Jun 20, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 


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The university reserves the right to make changes in admission requirements, fees, degree requirements, and other specifications set forth in this catalog. Such changes take precedence over catalog statements. While reasonable effort is made to publicize such changes, the student should remain in close touch with departmental advisers and appropriate offices, because responsibility for complying with all applicable requirements ultimately rests with the student.

Although the university attempts to accommodate the course requests of students, course offerings may be limited by financial, space, and staffing considerations or may otherwise be unavailable. Nothing in this catalog may be construed to promise or guarantee registration in any course, course of study (whether required or elective) or course modality nor may anything be construed to promise or guarantee the completion of an academic program within a specified length of time.

Student Responsibility

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See “General Regulations.”

Human Rights Statement

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Northern Illinois University (“NIU” or “the university”) is an equal employment opportunity institution and does not unlawfully discriminate against its students, faculty and staff on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, physical and/or mental disability, marital status, veteran/military status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, political affiliation, order of protection status, victim of domestic or sexual violence status, citizenship status, arrest record in employment/personnel matters, genetic information, and/or other protected categories in compliance with applicable federal and state statutes, regulations and orders pertaining to nondiscrimination, equal opportunity and affirmative action that violate university policy. Additionally, conduct that results in sexual misconduct, sexual harassment and/or retaliation is also considered unlawful and prohibited by university policy.

The following persons are designed to handle inquiries regarding Title IX, Section 504, or Title II:

  • Title IX Coordinator, Health Services 230, TitleIXCoordinator@niu.edu, 815-753-5560
  • ADA Coordinator, Health Services 427, ADA@niu.edu, 815-753-6038
  • Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Altgeld Hall 208, Student_Affairs@niu.edu, 815-753-1573

Language of Instruction at NIU

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Northern Illinois University recognizes the richness that students of diverse cultures bring to the university community, and likewise hopes to instill in its students an appreciation of such diversity. The university also recognizes the importance of assuring all of its students access to its educational benefits, and of fair and equitable treatment in the delivery of its academic programs, as well as its obligation to employers and other institutions that may assume competence in communication in English on the part of NIU graduates. English is the language of instruction at Northern Illinois University and the only common language of the university’s faculty and students. Therefore, academic activities relating to graduate degree requirements or course credit, including presentations, examinations, and theses and dissertations, are to be in English. Appropriate exceptions include classes, examinations, theses, and other academic activities within the Department of World Languages and Cultures, which may be wholly or partially in another language as applicable; other examinations designed specifically to evaluate students’ proficiency in languages other than English; any courses for which competency in a foreign language has been established as a prerequisite; foreign-language citations and quotations; and multicultural activities designed to expose students to the experience of other languages and cultures, when relevant to the nature of particular courses.

Immigration Reform and Control Act Regulations Affecting Employment by the University

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The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act mandates that any person employed by Northern Illinois University after November 6, 1986, must be either a U.S. citizen or possess current employment authorization from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. All such employees, including graduate assistants, must be prepared to present original documentation to the employing department/cost center within three days of the start date of their employment contract or risk cancellation of the contract.

Conflict of Interest Policy for All University Employees

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All employees of the university must conform with the university’s ethics policies, including the Conflict of Interest policy, which is available in the Academic Policies and Procedures Manual. All employees of the university, including students employed on a part-time basis or as graduate assistants, are subject to the policy.

Leave of Absence

A leave of absence, which relieves students from the continuous enrollment requirement, may be granted to any student who has been enrolled in a course numbered 699 or 799. Graduate students who are ineligible for a leave of absence because they have not enrolled in thesis or dissertation hours may cease to enroll for up to three terms (Fall, Spring, Summer) before their admission is revoked.

To request a leave of absence, students must complete the form available at the Graduate School website. Students may request a leave of absence for up to six terms. The request should be received and approved before the end of the first term for which the student plans not to enroll.

When a leave of absence is granted, the leave does not exempt a student from the Limitation on Time policy. (See “General Requirements section of this Catalog.)

Leaves of Absence for Employees

Military leaves of absence will be granted in accordance with applicable Illinois statutes and executive orders issued by the State of Illinois in response to emergency situations and military operations.

Leaves of absence will be granted for volunteer services related to disaster relief in accordance with applicable Illinois statutes or executive orders issued by the State of Illinois in response to emergency situations.

