Oct 04, 2023  
2020-2021 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; these are 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.)

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

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

College of Engineering and Engineering Technology

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

College of Health and Human Sciences

Allied Health and Communicative Disorders (B.S.)
Family and Consumer Sciences (B.S.)
Health Studies (B.S.)
Interdisciplinary Health Professions (B.S.) 
Nursing (B.S.)

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

School of Public and Global Affairs
      Applied Management (B.S.)   
      Economics (B.A./B.S.)
      Nonprofit and NGO Studies (B.A./B.S.)
      Political Science (B.A./B.S.)
      Public Administration
Actuarial Science (B.S.)
Anthropology (B.A./B.S.)
Biological Sciences (B.S.)
Chemistry and Biochemistry (B.S.)
Communication (B.A./B.S.)
Computer Science (B.S.)
Economics (B.A./B.S.)
English (B.A./B.S.)
Geography (B.A./B.S.)
Geology and Environmental Geosciences (B.S.)
History (B.A./B.S.)
Mathematical Sciences (B.S.)
Nonprofit and NGO Studies (B.A./B.S.) (See School of Public and Global Affairs)
Philosophy (B.A./B.S.)
Physics (B.S.)
Political Science (B.A./B.S.) (See School of Public and Global Affairs)
Psychology (B.A./B.S.)
Public Administration (See School of Public and Global Affairs)
Sociology (B.A./B.S.)
Statistics (B.S.)
World Languages and Cultures (B.A.)

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Art (B.A./B.S.)
Art History (B.A.)
Music (B.A.)
Theatre Studies (B.A.)

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

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Art Studio and Design
Dance Performance
Theatre Arts

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

College of Engineering and Engineering Technology
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Music (B.M.)

College of Visual and Performing Arts


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

College of Education

Curriculum and Instruction
Kinesiology and Physical Education
Special and Early Education

College of Health and Human Sciences

Health Studies

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Art and Design Education

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.)

Actuarial Science-B.S.
Anthropology-B.A. and B.S.
Art-B.A. and B.S.
Art and design education-B.S.Ed.
Art history-B.A.
Art studio and design-B.F.A.
Biological sciences-B.S.
Biomedical engineering-B.S.
Business administration-B.S.
Communication studies-B.A. and B.S.
Communicative disorders-B.S.
Computer science-B.S.
Dance performance-B.F.A.
Early childhood education-B.S.
Economics-B.A. and B.S.
Electrical engineering-B.S.
Elementary education-B.S.Ed.
English-B.A. and B.S.
Environmental Studies–B.A. and B.S.
Fashion merchandising–B.S.
Geography-B.A. and B.S.
Geology and environmental geosciences-B.S.
Health sciences-B.S.
History-B.A. and B.S.
Hospitality and Toursim Management-B.S.
Human development and family sciences-B.S.
Industrial and systems engineering-B.S.
Journalism-B.A. and B.S.
Mathematical sciences-B.S.
Mechanical engineering-B.S.
Mechatronics engineering-B.S.
Medical laboratory sciences-B.S.
Middle level teaching and learning-B.S.Ed.
Music-B.A. and B.M.
Nonprofit and NGO studies-B.A. and B.S.
Nutrition, dietetics, and wellness-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.
Rehabilitation and Disability Services-B.S.
Sociology-B.A. and B.S.
Special education-B.S.Ed.
Sport management-B.S.
Theatre arts-B.F.A.
Theatre studies-B.A.
World languages and cultures–B.A.

Honors Program

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The University Honors Program (UHP) provides an enriched educational experience for students of high academic promise and achievement who have a commitment to excellence. The UHP program is open to students in all undergraduate colleges and provides its students with uniquely designed and specially taught courses; access to award-winning professors; a low student-to-faculty ratio; a unique blend of co-curricular programming; Honors only research programs; specialized advising; a living-learning community; specialized internships; and Honors-only scholarships, tuition waivers, and awards.

