Students in class


Teacher education programs at Rockford University are firmly rooted in the liberal arts to provide a broad range of knowledge and practical experiences that will help students understand themselves, our society, the natural world, and the world of arts and humanities. Students learn how children and adolescents develop physically, socially, and psychologically in the context of schools. Students will discover and understand how children and adolescents learn, how to recognize and adjust for individual differences, how to create a positive learning environment, and how to evaluate their own teaching skills.‌

By preparing teacher candidates to be agile and accountable and to value a practical education, our teacher education programs embody the vision of Rockford University. Jane Addams, our 1882 valedictorian, founded the country’s first settlement house, Hull-House. She believed in the value of educating all citizens of the world. And we do, too.

Undergraduate Programs

Graduate Programs 

At Rockford University, we know that students who pursue a teaching degree are passionate individuals who want to leave an indelible mark on the future contributors of our society. That’s why our Department of Education crafted a degree program with a mixture of classroom-based learning and practical experience. Our undergraduate and graduate programs, listed below, seek to impart the essential teaching skills needed to reach the diverse population of modern students.

Undergraduate Programs

Our undergraduate programs run the gamut of educational experiences. Whether you’re looking to teach in early childhood classes, specialized classes (including ESL), or special education settings, Rockford University will provide the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary.

Early Childhood Education 

Ask any teacher, and they’ll tell you that teaching preschool, kindergarten, or the first two primary grades require a unique skill set due to the needs of young children. Our early childhood education program prepares teachers by combining general education courses and professional learning to ensure that institutional requirements are met before graduation.

Elementary Education

As elementary schools have a student population that ranges from age five to preteens, there is a need to provide a diverse training workload that offers a wide selection of general education courses as well as professional education courses that meet state requirements. By completing this program, you’ll receive a degree in elementary education, as well as a professional educator license with an endorsement in elementary education.

Middle Grades Education

Through the middle grades, teaching becomes more specialized. So, those looking to receive a degree in middle grades education choose a specific subject area (such as literacy, math, science, and social science), to pair with their educational coursework. Completing this program will help a student teach in their chosen subject area in grades five through eight.

Secondary and K-12 Education

For those looking to teach biology, chemistry, English, French, German, history, mathematics, physical education, Spanish, theatre arts, or visual arts, you’ll need to complete a major in these subjects, as well as complete a minor in secondary or K-12 education. This enables teachers to meet both graduation requirements, as well as those of the state for educators.

Special Education

Completing the special education program enables teachers to teach in a special education setting (for those kindergarten-aged to 21 years old). This program helps teachers receive their special education degree, as well as a professional educator license with a learning behavior specialist endorsement.

Bilingual and English as a Second Language Endorsement 

If you already have a professional educator license, you can seek an endorsement for bilingual or English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching. To help you achieve this endorsement, our Department of Education will help you complete the necessary 100 hours (or three months) of bilingual or ESL-based teaching experience, as well as completing a language examination in the non-English language.

English as a Second Language Endorsement

Only those seeking a professional educator license or who have already received it may take on the ESL Endorsement minor program. Before receiving the endorsement, though, the educator must already have a valid PEL, as well as either 100 hours or three months of experience teaching ESL students.

Graduate Programs

At Rockford University, our graduate teaching programs empower those seeking a career change to discover the promise and potential of teaching. We also help current teachers receive new endorsements for their professional licenses.

Master of Arts in Teaching

Rockford University is proud to offer a Master of Arts in Teaching since 1952. This program is ideal for those with bachelor’s degrees in non-education fields who want to change careers and become a teacher.

Master of Education

A two-year program, the Master of Education degree offered by Rockford University adds a new endorsement to your teaching license. This degree also helps you move pay tracks and increase your earning potential as a teacher.

Department Information

Dr. Kimberlee Wagner
Education Unit Head & Chair
5050 E. State
Rockford, IL 61108

Award-winning Alumni

Since 2009, 29 alumni have been Golden Apple Award winners, 2 alumnae have been recognized as Illinois Teachers of the Year, 1 alumnus has been honored as North Carolina Teacher of the Year (2015), and 1 alumna was named Wisconsin Teacher of the Year (2014). 

In 2018, 4 out of the 5 Golden Apple winners were Rockford University alumni, and the Puri Outstanding Principal Award was also awarded to an RU graduate.

Rock Solid Alumni.