the office of the dean of the Graduate School, unless otherwise stated in the catalog.
Graduate students and students-at-large should notify the Graduate School immediately of any change in address so that receipt of mail will not be delayed.

Additional Information

All official NIU email will be sent to your Z-ID account email. Please check that email on a regular basis.


Register for classes, check on program progress, and access/update your student information using My NIU.
You will be able to access your Degree Progress Report. This advising tool can be accessed from the Self Service area of your Student Center. The report will have your requirements, classes you have completed and how they fit into your degree program. Any questions about your Degree Progress Report may be directed to your faculty mentor/adviser.

Immunization Requirements

University policy requires all students born on or after January 1, 1957, enrolling in a class at the NIU DeKalb campus to provide written evidence of current immune status with respect to certain communicable diseases, or evidence of exemption from this requirement, by the tenth day of the first term enrolled. Please check with University Health Services to determine if your immunization record is up to date.


As part of your course work you maybe expected to purchase LiveText. LiveText is an electronic portfolio system that has been adopted by over 400 universities across the country and a majority of public universities in Illinois. LiveText will provide you with access to a very a valuable technology tool and provide you with a powerful way to assess and document your own efforts. You can purchase a copy that will give you access for four years from the NIU Bookstore or search online and buy from LiveText directly. The College of Education uses this program to track student date for NCATE purposes.

Clinical Experience

Teacher certification candidates are required to complete early clinical and student teaching courses. These courses will take place during the K-8 school year and during the day.  The early clinical will have approximately 4 weeks of activities in a classroom during the regular school year. For student teaching you will be placed in a school for 16 weeks full time during the day just like a regular teacher. If you are working a full time job during the day then you will need to make arrangements to have the time off to complete the clinical and student teaching requirements. Prior to any clinical or student teaching you must complete a criminal background, have current TB test on file in the department.

A grade of unsatisfactory will be given to all students (graduate and undergraduate) who do not demonstrate competency in the classroom; do not complete expectations, assignments, or requirements; or whose teaching, personal, and/or professional abilities indicate that they would be a liability to the teaching profession. Students will also be subject to remediation components such as writing contracts to address specific concerns and student performance reviews.

Students currently teaching in a K-8 classroom may have the opportunity to continue in their teaching position while being evaluated for the early clinical and student teaching.The Elementary Education faculty will set up a set of guidelines the candidate must follow to complete the early clinical and student teaching in their classroom. Candidates need to discuss this option with their faculty mentor shortly after being admitted to the MAT program.

Safety Tutorial

Individuals seeking initial certification from NIU must also complete the School Safety Tutorial for Pre-Service Teachers. This is a no cost online exam required of all students seeking initial teacher certification at NIU. Students will not be recommended for certification until the tutorial is complete. Once a student completes the module a note will be make in My NIU and the department will be able to access the results for the student's certification file.

Middle School Endorsement

Students seeking an elementary teaching certificate who wish to teach in departmentalized grades five through eight must have a "middle grade", commonly called middle school endorsement on their certificates. An endorsement is a written notation entered upon the face of a teaching certificate designating additional specific subjects which an individual is qualified to teach. For additional information please visit the Middle School Endorsement sheet.


The College's conceptual framework is aligned to Illinois Professional Teaching Standards. In order to graduate, all students must demonstrate competency in those standards. Several standards relate to dispositions for teaching. The framework identifies the dispositions expected of all students in the various programs. The five major categories of dispositions are as follows: Caring, Collaboration, Creative and Critical Thinking, Lifelong Learning and Scholarship, and Diversity.

All reports on students' dispositions will be sent to the Dispositions Coordinator (DC). Students who experience difficulties in dispositions will meet individually with the DC. The DC will assign activities designed to assist students in improving dispositions for teaching. The ultimate goal of this process is to promote successful completion of the program, though that may not always be the outcome of the process. All questions regarding the dispositions assessment and support process should be directed to the Dispositions Coordinator.


NIU now offers housing in DeKalb for graduate students and those with families at the Northern View Community.

Financial Aid and Scholarships 

There are awards and scholarships that are available for graduate students, Other aid may be based on financial need, talent, or to members of particular groups. Some web sites that are available at NIU are the College of Education's Scholarship Page, the Scholarship Office, and the Financial Aid Office.

If you have any additional questions, please e-mail Gail Schumacher or call her at (815) 753-7948.