Founded as the Northern Illinois State Normal School, Northern Illinois University opened its doors near the turn of the 20th century. It served as a teaching preparation school that offered diplomas and certificates for students who wanted to work as teachers. After earning the right to offer degree programs, it became a state teaching college. As the interests of its student base changed, the school brought in new programs and added new degree options, which led to it becoming a state college and eventually a university. The school officially became Northern Illinois University in 1957.
Also known as NIU, it now offers more than 60 degree programs and around 70 minor options for undergrads as well as nearly 70 graduate programs. It also has nine programs available for those interested in professional studies and around 20 programs for doctoral students. According to Washington Monthly, NIU is one of the top three colleges in the state. Washington Monthly also ranked it as the nation's 135th best college. It also ranks as the 177th best American college, according to U.S. News & World Report, and appeared on a list of the best national schools put out by Forbes. More than 20,000 undergrads and graduate students take classes from NIU.
Northern Illinois University Accreditation Details
When applying to colleges, you should always make sure that it has regional accreditation before looking at its program accreditation. Regional accreditation means that an organization performs routine checks on the school to ensure that it meets the needs of its students. This is also necessary for those who want to attend graduate school or transfer to a new college. Northern Illinois University has regional accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS). It also has accreditation for its programs in law, physical therapy, mechanical engineering, dietetics, counseling, business and other subjects. Some of the program accreditation that NIU has comes from groups like:
- Council on Rehabilitation Education
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
- National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
- National Association of Schools of Art and Design
- Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology
- American Psychological Association
- American Bar Association
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
Northern Illinois University Application Requirements
Though NIU offers all its applications online, you must meet different requirements based on whether you apply for a bachelor's, master's or doctoral program. Its undergrad application charges a $40 processing fee, but you can apply for a waiver before completing the application. It asks for your address, date of birth, social security number, whether you are an American citizen and some other basic information. You can pay the application fee with a debit or credit card. The university will not process your application until it also receives an official high school transcript and official ACT or SAT score. If you need to transfer college credits, you need to submit an official transcript from that college too.
Graduate students can create a free account with the admissions website. The site will show you what you need to do to apply and provide you with a checklist of steps you must still complete. The online application asks for some of the same background information as the undergrad application does, but you must pay a $60 fee when you submit it. The university asks for a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, an official college transcript and your standardized test scores. There are similar requirements in place for those applying for a doctoral program. Those students must also supply a resume and proof that they have both an undergrad and graduate degree.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Full-time students taking classes at an NIU campus pay around $4,700 a year for tuition alone. Fees can add more than $500 to your semester costs, and the university also requires that you purchase health insurance through the college or have coverage of your own. The cost for nonresidents is closer to $9,500 a semester. NIU offers discounted rates for students from Midwestern states, including Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri and Iowa. Those students pay around $6,700 a semester. Illinois residents enrolled in a graduate school program pay close to $500 per credit hour, but the university increases this rate to around $850 per credit hour for nonresidents.
You should always file the FAFSA, even if you think you do not qualify for financial aid. NIU can alert you to scholarships and programs that you qualify for based on the assistance your parents can provide and your high school grades. There are also loans and grants available as well as a work-study program for undergrads. Graduate students may learn about alternative student loans and loans that their parents can take out along with grant programs. Select NIU departments also offer research and teaching assistant positions for grad students.
Programs in Psychology and Counseling
Northern Illinois University offers counseling and psych degree programs through several of its departments. Its Department of Psychology offers both a BA and a BS in psychology. The main difference is that BS students typically take more science, math and research classes. Students in both programs also take courses on statistics, experimental psychology, social psychology and personality. The university offers seven options at the upper levels of study and require that students take at least 12 credits of classes each semester while in a graduate program. You can concentrate your studies in clinical psychology, cognitive and instructional psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, school psychology, social psychology or individual/organizational psychology.
NIU also offers a Master of Science in Counselor Education through its Department of Counseling, Adult & Higher Education. It includes 36 credits of general counseling courses, 15 credits in your chosen practice field and nine hours of practical work. You can choose between a concentration in school counseling or clinical mental health counseling. Counseling students spend at least 1,000 hours working in a clinical setting under supervision. A counselor education and supervision program is available at the doctoral level. The program includes 105 hours of more general counseling classes and a minimum of 75 credits of specialized courses. Northern Illinois University requires that all counseling PhD students do several internships while in the program and awards them credits for the research and work they do on their dissertations.