Storage in University Buildings

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Students electing to utilize university buildings and/or facilities for the storage of personal property owned by them, thereby accept the responsibility for such storage and waive any and all responsibility and liability on the part of the university and its employees for loss of or damage to such personal property by any cause whatsoever including, but not limited to fire, water, windstorm, or other casualty, theft, or improper or inadequate humidity control.

Conduct and Discipline Regulations

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It is expected that all enrolled students intend to engage in serious educational pursuits. When students accept admission to Northern Illinois University, the university assumes that they thereby agree to conduct themselves in accordance with its standards.

The university expects all of its students, both on and off the campus, to conduct themselves in accordance with the usual standards of society and law-abiding citizenship. Every organization affiliated with the university or using its name is expected to conduct all its affairs in a manner creditable to the university.

While enrolled, students are subject to university authority. The university has the prerogative, in the interest of all of its students, to suspend or require the withdrawal of a student or group of students for acting in such a manner as to make it apparent that the student or group of students are not desirable members of the university. See also “Disruption of Instruction.” Copies of the most current Student Code of Conduct may be obtained at the university’s Student Conduct.

General Regulations

Students at Northern Illinois University are expected to abide by the university regulations set forth below, the Student Code of Conduct and the policies, rules and regulations of the university, as well as by applicable federal, state, and local laws. While the university will normally apply disciplinary sanctions only for violations of its Student Code of Conduct, policies, rules and regulations, a student is subject to public laws at all times, including the Illinois Compiled Statutes which contain provisions specifically directed at maintaining the orderly operation of state colleges and universities.

Failure to abide by the following regulations may result, after a hearing by one of the Student Conduct Boards or a representative of Student Conduct, in disciplinary sanctions including, but not limited to warning, disciplinary probation, suspension, and dismissal from the university.

Sanctions may result from:

academic dishonesty. Plagiarism, cheating, knowingly supplying false or misleading information to university officials or on official university records, forgery, and alteration or misuse of university documents, records, or identification cards all are prohibited.

obstruction or disruption of university activities. A student or students may not knowingly or willfully interfere with the normal educational activities of the university including teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, or other university activities, including its public service functions. Disruption of university activities includes but is not limited to obstruction of access to the facilities of the university including corridors and doorways; interference with classroom activities or other scheduled events; interference with the performance of the duties of any institutional employee. Picketing may be permitted pursuant to applicable university policy, but only under the following conditions: Students who picket on university premises must do so in peaceful and orderly fashion. Picketing should not involve invasion of the rights of others, interference with the operations of the university, or jeopardy to public order and safety. Specifically, the following conditions must be met.

  • Automobile, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic must not be obstructed.
  • Entrances to buildings and driveways must not be blocked or traffic interfered with.
  • Picketing inside university buildings is prohibited, unless permitted by applicable university policy.
  • There will be no disturbing of classes by noise or by other means.
  • There will be no harassing of passers-by or other interference with their activities.
  • There will be no damage to property, including lawns and shrubs, nor littering of premises with signs, leaflets, or other materials.

failure to abide by regulations governing the use of university premises and facilities. No student shall remain alone or with others in a university building beyond its normal closing hours unless duly authorized by a university official nor shall an individual remain in a university building after being notified to depart there from by an authorized university official. Unauthorized entry to or use of university facilities is also prohibited.

theft or damage. A student or students may take no action or actions which damages or which as a probable consequence could damage property of the university or private property.

physical abuse of persons. A student or students may take no action or actions which disrupts or which as a probable consequence could disrupt the public peace or which endangers the safety, health, physical or mental well-being, or life of any person.

dangerous and narcotic drugs. A student may not use, possess, sell, or distribute any of the narcotic, dangerous, or hallucinogenic drugs in any form except under the direction of a licensed physician and as expressly permitted by law. NIU policy is in accordance with the Federal Drug-free Schools and Communities Amendment Act of 1989 and the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. Please refer to this policy for more details and assistance resources.

firearms. Students may not have or keep any firearm on their persons, in their quarters, or in their motor vehicles at any time while on university property except with the permission of the chief security officer of the university, or pursuant to applicable law or policy.

alcoholic beverages. Delivery and sale of alcoholic beverages on university property is prohibited, unless expressly authorized under applicable policy. Possession and use of alcoholic beverages on university property is restricted by the laws of the state of Illinois as to age and by the regulations of the university as to physical location.

instructions from university officials. A student must follow the oral or written instructions regarding university regulations or state law given by any university official whom the Board of Trustees or the President has vested with the authority to give such instructions.

university regulations. Students are responsible for knowing and abiding by university regulations and policies, including those not specifically enumerated in these general regulations, concerning such matters as the meeting of financial obligations to the university, university motor vehicle and parking regulations, registration of student organizations, as well as specific rules governing the use of particular facilities such as the residence halls, the libraries, and the Holmes Student Center.

