The time to earn your teaching license has never been greater. As a professional in the field of early childhood education, the moment for you to take your career to the next level is now. Governors State University's Early Childhood Incumbent Workforce program is specifically designed for you to receive the academic, financial, professional, and personal resources you need to earn your degree and become a licensed teacher. Whether you need tutoring assistance for a class or help funding childcare, we are here to support you every step of the way.


Governor Pritzker signed legislation HB 2878–creating the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity–and designated a $200 million investment towards training, mentorships, and scholarships for childcare workforce professionals to pursue advanced credentials over the next two years.

With the support of these developments, Governors State is incorporating the statewide consortium into its early childhood education programs with the purpose of serving the needs of the incumbent early childhood workforce, advancing racial equity, as well as meeting the needs of employers by streamlining, coordinating, and improving the accessibility of degree completion pathways at Illinois institutions of higher education.


  • ● No prior teaching credentials required to start the program.

  • ● Flexible courses and schedules. Courses are offered in the evenings and in a hybrid format (mostly remote-online).

  • ● Mentors assigned to candidates to provide support throughout the program.

  • ● Opportunities for job-embedded experiences are available.

  • ● We partner with school districts through a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to allow you as paraprofessionals/teachers assistance or employed as an early childhood educator to earn a degree and Professional Educator Licensure while keeping your job. The MOU agreement with your school allows you to complete job-embedded field experiences and student teaching. You can still join the program without a signed MOU; however, you are required to complete traditional field experiences and student teaching.

As a member of the Early Childhood Incumbent Workforce, you may be eligible to receive financial aid through the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program. Visit this site to see if you qualify and to review the requirements for the scholarship. Information regarding financial support can also be found on the GSU Financial Aid webpage.

Intended Audience

  • ● Individuals who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university

  • ● Individuals who seek initial licensure with an endorsement in Early Childhood Education (Birth to Grade 2)

Degree Earned

  • ● Master of Arts (M.A.) in Early Childhood Education

Certifications Earned

  • ● Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL)

  • ● Early Childhood Endorsement, Birth to Grade 2

  • ● Early Childhood Special Education Approval (Pre-Kindergarten only)

  • ● Illinois Gateways Credentials

    • o Early Childhood, levels 1-6

    • o Infant Toddler, levels 1-3


Courses for this program are offered in the evenings and are online synchronous (at a scheduled time). Prerequisite courses must be completed prior to starting the program; however, up to three prerequisite courses may be taken during the candidate’s first year in the program, pending approval by the advisor and coordinator. Equivalent courses can be transferred in for the prerequisites, pending review by the advisor and coordinator. Prerequisite courses are offered in the evenings and are either face-to-face or online; this varies for each course. Click the following links to view and download the program overview and coursework.

Course Listing

The following courses must be completed (or equivalent courses transferred, approved by advisor) prior to starting the program:

  • ● EDUC 2310: Foundations of Education (3)
  • ● EDUC 2330: Educational Psychology I - Child Growth and Development (3)
  • ● SPED 6101: Survey of Students with Exceptionalities (3)
  • ● EDCP 6101: Introduction to Educational Technology (3)
  • ● ENGL 2131: Literature for Children and Adolescents (3)

Program Coursework (14 courses)

  • 1. EDEC 6099: Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Early Childhood Education (3)
  • 2. EDEC 6550: Family, Community, and Culture (3)
  • 3. EDEC 6551: Field Experience 1 - Infants & Toddlers (1)*
  • 4. EDEC 6560: Science and Social Studies Methods, CRTL & Exceptional Learners (3)
  • 5. EDEC 6561: Field Experience 2 - Preprimary Grades (1)*
  • 6. EDEC 6570: Literacy Methods in Early Childhood Education (3)
  • 7. EDEC 6571: Field Experience 3 - Literacy in Primary Grades (1)*
  • 8. EDEC 6580: Math Methods in Early Childhood Education (3)
  • 9. EDEC 6581: Field Experience 4 - Math in Primary Grades (1)*
  • 10. EDUC 7410: Classroom Management and Responsive Learning Environments (2)
  • 11. EDUC 7440: Applied Educational Psychology (3)
  • 12. EDEC 7570: Assessment & Differentiated Instruction in Early Childhood (3)
  • 13. EDEC 8810: Research and Issues in Education I (3)
  • 14. EDEC 8999: Student Teaching in Early Childhood Education (9)
  • *field experiences must be taken at the same time as their corresponding methods course (co-requisite)

Total Program Hours: 39
Total Program Semesters: 5 (2 years)

Field Experiences

Field experiences are integrated into program coursework to give students the opportunity to gain valuable training and professional connections. Candidates will complete more than 200 hours of diversified clinical experiences throughout the program prior to student teaching.

Our MA program offers opportunities for job-embedded field experiences; this means that candidates may continue to work in their childcare center for some of the field experience courses.

  • ● Placement for field experiences can be job-embedded if it fits grade levels

  • ● Placement for student teaching can be job-embedded if it is in preschool (4-5 years); no infant or toddler classrooms

More Info

Candidates engage with children and families in a variety of diverse settings from birth to 2nd grade in clinical field experiences and observations prior to student teaching. These experiences include observing, engaging, and teaching lessons with infants/toddlers, preschool, kindergarten, and primary classrooms in multiple settings across the region.

Support is provided and scaffolded throughout the program for field experiences prior to student teaching. Instructors and qualified mentor teachers in the field guide students to build their confidence and gradually increase their responsibilities as a classroom teacher.

Partner districts are selected for their commitment to a team approach in creating an inclusive culture focused on responsiveness to the educational needs of racially, culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse students.These placements are made to such districts as New Lenox, Harvey, Homewood, Tinley Park, Chicago, Kankakee, Oak Lawn, and Dolton.

