Northern Illinois University


Northern Illinois University is a teaching and research institution with a diverse and international student body of more than 24,000 students. NIU opened in 1899 as the Northern Illinois State Normal School, founded to prepare college-educated teachers. It became Northern Illinois State College in 1955, and Northern Illinois University in 1957.

The university also operates education centers in Hoffman Estates, Naperville and Rockford, Ill., to offer programs at times and locations designed to accommodate student needs. The 756-acre main campus is located in DeKalb, Ill., about 65 miles west of Chicago.


Information Summary

Ranks 29th in Illinois and 665th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 84.6
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $29,117
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 25 / 1190
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 16 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 73% / 43%
Enrollment Total (all students) 17,169


Students who attend Northern Illinois University can choose from 63 undergraduate majors offered by seven degree-granting colleges: Business, Education, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Health and Human Sciences, Visual and Performing Arts, and Pre-Professional Studies. NIU also offers 78 graduate programs, including the juris doctorate, doctoral education degrees and 20 Ph.D. programs.

The student to faculty ratio at NIU is 17 to 1, and the average class size is 28 students. The average class size for freshman 100-level introductory classes is approximately 31 students. Eighty percent of NIU’s full-time faculty hold doctoral degrees or the highest degrees in their fields.

NIU also offers online courses that permit students to blend their traditional education experience with an online learning experience. NIU offers more than 35 online courses from six of its colleges. Many online courses combine face-to-face meetings and field trips with online activities that include lectures and group projects.

A University Honors Program designs individualized programs of study for qualifying students and employs its top teaching faculty in the program. Honors students get priority registration privileges, a curriculum in a seminar format, the opportunity to live in the coed, smoke-free honors house in Douglas Residence Hall, and the chance to complete an independent Capstone project.

NIU also offers extensive study abroad experiences that take students to more than 75 different countries, ranging from Argentina to Vietnam. Programs includes semester long and year long stays, and shorter term studies abroad in programs led by faculty members. You can take a Black Studies class in Ghana and South Africa, study media and culture in Ireland, or learn about youth, schools and culture in Japan. NIU also has an extensive program at Oxford’s Oriel College in England, and arranges a long list of international internships for students.

Students can receive academic support from NIU’s Academic Advising Center, which offers ACCESS, a campus-wide free support and tutoring service, and walk-in tutoring centers in three campus residence halls. Students can also ask for free individual study skills consultation, and the University Writing Center in Stevenson Towers South provides free help with writing tasks.

Most Popular Fields of Study


National Safety Education Center :: Northern Illinois University
Altgeld Hall :: Northern Illinois University


Northern Illinois is considered a selective university, with an acceptance rate of 58.5 percent. Students looking at NIU need to have completed a minimum of 24 credits in high school and attained a minimum grade point average of 2.0. The average freshman ACT score at NIU is 22.

NIU requires the usual documents for admissions, including your SAT or ACT scores, your high school transcript and the completed application. About 76 percent of freshmen enrolled at NIU return for a second year there.

If you’d like to visit NIU, the university holds weekday tours of the campus with student ambassadors, which includes an information session and free lunch in a campus dining hall. NIU also hosts special events throughout the school year including an admitted student day, Transfer Get Information Fridays (also known as TGIF), a junior preview day and open houses in the fall.

Financial Aid

To apply for any type of financial aid, NIU students must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form with NIU listed as one of their school choices.

Like most universities, Northern Illinois University offers students loans, grants and scholarships. Federal grants and loans available to students include the Academic Competitiveness Grant, the Pell Grant, the Perkins Loan, the PLUS loan, the Stafford Loan, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and the national Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent grant.

State assistance is also available to Illinois students, including the General Assembly Scholarship, the Illinois National Guard Grant, the Illinois State Monetary Award Program, the Illinois Veteran Grant, state special education scholarships, and Merit Recognition Scholarships.

Each college at NIU also offers dozens of scholarships based on a student’s major and interest.

Work study jobs are also available through NIU residence halls, the University Libraries, the Holmes Student Center, and most university departments where clerical help is hired.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 3109th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in Illinois.


