School Counselor Certification in Illinois

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recently transitioned from certification to licensure. School counselors are issued Professional Educator Licenses with School Counselor (PK- Age 21) endorsements. They are considered school support personnel.

Illinois School Counselor Educational Requirements

Illinois school counselors hold degrees at the master's level or higher ( The master's degree may be in counseling or a related area such as psychology or social work. However, the following coursework must be included:

  • Child and youth growth and development
  • Structure and operation of the schools
  • Illinois student diversity and applicable laws and programs
  • Classroom learning and management

The practicum is to be at least 100 hours and include at least 40 hours of direct service.

The school counseling student must also have an internship of at least 600 hours (one semester). In cases where the student already has two years of teaching experience, the internship requirement is reduced to 400 hours. In all cases, the internship must include at least 240 hours of direct service.

Up to a third of the internship may take place in non-school setting like hospitals or day cares if the placement is judged by the preparing institution to offer preparation for a school counseling role.

An individual who matriculates through an approved in-state program can be assured of meeting educational requirements. ISBE released a list of approved instructional personnel programs in December of 2014 (

School counseling graduates can also be licensed in Illinois on the basis of school counseling programs that were approved for licensure in other states. If the program meets Illinois internship requirements, the candidate will not need to demonstrate that state-specific coursework requirements were met (

Illinois requires grades of at least ‘C’.

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Examination Requirement

Illinois school counselors must pass two examinations. The first assesses basic academic skills. In-state candidates take the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) prior to internship or final semester unless they have been exempted on the basis of college admission tests ( Admission examinations are qualifying only if they include a writing component. Individuals who took the ACT in the prior ten years and achieved composite scores of at least 22 with combined English/ writing scores of at least 19 may be exempted. The same goes for individuals who took the SAT in the prior ten years and achieved combined critical reading and mathematics scores of 1030 with a score of at least 450 in writing.

The TAP includes four tests: The mathematics, reading, and English language sections are multiple choice. The writing section is constructed response. The tests can be taken together, but do not have to be.

Some candidates will have taken an earlier version of the Illinois basic skills examination; passing scores will be honored for a ten-year time period.

The content examination is the Illinois Certification Testing System School Counselor Examination (181); it must be passed prior to licensure. The examination is multiple choice and is available at computer-based Pearson VUE testing centers throughout the year. Registration can be carried out online ( The candidate will need to pay $135 in testing fees.

Candidates will find practice questions in the study guide (

Test takers will receive preliminary test results at the testing site; official results will follow two to four weeks later. The passing threshold is a scaled score of 240. While it is not necessary to pass each subarea, the candidate will receive feedback on performance in the various subareas.

Illinois no longer places limits on the number of times that a candidate attempts an examination.

Candidates select the Illinois colleges that they wish to receive their score reports. The schools are known as entitling entities (

Professional Educator License with Stipulations

A candidate who has not yet met all requirements may be issued a Professional Educator License with Stipulations ( The license is issued for two fiscal years.

Out-of-State Counselors

School counselors are not held to state coursework or practicum standards if they hold valid licenses in other U.S. states and can demonstrate a year of full-time experience ( The experience may be earned working under an out-of-state license or working under a Professional Educator License with Stipulations.

Internationally educated school counselors will need their transcripts professionally evaluated. The Department of Education has provided a list of approved evaluation agencies (

The Application Process

Applications are submitted online through ELIS, the Educator Licensure Information System ( The State Board of Education has created instruction guides and multimedia resources to assist individuals in using the ELIS system.

In-state graduates may receive notification of entitlement through the online system; this happens when the school determines that all requirements (including examination) have been met.

Out-of-state candidates will need to submit approved program verification. The candidate will fill out the top of the form and submit it to the preparing institution. The candidate may also need to submit grade verification – the Illinois Licensure Division requires clarification that grades of “pass” or “satisfactory” are equivalent to at least a C.

Supplemental forms are available on the website of the State Department of Education (

In-state applicants pay a fee of $100. Out-of-state applicants pay $150.

Application status can be monitored online.

School Counselor Intern

An individual may be recommended for a school counselor intern approval at the request of an Illinois college. There are two ways to qualify. One is to hold a graduate degree in community counseling and to be working on meeting the additional requirements for the school counseling endorsement. The other is to have completed, at minimum, the growth and development, school operation, Illinois diversity, and classroom learning and management coursework.

Additional Information

The Licensure Division of the Illinois State Board of Educator can be reached by telephone at 217-557-6763 or by email at ‘licensure at’. Individuals with questions are directed to contact their Regional Office of Education (

Rules for school counselor endorsement are found in Section 25.225 of Illinois Administrative Code (

The Illinois School Counselor Association, the state's professional organization, provides professional development and other services but does not issue licenses (

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