Apr 13, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

General Regulations

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Student Responsibility


It is the responsibility of students to know and observe all regulations and procedures relating to the program they are pursuing, as well as those of the university and Graduate School. In no case will a regulation be waived or an exception granted because students plead ignorance of, or contend that they were not informed of, the regulations or procedures. Questions on regulations and their interpretation pertaining to studies at the graduate level should be addressed to the office of the dean of the Graduate School.

Students planning to graduate should familiarize themselves with the dates relating to application for graduation and other pertinent deadlines. (See the Graduate School Calendar, copies of which may be obtained from the Graduate School, www.niu.edu/grad) It is necessary to apply for graduation by the specified deadline in order to graduate in a particular term, whether or not the student plans to attend the commencement ceremonies, if any.

Students must satisfy the degree requirements of the catalog in force during the term for which they have been admitted to and begin course work in the degree program; or they may, with the consent of their advisors, meet graduation requirements by complying with the degree requirements of a later catalog. Students readmitted to a degree program must meet degree requirements of the catalog in force at the time of the later admission (or of a subsequent catalog, as provided above). Aside from degree requirements, all students are subject to the regulations and policies stated in the catalog currently in force. Exceptions to regulations and requirements contained in the Graduate Catalog require the written approval of the office of the dean of the Graduate School, unless otherwise stated in the catalog.

Student Responsibility for Obtaining Current University Information

The university reserves the right to make changes in admission requirements, fees, degree requirements, and other specifications set forth in this catalog. Such changes may take precedence over catalog statements. While reasonable effort is made to publicize such changes, students should remain in close touch with departmental advisors and appropriate offices, because responsibility for complying with all applicable requirements ultimately rests with the student. The office of the dean of the Graduate School is the authoritative office for verifying deviations from provisions in this catalog.

Advisory System

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Each student is assigned by their major department an advisor or advisory committee whose purpose is to guide the student’s studies and recommend them for the degree when the student is properly qualified.

A program of study is formulated by the student in consultation with the departmentally-assigned advisor or advisory committee. See “The Program of Study” for details.

Departmental advisors can assist students in understanding and satisfying departmental and university requirements. However, they are not responsible for informing students of published regulations, such as those in this catalog, nor, except as explicitly provided in this catalog, do they have the authority to modify those requirements. See “Student Responsibility” above.

Academic Integrity

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Good academic work must be based on honesty. The attempt of any student to present as their own work that which they have not produced is regarded by the faculty and administration as a serious offense. Students are considered to have cheated, for example, if they copy the work of another or use unauthorized notes or other aids during an examination or turn in as their own a paper or an assignment written, in whole or in part, by someone else. Students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging those sources or if they paraphrase ideas from such sources without acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university.

A faculty member has original jurisdiction over any instances of academic misconduct that occur in a course which the faculty member is teaching. The student shall be given the opportunity to resolve the matter in meetings with the faculty member and the department chair. If the facts of the incident are not disputed by the student, the faculty member may elect to resolve the matter at that level by levying a sanction no greater than an F for that course. The faculty member shall notify the student in writing whenever such action is taken, and Student Conduct shall receive a copy of the Academic Misconduct Incident Report indicating final disposition of the case, which will be placed in the student’s judicial file. In all matters where the charge of academic misconduct is disputed by the student or if the faculty member feels a sanction greater than an F in the course is appropriate (such as repeated offenses or flagrant violations), the faculty member shall refer the matter to Student Conduct, making use of the Academic Misconduct Incident Report. Additional sanctions greater than an F in a course can be levied only through the system of due process established and overseen by Student Conduct or through the university’s research misconduct procedures noted below. Suspension or dismissal from the university for academic misconduct will result in a notation of that action on the transcript of a graduate-level student.

The university has adopted additional policies and procedures for dealing with research misconduct among its students, faculty, and staff. The guidelines, entitled Research Integrity at Northern Illinois University, are available in department offices, in the office of the dean of the Graduate School, and online at www.niu.edu/provost/policies/appm/I2.shtml, and pertain to the intentional commission of any of the following acts: falsification of data, improper assignment of authorship, claiming another person’s work as one’s own, unprofessional manipulation of experiments or of research procedures, misappropriation of research funds.

If a graduate student fails to maintain the standards of academic or professional integrity expected in their discipline or program, the student’s admission to the program may be terminated on recommendation of the student’s major department. A statement on students’ rights to the products of research is available in department offices, in the office of the dean of the Graduate School, and online at www.niu.edu/provost/policies/appm/I11.shtml.


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Students will not receive credit for any course for which the registration is not completed according to university procedures. Conversely, it is not legitimate to attend or participate in a course in which one is not registered.

Students who have any obligation to the university (such as unpaid fines, tuition, fees, or residence-hall charges, or missing admission documents) will not be allowed to register for classes in subsequent terms until all obligations are met and should not expect retroactive enrollment for a period of time during which they were not eligible to register. (See “Encumbrances.”)

Individuals who have not paid tuition and fees by the applicable deadlines may have their registration canceled. However, nonpayment of tuition and fees does not necessarily result in cancellation of registration, nor is it an appropriate means by which to effect withdrawal. A student wishing to drop or withdraw from a course must do so by following established procedures, and by the applicable deadline. Failure to do this by specified deadlines may result in continued registration and/or financial liability.

Registration may also be canceled for students who fail to satisfy admission or registration requirements or requirements for permission to enroll as a student-at-large.

 Class Time Conflicts

A graduate-level student wishing to enroll in two courses for which the scheduled class meeting times overlap must obtain, in advance, the written approval of both course instructors and the office of the dean of the Graduate School.

