May 28, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Information

Robert Brinkmann, Ph.D., dean
E. Taylor Atkins, Ph.D., associate dean for undergraduate affairs
Leslie Matuszewich, Ph.D., associate dean for research and graduate affairs
Bárbara González, Ph.D., associate dean for academic administration

The departments of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offer baccalaureate programs leading to the degrees Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.). The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers a contract major leading to a B.A. or B.S. degree or to the degree Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S.).

Department Names and Undergraduate Programs Offered

School of Public and Global Affairs (NNGO, POLS, PSPA)
See also the Center Nonprofit and NGO Studies, Department of Political Science, and Department of Public Administration for a complete list of programs.

Department of Anthropology
B.A. and B.S. in anthropology

Department of Biological Sciences
B.S. in biological sciences

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
B.S. in chemistry

Department of Communication
B.A. and B.S. in communication studies
B.A. and B.S. in journalism

Department of Computer Science
B.S. in computer science

Department of Economics
B.A. and B.S. in economics

Department of English
B.A. in English

Environment Sustainability and Energy Institute
B.A. and B.S. in environmental studies

Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences
B.A. and B.S. in geography
B.S. in meteorology

Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences
B.S. in geology and environmental geosciences

Department of History
B.A. and B.S. in history

Department of Mathematical Sciences
B.S. in mathematical sciences

Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies
B.A. and B.S. in Nonprofit and NGO Studies

Department of Philosophy
B.A. and B.S. in philosophy

Department of Physics
B.S. in physics

Department of Political Science
B.A. and B.S. in political science

Department of Psychology
B.A. and B.S. in psychology

Department of Public Administration

Department of Sociology
B.A. and B.S. in sociology

Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science
B.S. in actuarial science
B.S. in statistics

Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
B.A. and B.S. in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 

Department of World Languages and Cultures
B.A. in French
B.A. in German
B.A. in Spanish

College Mission Statement

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences fosters the generation, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge as the foundation of a liberal education. The mission of the college is to provide high-quality education that contributes to the intellectual growth, self-discovery, and enhanced expertise of all members of the university community. The college makes available to the widest possible audience the rich cultural and scientific legacy represented by the disciplines that make up the liberal arts and sciences. Because bodies of knowledge do not exist in isolation, the college promotes interdisciplinary inquiry and is committed to the integration of teaching, scholarship, and service. The research and scholarship in the college permeate teaching and service, generating a wide range of opportunities for faculty and students to work together in transmitting, expanding, and applying knowledge. The college programs are designed to serve the university, its students, and the residents of the region, the country, and the world. These programs link basic and applied research and scholarly endeavors to the interests and needs of individuals and society.

Liberal Arts and Sciences Advising Office

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences maintains an Advising and Counseling Office to assist students in establishing their academic goals, planning their schedules, and interpreting university, college, and departmental policies and requirements. All students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences or undecided on a major within the college are advised in a two-tiered advising system. Advising services for major requirements are provided by professional and faculty advisers within that academic department, while advising services regarding broader college and university requirements are provided in the Liberal Arts and Sciences Advising Office.

Special Requirements in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

In addition to the general university requirements, a student seeking a baccalaureate degree in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences must complete the requirements for a major as set forth by the department in which the major is offered. A student declaring a major must be in good academic standing at the time of the application for the major.

A candidate for the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degree who wishes to obtain a secondary educator licensure should fulfill the professional education requirements for educator licensure outlined under “Educator Licensure Requirements,” and should have a second teaching area. Preparation in a second teaching area both facilitates securing appropriate student teaching assignments and enhances the opportunities for employment. Majors in anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, and sociology who expect to teach history in the secondary schools are advised to take at least 8 semester hours of American history.

