College of Education & Human Services

MAT Student Resource Page

Use the links below for access to student resources for degree plans, financial aid information, a program checklist, frequently asked questions, course information, transcript evaluation instructions, as well as cost analysis.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the MAT Alternative Licensure program?

The Master of Arts in Teaching/Alternative Licensure program at Western Illinois University is a two-year teaching residency program. Unlike traditional routes to licensure where students complete coursework and clinical field work in schools before doing student teaching, this program allows qualified individuals to work in a classroom as a paid teacher of record on a provisional teaching license. This teaching period is called a “residency”. At the same time, students complete coursework that qualifies them for a Professional Educator License (PEL) and a master’s degree. All courses are online or virtual (with arranged meeting times) and offered during the Fall, Spring and Summer semesters.  Students can begin coursework before starting their teaching residency, and must have all coursework completed by the semester following the completion of the residency.

How do I obtain the temporary license?
  1. The requirements for obtaining the temporary license happens in roughly five stages, the first of which involves determining eligibility for a specific teaching license. Students must have 32 total credit hours in the specialization they wish to teach. The courses that can be applied varies with the specialization. For example, a prospective math teacher must have 32 math credits, while an elementary education teacher can have credits across the sciences, social sciences, language arts, etc. The number of applicable credits, and any deficits needed for eligibility, will be determined via transcript review . In addition to the graduate coursework for the licensure area sought, all deficits must be completed before graduation and the awarding of a full teaching license (PEL).
  2. The second requirement is that students must have a minimum of 30 hours of previous work with students in a school. This typically takes the form of previous substitute teaching or paraprofessional work. This work needs to be documented by your employer and submitted through the MAT Portal . Please note that only accepted students may submit material here.  If a student lacks previous school work experience, they will be expected to take an additional course (EDS 592) which will satisfy this requirement.
  3. The third requirement involves completing an Illinois licensure test for the student's desired teaching specialization. Most students spend one or two months preparing for these exams. You can access free and for purchase preparation materials and register for tests at the Illinois Licensure Testing System’s website .
  4. The fourth requirement involves completing a series of online training modules. There are six of these relatively brief modules, and they include topics such as school safety training and building relationships within the classroom. Completion of these modules will result in a virtual certificate, which you will then submit through the MAT Portal . Please note that only accepted students may submit material here.
  5. The final requirement is for the students to secure a full-time teaching position in the licensure area sought. Positions must be with schools or organizations that have a PEL authorized supervisor (principal) in the building. The hiring district or organization must provide the details of the position and agree to partner with the university in mentoring, coaching and evaluating the student’s teaching.  The candidate and the hiring district must submit a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the district's agreement to provide  supervision and evaluation of the resident teacher along with the university. Submit MOUs via the MAT Portal. Please note that only accepted students may submit material here.
Are the content exams difficult?

Many students choose to take one or two months in order to study for their exam. Although some students require multiple attempts, many are able to pass it on their first try. If you don’t pass it immediately, don’t worry! For students who do not have much experience teaching in their chosen licensing area, taking a few relevant courses in their program before attempting the content test is usually a good idea. Check with content area experts on the faculty for advice on which courses might be helpful. Admitted and enrolled students will be notified of the availability of test preparation sessions. Click here for WIU’s ILTS resource webpage to get started.

Can I begin taking classes before I obtain my temporary license and begin working as a teacher?

Many students choose to take classes before applying for their provision license (APE) in order to prepare for their content exam and/or lessen the load during their residency. (Please check with your advisor about courses that may require that you have access to students in a classroom.) Students may also want to take courses before their residency because of other life obligations that they will have during their residency. Keep in mind that all students can take advantage of summer semesters to take courses without a teaching obligation. Finally, the APE is only good for three (3) years and cannot be renewed. This reason alone could make taking some courses before getting a license a smart move.

How much does the program cost?

Total costs for the program are approximately $20,000. This fluctuates slightly depending on your specialization and how many credit hours you take. There are a number of financial aid programs available, including the federal TEACH grant which provides up to $8,000 for a master’s level licensure program. Remember that you will be earning a full-time teaching salary once you begin your residency.

How do I find a teaching job?

Many of our students are already working in schools or have a connection to their local community districts. For those who are entering the education workforce for the first time, we require a short observational field experience in a classroom, which can be satisfied with 30 hours of substitute teaching. Substitute teaching is an excellent way to find out about future openings in your local schools. To find open positions statewide, we suggest using the free Illinois Education Job Bank where you can search for jobs, save resumes, and apply online. Please note that WIU does not place MAT students in teaching residencies and cannot provide assistance in locating open positions. The MAT program was created to respond to the teacher shortage in Illinois. Our schools need teachers.

Where does the temporary license allow me to teach/What positions can I accept?

With the license you can work at any Illinois institution in which at least 50% of the teachers possess a state license, and at least one administrator possesses a state principal license. The APE license will only be issued for full-time positions as the “teacher of record”. These are positions that require a Professional Educator License or an Alternative Provisional License (APE) and the content exam for the licensure area sought. Full-time substitute teaching or any contractual teaching completed without a provisional license cannot be counted toward the residency time. Likewise, support teaching, and teaching done as a paraprofessional will not meet the requirements of a residency position.

Can the program be completed online?

From inquiry through graduation, our faculty and staff will support you remotely. All courses are completed online without the need to come to campus. Although a few of the courses have synchronous meeting times, they will be virtual (usually Zoom) sessions. The teaching residency is the only “in person” portion of the program.

Do I have an assigned advisor or mentor?

The School of Education will assign you an advisor who can help you with the completion of your coursework, answer questions and resolve degree-related problems and monitor your academic progress. The university will assign you a supervisor who will meet with you regularly during your residency. You will also be a part of EDS 600, which is structured as a cohort group support experience, with brief reflection assignments and regular Zoom meetings. Your hiring district or organization will assign you a mentor or a coach. These mentors, along with your building principal, will support you as a new teacher.

Important Documents & Information

MAT Degree Plan Templates

Click here  to access the degree plan templates for all programs. Use the list of courses found on the degree plan when determining your program of study. Use these templates to keep track of your course progress. MAT Candidates will submit their completed degree plans during their third semester of EDS 600.

Graduate Course Projections 

Instructions: Use the enrollment projection schedule below to identify when a course is set to run for a given semester and year. Each "X" represents when a particular course is set to run for a semester. Match the semester/year with the name of the course to identify the next time it will be offered. Discuss with your advisor the schedule at the onset of your program to assure courses on the degree plan are included. 

MAT Handbook

Click here   to access the MAT Handbook. This resource is continually updated with program information and licensure policies. Please access the information from this link rather than printing it as a PDF for saving or distributing.

Cost Analysis

Click here for a cost analysis based on Special Education, our most popular program.

Financial Aid Information

Licensure Checklist

Transcript Analysis

Memorandum of Understanding

Waiver for the 2 year Post Bac Work Experience