Immunization Policy

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All students enrolled in a course registered on-campus are required by the Illinois College Student Immunization Act (110-ILCS 20) and University policy, to provide proof of immunity for tetanus, diphtheria, measles, mumps, and rubella. Documentation of immunity must be complete and on file at Health Services before the following dates:

Fall term enrollment August 1st
Spring term enrollment January 1st
Summer term enrollment June 1st

Failure to provide the required documentation by the tenth day of the semester will result in a registration hold for the subsequent semester. You will be notified at your NIU ZID email account if any documentation information is incomplete.  Immunization information may be obtained from the Health Services web page at http://www.niu.edu/healthservices/immunizations or by phone at 815-753-9585.

Meningococcal Meningitis


The Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that college freshman living in residence halls be immunized against meningococcal disease. The ACIP recommendation further states that other college students under 25 years of age who wish to reduce their risk for the disease may choose to be vaccinated.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the linings of the brain and spinal cord that is caused either by viruses or bacteria. Viral meningitis is generally less severe and resolves without specific treatment. Bacterial meningitis, especially meningococcal meningitis, is more serious and can result in permanent neurologic damage or death.

Meningococcal meningitis commonly begins with high fever, headache, and stiff neck that develop over a period of several hours to two days. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, confusion, drowsiness and discomfort looking at bright lights. Meningococcal meningitis is spread through exchange of oral and respiratory secretions (i.e., coughing, kissing, and sharing eating utensils), not through casual contact. Individuals who live in the same household or have direct contact with an infected person’s oral secretions are at an increased risk of acquiring the infection.

Two vaccines are available that protect against four of the five strains (or types) of the bacterium that cause meningococcal disease. While both vaccines provide immunity for a number of years to approximately 90% of those who are vaccinated, neither medication confers lifelong immunity to meningococcal meningitis.

Additional information about meningococcal disease is available from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Read about meningococcal disease on the department’s website or download a brochure, Meningococcal Disease: What Parents and Students Need to Know.  The University is required through the Illinois Communicable Disease Prevent Act to make this brochure available to students and families.


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A record encumbrance is a restriction placed on a student’s official academic record. Academic records may be encumbered under a number of circumstances, examples of which include past-due obligation to the university (such as unpaid tuition, fees, fines, or residence-hall charges); incomplete admission requirements (such as missing transcripts or other academic credentials); and a disciplinary action by the university or the Student Judicial Office.

Students may not be allowed to register after an encumbrance has been placed on their academic record. Students who have had an encumbrance placed on their record may direct inquiries to the office that requested the encumbrance or to the Office of Registration and Records. Only the office placing an encumbrance may authorize its removal. Students who are ineligible to register by reason of an encumbrance should not participate in courses and should not expect registration in course work to be effected retroactively for a period during which they were ineligible to register.

For immediate release of monetary encumbrances, all past-due obligations to the university must be paid with a cashier’s check, certified check, or money order.

Removal of Deficiencies

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Departments or programs may identify course work deficiencies and require an admitted student to satisfactorily complete such course work prior to enrolling in courses applicable to a program of study that leads to a graduate degree. Students are encouraged to remove such deficiencies as early in the program of study as possible. A schedule for completing courses identified as deficiencies may be established by the advisor or advisory committee.

Course Load

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Graduate students may be required to enroll full time. The definition of full-time enrollment may vary depending on the context. For example, requirements established by academic programs, lending agencies, government regulations, employing entities, and certain insurance policies may utilize different definitions of full-time enrollment.

A full-time load for a graduate student or student-at-large in a fall or spring semester is 9 or more semester hours and in a summer term is 6 or more semester hours. A graduate-level student’s course load includes all courses for which the student is registered. A course from which the student has officially withdrawn is no longer part of that student’s course load. Audited hours do not count in the calculation of total course load for any external official purpose.

A student enrolled in less than a full-time load will not receive official verification of full-time status for any purpose.

International students on an F-1 or J-1 visa must be enrolled full time for the purposes of Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS) reporting. International students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 semester hours in each fall and spring semester. Except in circumstances allowed by Federal regulation, those hours must meet degree requirements of the academic program to which the student is admitted. International graduate students who have a documented requirement to enroll in an undergraduate course or courses to address a perceived deficiency meet requirements of SEVIS reporting if they are enrolled in a fall or spring semester while enrolled in a combination of the specified deficiency courses and courses that count toward their degree, provided that the total semester hours in which they are enrolled equals at least 9.

International students may not count audited courses toward meeting their enrollment requirement.

International students on an F-1 or J-1 visa whose first term of study is the summer must enroll in 6 semester hours as described above. For the purpose of SEVIS reporting, continuing students need not enroll in the summer term. However, they may be subject to other university policies that require enrollment. (See “Assistants and Fellows” below and “Continuous Enrollment.”)

In circumstances defined by government regulations, international students may receive permission to register for less than full-time hours. Most commonly, students enrolled in their final semester of course work may request and receive an under load. An F-1 or J-1 student requesting such an under load must do so using the appropriate e-form on the Graduate School web page.  

Additionally, for the purposes of full-time enrollment certification in SEVIS, international students in F-1 and J-1 status pursuing doctoral degrees registered for 3 semester hours will be considered full-time once all course work except 799 (dissertation) is complete and that continuous enrollment in 799 has begun, provided that they are not subject to the policies governing “Assistants and Fellows.” An international doctoral student requesting such an under load must do so using the appropriate e-form on the Graduate School web page.

All policies governing international student enrollment are ultimately governed by U.S. regulations and laws and are subject to change without notice.

Assistants and fellows who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and who hold assistantships during a fall or spring semester should carry 9 semester hours of course work throughout the semester. In the summer term, assistants should carry 6 semester hours.