A student may not count more than 60 semester hours from a single department toward the 120-semester-hour baccalaureate requirement. Any hours in excess of 60 in a single department must be balanced by an equal number of excess hours over the 120-hour minimum to be taken from outside that department. For example, if a student earns 65 semester hours of credit from the offerings of the Department of Anthropology, then that student must complete at least 125 semester hours to graduate. There are exceptions to this regulation in the case of students majoring in Mathematical Sciences with an emphasis in mathematics education or with an emphasis in actuarial science, and in different divisions of the Department of Communication, the Department of World Languages and Cultures, and the Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences. For example, the 60-semester-hour maximum applies to course work offered for a major in French, but does not exclude additional hours in another foreign language in the Department of World Languages and Cultures. ENGL 103, ENGL 203, and ENGL 204 are not counted toward the 60-semester-hour maximum hours taken in the major in the Department of English. COMS 100 is not counted toward the 60-semester-hour maximum hours taken in the communication studies major in the Department of Communication. Students majoring in Meteorology in the Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences may accumulate additional hours beyond the 60-semester-hour maximum in order to complete requirements for the Minor in Geography or Certificate of Undergraduate Study in Geographic Information Systems. Students having questions about this regulation should contact the college’s Advising and Counseling Office.

Some courses in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences indicate that the course may be repeated to a specified maximum number of semester hours. 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. Unless otherwise prohibited, enrollments in such a course may take place in any combination of semesters, including multiple enrollments during a single semester.

For some students, in-service exposure to their academic discipline may be desirable through courses identified as internships or courses which are part of the cooperative education program. In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, no more than 6 semester hours of credit in these courses may be applied toward the baccalaureate degree.

Grading policy - College Requirement for Multisection Courses

Current University policy stipulates that “Multi-section courses are expected to require similar levels of competence in all sections.” To achieve this goal, the policy further states that “Department and college curriculum committees shall be responsible for implementing these policies.”

In order to assist students in their academic preparation and provide guidance to instructional faculty, a consistent and public statement of competencies should be developed for relevant multi-section courses. Departments will determine which courses are to be included in this policy, but may include those multi-section courses that teach clearly defined competencies (including, but not limited to, foundational studies courses and general education courses). Courses that serve as gateway courses and those that focus on particular skills or content mastery should also be considered. In courses whose stated competencies are required to progress in a sequence, competencies are to be clearly articulated. Departments are encouraged to develop common syllabi, select common texts, and ensure that the overall distribution of grades be reasonably consistent across multiple sections.

Implementation of the policy should fall under the regular due diligence of departmental curriculum committees in their regular evaluation and assessment of relevant courses. While measures of competencies are expected to be evaluated on a regular basis, it is not intended or expected that departments undertake curricular change that requires significant new resources. Departments are encouraged to work with the Office of Assessment Services to determine reasonable and effective mechanisms to meet evaluation needs. 

College Requirement for the B.S. Degree

Candidates for the degree in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences must demonstrate competence in laboratory science/mathematical/computational skills equivalent to that attained through two years of regular college instruction. This requirement may be met by completing four courses or sequences from the lists below. The four courses/sequences must be selected from at least two of the three groups (A/B/C). Students should note that the sequences listed below are intended to be minimum requirements for the B.S. degree and that some departments have additional course requirements in the laboratory/mathematical sciences for their majors. Students seeking the B.S. degree should check the catalog for the requirements of a particular major to determine which of the following courses to complete and which additional courses may be required for that major.

Undergraduate students who are seeking a double major that includes a B.S. in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and who have satisfied the requirements for a B.S. degree in another college, will be considered to have satisfied the college B.S. requirements as long as all other required course work in the CLAS degree-granting program has been completed.

Group A. Mathematics
*MATH 206 - Introductory Discrete Mathematics (3),
     OR *MATH 210 - Finite Mathematics (3)
*MATH 211 - Calculus for Business and Social Science (4),
     OR *MATH 229 - Calculus I (4)
MATH 230 - Calculus II (4)
MATH 232 - Calculus III (4)
MATH 240 - Linear Algebra and Applications (4)

Group B. Computation
CSCI 210 - Elementary Programming (4)
CSCI 230 - Computer Programming in FORTRAN (4)
CSCI 240 - Computer Programming in C++ (4)
CSCI 250 - Computer Programming in COBOL (4)
*STAT 200 - Elementary Statistics (4)
STAT 300 - Introduction to Probability and Statistics (3)
UBUS 223 - Introduction to Business Statistics (3)