Disruption of Instruction

Graduate education is a privilege accorded to those students deemed able to profit from the associated intellectual experiences. When a student’s behavior within a classroom, laboratory, or other formal instructional setting is such that the rights of other students to an effective learning environment are being violated, that student may lose the privilege of attending the class or receiving credit for the course in that term.

In any case of the disruption of instruction by a graduate student or student-at-large, the instructor may require that student to leave the class for the balance of that class session. Whether or not the student is immediately removed from the class, the instructor may file a statement of the incident with the department chair, providing the student with a copy, and may ask that the chair suspend that student from further participation in the course. The chair of the department may, upon recommendation of the instructor and after investigating the incident, suspend that student from class attendance and recommend to the dean of the Graduate School that the student be permanently barred from the class for the remainder of that academic term. The student must be notified in writing of such a recommendation and may submit a written appeal of the department’s recommendation to the dean within one week of the notification. Upon such an appeal, the dean or dean’s designee shall conduct a hearing, providing for a presentation of the facts relative to the disturbance. The decision of the dean’s office shall be final. If the recommendation to bar the student from class is upheld, the student will be officially withdrawn from the course following regular withdrawal procedures, with the date upon which the student was initially suspended as the effective date of the withdrawal.

Extreme and/or repeated disruptive behavior constitutes grounds for dismissal from the university. Student Conduct handles such dismissals; the policies and procedures of that office are outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.

*In addition, the Criminal Code in the Illinois Compiled Statutes contains provisions relating to disorderly conduct, theft, inflicting bodily harm, arson, property damage, gambling, the use of drugs, mob action, and sex offenses.

Student Information and Records

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Documents submitted in support of an application for admission to the Graduate School or for student-at-large status become the property of Northern Illinois University and will not be returned to the applicant or transmitted to another institution. Such documents will be retained by the Graduate School for a minimum period of one year; retention beyond that minimum cannot be assured.

Information and data concerning individual students are collected, maintained, and used by the university only as needed in relation to its basic educational purposes and requirements. Presently, relevant policy and procedures are designed and operated to be in compliance with federal legislation, specifically, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The official university procedures and a directory of educational materials maintained by Northern Illinois University are available for review in the Office of Registration and Records. All questions about interpretations or clarifications involving university policy and procedures regarding students’ records are to be directed to the university Office of General Counsel or the Office of Registration and Records.

There are four primary types of student records: academic, financial, medical, and placement.  However, there are other types of student records that may be maintained by NIU. The official academic record is established and kept current by the Office of Registration and Records. It is a cumulative history of the student’s enrollment and educational participation and performance. Maintained in connection with the academic record is certain biographical and personal identification information as needed for enrollment purposes. In addition to certain elements of this record, the Graduate School maintains the student’s graduate admissions record and a record of progress toward meeting requirements (Graduate School as well as departmental) of the student’s graduate program(s). The Graduate School also maintains records relating to the academic progress of students-at-large. Some or all of these student data are provided by the Office of Registration and Records and the Graduate School as needed to the university’s academic offices, colleges, schools, and departments for academic administration and advisement, and to other university administrative units as necessary for the functioning of various student and support services.

Student financial records are the responsibility of the Office of the Bursar, with respect to the billing, payment, and accounting of tuition and fees; the Student Financial Aid and Scholarship Office for operation of the university’s student financial assistance program; and the Graduate School for graduate fellowships and assistantships. The Bursar keeps a complete record of the student’s financial transactions relative to payment of the university charges accrued.

For those students who require medical assistance and care from the Student Health Service, at the time of their first contact with the service a medical history record is created and maintained by Northwestern Medicine, through an agreement with the University.

Career Services, with the student’s voluntary participation, provides a mechanism through which students can choose to share their self-completed resume and various personal references and career-related documents with potential employers.

Certain records within the university community are exempt from the above-cited federal legislation: records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel which are the possession only of the maker and not accessible nor revealed to any other person except a substitute; law enforcement records within the university’s Department of Police and Public Safety; and medical records used in connection with the provision of treatment for a student. Access to these is strictly limited to the university staff immediately involved with their creation and maintenance except for certain specific qualifications.