Some field experience placements are already set up, which make it easier because:

  • ● Candidates do not have to find their own placement that is approved

  • ● Candidates are together to support each other

  • ● The schools/teachers are familiar with our program, guidelines, and requirements

Candidates may be able to find their own placements for some field experiences; however, the following guidelines must be met:

  • ● Field experiences must occur at the designated course grade level

  • ● School/center sites must be high quality, licensed, and be approved by university supervisor (or on the approved list)

  • ● Sites must be located in a safe neighborhood within a 20-mile radius of the GSU campus

  • ● Candidates, directors/principals, and mentor teachers must follow our field experience guidelines

  • ● Candidates are responsible for getting an MOU agreement with their center/school

  • ● Placement site and day/time must be finalized and approved by the university supervisor and the school prior to the start of the second week of the semester

Student teaching placement is based upon candidate selection across Chicagoland districts. Candidates work with quality mentor teachers who serve as models, offer opportunities to teach and practice skills, and provide guidance and feedback. Student teaching for this program is 8 hours per day, 5 days per week for 15 weeks. Candidates also participate in strategically planned monthly seminars that include topics such as equity and diversity, best practices, gender expression, and navigating the interview process.

Study Plan

Semester 1 - Fall

EDEC 6099

Developmentally Appropriate Practices in ECE



EDUC 7410

Classroom Management & Responsive Learning Environments



EDEC 8810

Research and Issues in Education I



Semester 2 - Spring

EDEC 6550

Family, Community, and Culture



EDEC 6551

Field Experience 1 - Infants & Toddlers


FE Hours

EDEC 6560

Science and Social Studies Methods, CRTL & Exceptional Learners



EDEC 6561

Field Experience 2 - Preprimary Grades


FE Hours

Semester 3 - Summer

EDUC 7440

Applied Educational Psychology


FE Hours

EDEC 7570

Assessment and Differentiated Instruction in EC



Semester 4 - Fall

EDEC 6570

Literacy Methods in Early Childhood



EDEC 6571

Field Experience 3 - Literacy in Primary Grades


FE Hours

EDEC 6580

Math Methods in Early Childhood



EDEC 6581

Field Experience 4 - Math in Primary Grades


FE Hours

Semester 5 - Spring

EDEC 8999

Student Teaching in Early Childhood Education


FE hours, 5 days/week

Program Schedule

To view and download the MA in ECE program schedule, click here.

Program Requirements

Program Admission

Candidates must meet all requirements for entry into graduate school and the Early Childhood Education program.

List of Admission Requirements

  • 1) Requirements:

    • a. University graduate school requirements (visit Graduate Admissions)

    • b. A cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher (2.0-2.74 GPA may be accepted with conditions)

  • 2) To apply, candidates must submit the following:

    • a. Application to GSU graduate school

    • b. Current resume

    • c. Official transcripts showing:

      • i. A valid bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university

      • ii. A cumulative G.P.A. of 2.75 or higher in all undergraduate work attempted and a grade of "B-" or better in current graduate coursework (GPA of 2.0-2.74 may be accepted with conditions)

      • iii. Completion of and a grade of “B-” or better in all prerequisite coursework (EDUC2310, EDUC2330, ENGL2131, EDCP2101/6101, SPED2100/6101) -or evidence of currently taking the courses or intention to take them at GSU

For more information regarding the requirements for admission to this program, visit the GSU Graduate Admissions webpage.

For questions or help with admissions and application process, set up a virtual appointment to speak with someone or email the Graduate Admissions Office, graduateadmission@govst.edu.

Degree Requirements

Candidates must meet all university requirements for a master’s degree. Candidates must also:

List of Degree Requirements

  • ● Attain a GPA of 3.0 or better in all Professional Education coursework, earning a grade of ‘B-’ or better in all courses

  • ● Complete all coursework at Governors State University within five calendar years

  • ● Be in good standing with the university and program

  • ● Earn satisfactory scores on assessments of professional dispositions and exhibit expected dispositions

  • ● Maintain satisfactory candidate progress as defined in the Early Childhood Education Program Handbook

  • ● Successfully complete all key assessments and field placements, including student teaching

Licensure Requirements – ISBE

In order to obtain a teaching license, candidates are responsible for completing all program requirements listed, as well as submitting all documentation to ISBE. Candidates must:

List of Licensure Requirements

For more information about licensure, visit the GSU webpage Licensure of Teachers and Other School Professionals.

Additional Endorsements: candidates can add the ESL Endorsement (PreK-12th grade) on their teaching license by completing the 6 courses:

  • ● BBED 4501 Teaching English as a Second Language (3)

  • ● BBED 4520 Foundations of Bilingual and ESL Education (3)

  • ● BBED 4525 Assessment of Language of Minority Students (3)

  • ● BBED 4530 Methods and Materials for Teaching in Bilingual Programs (3)

  • ● BBED 4538 Cross Cultural Education (3)

  • ● BBED 4977 Reading Strategies in the Bilingual and ESL Classroom (3)

Certification Requirements – Illinois Gateways to Opportunity

Candidations can earn Illinois Gateways Credentials: Early Childhood Education and Infant Toddler. Candidates must be a member of Gateways and submit an application at the beginning of the program and after graduation. Candiadtes must register for a free account with Illinois Gateways.

Program Advisor

From admission to graduation, your academic advisor is your partner towards success. Our academic advisor is here to answer any questions you have and help you navigate the requirements needed for the program. Once you are admitted, make sure you reach out to your advisor for guidance throughout your program.

Carla Johnson

Carla Johnson
Graduate Advisor
G Building 378

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