Group C. Lab Sciences
*BIOS 103 - General Biology (3)
     AND *BIOS 105 - General Biology Laboratory (1)
BIOS 208 - Fundamentals of Cellular Biology (3)
     AND BIOS 210 - Fundamentals of Cellular Biology Laboratory (1)
BIOS 209 - Fundamentals of Organismal Biology (3)
     AND BIOS 211 - Fundamentals of Organismal Biology Laboratory (1)
BIOS 213 - Introductory Bacteriology (3)
BIOS 357 - Human Anatomy and Physiology (5)
*CHEM 210 - General Chemistry I (3)
     AND *CHEM 212 - General Chemistry Laboratory I (1)
*CHEM 211 - General Chemistry II (3)
     AND *CHEM 213 - General Chemistry Laboratory II (1)
*GEOG 101 - Introduction to Environmental Geography (3)
     AND GEOG 102 - Introduction to Environmental Geography Laboratory (1)
*GEOG 105 - Weather, Climate, and You (3)
     AND GEOG 106 - Weather and Climate Laboratory (1)
*GEOG 256 - Maps and Mapping (3)
GEOG 302 - Soil Science (3)
GEOG 359 - Introduction to Geography Information Systems (3)
*GEOL 120 - Introductory Geology (3)
     AND *GEOL 121 - Introductory Geology Laboratory (1)
GEOL 320 - Environments and Life Through Time (4)
MET 300 - Meteorology (4)
*PHYS 210 - General Physics I (4)
*PHYS 211 - General Physics II (4)
*PHYS 253 - Fundamentals of Physics I: Mechanics (4)
*PHYS 273 - Fundamentals of Physics II: Electromagnetism (4)

The Office of Testing Services administers a Mathematics Placement Examination to each student at the time of admission, interprets the test, and notifies the student of the result and the appropriate initial mathematics course. The student should also note that it is possible to take a proficiency test in any of the courses listed in the above sequences.

* Available for general education credit.

College Requirement for All Minors

In addition to the university requirement of a minimum GPA of 2.00, in order for the university to record on a student’s transcript that a minor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was successfully completed during the student’s undergraduate program, 6 or more semester hours of the minor must have been earned at NIU.

Dean’s List Criteria

Through the Dean’s List, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recognizes undergraduates whose academic performance has been outstanding. The Dean’s List recognizes those students who achieve a GPA of 3.75 or higher (on a 4.00 scale) while completing a minimum of 12 graded semester hours within a fall or spring semester.

Interdisciplinary Minors

Any student completing the requirements for a baccalaureate degree may elect also to complete the requirements of an interdisciplinary minor. Successful completion of such requirements will be appropriately indicated on the transcript in conjunction with the student’s major at the time of graduation. An interdisciplinary minor is not a baccalaureate requirement and may not be substituted for the requirement of a major in a student’s degree program. Unless otherwise indicated, students may apply up to 6 semester hours from courses that satisfy their major requirements to also satisfy the requirements for an interdisciplinary minor.

Students with a second major may, with the approval of the coordinator, count up to 6 semester hours applied to satisfy the requirements for each of the majors toward the requirements for an interdisciplinary minor. Students electing an interdisciplinary minor should contact the coordinator at an early point to make application and to receive guidance. Additional information about these minors can be obtained from the Advising Office of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Departments in the college also participate in the interdisciplinary minors in environmental management systems and gerontology.

For a complete list of minors for the college, return to the main College of Liberal Arts and Sciences page.

Course Selection

In addition to completing a college major, many students find it beneficial in their future careers and other lifetime activities to have completed a program of study which broadens their knowledge and experience in a cohesive way. This objective can be achieved by a careful and informed choice of general education and elective courses.

For example, by carefully selecting the courses taken to fulfill the requirements of the General Education Program, students can discover their interests and abilities and thereby identify appropriate educational goals or, if these goals have already been decided, seriously test their suitability. In addition, an informed selection of courses taken to fulfill the requirements of the General Education Program can develop into a minor or even a second major area of study.

Students majoring in a degree program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences may have as many as 42 hours of elective courses, depending on their particular majors. The choice of courses taken to fill these elective hours is among the most important decisions a student will make while at NIU.

Students are strongly encouraged to use these hours to complete a minor area of study. Students with a major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences should use the offerings of the college as well as those of other colleges in the university in designing suitable programs of study-ones that will reinforce their intellectual and professional goals.

The college’s Advising and Counseling Office is available to students in need of advice and assistance.

Pre-professional Studies

Professional schools such as those offering degrees in dentistry, law, and medicine usually require specific courses and/or an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university for admission to their professional programs. Students interested in applying for admission into such programs are advised by the Advising and Counseling Office of the college and should register their interest in such programs with this office at the earliest possible date.