Reduction of up to 3 semester hours in the expected course load requires that the assistant consult with their degree program coordinator and adhere to program policy on enrollment. Failure to adhere to program policy on enrollment may result in termination of the assistant and/or dismissal from the program. Any reduction greater than 3 semester hours must be approved in advance, in writing, by the appointee’s department chair and the office of the dean of the Graduate School. An e-form for requesting an under load can be found on the Graduate School webpage.

International assistants and fellows, except as previously described, must be registered for at least 9 semester hours of course work throughout the semester. If they are appointed to an assistantship or fellowship in summer, international assistants and fellows should be enrolled in 6 semester hours of course work; in the summer, international assistants and fellows are eligible for a reduction of up to 3 semester hours upon consultation with their program coordinator and eligible for a further reduction with prior approval, in writing, by the appointee’s department chair and the office of the dean of the Graduate School.

Maximum enrollment limits are established by the Graduate School. A student in good academic standing may register for up to 16 semester hours in the fall and spring semester and 13 semester hours in the summer session. Enrollment in more than the established maximum-an overload-may be granted in unusual circumstances on a case-by-case basis or when a student is planning to enroll in courses with staggered start and end dates so that the student is not actively engaged in excessive hours simultaneously. For a graduate student in a degree program, this approval must be obtained, in advance, from the student’s major department and the Graduate School; for a student-at-large, the prior written approval of the dean of the Graduate School is required. An e-form for requesting permission to enroll in excessive hours can be found on the Graduate School web page.

A graduate student or student-at-large on probation is urged not to attempt more than 9 semester hours in the fall or spring semesters or 6 semester hours in the summer term. Normally, requests for overloads for students on probation will not be approved.

Eligibility to Enroll in Courses Numbered 699 and 799

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Thesis and dissertation research, and other scholarly and creative activities offered under courses numbered 699 and 799, are intended as culminating academic experiences in the respective graduate programs. Therefore, in order to be eligible to enroll in a course numbered 699 or 799 a student must be admitted to the corresponding degree program; students-at-large are not eligible to enroll in such courses. Students may enroll in courses numbered 699 (thesis) and 799 (dissertation) during any semester and up to the maximum number of hours noted in the course description. Students subject to the continuous enrollment requirement must enroll in courses numbered 699 and 799 for credit, not audit. Only the required number of hours required by the program for 699 and 799 courses will count toward degree.


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With permission of the instructor, a student may enroll in a class as an auditor. A student who enrolls as an auditor cannot expect to submit assignments to be graded by the instructor unless those assignments are part of the audit requirements established when permission to audit was granted. A student enrolled for credit who wishes to change that enrollment from credit to audit after the drop deadline must do so prior to the mid-point of the semester, term, or session or as specified on the Graduate School website, and must have the approval of the instructor, the department, and the office of the dean of the Graduate School.

Tuition and fees are charged for audit hours on the same basis as for hours taken for credit. Course credits taken in audit status will not count in the calculation of total course load for any external official purpose. Examples include but are not limited to: Calculation of full-time, part-time, or half-time enrollment status reported to external agencies; Eligibility for financial aid; Full-time status for international students to satisfy visa requirements; and Eligibility for loan deferment. With program approval, an audited course may be used to meet institutional enrollment requirements. A student who enrolls as an auditor will not receive credit for the course, and audited courses will be transcripted with a grade designation of ‘O’. A student enrolled as an auditor who wishes to change that enrollment to registration for credit must do so prior to the mid-point of the semester, term, or session, or as specified on the Graduate School website.

Graduate Students in Undergraduate Courses

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Graduate students and students-at-large may enroll in undergraduate courses. Students admitted with undergraduate deficiencies are encouraged to remove these deficiencies at the earliest possible date in their course of study. Tuition for such classes is charged at the same rate as for graduate-level classes.

While undergraduate course grades are not included in the GPA, they are a part of the permanent record of the graduate student or student-at-large and appear on the transcript. However, no quality points are assigned to the course. Consequently, graduate students, who plan to pursue licensing or certification by external bodies, should carefully consider the ramifications of completing undergraduate courses to fulfill requirements.

Undergraduate hours are included in the calculation of academic load by the university but not by the Department of Education, which establishes regulations for award of federal financial aid. Graduate students and students-at-large, therefore, should understand the potential ramifications on their financial aid before enrolling in undergraduate classes. For graduate students and students-at-large the deadlines and other conditions of enrolling in, dropping, or withdrawing from an undergraduate class are the same as those pertaining to a graduate class, as they are determined by the student’s level, not the class level.

Undergraduates in Graduate Courses for Undergraduate Credit

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Northern Illinois University undergraduate students may complete a maximum of 6 semester hours of graduate-level course work for undergraduate credit, if they have completed 90 semester hours of credit towards their baccalaureate degree with a GPA of at least 3.00 or have previously completed a baccalaureate degree. They must also obtain, in advance, written approval from the instructor, the chair of the department offering the course, and from the office of the dean of the Graduate School to enroll in the course for undergraduate credit.

Law Students in Graduate Courses

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A student in the Northern Illinois University College of Law may enroll in graduate courses, provided that they have earned a baccalaureate or graduate degree from an accredited institution and have obtained all necessary approval of the College of Law. A law student not also admitted to the Graduate School must obtain permission to register as a student-at-large. Enrollment of a law student in graduate courses will be for graduate credit.

Graduate Students in Law Courses

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With the approval of the student’s major department and the office of the dean of the Graduate School, up to 9 semester hours of course work from the Northern Illinois University College of Law may be applied toward a graduate degree program. A graduate student not simultaneously pursuing a degree in the College of Law must petition the dean of the College of Law for permission to enroll in any law course. Such permission will only be granted in special circumstances. Credit hours in NIU law courses will be counted as transfer credit in the context of transfer-credit limits in, and time limits for completion of, graduate degree programs and will not contribute to the student’s graduate GPA.

