May 24, 2024  
2013-2014 Undergraduate Catalog 

Undergraduate Academic Programs

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Undergraduate programs at NIU are organized under the Colleges of Business, Education, Engineering and Engineering Technology, Health and Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Visual and Performing Arts, and Office of the Provost. Each of these six colleges coordinates programs for a group of departments of related disciplines and offers specialized academic services for students majoring in one of its departments. Almost every department has one or more major programs; many majors include specific emphases.

The Baccalaureate Experience


Northern Illinois University is a large, complex institution with a mission that includes a strong commitment to undergraduate education. Central to this commitment is the establishment of an intellectual environment that encourages the formation of the essential habits of the educated person–curiosity, rigorous observation, tolerant understanding, and informed judgment. The diverse academic programs in each of the distinctive colleges are unified by common expectations for the achievement of the baccalaureate degree.

The NIU baccalaureate degree experience enables graduates to think critically, create, and communicate by participating in an engaged learning environment to prepare for success in a diverse, global society. This learning environment emphasizes the importance of context. Graduates will be prepared to understand the impact of history on modern society, the relationship between our society and others around the globe, and the unity and diversity of the American experience. Students will be exposed to a broad range of experiences and knowledge through the study of natural science, social science, the humanities, and the arts. Students will develop their knowledge, capacities, and abilities through an intentionally developed curriculum that integrates general education, the students’ majors, and opportunities outside the classroom. NIU graduates will become life-long learners who are empowered, informed, and responsible citizens.

Goal definitions—The “Three Cs”

Critical thinking—involves literacy, reflectivity, and understanding how to gather and make sense of various forms of information before accepting or formulating an opinion or conclusion.

Creativity—uses a combination of imagination, intellect, insight, and emotion to solve problems and transform existing ideas, images, or techniques in innovative and original ways.

Communication—includes the mastery of basic skills, such as language, technology, and collaboration.

Baccalaureate learning outcomes
The baccalaureate learning outcomes include:

  • Integrate knowledge of global interconnections and interdependencies
  • Exhibit intercultural competencies with people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives
  • Analyze issues that interconnect human life and the natural world
  • Demonstrate critical, creative, and independent thought
  • Communicate clearly and effectively
  • Collaborate with others to achieve specific goals
  • Use and combine appropriate quantitative and qualitative reasoning skills to address questions and solve problems
  • Synthesize knowledge and skills relevant to one’s major or particular fields of study and apply them creatively to develop innovative outcomes.

Baccalaureate Degree Programs

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Individual departments should be consulted in the catalog for major requirements and to determine emphases and areas of study which may be pursued within a major.

Baccalaureate Degrees Offered

Northern Illinois University offers the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S.), Bachelor of Music (B.M.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), and Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed.) degrees in six colleges. The following lists these degrees and indicates the colleges and departments/schools offering them. 

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Office of the Provost 

Applied Management (B.S.) 

College of Business

Accountancy (B.S.)
Finance (B.S.)
Management (B.S.)
Marketing (B.S.)
Operations Management and Information Systems (B.S.)

College of Education

Kinesiology and Physical Education (B.S.) 
Special and Early Education (B.S.)

College of Engineering and Engineering Technology

Electrical Engineering (B.S.)
Industrial and Systems Engineering (B.S.)
Mechanical Engineering (B.S.)
Technology (B.S.)

College of Health and Human Sciences

Allied Health and Communicative Disorders (B.S.)
Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences (B.S.)
Nursing and Health Studies (B.S.)

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Anthropology (B.A./B.S.)
Biological Sciences (B.S.)
Chemistry and Biochemistry (B.S.)
Communication (B.A./B.S.)
Community Leadership and Civic Engagement (B.A./B.S.)
Computer Science (B.S.)
Economics (B.A./B.S.)
English (B.A.)
Foreign Languages and Literatures (B.A.)
Geography (B.A./B.S.)
Geology and Environmental Geosciences (B.S.)
History (B.A./B.S.)
Mathematical Sciences (B.S.)
Philosophy (B.A./B.S.)
Physics (B.S.)
Political Science (B.A./B.S.)
Psychology (B.A./B.S.)
Sociology (B.A./B.S.)

