Jul 13, 2024  
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog 

An Introduction to NIU

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Northern Illinois University (NIU) is a state-assisted coeducational institution which offers programs in the basic disciplines, the arts, and the professions through courses conducted on the campus in DeKalb and at a number of outreach centers throughout northern Illinois.

The university offers six degrees at the baccalaureate level: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Bachelor of Music (B.M.), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed.), and Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S.).

Northern Illinois University offers approximately 70 fields of study for undergraduate students in the Colleges of Business, Education, Engineering and Engineering Technology, Health and Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Visual and Performing Arts. The basic undergraduate curriculum consists of a minimum of 120 semester hours, 29-41 of which are devoted to general education courses providing an educational base for advanced and specialized study.

NIU has selective entrance requirements; students who meet them can reasonably expect to graduate from the university. Students who have decided on a major field of study when they enter the university are assigned to the college in which that major is offered, wheras those who have not decided on a field of study may find that the general education courses, which all students take, will help them determine a major. Within certain limits, students are free to change their majors as their goals change.

Certain programs cannot accept everyone who wants to major in them, but everyone admitted to NIU is eligible to compete for places in such programs. The programs for which there is competition screen students through a set of pre-major courses. Successful completion of this package of courses has been an excellent indicator of success in these programs.

The quality of NIU’s undergraduate education is very high, largely because of the connection between undergraduate and graduate programs. In most fields, undergraduate students will study with professors who are producing important research, scholarship, and artistry in their disciplines. Furthermore, NIU supports student career success through academic advising, personal counseling, and career and placement counseling. As a residential university, NIU provides cultural, athletic, and other co-curricular activities within an atmosphere designed to enrich the undergraduate learning experience is enriched.

NIU is located in DeKalb, Illinois, a community of 40,000 people, 65 miles west of Chicago. Thus, NIU offers the ease in daily living associated with a medium-sized town while at the same time providing the cultural advantages associated with access to a major urban center. In addition, many of NIU’s programs are enhanced by the university’s proximity to the major industries and large alumni base in the Chicago and suburban area; these provide opportunities for internships and clinical experience. Because of its comprehensive, high quality programs, the flexibility it offers students in making choices of career and major, its advantageous location and residential benefits, Northern Illinois University is an excellent choice for an undergraduate education.

Northern Illinois University Mission and Scope

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The vision of Northern Illinois University is to be the premier student-centered, research-focused public university in the Midwest, contributing to the advancement of knowledge for the benefit of the people of the region, the state, the nation, and the world.

With this vision, the mission of the University is to promote excellence and engagement in teaching and learning, research and scholarship, creativity and artistry, and outreach and service.

In pursuing our vision and fulfilling our mission, the University values:

  • A community of diverse people, ideas, services, and scholarly endeavors in a climate of respect for the intrinsic dignity of each individual,
  • Access for a broad spectrum of students to high quality undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs that prepare them to be lifelong learners and productive, socially conscious citizens,
  • Engaged teaching and learning that evolves from the synergy of research, artistry, and service,
  • Research and artistry in creating, transmitting, expanding, and applying knowledge,
  • Student success supported through academic and co-curricular programming and activities,
  • The application of current technology in enhancing and broadening all institutional endeavors,
  • A system of shared governance that incorporates input from faculty, staff, and students in decision- and policy-making,
  • Commitment to a public purpose addressing regional, state, national, and global challenges and opportunities.

Recognizing that students will need to learn throughout their lives, the university provides them with the opportunity to become more competent in criticial thinking, communication, and creativity.

The university makes significant contributions to the expansion of knowledge. It believes that active programs in research and artistry promote intellectual vitality and enrich an institution’s instructional mission and its service to the broader community. It enthusiastically accepts its responsibility to contribute to the nation’s scientific and technological leadership, to support advances and innovations in education, to bring ideas to bear on issues of public policy, to contribute to the sustained appreciation of our diverse cultural heritage, and to prepare a new generation of scholars and educational leaders. It accepts a responsibility to prepare citizens who understand the increasingly global nature of contemporary life.

The multiple and ever-changing demands of society require the continuing development of academic and professional programs that are current, responsive, and of the highest possible quality. The university thus seeks to recruit and retain faculty of national stature from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, attentive to developments in their respective disciplines, and capable of educating students who will be able to serve the region, the state, the nation, and the world with distinction in the coming decades. Convinced that the intellectual resources of the nation are held in common, the university hopes to maintain access for all segments of the population, and, within the constraints of its budget, intends to admit those who can meet its entrance standards, to retain those who can benefit from its programs, and to educate students to the extent of their capabilities and desires.

