Early Childhood Education (Master's)

Due to the large demand for this program, the Department is accepting new students on a rolling basis. Students seeking admission to this program may take approved courses in the program prior to admission, please contact Leslie Hecht for the course selection. Applications are posted at the Graduate School web site. Students interested in this program may apply at any time, as there may a limited number of openings available and late applications may not be considered.

Courses in Early Childhood Education are offered primarily in DeKalb every semester (fall, spring, and summer). Limited course work is available at our other off campus locations, which may include Rockford, Naperville and Hoffman Estates. Students are free to take courses at any NIU campus that suits their scheduling and geographic needs. There are no plans at the present time to offer classes at other sites.


Early Childhood Education Master's requirements

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.

Guidelines for Evaluating Life Experience for Substitution for Part or All of the Student Teaching Requirement
Life experience may be substituted for part or all of student teaching and internship experiences if the following four conditions are satisfied:

  1. Full time employment in the grade level and discipline for which the candidate is seeking certification and for an appropriate length of time, as determined by the program.
  2. Documentation that the life-experience was a single, continuous experience that was monitored and/or evaluated at a satisfactory level of performance to meet the NCATE Standards, ISBE student teaching requirements, and program objectives.
  3. Letter of recommendation from the administrator of the school in which the experience was completed verifying that the candidate's performance was equal to or greater than that of a student teacher successfully completing a traditional experience.
  4. Written recommendation from the NIU certification program supervisor that the candidate's performance in the experience was equivalent to or greater than that expected of a candidate successfully completing the traditional student-teaching or internship experience.

Additional information may be found in the graduate student handbook and the early childhood graduate clinical handbook (for substituting life experience for clinical experience).

Teaching Performance Assessment (TPA)

The TPA is being developed as an assessment of readiness to teach for candidates seeking an initial teaching license. The TPA is a performance-based assessment in which candidates demonstrate their knowledge and skills in teaching and in evaluating the effects of teaching on student learning. The TPA will be completed during student teaching. Each candidate will develop a written plan for instruction and assessment, implement instruction including the development of video-based documentation of instruction, assess student learning, and analyze the teaching segment. Candidates also will provide written reflections at each stage of the TPA. Teacher candidates will complete four tasks for the assessment:

  • Planning for instruction and assessment
  • Instructing and engaging students in learning
  • Assessing student's learning
  • Analyzing the teaching and learning segment

Handbooks and other supports will guide candidates through the TPA process and identify specifically what products must be developed at each stage and artifacts to be included in the TPA portfolio.

Reviewers outside of NIU who are experts in the field of study will evaluate and score the TPA portfolio. Pilot studies will start in the fall 2013 and full use and implementation of the TPA will begin in the fall 2015. Candidiates will begin using the TPA in the fall of 2013, with full implementation in the place by fall of 2015.

Safety Tutorial

Individuals seeking initial certification from NIU must also complete the NIU School Safety for Preservice 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. Students in the Graduate Early Childhood Education program must complete the Safety Tutorial during their first clinical experience in the program.

Immunization Requirements

Students taking more than one class at the DeKalb campus may have a health hold put on their records if their immunizations are not up-to-date. This may delay registration for classes. Please check with University Health Services to determine if your immunization record is up to date. For additional information please visit the UHS web site.


Professional Dispositions are professional attitudes, values, and beliefs demonstrated through both verbal and non-verbal behaviors as educational professional interact with students, families, colleagues, and communities. These  positive behaviors support effective classroom teaching, professional interactions, and learning and development. The ultimate goal of the process of evaluating professional dispostions is to promote candidates' sucess in becoming examplary educators.

All teacher candidates participating n pre-professional and progrrssioal coures work in the Department of Special and Early education are regularly assessed under the Dispositions guidelines. Dispostions are formally assessed and reported twice per semester in SEED courses and informally throughout all course work and field experiences.


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.


Register for classes, check on program progress, and access'update your student information using My NIU.

Social Media

Please be aware that NIU has a social media policy the applys to all employees and units of the University. Student posting that may be a potential violation of the Student Code of Conduct will be referred to the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct for appropriate review and discipline. Please read over the content of this policy.

Off-Campus & Non-Traditional Student Services

Their staff is dedicated to assisting students in finding the resources they need to be more successful at NIU. The office if located in the lower level of the Holmes Student Center, rooms 023J and 023K. This website has a great deal of information for everyone.

Post Baccalaurete Study

Students with a baccaulaureate degree who wish to take teacher certfication at the undergraduate level should apply to the Early Childhood Studies program. For more informaiton about is program pelase contact the Early Childhood secretary at 815-753-8361.


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

Financial Aid and Scholarships 

The Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program has a program for students of African American/Black, Hispanic American, Asian American or Native American origin who plan to become teachers. This award program for undergraduate or graduate students who are willing to teach in Illinois for two years after their initial certification.

There are numerous awards and scholarships that are available for students, some specifically for teacher education. 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.

May 2012

Additional Information


NameTitleContact Info
Leslie Hecht, Ph.D. Graduate Student Advisor lbhecht@niu.edu
Maylan Dunn-Kenney, Ph.D. Early Childhood Faculty mdunn@niu.edu
Myoung Jung, Ph.D. Early Childhood Faculty mjung@niu.edu