Admission to professional schools generally is highly competitive, with the number of qualified applicants far exceeding the number of students that can be admitted. A great deal of information is required by the admissions committees. Many professional schools require applicants to take special standardized tests, such as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and the Dental Aptitude Test (DAT), to measure the performance of applicants against national standards. Some professional schools use national application services (e.g., the Law School Data Assembly Service) to standardize the materials they are reviewing. Therefore, the application process is complex and time-consuming. To assist applicants, the Advising and Counseling Office has available detailed guidelines for completing each type of professional school application.

The Advising and Counseling Office also operates a recommendation service for applicants to professional schools. Applicants who use this service receive recommendation forms to be submitted to faculty members and others who can speak of their qualifications for professional study. These recommendations are submitted to the Advising and Counseling Office. They are sent to professional schools at the student’s request. Students are encouraged to request these recommendations early, so that their performance will still be fresh in the minds of the persons writing the recommendations. Students may begin collecting recommendations as early as they deem appropriate, regardless of when they begin to apply to professional schools.

A pre-professional association for students interested in medically related fields has been active on campus for several years. This association sponsors a variety of informational programs throughout the year for tentative and declared pre-professional students in medically related areas. A similar group has been organized for pre-law students. Information about both of these organizations is available in the Advising and Counseling Office.

Degree Affiliation Agreement NIU/UIC College of Pharmacy - Guaranteed Admission Program

The University of Illinois-Chicago College of Pharmacy will admit 10 students from NIU who meet the following conditions prior to matriculation:

Conditions of Affiliation Program Admission:

  • Completion of a minimum of 3 full-time semesters of university course work at NIU, with at least 4 semesters of course work remaining in their program. Preference will be given to students who have completed some pre-pharmacy course work.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.50/4.00 (cumulative) at NIU.
  • Successful completion of an on-site interview (UIC campus).
  • Expressed interest in the profession of pharmacy/healthcare as demonstrated by work or volunteer activities.
  • Involvement in extracurricular activities at the collegiate level.

Conditions for retention and matriculation:

  • Baccalaureate degree from NIU within 5 years.
  • Minimum cumulative pre-pharmacy GPA of 3.50/4.00, checked each semester.
  • Completion of all pre-pharmacy course work at NIU.
  • Receive a grade of C or better in every prerequisite course. [Courses in which a grade below C is obtained must be retaken. Both grades will be used in the GPA calculation.]
  • Attend meetings every semester with the program contact at NIU.
  • Participation in a portfolio project assigned by UIC.
  • Take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT).

Students given a guaranteed spot at UIC will be asked for their campus preference (Chicago or Rockford) at the time of matriculation - these preferences will be honored.

For additional information regarding the program at NIU, contact the Advising and Counseling Office at the beginning of the first semester of enrollment at NIU.

Degree Possibilities for Students Gaining Early Admission to a Professional School

An NIU student who transfers to an accredited school of dentistry, law, medicine, optometry, podiatry, or veterinary medicine may receive a baccalaureate degree from Northern Illinois University on the basis of course work completed successfully at the professional school in one of two ways.

The degree Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S.) will be awarded to any student who presents evidence of successful completion of one year of full-time study, i.e., the equivalent of 30 semester hours, at an accredited professional school of one of the types listed above, provided that the student fulfilled the following requirements prior to transferring to the professional school.

  • The university’s general education requirements.
  • At least 30 semester hours of NIU course credit during junior and senior years.
  • At least 90 semester hours of college credit applicable to a degree program.

Students who have been admitted to professional schools of the types mentioned above and who are enrolled on a part-time basis may be eligible for this degree under the same conditions upon completion of 30 semester hours (or the equivalent) in course work at the professional school. Students otherwise eligible for this degree under the above policy who have not met one or more of the four requirements listed or who may be enrolled in the professional school on a part-time basis may earn the B.G.S. degree by completing the remaining requirements after enrollment in the professional school but prior to earning the professional degree.

A baccalaureate degree other than the B.G.S. may be earned by an NIU student who transfers to the type of professional school listed above if the student’s major department determines that course work taken at the professional school may be substituted for any unfulfilled graduation requirements in the major and if the student has met all other graduation requirements.