University Honors Program courses differ from other courses in that they encourage more open exchange between students and professors, are designed to engage students in practical and enhanced learning opportunities, and provide direct access to the best faculty both inside and outside the classroom. University Honors sections are normally available in all general education areas, as elective seminars, and in virtually all majors. Honors students culminate their experience with an in-depth Capstone Project, where students are encouraged to pursue a subject of their choosing and develop their interests through independent, yet guided, research, study, or artistry.

Graduation with UHP recognition frequently gives students a distinct advantage in applying for professional or graduate school and for employment as they can articulate both their curricular and co-curricular accomplishments. In particular, the UHP has guaranteed admission agreements with several NIU graduate programs and the College of Law. The following is a current list of partners:

  • Accelerated B.A. or B.S./J.D. Undergraduate Program and the College of Law*
  • Accelerated B.S. or B.A./M.A. Program in Political Science
  • Accelerated B.S./M.S. in Electrical Engineering
  • Accelerated B.S./M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Accelerated B.S./M.S. in Mechanical Engineering
  • Global MBA
  • M.A. Communicative Disorders Specialization in Speech-Language Pathology
  • M.A. in Sociology
  • Master of Accountancy (MAC)
  • M.S.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education
  • M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Education
  • M.S.Ed. in Educational Research and Evaluation
  • M.S.Ed. in Kinesiology
  • M.S.Ed. in Special Education
  • M.S.Ed. in Sport Management
  • M.S. in Chemistry
  • M.S. in Data Analytics
  • M.S. in Industrial Management
  • M.S. in Management Information Systems
  • M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics
  • M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling
  • M.S. in Statistics
  • M.S. or Ph.D. in Chemistry

Please consult the specific catalog section of each program for additional details

*Consistent with the American Bar Association requirements, for students to take advantage of this opportunity they must submit an application for review, successfully complete a minimum of ¾ of their undergraduate course work, and earn a score on the LSAT at or above the 50th percentile of the previous year’s matriculating law class.

All curricular UHP credit applies toward graduation requirements, which allow students to complete the UHP program with minimum burden. Students may also withdraw from the UHP program at any time without loss of credit.

Program of Study

The program is divided into two distinct options for students to complete - each with their own separate requirements. The Associate University Honors option requires six (6) points from a combination of curricular and co-curricular activities. Specifically, students who elect to pursue this distinction are required to earn a minimum of three (3) points through honors designated course work, with a minimum overall GPA of 3.30. (Each class must be greater than or equal to three-credits to earn one point towards Associate University Honors requirements.) Included within the minimum three (3) curricular points is a requirement of at least one (1) point of honors designated curricular credit outside the major. Furthermore, and included with the minimum three (3) curricular points, another requirement is one (1) University Honors Seminar. In addition, students must earn two (2) points by completing a minimum of two (2) Honors Engaged approved co-curricular activities (including all approved Engage PLUS activities).The remaining one (1) point is an elective that can be satisfied through either additional honors designated curricular course work or an added co-curricular experience that is approved through Honors Engaged.

The second option is Full University Honors and is achieved when students accumulate twelve (12) points from a combination of curricular and co-curricular activities. Students are required to earn a minimum of six (6) points through honors designated course work with a minimum overall GPA of 3.30. (Each class must be greater than or equal to three-credits to earn one point towards Full University Honors requirements.) Included within the minimum six (6) curricular points is a requirement of at least three (3) points of honors designated curricular credit outside the major. Furthermore, and included with the minimum six (6) curricular points, other requirements include one (1) University Honors Seminar, and one (1) Honors Capstone independent study project completed during the senior year. In addition, students must earn four (4) points by completing a minimum of four (4) Honors Engaged approved co-curricular activities (including all approved Honors Engaged activities). The remaining two (2) points are electives that can be satisfied through either additional honors designated curricular course work, added co-curricular experiences that are approved through Honors Engaged, or a combination of both. (Students may elect to begin the Associate University Honors option, successfully fulfill the requirements, and then continue in pursuit of Full University Honors - with all previous credit accrued counting towards the requirements of the latter.)

Within either option, students may earn honors credit in general education, elective, and major courses with a grade of A, A-, B+, B, or B-.

