Recruiting Students Into Teaching

$4 million new appropriation

The University of Northern Iowa has a strong legacy of providing Iowa’s public and private schools with educators. Ample data shows that poorly trained teachers are more likely to leave the teaching profession early. A major reason UNI continues to power Iowa's educator workforce is the in-depth field experience every student participates in rural, urban, suburban and even international settings, totaling more than 725 hours by the end of student teaching.

While the number of people completing teacher education programs in the state of Iowa has been on a steady decline in the past decade, UNI’s graduating classes remained steady. This puts UNI in the top 1% of public institutions across the country for the number of students who graduate with a bachelor's degree in education.

  • UNI is the top producer of teachers in the state, averaging 450 to 500 graduates each year.
  • UNI-educated teachers are employed in all 99 counties in Iowa and in 99% of Iowa's school districts.
  • Nearly 90% of teacher education graduates from UNI stay in Iowa to work after they graduate.
  • More than a quarter of the undergraduate enrollment at UNI is teacher education (28%).

UNI strives to provide the experience necessary for educators to remain in the profession to bring stability, continuity and, most importantly, expertise to our classrooms and schools.


FY 24 Budget Request - $4 million for new “Educators for Iowa” program

To encourage more students to enter the teaching profession, UNI is requesting $4 million from the state for a new Educators for Iowa grant program. This initiative will help remove a barrier to recruiting more students into the teaching profession, which is the cost of getting a teaching degree. UNI is asking the Iowa Legislature to provide $4 million in state funding to recruit and retain more students into the teaching profession. The program will provide annual grants to educator preparation students until they graduate. The funding will also scale-up current programs such as UNI’s 2+2 online elementary education degree program and Purple Pathway for Paraeducators program. Part of the funds may also be used as a stipend for students for when they are student teaching.


Alternative Pathways to Getting a Teaching License

UNI continues to find innovative ways to equip the next generation of teachers. These are four current alternative pathways to getting a teaching license offered at UNI:

  1. Degree in Three. This new partnership with Hawkeye Community College and Waterloo Community Schools allows students to earn a bachelor's degree in elementary education within just three years of high school graduation by earning credits toward their associate's degree while in high school. UNI would like to expand this program to additional school districts.
  2. Purple Pathway for Paraeducators. UNI has created this simplified, online and practice-based route to go from being a paraeducator to a licensed elementary and special education teacher. In academic year 2022-2023, the first cohort of nearly 70 paraprofessionals from across the state in this program started their coursework. The program provides a needed avenue for paraeducators to earn a bachelor's degree and become licensed elementary and/or special education teachers and builds on the success of UNI’s online 2+2 elementary education program.
  3. Online 2+2 Elementary Education. In place for more than 25 years, UNI’s online 2+2 elementary education program allows adults to earn their teaching degree through flexible classes designed for place bound, working professionals. It’s designed for those pursuing and/or have a community college AA or AS degree or a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.
  4. RAPIL. The Regents Alternative Pathway to Iowa Licensure (RAPIL) brings the talents and expertise of professionals to Iowa’s classrooms. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of three years, post-baccalaureate work experience to qualify for admission. Designed with the working professional in mind, RAPIL is offered online with evening courses and a few Saturday face-to-face classes. The first year is classwork and the second year is a paid internship in a school in grades 5-12. Upon successful completion, RAPIL candidates are recommended for an Initial Iowa Teaching License.