Elementary Education

What Is It?:

Elementary school teachers teach academic, social, and motor skills to students in public and private schools from grade kindergarten through grade nine. They develop teaching outlines and lesson plans, give lectures, facilitate discussions and activities, keep class attendance records, assign homework, and evaluate student progress. They counsel students when adjustment and academic problems arise, and discuss pupils' academic and behavioral attitudes and achievements with parents.

Students applying to the major must also provide evidence of having 50 hours of formal experience working with children or youth comparable to the age-level of students served in the program for which application is made. 

Illinois law and Council on Teacher Education policy require that all candidates for admission to a teacher preparation program pass the Illinois Licensure Testing System Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) prior to admission.  Effective July 2012, the Illinois State Board of Education determined the ACT Plus Writing/SAT scores can be used in lieu of a passing score on the Test of Academic Proficiency (formerly known as the Illinois Test of Basic Skills). See information on the details.

For more information, please visit the College of Education.


A concentration area in one academic discipline selected from the categories of mathematics, science, social sciences, or humanities is required. No more than six of the required twelve hours may be taken at the 100 level. (Consult an education adviser for the list of approved disciplines.)

Courses That Introduce the Major:

  • EPS 201—Foundation of Education
  • EPSY 236—Child Development in Education or PYSC 216—Child Psychology
  • HIST 171—U.S. History to 1877
  • HIST 172—U.S. History Since 1877

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period.

Possible Career Opportunities:

  • Camp director
  • Elementary teacher
  • Guidance counselor
  • Reading specialist
  • Resource teacher
  • School administrator

Common Career Titles Related to this Major:

(Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree)

  • Child Life Specialist
  • Curriculum Specialist
  • Education Management
  • Educational Therapist
  • Elementary Teacher
  • Guidance Counselor
  • Physical Education Instructor
  • Resource Teacher
  • Secondary School Teacher

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:

  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Applying for a study abroad experience
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • Epsilon Delta Professional Teaching Organization: informs and involves future teachers in the changing field of education.
    • Student Education Association: provides pre-professional educational development for future teachers.

Related Skills:

  • Analyzing
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Decision Making
  • Directing
  • Evaluating
  • Explaining
  • Instructing and Training
  • Interpreting
  • Organizing and Coordinating
  • Planning
  • Research

Further Information:

For more information on what you can do with a major in Elementary Education, visit The Career Center’s webpage: What Can I Do With This Major.

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Elementary Education.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Education.  These organizations include American Association of School Administrators, National Education Association, and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

For more information on the classes needed for a degree in Elementary Education, visit Undergraduate Programs.