With the approval of the office of the dean of the Graduate School, up to 9 semester hours of law courses taken at other institutions may be accepted toward meeting the requirements of the M.B.A. program, with approval of the College of Business; the M.A.S. and M.S.T. degrees, with approval of the Department of Accountancy; the M.P.A. program, with approval of the Department of Public Administration; and the Ph.D. in political science, with the approval of the Department of Political Science. These institutions must be regionally accredited, with their law schools accredited by the American Bar Association. Law courses are not graduate courses, and therefore law courses taken at institutions other than NIU are not accepted toward meeting the requirements of any other graduate degree at NIU.

Variable Course Hours; Repeatability of Courses

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Following the title of each course is a number in parentheses denoting the number of semester hours of credit available for the course. Where a range is given-e.g., “(1-3)”-the course is a variable-hour course. In such a case the department may offer the course for a fixed number of hours, within that range, in a given academic term or may allow students to select any number of hours within that range. A student enrolling in a variable-hour course should ascertain at the start of the term the number of hours of credit for which that particular offering of the course is available that term.

A course description may indicate that the course may be repeated to a specified maximum number of semester hours. There may be a lower or upper limit to the number of hours in a particular course that may be applied toward meeting the credit-hour requirements for a graduate degree. Unless otherwise specified in this catalog, graduate courses may be repeated for credit only under the following circumstances.

If the student meets the requirements for the special repeat option, the course may be retaken under that option.
In a case where, to satisfy a program requirement, a student must achieve a certain grade as specified in the Graduate Catalog, and the student fails to do so, the course may be repeated once. If the student again fails to achieve the required grade, the student’s admission to that program will be terminated.
If a course taken to complete the requirements for a graduate degree does not fall within the period of time allowed for that degree, the course may be retaken for credit with approval of the student’s major department.
The department in which authority for an approved educator licensure program resides may determine that credit in a course required for that program was obtained too long ago to be acceptable in meeting current requirements for licensure. In such a case, that department may approve retaking the course for credit.

A student who has taken a course at the undergraduate level, may take the same titled course at the graduate level under the following circumstances:

A graduate student in a degree program must secure permission from their major department prior to enrollment in the course; or
A student-at-large must obtain approval of the department offering the course and of the office of the dean of the Graduate School.

A variable-hour course may be taken only once for credit, unless the catalog description specifies that it may be repeated or unless one of the conditions listed immediately above is met.

Where a course is repeatable, maximum credit limits are stated in the course description. The statement, “May be repeated to a maximum of [number] semester hours,” means that the semester hours earned both from the initial enrollment and any permitted subsequent enrollments cannot exceed that maximum. For the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, unless otherwise prohibited, enrollments in such a course may take place in any combination of semesters, including multiple enrollments during a single semester.

These limitations on repeatability of courses do not restrict which courses may be taken under the special repeat option described below, for under the special repeat option credit is granted for only one of the two times the course is taken. Restrictions on repeatability of courses apply only to registration for credit, not registration for audit.

Special Repeat Option

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The special repeat option is available only for graduate courses in which a grade below B was attained. In order to repeat a course using this option, a student in a graduate program other than a doctoral program must have written approval of the student’s major department; students-at-large and others not in degree programs must have written approval of the office of the dean of the Graduate School. When a course is repeated on this basis, only the second of the two grades earned for the course is computed in the GPA. Enrollments resulting in recorded grades of W (withdraw) or O (audit) cannot be counted as “repeats” under this policy. No student may repeat more than 6 semester hours of course work on this basis; no course may be repeated more than once under this option. The special repeat option is not available to a student admitted to a doctoral degree program.

Course Add  


Course Add refers to the process of adding a course or changing to a different section of the same course. For 16-week courses, course adds can be made during the first two weeks of the semester through MyNIU. Course adds after week 2 require approval from the instructor, program, and Graduate School. Other deadlines may apply for 14-week, summer, and dynamic (non-standard) courses. Students should refer to MyNIU for course specific deadlines.

Drop of or Withdrawal from a Course

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All drops of or withdrawals from courses must be accomplished before the applicable deadlines. University deadlines may be found on the Registration and Record’s website.

Students may drop a course before the applicable deadlines. When a course is dropped, no record of the enrollment appears on the student’s record. After the drop deadline, a period is specified during which the student may withdraw from the course with the course remaining on the student’s record. For each graduate course from which a student withdraws, a W will be assigned. Transcript entries of W are not included in the computation of the graduate GPA. A student who withdraws from all courses in which they enrolled in a given term is considered to have withdrawn from the university for that term.

Students who fail to withdraw from a course or semester withdrawal in accordance with established procedure and by the established deadlines, will receive an F in any affected course(s). If withdrawal is accomplished early enough in the term, there may be reduced liability for tuition and fees under the university’s refund policies. Later withdrawal may leave the student wholly liable for tuition and fees. See the Bursar’s Office website for the withdrawal schedule for the reduction of charges for each semester. Questions about billing and refund policies should be directed to the Bursar’s Office.

A semester withdrawal may be initiated on behalf of a student in exceptional cases for circumstances which are beyond the student’s control and which prevent the student from initiating a withdrawal request on their own behalf (e.g. medical reasons, military reasons, or hardship). A University initiated withdrawal for exceptional circumstances may be requested at any time during the semester. The Dean of the Graduate School (or their designee) must approve the withdrawal. If granted, a “W” will permanently appear on the student’s academic record for all courses from which the student was withdrawn.