In pursuit of these objectives, Northern Illinois University currently offers programs of study in the Colleges of Business, Education, Engineering and Engineering Technology, Health and Human Sciences, Law, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Visual and Performing Arts. It awards the baccalaureate degree in a wide range of programs and offers a comprehensive set of master’s degrees, the Juris Doctor, a limited number of sixth-year programs, and the Doctor of Education and the Doctor of Philosophy. The university’s undergraduate student body is drawn primarily from within the state. The institution’s professional programs are designed to be especially attractive to employed adults, in that courses are offered both on and off campus and are scheduled to accommodate the needs of the working public. Northern’s doctoral programs draw from a national and international student base and build upon the programmatic strengths of the institution. Northern Illinois University’s history reflects flexibility in the face of change and consistency in the pursuit of excellence. In this, the university expects its future to confirm its past.

Accreditation and Affiliation

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Northern Illinois University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region. NIU is included in the Doctoral Universities Higher Research Activity category of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and has achieved the Community Engagement Classifications for Outreach and Partnerships and for Curricular Engagement.

The university and its colleges have institutional membership or other affiliations in or with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Council on Education (ACE), Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGBUC), Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), Council of Graduate Schools, and Universities Research Association.

The university is also fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to offer teacher education programs and offers several educator licensure programs that are approved by the Illinois State Board of Education.

In the College of Business, programs leading to the baccalaureate and master’s degrees are accredited by AACSB International-The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

In the College of Education, the B.S. in athletic training is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

In the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, the undergraduate programs in electrical engineering, industrial and systems engineering, and mechanical engineering are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). In the technology program, the emphases in electrical engineering technology and manufacturing engineering technology are accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, and the emphasis in industrial management and technology is accredited by the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE).

In the College of Health and Human Sciences, the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders offers a D.P.T. program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The Au.D. and M.A. with a specialization in speech-language pathology are accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. The specialization in marriage and family therapy in the Master of Science program in applied human developmenet and family sciences offered by the School of Family and Consumer Sciences is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy (COAMFTE). In the School of Family and Consumer Sciences, the Child Development and Family Center is accredited by National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the B.S. in human development and family sciences is approved by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). The undergraduate and graduate programs in nursing in the School of Nursing are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The School of Health Studies offers the master of public health program that is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), a B.S. in medical laboratory sciences that is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), and the graduate-level dietetic internship and the M.S. degree in nutrition and dietetics are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND); the undergraduate didactic program in nutrition, dietetics, and wellness is approved by ACEND. The School of Interdisciplinary Health Professions offers the M.S. in rehabilitation counseling that is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the B.S. in chemistry is approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The clinical psychology and school psychology areas within the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in the Department of Psychology are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). The school psychology M.A. program leading to specialist-level certification is fully approved by National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The B.S. degree with emphases in professional chemistry and biochemistry are certified by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The Master of Public Administration degree offered by the Department of Public Administration is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

Within the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the programs in art, music, and theatre arts are accredited, respectively, by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST).

The College of Law is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).

The Campus

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The DeKalb Campus

The 756-acre campus of Northern Illinois University is located in the city of DeKalb, a community of about 45,000 located 65 miles west of Chicago’s Loop, on the East-West Tollway (I-88). The campus, which features two lagoons and a wooded area, has grown from a single building in 1899 to a modern, 64-major-building campus. The first building, Altgeld Hall, originally known as “the Castle on the Hill,” still stands and has undergone extensive renovation.

Regional Sites

NIU offers courses and programs at various locations throughout the northern Illinois region. The NIU Outreach Centers, located in Hoffman Estates, Naperville, and Rockford, are multimedia learning environments for NIU academic classes. The Lorado Taft Field Campus in Oregon, Illinois, is home to activities for K-12 students studying various aspects of environmental education. Also see “Regional Programs.”

The facilities of all four regional sites are available for meetings, conferences, workshops, and retreats by NIU and non-NIU groups. Contact the individual site for rates and availability, or log on to www.niu.edu/regional/index.shtml.

University Office Hours


Most administrative offices are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, and from 1 to 4:30 p.m. University office hours are subject to change. All offices are closed on legal holidays.

Visitors may obtain information at the Altgeld Welcome and Information Center. Prospective students may obtain information at the Office of Admissions, Williston Hall, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or schedule a Saturday visit from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Cole Hall.

Faculty Office Hours

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Faculty members who teach maintain regular office hours or provide other means to promote student-faculty consultation, in accordance with department policy. These office hours are included in course syllabi and publicly posted each academic term. Arrangements more convenient to students than office visits (e.g., e-mail or chat groups) may be substituted for office hours where provided for by department policy.

The Academic Year

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The academic year consists of two semesters of approximately 16 weeks each, and a summer session which includes freshman-level courses for recent high school graduates who wish to begin college work immediately.


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