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Art (B.A.)
Music (B.A.)
Theatre and Dance (B.A.)

Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Theatre and Dance

Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S.)

College of Education
College of Engineering and Engineering Technology
College of Health and Human Sciences
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
College of Visual and Performing Arts

Bachelor of Music (B.M.)

College of Visual and Performing Arts


Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed.)

College of Education

Kinesiology and Physical Education
Literacy Education
Special and Early Education

College of Health and Human Sciences

Nursing and Health Studies

College of Visual and Performing Arts


Baccalaureate Degree Majors

The following list of undergraduate majors shows the degree(s) available. In addition, contract majors are offered by the Colleges of Education (B.S.), Engineering and Engineering Technology (B.S.), Health and Human Sciences (B.S.), Liberal Arts and Sciences (B.A. and B.S.), and Visual and Performing Arts (B.A.)

Anthropology–B.A. and B.S.
Art education–B.S.Ed.
Art history–B.A.
Athletic Training–B.S.
Biological sciences–B.S.
Business administration–B.S.
Communication studies–B.A. and B.S.
Communicative disorders–B.S.
Community Leadership and Civic Engagement–B.A. and B.S.
Computer science–B.S.
Early childhood studies–B.S.
Economics–B.A. and B.S.
Electrical engineering–B.S.
Elementary education–B.S.Ed.
Environmental Studies–B.A. and B.S.
Family and child studies–B.S.
Geography–B.A. and B.S.
Geology and environmental geosciences–B.S.
Health education–B.S.Ed.
Health sciences–B.S.
History–B.A. and B.S.
Industrial and systems engineering–B.S.
Journalism–B.A. and B.S.
Mathematical sciences–B.S.
Mechanical engineering–B.S.
Medical laboratory sciences–B.S.
Music–B.A. and B.M.
Nutrition, dietetics, and hospitality administration–B.S.
Operations and information management–B.S.
Physical education–B.S.Ed.
Political science–B.A. and B.S.
Psychology–B.A. and B.S.
Public health–B.S.
Sociology–B.A. and B.S.
Special education–B.S.Ed.
Studio art–B.F.A.
Textiles, apparel, and merchandising–B.S.
Theatre arts–B.F.A.
Theatre studies–B.A.

Honors Program

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The University Honors Program provides an enriched educational experience for students of high academic promise and achievement who have a commitment to excellence. The program permits such students to participate actively in the plan and design of their own educational directions within the overall university and departmental curricula. The Honors Program is broad and inclusive enough to provide this academic opportunity to students in all undergraduate colleges.

Honors sections are available in all general education areas, as electives, and, by prior arrangement, in virtually all majors. These courses differ from other courses in that they encourage more open exchange between the student and the professor, both inside and outside the classroom. Students are encouraged to pursue a subject in depth and to develop their own interests through independent study.

Since all honors credit applies toward graduation requirements, an honors student may complete the program without additional time requirements; a student may also withdraw from the program without loss of credit. Graduation With University Honors frequently gives the student a distinct advantage in applying for professional or graduate school and for employment.

Academic Program

The program is divided into two parts. Lower Division Honors, requires 15 semester hours of honors course work with a minimum GPA of 3.20 in honors courses and a minimum overall GPA of 3.00. Included within these 15 hours is a Cornerstone course taken in the fall semester of the freshman year. Recognition of Upper Division Honors, requires completion of 12 semester hours of 300- and 400-level honors course work with a minimum GPA of 3.20 in those courses and a minimum overall GPA of 3.20. Included within these 12 hours are an Honors Seminar, and an honors independent study project, completed during the senior year. Normally, the Honors Seminar must be taken outside of the students’ major. However, students who have completed lower division honors at NIU and are part of a departmental or college honors program may take their seminar within their major.