Further, the university is not required to make available to the student the financial records of their parents or confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation which were placed in the student’s files prior to January 1, 1975, if such are used only for the purpose specifically intended.

Access to or release of each of the above types of records or their respective parts, or of any personally identifiable information, with the previous exceptions noted, is restricted to the following: the student or former student; parents of a legally defined dependent student (reference Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954); university officials who have a legitimate university related educational or administrative interest and need to review an education record in order to fulfill their professional responsibility; certain authorized state and federal representatives primarily as concerns the evaluation and auditing of government funded programs in which the university participates; officials of other colleges, universities, or schools in which the student intends to enroll, provided the student is informed of this type of request in advance of the information being released; individuals, agencies, and organizations in connection with the student’s application for or receipt of financial aid; state and local officials as directed by State Statute adopted prior to November 19, 1974; with certain restrictions, organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions for the purpose of developing, validating, or administering predictive tests, administering student aid programs, and improving instruction; accrediting organizations; and appropriate persons in connection with an emergency, if knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of a student or other person. A university official for the purposes of this section is a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the university has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing their tasks. In all other instances, access or release may be granted only with the student’s written authorization, or as otherwise allowed by law. In cases where such records are to be furnished in compliance with a judicial order or pursuant to a lawfully issued subpoena, the University shall make a reasonable attempt to notify students prior to their release, unless notification is prohibited by law. Such attempts at notice will normally be by personal service, first-class mail to their last known address, or via e-mail.

In accordance with the privacy rights afforded to students under FERPA, the student has the right to personally review their education records in the presence of a university representative at an appropriate convenient campus location. This right pertains separately to each status to which the student has been in attendance at the university (i.e., undergraduate, student-at-large, law, graduate). The student should submit a written request to the appropriate university office identifying the record(s) they wish to inspect. The university office will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected within 45 days following receipt of such request. Where necessary, interpretation of the record shall be provided by qualified university personnel. Original records cannot be removed from university premises. A copy may be provided where failure to provide such copy would effectively prevent a student from exercising the right to inspect and review the educational records. While a charge may be made to cover costs of reproduction, in most instances this is not done. However, normal operational fees exist with respect to record reproduction within Career Service dependent upon the number of copies requested, and the Office of Registration and Records.

A student has the right to challenge the content of a record on the grounds that it is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of privacy or other rights and to have inserted in the record their written explanation of its contents. (Academic grade review procedures are covered elsewhere.) To initiate such a challenge, the student shall, within 60 days after they have inspected and reviewed the record in question for the first time, file with the university office responsible for maintaining such records a written request for a hearing, in a form specified by the university. Within 30 days following receipt of such request the head of such office, or a designated representative, shall review the record in question with the student and either order the correction or amendment of such alleged inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise inappropriate portions of the record as specified in the request or notify the student of the right to a hearing at which the student and other persons directly involved in the establishment of the record shall have an opportunity to present evidence to support or refute the contention that the portions of the record specified in the request are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise inappropriate. The student shall be given written notice of the time and place of such hearing no fewer than 10 working days in advance. The hearing will be conducted by a university representative who does not have a direct interest in the outcome. The student shall have the right to attend the hearing, to be represented and advised by other persons, and to call witnesses in their behalf. The student shall be notified in writing of the decision within 10 working days following the hearing or within 10 working days of a decision without a hearing. Such decision is final.

The student may waive the right of access to confidential statements submitted with respect to application for admission to the Graduate School or to another educational institution, an application for employment, or receipt of an honor or honorary recognition. However, the student is not required to do so. Further, the student who does waive right of access will be provided, upon request, with the names of all persons making confidential recommendations.

Directory information pertaining to students, as defined below, may be released by the university at any time provided that it publishes this definition at least once each academic year in the campus student newspaper and the individual student is given a reasonable period of time to inform the university that such information is not to be released without their prior consent.

Directory information includes the student’s name, address, telephone listing, e-mail address and photographic or electronic picture or image, date and place of birth, major field of study, classification, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance and full- or part-time status, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student.

As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which your education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records - including your Social Security Number, grades, or other private information - may be accessed without your consent. First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to your records and PII without your consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when the University objects to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive your PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.

Students who believe that their privacy rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 have been violated, have the right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.


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