Course List

Honors curricular credit is earned when a course is honors designated through an “H” after the course designator and number or when the course designator is HON. University Honors Seminars may be courses from particular colleges and departments, or, in some cases, are from the Honors course list provided here. Seminars labeled HON300 Topics A-C earn general education credit in the knowledge domain listed in the course description; seminars labeled HON400 Topics A-C identify seminars that earn both general education credit in the knowledge domain listed in the course description and writing infused credit; seminars labeled HON400 Topic D earn writing infused credit. All the HON designated courses satisfy the University Honors Seminar requirement.

In cases where a student wants to repeat the same Honors Seminar for the third or subsequent enrollment for grade improvement, they will require permission from UHP in addition to their major college (or Academic Advising Center for students with no college affiliation) and the department offering the course.

HON 310 Honors Seminar Credits: 3

HON 300 Topic A Honors Seminar: Creativity and Critical Analysis Credits: 3

HON 300 Topic B Honors Seminar: Nature and Technology Credits: 3

HON 300 Topic C Honors Seminar: Society and Culture Credits: 3

HON 400 Topic A Honors Seminar: Creativity and Critical Thinking & Writing Infused Credits: 3

HON 400 Topic B Honors Seminar: Nature and Technology & Writing Infused Credits: 3

HON 400 Topic C Honors Seminar: Society and Culture & Writing Infused Credits: 3

HON 400 Topic D Honors Seminar: Writing Infused Credits: 3

Admission Requirements

The UHP welcomes not only freshmen but students who wish to enroll in the UHP 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 into the UHP is based on a holistic review of applications, including GPA, UHP admission essay, and other information provided in the application. Students whose record of achievement reflects quality work but who do not meet the criteria for admission are invited to apply for admission on provisional status.

Honors Transfer Credit

Those students who have previously completed Honors course work may have these courses counted as curricular credit toward the completion of Full University Honors. For such credit to be applied the following conditions must be met:

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

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.

It is the student’s responsibility to provide documentation of Honors course work to the NIU UHP for evaluation and verification. Transfer credit is not accepted for co-curricular experiences students have completed in the past, nor may students apply curricular transfer credit towards the partial or complete fulfillment of Associate University Honors requirements. However, curricular credit does transfer towards this distinct portion of Full University Honors requirements.

Degrees with Distinction

Students who complete the requirements of Associate University Honors will have this designated on the official transcript.

Students who complete the requirements of Full University Honors will have this designated on the official transcript and diploma.

Additional Program Services

The UHP provides all of its students with special curricular, and co-curricular programming.

All first-year and new transfer students are required to attend an orientation program held at NIU’s Lorado Taft Field Campus where they are introduced to the program’s full complement of offerings, work with the University Honors Fellows, and learn how to be successful at NIU.

Other services include priority registration for all courses, Honors Preferred Program (which provides discounts to students at local businesses), extended borrowing privileges for all library materials, dedicated regular and special advising and help in designing an academic program, a living-learning community in Honors House located in New Residence Hall Complex, externship programs, and a variety of extracurricular academic, professional development, community service, and social events. University Honors students also have opportunities to participate in special honors seminars on leadership, ethics, and microfinance; to study abroad in a variety of locations; to participate in peer leadership positions; to be named as University Honors Scholars; and to attend state, regional, and national conferences.

Further information about the University Honors Program may be obtained by visiting the University Honors Center in the Campus Life Building (CLB) 110, calling 815-753-0694, sending an e-mail to honors@niu.edu, or visiting the website at www.honors.niu.edu/honors.

Assessment at Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University engages in assessment processes to answer important questions about the quality of students’ baccalaureate experiences. Assessment student learning outcomes is one of the ways the university measures the extent to which it fulfills its educational mission. Information gained from programmatic 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 help us gauge 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’ knowledge and skills 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 Accreditation, Assessment, and Evaluation, assess@niu.edu, or visit us at go.niu.edu/assessment.

Educator Licensure Programs

See “Educator Licensure Requirements.”


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