The total program, University Honors, involves a minimum of 27 semester hours (approximately nine courses) of honors work, 12 of which must be outside the major. Credit earned in departmental honors programs may be included within the 27-hours requirement for University Honors. Students may earn honors credit in general education, elective, and major courses with a grade of A, B, or C. However, the student must earn an A or B in all contract and independent study courses in order to receive honors credit for these courses. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.20 in all honors course work accepted for honors credit and a minimum overall cumulative GPA of 3.20 are required for recognition of University Honors.

Admission Requirements

The program welcomes not only freshmen but students who wish to enroll in the University Honors Program during or after their freshman year, either from within NIU, as transfer students, or as graduates of community colleges with an associate’s degree (A.A. or A.S.) in a baccalaureate-oriented program.

Admission of entering freshmen into the University Honors Program is based on a minimum composite ACT score of 27 or SAT score of 1200 and graduation in the upper 10 percent of the high school class. Students whose academic record reflects quality work but who do not meet the above criteria are invited to apply for admission on provisional status as space permits. Students at NIU or who transfer from other institutions as freshmen or sophomores may pursue Lower Division Honors if they have a cumulative GPA of 3.20 or better (on a 4.00 scale). Upper Division Honors may be pursued by transfer and native students who have attained junior status and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.20 (on a 4.00 scale).

Honors Transfer Credit

Those students who have previously completed 15 hours of honors courses may have these courses counted toward the completion of Lower Division Honors and thus earn full University Honors. However, no transfer credit will be accepted toward Upper Division Honors and students may not earn NIU Lower Division Honors using transfer credit. To be credited with having completed Lower Division Honors elsewhere, the following must apply.

The honors course work must have been completed in an established Honors Program that is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council.

The honors course work must be accepted by NIU toward the student’s major(s), minor(s), or general education requirements, or as electives.

A grade of B or better must have been earned in the honors course work offered for honors transfer credit.

The student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.20 on a 4.00 scale for all college course work attempted at all institutions attended.

It is the student’s responsibility to provide documentation of honors course work to the NIU University Honors Program for evaluation and verification.

Degrees with Distinction

Students who complete only Lower Division Honors will have this designated on the official transcript.

Students who complete only Upper Division Honors will have this designated on the official transcript and on the diploma.

Students who complete Lower and Upper Division Honors and have attained an overall GPA of at least 3.20 will graduate With University Honors. This designation will appear on the official transcript and on the diploma.

Additional Program Services

New freshman honors students are required to attend an overnight orientation session at the Lorado Taft Field Campus. Other services include help in designing an academic program, housing on honors residence floors in New Residence Hall Complex, regular advising, and a variety of extracurricular academic, professional development, community service, and social events, both on and off campus. Honors students also have opportunities to participate in special honors seminars sponsored by the National Collegiate Honors Council, to study outside of the United States, and to attend state, regional, and national honors conferences.

Further information about the honors program may be obtained from the office of the University Honors Program, Campus Life Building 110, 815-753-0694.

Assessment at Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University engages in assessment processes to answer important questions about the quality of students’ baccalaureate experiences. Assessment is one of the ways the university measures the extent to which it fulfills its educational mission, and information gained from assessment processes helps the university improve courses, degree programs, and academic and student support services. Additionally, assessment activities provide information that is required at the state and national levels for certification and accreditation purposes. Most importantly, assessment processes tell us how well the university is meeting students’ needs.

Many assessment activities at NIU occur as a part of instruction within the degree program.  Other assessment activities, including testing, surveys and projects, occur with the goal of measuring students’ abilities by evaluating performance at selected points in time. As students progress through degree programs, they will be expected to participate in assessment measures, which they should complete to the best of their abilities. Students’ performances on these measures reflect on the quality of the university and its undergraduate programs.   Although summary data may be published or presented at conferences, student performance data are aggregated; no individual student information is reported.

Questions regarding assessment should be directed to the Office of Assessment Services, 815-753-8659, Adams Hall, Room B20.

Teacher Certification Programs

See “Teacher Certification Requirements.”


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