Undergraduate Degree Programs
From STEM fields to the arts and quite a bit in between, choose from over 100 courses of study. Explore the programs below to start building an academic experience based on who you are today, and what you want to become tomorrow.
Pair your major with a minor or certificate to match your interests. Then, check out our NIU PLUS programs that help make sure your general education, hands-on learning activities and even your part-time job give you the competitive edge you need when you graduate.
If you’re still not sure about what you’d like to study, our Academic Advising Center can help you explore your interests and build an academic experience as unique as you are.
Whatever you choose, we know you’ll come ready to take on the world. We’ll help you leave ready to change it.
And it all starts here. When you’re ready, apply for admission and begin to bring your future into focus with NIU.
To succeed, businesses need people skilled at recording, summarizing, reporting and analyzing financial transactions. Accounting students learn those skills, as well as how to interpret and communicate financial information in ways that help companies assess trends and make strategic decisions. You will graduate prepared for careers in public accounting such as auditing, taxation, internal audit, government accounting and many other fields. Many students choose to earn a master’s degree in leadership or taxation.
Anthropologists seek to understand who we are as humans. While archaeologists and biological anthropologists search for clues about the past, cultural and linguistic anthropologists are on a quest to understand the richness of human diversity. Our anthropology program will prepare you for an exciting career involving our increasingly multicultural world and global economy. Careers might include teaching, research, marketing, community service or nonprofit management. Additionally, corporations are increasingly relying on anthropological research to connect with consumers. Employment in this field is expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate in coming years.
The Bachelor of Science in Applied Management with an emphasis in Public Safety gives police officers, fire officers and first responders the skills and knowledge needed for public-sector leadership in a rapidly changing world.
Designed for professionals with Associate of Applied Science degrees in criminal justice, law enforcement, fire science and emergency management, this degree builds on foundational knowledge and takes it to the next level, providing new pathways for career advancement and further education.
Studying art means you’ll learn analytical skills to examine and solve problems through the arts. This degree allows you to focus on art, humanities, and technology, preparing you for opportunities in emerging technologies, complex systems, and creative markets. You may choose to pursue a bachelor of arts degree, which emphasizes the humanities, or a bachelor of science degree emphasizing math, science and technology.
Art educators share their creativity to develop artistic aptitude and arts appreciation in others. Students pursuing this degree develop skills to advocate for art in schools, working with diverse students, attitudes, and cultures. This degree prepares you for work in multiple fields, including teaching in K-12 and community settings, museum and gallery management, and higher education.
Art history looks at the ways we communicate through images and the built environment. Art historians ask: “Why has art been so important in the past, how does it affect our present, and how will it shape our future?” This field draws information from several areas including history, philosophy, literature, language, science, religion, and technology. It is closely connected to anthropology, archeology, and cultural studies. Art History graduates pursue opportunities including teaching college; curatorial and related education work in museums; and research.
It takes highly skilled health professionals to keep athletes of any age on the field. Athletic Training majors go on to work with the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of athletic injuries in a wide range of settings – including sports, education, health care, military and the performing arts. Graduates hold positions in some of the most prestigious professional sports programs, universities and hospitals throughout the Midwest and the Nation.
Biology is a diverse and rapidly expanding field that addresses issues relevant to health, industry and the environment. Biologists are responsible for new discoveries in such areas as agriculture, medicine, molecular biology and the evolution of species. As the pace of discovery accelerates, the number of career opportunities increase as well.
Our program will prepare you to work in a variety of biological areas; for graduate study in a biological discipline; and for medical, dental, veterinary and other professional schools. With additional coursework and student teaching, you can also be certified to teach at the middle- and high-school levels.
Business leaders call on their broad-based skills to pursue opportunities in today’s business society. Students in this major study all of the core functional areas of business, including accountancy, finance, management, marketing, and operations and information systems. Graduates pursue opportunities in a wide variety of professional roles in multiple industries, including sales, logistics analyst, and manager in training.
Virtually everything we do involves chemistry, which can be used to improve our health, lives and environment. NIU ranks among the top universities for the number of American Chemical Society-certified bachelor’s degrees awarded annually.
Most chemists work in research, with about two-thirds of our graduates working at for-profit businesses. Once you earn your degree, you could find yourself working with a cosmetic company, medical laboratory, petroleum company, utility, pharmaceutical business, chemical manufacturer or environmental-assessment firm. You also could work in government, education, nonprofits or research foundations—or go on to pharmacy, medical or graduate school.
In a digital era when oral and written communication skills are more important than ever before, a major in communication studies provides cutting-edge insights valuable for professional careers.
Communication Studies offers emphases in rhetoric and public communication, media studies or organizational/corporate communication, as well as a major in journalism (see separate entry). Program graduates go on to careers in such areas as social media management, technical writing, public relations, film, publishing, advertising, marketing, corporate media production and web programming and design. Many graduates also pursue advanced degrees.