With 24,000 students, Northern Illinois University is like a small city. There are five large residence halls on the campus, numerous places to eat, and even an extensive bus system that operates day and night to transport students across the busy grounds. There are more than 200 student clubs and organizations at NIU, and 36 Greek organizations.

On-Campus Housing

NIU’s residence halls are large structures, some 13 stories high. Grant Towers, a complex of four, 13-story towers, features double and single rooms, a Grab ‘N Go breakfast bar and the Northern Lights Grill, a popular Sunday brunch spot. Lincoln Hall, home mostly to freshmen, consists of four, five-story wings, most of the rooms doubles. Two floors of Lincoln are four-person suites. Douglas Hall, also a five-story complex of four wings, features double rooms. Douglas also offers a number of learning communities including Honors House, International House, Science, Engineering, & Technology House, and Quiet Lifestyle. Douglas is home to one of the campus’ popular restaurants, Dog Pound Deli, and features a computer lab, tutoring center, and wireless Internet in all lounge areas.

Neptune Hall is a double occupancy hall with a variety of learning communities including the Fine Arts House, an Acohol Free floor, all-women floors, all-men floors and a quiet lifestyle floor. Neptune features a student art gallery, music practice rooms, a computer lab, wireless Internet in all lounges, the Neptune all-you-can-eat dining hall, and Trident Grab n’ Go.

The Stevenson Complex consists of four 13-story towers, with two towers restricted to upper class students. Stevenson features singles, doubles, and suites with and without bathrooms. Stevenson also has a popular food court dining hall and the Stevenson Expressway late-night grill. There is an International Student community at Stevenson.

Dining on Campus

Dining on campus includes dining halls at Grant Towers, Lincoln Hall, Douglas Hall, Stevenson Towers and Neptune Hall, along with Grab n’ Go takeout eateries and cafes.

You can also dine at the Holmes Student Center, which is the center of activity on the DeKalb campus. Holmes features the Blackhawk Food Court; Ellington’s, a sit-down restaurant where lunches are served by students enrolled in the School of Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences; a Subway sandwich shop; and a coffeehouse.

Other Amenities

Students can also head to Holmes in search of places to study, computer labs, the campus bookstore, and banking services. There’s even a full-service hotel at Holmes for campus visitors.

NIU students can also find on-campus services that include a health care clinic, a child care center, a career advising office, and a diversity resource center.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


The Northern Illinois University Huskies compete in the NCAA Division 1 and are members of the Mid American Conference. Men’s intercollegiate teams are baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, tennis and wrestling. Women’s intercollegiate teams are basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

NIU has some pretty impressive athletic facilities, beginning with the four-year-old Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Center, which benefits all 467 student-athletes and all the intercollegiate sports programs on campus. The Yordon Center provides Huskie student-athletes with an academic support center that includes tutorial rooms, group classrooms, and a computer lab. The Yordon Center also provides athletes with a strength and conditioning center, an athletic training room with strength equipment and a four-lane sprint track, and a health center with two rehabilitation pools, a drug testing area and a doctor’s office.

Huskie Stadium is the home of NIU football and includes refurbished practice areas for the university’s wrestling and women’s gymnastics teams. In the stadium’s 44 seasons, more than 3.4 million people have watched NIU football.

The university’s $36 million Convocation Center was completed in 2002 and is home to NIU men’s and women’s basketball teams, along with volleyball, gymnastics, wrestling and indoor track and field. The Convocation Center seats up to 10,000 spectators, has a 200-meter track, and has hosted musicians, comedians and trade shows in addition to athletic competitions.


  • NIU | Northern Illinois University | Applying | Best College | US News.” US News & World Report | News & Rankings | Best Colleges, Best Hospitals, and More. US News & World Report. Web. 31 May 2011.
  • Northern Illinois Huskies Northern Illinois – Northern Illinois Official Athletic Site. Northern Illinois University. Web. 31 May 2011.
  • NIU – Northern Illinois University. Northern Illinois University. Web. 31 May 2011.

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