Continuous Enrollment

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Most students, both full- and part-time, prefer to pursue an advanced degree without interruption in time. Those students who interrupt their studies should especially note the maximum time period allowed to fulfill all requirements for the degree sought. (See the sections entitled “Limitation of Time” elsewhere in this catalog.)

Students availing themselves of the services of the academic staff or the facilities of the university in any way that directly or indirectly relates to fulfilling degree requirements or receiving course credit must be enrolled. For example, a student must be enrolled in the term in which a comprehensive examination is taken. Also, once a student has begun work on a thesis, dissertation, or other activity under course number 699 or 799, it is expected that such work progress each academic term, and enrollment must be continuously maintained in course number 699 or 799 until a final grade is received for the activity and the required documentation of the activity is formally approved by the Graduate School (if applicable), unless a leave of absence is obtained, as described in the section “Requirements for Graduate Degrees.” If such continuous enrollment in courses numbered 699 or 799 is not maintained, and a leave of absence is not granted, then the student’s admission to the program will be canceled. (See “Readmission/Reentry” in this catalog.)

A student is not required to be registered in the term of graduation simply in order to graduate, if the student is not otherwise required to enroll under the policies of the previous paragraph. However, in order to make use of academic or nonacademic services of the university, a student is required to be enrolled for the corresponding term.

Grading System

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The Graduate School grading system applies to all graduate students taking courses for graduate credit.

The graduate grade point average (GPA) is computed by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the total number of credit hours that a student has taken in NIU courses earning grade points. In no case are NIU courses taken for undergraduate or law credit or transfer courses included in the computation of the graduate GPA. Grades and their grade point values are as follows.

Grades Earning
Graduate Credit
  Level of
  Grade Points Per
Semester Hour
A   Superior  


A-       3.67
B+    Satisfactory   3.33


B-   Marginal   2.67
C+       2.33


S   Satisfactory
    for courses graded S/U


Grades Not Earning
Graduate Credit
  Level of
  Grade Points Per
Semester Hour
C-    Deficient   1.67


F   Seriously deficient  


U   Unsatisfactory
    for courses graded S/U


Other transcript entries, with their definition, include the following.

I - Incomplete (see also following section on “Incompletes”)
IP - In Progress
W - Withdrawal
O - Audit; no grade and no credit

Students doing less than satisfactory work will be assigned the grade of C-, D, F, or U. Graduate credit is given only for those courses in which a grade of S, or C or better, is earned. A grade of S indicates that the student has performed at a level equivalent to at least a B.

 S/U and IP Grading

Certain graduate courses are graded on an S/U basis; such grading, however, is restricted to courses titled externship, independent study/research, institute, internship, practicum, seminar, or workshop. Individual students may not elect S and U grading. S/U graded courses can utilize the incomplete (I) option.

Other graduate courses are graded on an S/U/IP (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory/In Progress) basis. Thesis and dissertation courses, as well as similar project courses that require completion of work over multiple semesters and that are designated as 699 or 799, are graded on an S/U/IP basis. IP is a neutral grade-that is, the grade does not carry quality points-but IP grades awarded for 699 and 799 count toward the completion of a degree. While a student is working on the thesis, dissertation, or continuing project, a grade of U or IP will be awarded. In the final semester in which the thesis, dissertation, or project is successfully completed, a grade of S will be awarded. Grades of IP previously awarded will remain on the transcript, except in the case of on-going internships or similar courses, as designated in the catalog. In those cases, IP grades must be changed to an appropriate letter grade by the instructor in order for the course to count toward degree. No student may graduate with a U on their transcript in such courses.


When a student is passing a course yet special circumstances prevent a student’s completing the requirements of a course, the instructor may, at their discretion, direct that the symbol I (indicating incomplete) be entered in the student’s record. When the I is assigned, the instructor will file in the departmental office and in the Graduate School an Incomplete/Reversion Grade Form outlining the work to be completed, the deadline for completion of the work, and the grade that will be awarded if the student fails meet the deadline. In no case may the deadline be later than 120 days after the last day of final examinations during the term for which the incomplete is assigned. The incomplete must be removed within 120 days.

If the instructor does not change the incomplete within the period allowed for resolution, the incomplete (I) will be converted to an F or to the stipulated reversion grade. If no reversion grade is recorded, a grade of F will be awarded at the conclusion of 120 days. An administratively awarded grade, like one assigned by an instructor, may be changed at the discretion of the instructor of record prior to a student’s graduation. A student may not graduate with a transcript entry of “I” on their record.

Grade Appeals

A graduate-level student may formally appeal a course grade alleged to have been assigned capriciously. The definition of capricious grading is limited to (a) the assignment of a grade to a particular student on some basis other than performance in the course, (b) the assignment of a grade to a particular student by more exacting or demanding standards than were applied to other students in that course, or (c) the assignment of a grade by a substantial departure from the instructor’s standards announced during the first fourth of the course. A grade appeal may not be based upon disagreement with the judgment of an instructor in assessing the quality of a student’s work. The student must submit a formal written appeal to the departmental Grade Review Board, through the chair of the department offering the course, by the end of the fourth week of the fall or spring semester immediately following the term for which the course grade was assigned. A full description of procedures governing the appeal of allegedly capricious semester grades for graduate-level students may be obtained from the ombudsman, department offices, college offices, and the office of the dean of the Graduate School and online at https://www.niu.edu/academicaffairs/appm/III8.shtml; and this should be consulted before appealing a grade.

Instructor Responsibility

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An instructor of a graduate course shall inform the enrolled students of the basis for assigning final grades in the course, within the first fourth of the course. In courses other than those involving one-to-one mentorship, this information should be provided in writing and should include a brief description of those assignments, examinations, and other required academic activities that will contribute to the course grade, and the weight to be given to each activity’s contribution to that grade. Where possible, the instructor may also indicate the level of academic performance that will earn specific course grades. If, this early in the course, there is uncertainty in the assignments to be given, this should be clearly indicated.