A degree in Communicative Disorders provides you with information about normal speech, language and hearing development, and is often the first step toward becoming an audiologist, a rehabilitation counselor or a speech-language pathologist. If you choose not to pursue a graduate degree, our program will provide a strong foundation for careers in human services, education, and other health care fields.
One of the only freestanding undergraduate degree programs of its kind in the United States, our Community Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) program prepares students to work in nonprofit organizations or in the fields of philanthropy, public service or community engagement. The hands-on program draws from areas such as sociology, public administration, anthropology and political science.
The degree is designed to match your interests, with emphases that include advocacy, enterprise, the environment, global engagement and arts and humanities. A CLCE degree will lead you on a pathway to a career in the nonprofit sector, including rewarding jobs in administration, fundraising or communications.
NIU’s Computer Science Department has a long history of successfully educating computer professionals. We keep pace with industry demands for well-trained graduates who are ready to assume vital roles in the field of information technology.
With a computer science degree, you could work in a variety of areas, such as a programmer, information systems manager, game programmer or database administrator. You’ll find our alums working in business, high-tech industries and research organizations. Companies that recruit our graduates range from IBM and Microsoft to Abbot Labs, McDonald’s Corporation and Wells Fargo.
Working with and teaching the very young is both challenging and rewarding. The Early Childhood Studies program prepares students for a variety of professional roles serving children from birth through age 8 and their families. The program includes the Early Childhood Special Education Approval, allowing graduates to teach children with disabilities in pre-kindergarten.
The field of economics examines how individuals, businesses and governments allocate scarce resources. Economists help find solutions to these challenges.
As an economics major, you will gain important skills that are highly valued in today's job market. Upon graduation, you will have a wide array of employment opportunities in administration, marketing research, financial services, sales, management, insurance, real estate, public and social service and other exciting fields. Employment of economists is expected to grow substantially in the near future because of the continued need for economic analyses.
Electrical engineers create innovative ways to improve people’s lives through the design, development and application of systems and devices that generate and use electrical energy. Demand for electrical engineers is extremely high, with opportunities in the aerospace, health care, computers, manufacturing and automotive sectors. The curriculum includes extensive laboratory work and equips you with the competencies and skills needed to develop, design and operate technologies that generate and use electricity, including machinery, electronics, communications and computers. You also can specialize in electrical and computer engineering or biomedical engineering.
Elementary education prepares you to teach future generations. You will develop expertise in the teaching of reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies and science for grades 1-6. Students learn to adjust instruction to support young learners with a wide variety of cultural and language backgrounds and learning styles. Your coursework also will include curriculum and instruction, classroom management, educational technology, assessment and psychology.
An English degree is broad and versatile, giving you the flexibility to choose from diverse career paths and adapt to shifting job demands. English majors take courses in literature, film, linguistics, English education and English as a Second Language, as well as in creative, technical and professional writing. You may choose one of three tracks: Studies in Literature, Secondary Licensure in English Language Arts or Studies in Writing.
Our graduates enjoy successful and creative careers in education, editing, copywriting, management, public relations, publishing, technical writing and more.
Successful businesses need leaders who can develop and execute innovative ideas. The leading-edge curriculum in this area of study prepares students learn to think entrepreneurially, develop new ventures, and pursue entrepreneurial projects within larger organizations. Graduates pursue a variety of career options, including business development, small business or franchise owner, and management within a start-up or corporate venture setting, as well as leadership and consulting roles. Graduates also pursue opportunities in non-profit organizations and social ventures where they apply their management skills to important social issues.
Our environmental studies program will provide you with broad-based knowledge of key environmental issues, such as climate change, environmental policy, water conservation and development of alternative energies. You will gain an understanding of the role of people in critical environmental issues and how they can be mobilized to help solve problems.
The Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy fosters interdisciplinary research, education and community engagement. When you graduate, you will be prepared to meet environmental and energy challenges via careers in industry, government, small businesses, academic research and nonprofits.
Family and Child Studies prepares you to work with children and families by way of three study areas: Family and Individual Development, for pursuing a career teaching family and child studies; Family Social Services, for entry-level positions in social service organizations as well as preparation for advanced degrees in social work and therapy; and Child Development, for childcare and advocacy roles. All three emphasis areas provide you with a foundation for careers or graduate studies.
Fashion merchandising happens after the runway. After initial design stages, apparel moves through a process that can start with fabric selection, and then through manufacturing, distribution, and buying offices before reaching retail stores. There are many tasks along the way, each with ample career opportunities for fashion merchandising degree holders. Students learn about textiles, apparel, style trends and influences, and other factors impacting business decisions related to fashion merchandising. With this degree you’ll be prepared for careers including buyer, visual merchandiser, trend director, fashion stylist, retail store manager, manufacturer’s representative, production coordinator, and more.
