Frequently Asked Questions for the
Biology Teacher Certification

1. If I already have a B.S. in Biology, should I get a teaching certificate only or go ahead and get my master’s?

Some of the very courses you must have for certification can be taken as a graduate student and get graduate credit. Graduate credit of 16 hours usually gets a teacher a promotion. These credits often can count as electives in the M.S. in ED, the M. S. Biology or the M.S. in Environmental Science.

2. If I decide to get my masters here should I try and get a job teaching before I have completed the masters requirements?

If you are going to a large metropolitan area or a school that has no financial problems, it will be probably be ok. Most public schools will have to pay more for you than they would someone just out of school (like you) but with less than 16 hours of graduate credit. A Master’s degree would cause a district to have to pay you even more at the start.  If you are placebound or want to teach at a small rural school, you probably want to leave options open and only obtain 15 graduate credit hours (<16).

3. If I decide to get my masters in secondary education are there any education courses I can take at the graduate level that also count towards my teaching certificate?

Yes  - there are several education classes that can be taken at the graduate level that will count towards the teaching certificate and the master’s degree.

4. Do I have to take all of the science courses listed on the Biology Education Curriculum Guide?  What if I already have a B.S. in Biology, do I still have to take those listed if I didn’t as an undergrad?

Yes – you must take all of the science classes listed, it’s a state requirement.  You can take some graduate level courses that count for an ecology or evolution credit for example.

5. How many hours of education courses do I need to get my teaching certificate?

The educations courses comprise 28 hours plus there are 3 hours in Biology, Methods of Teaching Biology (Biol 494). The other education courses are CI 200, CI 315A, CI 440, EPFR 315, EPFR 320, and Student Teaching 12 hrs- [EDUC 315b, CI 352b]

6. What areas of science may I teach?

The Science: Biology certification allows secondary science teachers to teach anything in science except the AP courses.  Upon completion of the Biology Education program you will have a designation in Biology which allows you to teach the AP Biology course.   If you want to teach AP Chemistry you have to obtain the Chemistry Designation which requires the Chemistry content exam  or have 32 hours in Chemistry
"Applicants who already have a designation in the field of since:
Applicants who have a previous designation may obtain an additional designation by either
• Passing the content area examination for the designation or
• Having 32 semester hours in the designation.
• Applicants for science must have some work in both physical and biological science

Applicants with an endorsement before 7/1/04 in one of the fields seeking a designation
Applicants who have an endorsement under the pre-July, 2004, requirements in the field of science or social science may obtain a designation by passing the new content area test for the designation. They may then obtain subsequent designations as indicated in the preceding paragraph.
"   ISBE

7. Do I have to take those general education courses listed on the Biology Education Curriculum Guide?

No – once you have completed the general education courses at an Illinois institution you have completed those requirements.  SIUE requires an Interdisciplinary Studies course at the junior level which is required for all majors getting a bachelors degree.  Its not required if you are getting a Master's degree.

8. Do I have to student teach?  What if I have already taught in a private school?

Yes – at this time, anybody wanting to become a teacher in Illinois must student teach, even if you have prior teaching experience in a private school.

9. Can you take any classes while student teaching?

No – the only class you can take while student teaching (CI 315b and CI 352) is Teaching Readings in Sec Schools (CI 440).  You may take Biology 497 with student teaching also but this is only needed for getting a Biology bachelor's degree.

10.  What entrance tests do I have to take to get into the Master’s program?

GRE exam (general only):  The Master of Science in Biology (College of Arts and Science degree) or the Master of Science in Environmental Science (College of Arts and Science degree) requires the GRE exam. 

Millers' Analogy Test:      The Master of Science in Secondary Education (School of Ed degree) or the Master of Art in Teaching (School of Ed degree) requires the Millers' Analogy Test.

11.  Do I have to take the content test prior to student teaching? Yes, the content test must be completed with a passing score before you can student teach. It can be retaken with no penalties.

12.  Do I have to take a content test for all my endorsements?  See the ISBE website for that.

13.  What are the basic skills test and subject content tests?  Do I have to take them? OCECA requires completion of CI 200 and the basics skills test to be passed before you can take any of the professional education sequence -  CI 315A, CI 440, EPFR 320, EPFR 315, SPE 400, and Student Teaching 12 hrs- [EDUC 315b, CI 352]  Then content test covers all sciences and biological science in depth and is required to be passed before a student can student teach.

14.  What’s a general timeline for education classes and student teaching?
The CI200 course, Introduction to Education, is required before any of the professional education sequence. then you can take the rest of the Education classes except student teaching. The CI 315a must be in fall or spring and must be the semester before you student teach. Student teaching is either a fall or spring semester never in the summer.  The other education classes are often offered in the summer which is often helpful. So if you haven't had the CI 200 intro course (here or anywhere else) you are looking at 3 semesters. If you haven't had all the necessary science classes they can fit into these semesters in most cases, but not 100% of the time. Some courses in Biology are only offered once a year such as Biology 494 (Methods). The program here at SIUE requires: Intro Zoology, Intro Botany, Genetics, Cell and Molecular, Animal Physiology, Evolution, Ecology, Methods, a biology 4-hr 400-level elective, Chemistry through Organic and one year college physics, and an integrated science course. See the other part ofthis webpage for this Secondary Ed. Biology

Need more information?  Check out the websites below?

For more information on certification visit OCECA
Click here for more information on M.S. Seondary Education
Click here for more information on M.S. Biology

Website developed by Shelly Watts  and Maintained by Elaine AbuSharbain
Last updated  on March 17, 2007
Question? call  650-2453 or email Elaine at