In courses where the academic activity is individually arranged between a student and an instructor-such as thesis or dissertation research, independent study, or individual instruction in music performance or studio art-course expectations should be explained to the student within the first fourth of the course.

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 are posted publicly each academic term. Arrangements more convenient to students than office visits (e.g., e-mail or online chat groups) may be substituted for office hours where provided for by department policy.

Academic Standing

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To remain in good academic standing a graduate student, including students-at-large, must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in all graduate courses required on the student’s program of courses (excluding deficiency courses taken for graduate credit) as well as in all graduate courses taken. The GPA is computed on a cumulative basis, by dividing the total number of grade points by the total number of credit hours that a student has taken in courses earning grade points. The GPA includes any course work taken at NIU for which a student earned graduate credit, but not graduate work taken at other institutions that is accepted toward meeting the requirements of an NIU graduate degree or certificate. Courses in which a student has received I, O, S, or W are not included in this computation.

Following any academic term at the end of which the cumulative graduate GPA falls below 3.00, the student will be considered on academic probation. A student on academic probation who fails to earn a 3.00 term GPA (not cumulative GPA) in any future semester may be dismised from the Graduate School. Prior to dismissal, the Graduate School will consult with the program (e.g., graduate program director or chair).

A graduate student or student-at-large who is on academic probation may not carry an overload. A graduate student who has been academically dismissed from the Graduate School may not register as a student-at-large unless granted academic reinstatement as described in the following section.

A graduate-level student who has accumulated 6 or more semester hours of grades of C-, D, F, or U in graduate course work at NIU will be academically dismissed from the Graduate School, regardless of the student’s GPA. If a course is repeated, whether under the special repeat option or otherwise, the grades in both attempts will be considered in determining whether this 6- semester-hour total has been reached.

A graduate student who fails to maintain a GPA of 3.00 in their required program of courses for a particular degree may, upon recommendation of the department or program, be subject to dismissal from that degree program.

Although undergraduate course work is not included in the computation of the graduate GPA, it is also expected that graduate students achieve certain levels of competence in undergraduate courses pertinent to their graduate studies at NIU. If a graduate student fails to earn a grade of C or better in an undergraduate course specified as a deficiency course for the student’s program, then upon the recommendation of the department, the student’s admission to the corresponding degree program will be rescinded.

Some programs have higher performance expectations for undergraduate deficiency courses or courses required to remove conditions of admission. Programs communicate such expectations to the student in writing.

Graduate assistants should be graduate students in good academic standing on the effective dates of their appointments. Programs may offer assistantships to students on probation when this is appropriate for the student. Assistants will have their appointments terminated if during the term of their appointments they are academically dismissed.

A student must be in good academic standing overall and in the degree program in question to be eligible for graduation from the program.

Academic Reinstatement

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A graduate student or student-at-large who has been academically dismissed may petition for academic reinstatement. Such petitions are acted upon by the Graduate Council Appeals Committee. To submit a request for reinstatement, or for more information about the appeals process, the dismissed student should contact the office of the dean of the Graduate School.

Graduate students or students-at-large who have been academically dismissed from NIU, and who have been absent from the university for ten years or longer, may request consideration for reinstatement under the returning graduate student/student-at-large reinstatement policy. The cumulative GPA of a student reinstated under this policy will be based only on course work attempted after the date of reinstatement. A former graduate student reinstated to the Graduate School under this reinstatement policy must apply, or reapply, for admission to a desired degree program.  All university regulations and program requirements in force at the time of reinstatement will apply to any reinstated student.

Graduate Council Appeals Committee

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The Graduate Council Appeals Committee is authorized to review requests for exceptions to certain rules and certain kinds of appeals. The committee does not hear grade appeals, for which a separate procedure exists. Its primary authority lies in the sphere of Graduate School regulations-for example, admission, matriculation, and retention-but in special cases it may serve as an appellate body for academic matters deriving from the rules and practices of the departments and colleges. One major function of the committee is to review petitions for academic reinstatement from graduate students and students-at-large who have been academically dismissed. It will not review academic decisions that are based upon the disciplinary expertise of faculty in a particular field-for example, judgments of whether or not a student has passed a comprehensive examination, or whether or not a student who meets the university’s minimum requirements should be admitted to the Graduate School to pursue a particular program. However, it may examine the equitability of the process(es) by which such academic decisions have been arrived at. Similarly, if a student has requested an exception to a regulation (e.g., policy, procedure, deadline) at the appropriate level (departmental, college, etc.) and the request has been denied, the Appeals Committee may be asked to review the case only to the extent that the denial is alleged to be “capricious”-that the appellant’s request was handled in a fashion substantially different from those of other students in similar situations.

A student wishing to bring some matter before the Graduate Council Appeals Committee should address a written request to the office of the dean of the Graduate School. A student whose petition has been denied by the appeals committee may request reconsideration only upon presentation, in writing, of additional relevant evidence not previously available to the committee. There is no further authority to which a decision of the Graduate Council Appeals Committee may be appealed, as it acts on behalf of the Graduate Council, which is the university’s policymaking body in matters relating to graduate study.

