Licensure 101

This section of the site is dedicated to walking alumni through the process of getting certified to teach in Illinois. Please take time to review the information below, and if you have any additional questions, reach out to Angela Baker, Director, Alumni Talent Programming.

the basics

1. The Illinois State Board of education is a slow moving machine. You should expect it to take anywhere between 6 weeks- 3 months after you submit your license to have it approved.

2. You will most likely have deficiencies. A “deficiency” is when the State says that you did not meet all of their requirements for licensure, these deficiencies sometimes require you to take extra classes (such as a reading methodologies or special education course) but in most instances a deficiency is submitting an extra form or taking a specific licensure test. You have between 2-3 years to take make up a deficiency (so there is lots of time).

3. You most likely won’t get your official license right away. You will most likely be entitled for something called your Educator License with Stipulations (ELS) which is a temporary 3 year license that allows you to teach while you make up your deficiencies.

4. You will need to be on the phone with ISBE. You will need to be proactive and hop on the phone with the licensure department often throughout this process to understand what is going on, this can be frustrating and you may spend time on hold but it is key to transferring your license successfully. While Teach For America will help you navigate this process (and troubleshoot with you along the way) ultimately ISBE will be your “go-to-place” for answers to specific transfer questions.

10 step licensure transfer process

Step 1: Create an ELIS account

Step 2: Login to your ELIS account and click “Apply for a new license/endorsement/approval” on the homepage of your account. Then click “Apply for a new license”

Step 3: You will be given an option to apply for your Provisional Educators license (PEL) or your Educator License with Stipulations (ELS). You PEL is the official 5 year license and the ELS is a temporary 2 year license. Select “Apply for your PEL.”

Step 4: Follow all of the steps in the application wizard to apply for your PEL and pay the license application fee (approx. $150).

Step 5: Submit official transcripts from all colleges attended. Transcripts may be mailed to the State Board of Education or your regional office of education. To be official, transcripts must be submitted in a sealed envelope from the college or university or be sent directly by the institution.
Submit to:
Illinois State Board of Education
ATTN: Educator Licensure
100 N. 1st Street
Springfield, IL 62777

Step 6: Submit a copy of both sides of a comparable, valid, out of state license or certificate. You can mail this to the address above.

Step 7: Have the university or program where you received your teaching license submit a signed and sealed State Approved Program and Completion of Standards Verification Form (80-02). The form must be emailed directly from the institution where you completed your approved certification program.

Step 8a: If you took the edTPA in the state where you are certified submit the “Out of State Verification of EdTPA 80-01a” form.
Step 8b: If you did not take the edTPA, and you have 1 year of teaching experience, read about your options for satisfying the edTPA requirement and complete the action that applies to your unique licensure situation.
Note: If you do not have 1 year of teaching experience (and did not take the edTPA) it will not prevent you from receiving your temporary license. However, you will need to complete the edTPA within 1-3 years of receiving your temporary license (ISBE will indicate your timeline in your deficiency letter).

Step 9: Learn what licensure tests you need to take and take those immediately, or as soon as you are prepared.

  • Content Test: You must take your subject area content test, learn about which test you need to take <HERE>
  • Basic Skills: You can be exempt from the Basic Skills requirement by submitting a previous SAT/ACT score to ISBE (if they meet the benchmark requirements), OR if you took a Praxis exam, or an alternative Basic Skills requirement in the State you were certified you can submit the “Out of State Basic Skills Exempt Form (80-03).”

Step 10: Wait, wait, wait. Once the above steps have been completed your license transfer request will be in a queue to be process. This can take anywhere between 4 weeks to 6 months. If you have already been hired and your license transfer is preventing you from being able to work your principal can send in a licensure rush request form (you will have to ask your principal about this). This form can only be sent if you have been hired.

Important Numbers

ISBE Licensure Division
ISBE Licensure Information

Teach For America Chicago-Northwest Indiana


Questions not answered here? Reach out to Angela Baker, Director, Alumni Talent Programming.

I received my license through an alternative certification program, can I still transfer it to Illinois? 
We believe so! The Illinois State Board of Education changed their transfer policies in early 2017 and we have since seen a few successful cases of transfers from alt-cert programs to Illinois. We recommend that you take all the steps above but also call ISBE and let them know the specifics of your transfer situation to ensure that you hear directly from them any other possible steps you may need to take. Once you call ISBE if you would like to speak with Someone at TFA to help you process or digest what they said do not hesitate to reach out! Just call the front desk and ask to speak to the licensure manager and they will connect you with someone ASAP!

What if I am not approved for a licensure transfer or the temporary license? 
In rare instances this can happen. If you receive your deficiency letter back and you are not approved for a Professional Educators License or an Educator License with Stipulations please reach out to TFA immediately to help work through next steps and long-term options for you to become certified.

What if I want to apply to teach in a subject or grade range that is different than what my out-of-state certification is? 
This can be tricky. Normally licensure transfers are reciprocal - meaning if you taught ECE in Ohio you would only be able to teach ECE in Illinois. However, there can be some exceptions to this rule. Please review the “add endorsement” information here and call ISBE to discuss with them what your options might be. In this instance ISBE, not TFA, will be the best agency to troubleshoot this question with.