A student who wishes to earn the B.G.S. degree as outlined above should file a change of major request with the assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences one semester prior to fulfilling all requirements. A student who wishes to earn the B.A. or B.S. degree on the basis of professional school work should contact the chair of the major department at the earliest possible date to establish in writing the professional school courses which will be permitted to meet the major requirements. The Office of Registration and Records should also be notified of a student’s intent to complete degree requirements in this way and be provided with a list of the professional school courses designated by the major department as fulfilling major requirements.

Pre-professional Advisement

The Academic Advising Center is responsible for the advisement of students interested in pre-dentistry, pre-engineering, pre-law, pre-medicine, pre-optometry, pre-pharmacy, pre-podiatry, and pre-veterinary medicine.

Course Selection for Biomedical Pre-professional Students

In addition to the courses required of all students gaining a B.S. degree, the following courses are recommended for students pursuing a biomedical pre-professional program. Specific requirements can vary from school to school, so students should also contact the specific schools to which they intend to apply as they plan their undergraduate program. It is important for pre-professional students to consult with the pre-professional adviser early in their first semester of enrollment at NIU to formulate a plan that takes into account the individual student’s background and goals. Beyond the courses listed below, it will be important for students to gain experience outside the classroom through laboratory research, student organizations, volunteer activities, and exposure to their chosen biomedical profession.

Math: Trigonometry and Elementary Functions (MATH 155) and Calculus I (MATH 229)

Chemistry: General Chemistry I and II with labs (CHEM 210/212 and CHEM 211/213)

Organic Chemistry I and II with labs (CHEM 330/332 and CHEM 331/333)

Physics: General Physics I and II (PHYS 210 and 211)

Fundamentals of Physics I and II (PHYS 253 and PHYS 273)

Biology: Fundamentals of Biology with labs (BIOS 208/210 and BIOS 209/211), Molecular Biology (BIOS 302), Microbiology (BIOS 313), and Human Physiology (BIOS 355)

Additional recommended classes include Statistics (STAT 200), Biological Chemistry (CHEM 470 or CHEM 472 and CHEM 473), and Genetics (BIOS 308).

Beyond this core, which will meet most professional school requirements and prepare students for the professional school entrance exams (e.g., MCAT, PCAT, DAT, OAT), individual biomedical programs may also have unique requirements. These include:

Pre-dentistry. Most dental schools require PSYC 102, PSYC 225, STAT 200, and two semesters of English composition.
Pre-medicine. Additional classes in sociology and psychology are recommended and these include PSYC 102 and classes in social, cognitive, and abnormal psychology. Additional useful classes for MCAT preparation include Cellular Physiology (BIOS 465) and Immunobiology (BIOS 440).
Pre-optometry. Many optometry schools require Elementary Statistics - STAT 200; and Lifespan Development - PSYC 225.
Pre-pharmacy. Most pharmacy programs require an economics class (ECON 260) and an anatomy class (BIOS 311 or BIOS 357). NIU also maintains an affiliation program with the UIC College of Pharmacy that will guarantee admissions to highly qualified students. Consult the pre-professional adviser for details on this program.
Pre-veterinary medicine. Many veterinary programs require one semester of animal science. Applied animal science classes are not offered at NIU, but can typically be taken at a community college over the summer. Most veterinary programs have biological chemistry as a requirement (CHEM 472 and CHEM 473).

External Education

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, through ILAS 250, External Education, awards from 3 to 30 semester hours of college credit to individuals who have successfully completed training or inservice programs offered by off-campus agencies. Students interested in applying for credit on the basis of an approved off-campus program should contact the Liberal Arts and Sciences office.

Program outlines and supporting documents from the offering agency must be submitted to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The curriculum committee of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in consultation with appropriate departments and the university’s Undergraduate Coordinating Council, will decide on the amount of credit extended.

Foreign Language Residence Program

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Department of World Languages and Cultures conducts of a foreign language residence program, which provides NIU students interested in languages taught in the department with the opportunity to live together in contact with native speakers and to engage in various educational, cultural, and social activities related to the country in which they are interested. The program also offers an elective class, FLAL 410, for one credit. The Foreign Language Residence Program is part of the Housing and Dining Special Interest Communities. For further information, contact the program’s coordinator.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Information