Dual Credit for Graduate Course Work

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For a student completing a doctoral degree at NIU after completing one or more master’s degrees and/or an Ed.S. degree in educational administration at NIU, an unlimited number of semester hours of graduate work from those prior NIU programs may be applied to meeting the credit-hour requirements of the doctoral program, provided that the NIU course work was not applied to meeting requirements of a graduate degree at another institution. However, any NIU graduate work already applied toward two graduate degrees (whether at NIU or elsewhere) may not be applied also toward doctoral program requirements. Also, a maximum of 9 semester hours of NIU course work that has been applied toward meeting graduate degree requirements at another institution may be used in an NIU doctoral program. The doctoral program in any case must conform to all other applicable requirements, including approval of the department and the Graduate School. For limitations on graduate transfer work acceptable in doctoral programs, see “Study-Abroad and Transfer Credit” in the doctoral requirements section of this catalog.

Any other student who pursues two distinct graduate degrees at NIU, either simultaneously or consecutively, may have up to 9 semester hours of graduate course work accepted for credit in both degree programs. Exceptions to this limit will be allowed for students enrolled in the Ph.D. in Economics and M.S. in Applied Probability and Statistics, who may apply a specific 12 semester hours for credit in those two degree programs. A student who pursues a master’s or Ed.S. degree at NIU after completing a graduate degree at another accredited institution may have up to 9 semester hours of graduate course work used in that other degree program accepted for credit in the NIU degree program, whether the courses were taken at NIU or at the other institution.

Students pursuing the Master of Music degree and the Performer’s Certificate, either simultaneously or consecutively, may have up to 6 semester hours of graduate course work accepted for credit in both programs.

A student who pursues two certificates of graduate study at NIU, either simultaneously or consecutively, may have up to 4 semester hours of graduate course work accepted for credit in both certificate programs.

With the approval of the major department, courses used to satisfy requirements of a concentration or a certificate of graduate study may also be applied toward a graduate degree unless specified otherwise in the catalog description of the degree program.

In taking advantage of these dual-use provisions, the student must complete all the stated requirements for each degree or certificate of graduate study. Further, the provisions concerning limitation of time for degree or certificate completion as described in “Requirements for Graduate Degrees” and “Certificates of Graduate Study” apply independently to each degree or certificate, and the written approval of the office of the dean of the Graduate School is required. In no case may a course be accepted for credit in more than two graduate degree programs or in acquiring more than two certificates of graduate study.

Transfer Credit

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With the approval of the student’s department and the office of the dean of the Graduate School, some graduate courses taken at other accredited ( U.S. ) or recognized (foreign) institutions may be accepted toward meeting the credit-hour requirements of a graduate degree at NIU. The student must have earned graduate credit in the course according to the institution at which the course was taken (so, for example, courses in which undergraduate credit, medical-school credit, or other professional postbaccalaureate credit was earned cannot be accepted in transfer).

No transfer credit accepted from another institution may be in correspondence courses. Typically, correspondence courses are noted as such on a transcript. They are defined as courses in which interaction between the instructor and the student is neither regular nor substantive and in which interaction is primarily initiated by the student. Most often, correspondence courses are self-paced.

A grade of B or better must have been earned in each graduate course accepted in transfer toward meeting NIU graduate degree requirements, and the overall GPA in all graduate transfer courses thus accepted must be 3.00 or higher. Courses for which grades of S, Pass, Credit, or the like have been earned will be accepted in transfer only if the Graduate School can officially verify that the student’s performance was at a level equivalent to a grade of B or better.

To receive consideration for graduate work done elsewhere, the student must submit to the Graduate School an official transcript showing the course work in question. Transfer credit is considered to be accepted toward meeting degree requirements only at the time a student is cleared to graduate from the program.

In transfer, three quarter hours are considered to be equivalent to two semester hours. Therefore, if the graduate credit earned in a course accepted in transfer from another institution was reported in quarter hours, the transfer credit will be granted at the ratio of two semester hours per three quarter hours.

Students should consult the “Requirements for Graduate Degrees” section of this catalog for more specific information on limitations on transfer credit and the combined total of transfer and other courses applicable to individual degree programs.

Program of Study

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Upon receiving the official letter of admission to the Graduate School, students should plan their course selection for their first term at NIU. Care should be taken that such selections conform with the requirements of the specific program they wish to pursue in their major department.

Students are urged to consult early in or prior to their first term with their academic advisers to plan a program of study. Prior to registering each term, students should consult with their advisers for the purpose of review and approval of all course selections.

The Graduate Catalog outlines the minimum course requirements for each degree program, for a student fully prepared to begin that program. Departments may, and often do, require additional course work of individual students as necessary to address deficiencies of background or other specific needs for proper academic or professional preparation. And, a department is not obligated to accept any particular course for inclusion in a student’s program of courses, whether it was taken at NIU as a graduate student or as a student-at-large, or was taken at another institution. Some degree programs also have a limitation on the amount of credit from courses taken at NIU as a student-at-large, and/or on the combined total of student-at-large and transfer hours, that may be applied toward meeting degree requirements; such limitations are described below or in individual program descriptions in this catalog.

At least 50 percent of the credit for graduate course work must be in the student’s major. Individual degree programs may require a program even more closely focused on the major field. For a student in a doctoral program who has a master’s degree, the requirement of 50 percent of graduate work in the major applies only to courses beyond the master’s degree.

Assessment at Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University engages in assessment processes to answer important questions about the quality of students’ graduate experiences. Assessment of 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 helps the university improve courses, degree programs, and 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 s 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 are used to assess the quality of the university and its graduate and professional programs. Although summary data may be published or presented at conferences, all 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.


Graduate Concentrations

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The university offers a limited number of graduate concentrations, which are listed in this catalog under “Graduate Concentrations and Certificates of Graduate Study.” A concentration is a course of study, typically interdisciplinary, linked to the pursuit of a specific graduate degree. Completion of the requirements for a concentration will result in an appropriate notation on the student’s academic record. The “Directory for Correspondence” in this catalog indicates which academic unit administers each concentration. Unless otherwise stated, the time period for the completion of course work for a concentration is the same as that for the degree to which it is linked.

