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Frequently Asked Questions

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I have a strong interest in education and want to obtain my teaching certificate to teach at a middle school or high school. Will this program help me obtain certification?

Congratulations on your desire to train the next generation. This program is created for in-service teachers and content will not be applicable towards a teaching certificate. Because of this, we only accept teachers who are currently certified wherever they teach.

Will I be qualified to teach at a community college after completing this program?

As far as being qualified to teach at a college level, that would depend on the college for which you are looking to teach and their specifications, so we cannot guarantee that our program would qualify you to teach at a community college. This program is designed for middle school and high school teachers. A program for community college teachers is being considered, but there are no immediate plans for this.

I'm a graduate student (or a curious onlooker) in a field other than teaching and your classes look interesting to me. Can I take your classes without working toward your degree?

We are glad our course topics sound fascinating and you think they could be of use. At this time, we can only accept certified teachers in our individual courses or for acceptance into the program.

Is this an accredited program?

Yes. Rest assured that a degree from our online program is as valid as if you attended the University of Illinois in person.

If you have further questions about the online programs offered by the University of Illinois, feel free to visit this FAQ page.

Is the degree I earn online from University of Illinois an "online degree"?

A degree earned online from University of Illinois is not designated as "online" in any way. The degree is earned from the campus offering your program; Chicago, Springfield or Urbana-Champaign. The online programs offered are of the same high-quality, accredited education expected at the University of Illinois.

How much does the program cost?

The tuition rate for the 2023-2024 academic year is $510 (USD) per credit hour. The tuition rate is the same for instate, out–of–state, and international students. The cost for future courses may be subject to moderate changes in accordance with the actions of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

The biology courses are 4 credit hours each, making each of those courses $2040.

The program is a total of 32 credit hours.

Are books an additional cost?

Book fees are not included in tuition and may occasionally apply to some courses. Plan for between $50-$100 in book fees throughout the program, but most classes will use only online resources. The goal is to keep textbook expenses as low as possible, while supplying you with resources that will be useful for both your educational and professional experiences.

Is this a Master of Science Degree or a Master of Education Degree?

After completing this program you will be awarded a Masters of Science Degree from the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, as prestigious as a degree granted if you attended in person.

Will a Master of Science Degree be accepted by my school district?

Please consult the appropriate person in your school district. Some will only accept a Master of Education for promotion.

How is the curriculum organized?

Students may begin courses in either early June (summer), mid January (spring) or mid–to–late August (fall). Each course runs 8 weeks, except the Capstone, which runs 16 weeks, but meets less frequently.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The entire program takes about two (2) years to complete if you participate without breaks.

There are 6 Biology courses offered, but to graduate I need only 5 of those, is that correct?

That is correct.

May I take all 6 Biology courses?

Absolutely, however, tuition costs will be higher if you do so.

How many hours per week am I expected to work?

As instructors, we estimate it will take 10-15 hours per week to complete activities, but student feedback has indicated that, depending on the course and variations in workload between modules, it requires anywhere from 6-12 hours per week.

Is the course entirely online or do students come to campus to take tests?

The program is entirely online. No need to come to campus for any reason. But if you are here, you are free to stop by and say "Hi!"

Do students have to "meet" online at regular times each week?

Each course has aweekly synchronous session that we conduct via Zoom, and which is recorded. We find most students enjoy the weekly interactions which occur (generally) on Tuesdays from 7:00pm-8:30pm Central Time. Each course has slightly different participation requirements and timing. Please consult the course descriptions for more details. In case of conflicts students can work with instructors to find a workable solution.

Reliable access to high-speed internet is essential for success in this program. Students will be expected to spend 10-20 hours each week engaged in online materials, most of which require high-speed internet access at the time of access.

Do students take the courses one at a time or can more be taken at once to finish the program sooner?

The capstone courses run simultaneously with other courses, but otherwise, the program runs one course at a time. We do not have the staffing to run multiple courses at once in order to accelerate the program.

May I spread out my classes over a longer period than the recommended two years?

Yes, we are able to accommodate students who need to take breaks or want to progress more slowly due to other obligations.

May I take only a few courses for credit without enrolling in the program? Do I have to apply for admission to take a few courses for credit?

To take a few courses, students enroll as a non–degree student. Students are limited to taking fewer than 12 hours per fall or spring semester (fewer than 6 hours in the summer), which means they are not considered to be full-time for most purposes. The student may request to transfer 12 hours of credit taken as a non-degree student to a degree program, if subsequently admitted to and enrolled in a degree program. To learn more, contact Christine Happ ( .

If I do the program online, do I need to have someone proctor exams?

For any online courses that require proctored exam, the University of Illinois uses the services of ProctorU, where you can take proctored exams online from anywhere using a webcam and a high speed internet connection.

Once I am accepted, do I need the university health insurance, vaccinations or ID card?

No, these will not be unnecessary for online students. You will however, be assigned a netID and an email address. We will provide information to obtain library privileges.

Do you provide mentoring during the program?

Each instructor is happy to direct and guide you for program specific mentoring, although, as professionals, we anticipate you are also receiving specific teaching mentoring through your primary place of employment. For more information, please also see the Guidelines for Graduate Student Mentoring as suggested by the Graduate Colleg and adopted by SIB.

What Course Management System do you use for your online courses?

We use Moodle to host most of our courses, however as the University of Illinois offers different CMSs to faculty, some courses may be offered in Canvas.

Do I need to take the GRE?

GRE scores are NOT required for admission into the OMST program. We believe we can make sound judgments about your potential for success in this program based upon your academic records, recommendation letters, statement of purpose and teaching certificate. TOEFL scores are required for international students, however.

Do I need a teaching certificate?

Yes, a teaching certificate is absolutely required for either individual courses or for application to the program.

What is your policy on transfer credits?

Unfortunately, we do not allow transfer credits. All of the courses we require our students to take in order to graduate from our program are unique, up-to-date, upper-level graduate courses specifically designed for the middle- and high-school teachers enrolled in our OMST program.

Do I have to have a Bachelor's Degree in Biology to apply?

This is strongly recommended. We consider other science degrees if you are teaching or have taught biology classes. If you are weak in biology basics, our advanced level courses will be very challenging.

Do my recommendation letters have to come from people working in academia?

Your three recommendation letters may come from either academic or professional sources; recommendations from personal sources (e.g., neighbors, friends, family) will not be considered.

When are the application deadlines?.

  • Applications for Summer 2024 are due May 1, 2024.
  • Applications for Fall 2024 are due July 1, 2024.
  • Applications for Spring 2025 are due November 15, 2024.

I opened an account to fill out an application on the graduate school website and the option for the program is not easily visible. How do I continue to fill out the application?

Under Proposed Program you choose Biology

Under Degree, choose Teaching of Biological Science (Online)-- MSU. Concentration/Field of Specialization is None.

I am an international student. Can I enroll in the program?

Yes, please see our international student criteria.

Do you have scholarships for international students?

While there are options for financial aid for international students, no scholarships are available at this time.

Can I apply for financial aid?

Yes, if you meet certain course-load requirements. Learn more here.