See the individual concentration for other specific requirements.

Certificates of Graduate Study

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The university offers several certificates of graduate study, which are listed in this catalog under “Graduate Concentrations and Certificates of Graduate Study.” A certificate of graduate study is a course of study, not linked to the pursuit of a degree, consisting of a coherent set of courses addressing a specific theme. Completion of the requirements for a certificate of graduate study will result in an appropriate notation on the student’s academic record. The “Directory for Correspondence” in this catalog indicates which academic unit administers each certificate of graduate study.

To pursue a certificate of graduate study, a student must be admitted to the Graduate School or to the graduate-level classification of student-at-large, and must have the approval of the individual responsible for administration of that certificate. Only courses taken at NIU for graduate credit may be applied toward a certificate. Some certificate programs may allow NIU law classes to apply toward a certificate, and law courses, provided they do not constitute more than one-half of the credits applied to a certificate, may satisfy certificate requirements when grades of Satisfactory or Credit are achieved. A GPA of at least 3.00 must be earned in the course work used toward the certificate, all of which must be completed within the six years immediately preceding awarding of the certificate. With the approval of the student’s major department, courses used to satisfy requirements of a certificate may also be applied toward a graduate degree, unless this catalog indicates otherwise under the description of the specific degree or certificate.

See the individual certificate for other specific requirements.

Religious Observances

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Northern Illinois University complies with the University Religious Observances Act (110 ILCS 110/).  Details of the Act are available here.

Northern Illinois University as a public institution of higher education in the State of Illinois does not observe religious holidays. It is the university’s policy, however, to reasonably accommodate the religious observances of individual students in regards to admissions, class attendance, scheduling examinations and work requirements.

Such policies shall be made known to faculty and students. Religious observance includes all aspects of religious observance and practice as well as belief. Absence from classes or examinations for religious observance does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the period of absence.

To request accommodation, students who expect to miss classes, examinations or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance shall provide instructors with reasonable notice of the date or dates they will be absent. Students who believe they have been denied a reasonable accommodation should contact the person identified by the department to hear such complaints, usually the department chair. If the issue is not resolved at the department level, students may proceed to the office of the dean of that college and if it is still unresolved, to the Office of the Provost. Additionally students may contact the ombudsperson for advice.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

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A student who believes that reasonable accommodations with respect to course work or other academic requirements may be appropriate in consideration of a disability must contact the Disability Resource Center. The DRC is located on the 4th floor of the Health Services Building and can be reached by calling 815-753-1303.

A wide range of services may be available to eligible students with disabilities, including housing accommodations, transportation, adaptation of printed materials, and advocacy with faculty and staff.

Protective Standards in Research

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Protection of Human Subjects

Any Northern Illinois University student or faculty or staff member who proposes to undertake research involving human subjects is required by federal and university regulations to seek approval for the project from the Division of Research and Graduate Studies’ research compliance office. Examples of human-subject research include collection of data from humans or their body tissues or fluids (e.g., data from muscle, hair, saliva; or on height, weight, or pulse); collection of data on human behavior, emotional conditions, or responses, including data from questionnaires, tests, interviews, or observations; use of human-subjects data previously collected that now reside in private records or public sources. All such research must be reviewed by the Institutional Review Board or its chair. Each research project involving human subjects must receive formal approval or exemption from the Board or its chair, even if other persons have received approval for the same or a similar project.

The student must submit a completed departmental review form to the chair of the academic department under whose jurisdiction the research would be undertaken. The student should also ascertain from the department whether completion of the longer Application for Approval to Use Human Subjects in Research form is required. The department chair, or a designee, will review the submitted human-subjects form to determine if the project falls into a category requiring the approval of the NIU Institutional Review Board on the Protection of Human Subjects.

Departmental review forms and the Application for Approval to Use Human Subjects in Research may be obtained from most departmental offices or from the research compliance office within the Division of Research and Graduate Studies (see www.orc.niu.edu). Applicants are responsible for providing the information requested on the forms, for securing the required approval signatures, and for seeing that the completed, signed forms are received by the research compliance office. If research involving human subjects is part of a student’s degree requirements, then to ensure eligibility for graduation, the student is urged to complete these required forms as soon as possible after the topic and protocols of the research have been determined. In no case should research involving human subjects begin before all necessary institutional approvals have been given. Questions concerning human subjects review may be directed to the student’s faculty adviser or department chair, or to the research compliance office.

Facilities for Experimental Animals or Recombinant DNA

A student or member of the faculty or staff who proposes to engage in research utilizing living animals or recombinant DNA should consult first with their academic department or the research compliance office in the Graduate School to determine the federal and university requirements for facilities in which such research subjects are to be housed and to obtain the approval forms required by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee or the Institutional Biosafety Committee, respectively.

Use of Radioactive Substances

A student who proposes to use substances emitting ionizing radiation must be supervised by a faculty member and must use such materials in a facility approved by the University Radiation Safety Committee; and such radioactive substances may be purchased only with the approval of the University Radiation Safety Officer.


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A student who intends to graduate at the end of a particular term must apply through MyNIU by the graduation-application deadline for that term. This deadline is available online at https://www.niu.edu/grad/graduation/deadlines.shtml

All requirements for a graduate degree must be completed according to the schedule listed at the above website. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of these deadlines.

If a student applies for graduation in a particular term but realizes that degree requirements will not be met or otherwise fails to graduate at the end of that term, the student must submit a “Deferral of Graduation Request” available at http://www.niu.edu/grad/resources/graduation.shtml. That form must be received in the Graduate School at least three months prior to the commencement date.


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