Individuals, companies and governments all need people who know how to put money to work. Studying finance, you will learn how to acquire and manage money by studying topics such as investment management, credit management, securities and derivatives analysis, financial research and decision making. Depending on your area of emphasis, after graduation you might be eligible to test for certification as a chartered financial analyst or treasury professional. You will graduate prepared for jobs such as financial analyst, treasurer, securities analyst and corporate banking officer.
Our Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures offers undergraduate majors in French, German and Spanish—as well as teacher licensure (K-12) in those areas.
You’ll find many benefits to being bilingual, including the fact that demand for employees who speak more than one language is on the rise. Half of all employers in northern Illinois plan to hire more bilingual or multilingual college graduates in coming years, according to a 2015 study. Our graduates find jobs in the fields of business, interpreting, law, education, law enforcement and many other areas. Additionally, we offer minors in the above languages, plus in Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Russian.
The Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) program is a broad-based degree awarded by NIU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The curriculum crosses a wide array of disciplines including the humanities, mathematics, the physical sciences and the behavioral and social sciences.
You’ll work with the BGS director to customize your degree program. Graduates with this unique degree have gone into a wide variety of employment fields, including business, sales, marketing, human resources and nonprofit work. The program also serves as a solid foundation for law school or graduate school in a liberal arts discipline.
Geography is the study of place and location, exploring how we interact with, alter and manage the physical environment. Yes, geography is about maps—but it is much more. At NIU, you can choose from two emphases: geography or geomatics (land surveying). Students also practice the craft and build additional skills through research and internships.
The demand for geographers is growing substantially. Upon graduation, you might work for:
- Federal agencies, such as NOAA or the CIA
- Companies in transportation, utility, real estate or marketing sectors
- Agencies dealing with agriculture, natural resources and development
- Regional and local governments
- Educational institutions
Geology is the study of the earth, its materials and the processes acting upon them. As a geology student, you’ll study topics that include paleontology, volcanology, earthquake seismology, plate tectonics and groundwater flow. You also might work alongside faculty who trek across the globe conducting some of the most important research of our time.
Within the major, you can choose from three emphases, including one for students seeking to become high school science teachers—jobs that are in high demand. Other graduates work in a wide variety of positions in research, industry, government, academia and nonprofit organizations.
Our Health Sciences program focuses on giving you the foundation to pursue careers or graduate study in careers such as physical therapy and rehabilitation. Within this program, you may choose an emphasis in pre-physical therapy, which will prepare you for the graduate work necessary to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Or, you may select rehabilitation services as your emphasis, giving you a background in disability, vocational therapy, and other rehabilitation areas. This emphasis is also preparation for master’s degree study. Job opportunities include providing services to people with disabilities.
History majors not only explore the past, gaining insights into how societies change over time, but also develop important reading, writing, research and interpretive skills. History represents a fascinating, flexible major that permits you to study the broadest possible range of human experience.
Study of history opens many possible professional doors, rather than preparing students to do one thing. NIU history graduates have gone on to teach in schools; conduct museum and archival work; graduate from law and other professional schools; find work in government, military and private-sector employment; and attend graduate school in a variety of disciplines.
Hospitality and tourism professionals work in hotels, cruise lines, convention centers, catering operations, schools, hospitals, airlines, casinos, prisons and schools. This work requires the ability to handle both physical, financial, and personnel resources. Graduates gain the managerial and administrative skills necessary to gain entry-level roles in this diverse industry.
Businesses depend on attracting, motivating, and retaining talent in their workforce. This area of study takes students into the heart of human resource management. With a curriculum recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management, NIU’s program provides you with a broad background in all the key areas of human resource management, including training and development, recruiting and staffing, compensation and benefits, and employment law. NIU graduates enter careers in HR generalist and specialist positions as well as executive team leader, or manager-in-training in global, mid-sized, start-up or non-profit organizations.
Industrial and systems engineers are the efficiency experts of industry. Whether it is organizing a shop floor for maximum productivity or streamlining hospital workflow to improve patient care, they are trained to get the most out of data, machines, energy and people. The skills of our graduates apply not only to manufacturing, but also to service industries, qualifying them for positions in financial institutions, transportation, logistics and the health care industry. Your studies can include principles of manufacturing, probability and statistics, operations management, project management and much more.
Journalism, the collection and distribution of news and information, is an essential field in any democratic society. Journalists are involved in managing, editing or writing for newspapers, magazines and online, radio and television news outlets. They also are involved in advertising and public relations.
NIU’s journalism program is housed in the Department of Communication. Courses in writing, photography, layout, electronic media and broadcasting will equip you with the skills to gather, evaluate and disseminate information. You also will learn about ethics, professional standards and the critical role of the mass media in society.
Kinesiologists are health care professionals who are experts in body movement. They help people get and stay fit and perform at their optimal level. This major will help you develop a wide range of skills that prepare you for dynamic roles in fitness, health and sports industries and for graduate study in related fields. Career paths include personal training, corporate fitness/wellness, sports performance and conditioning, sports management and older adult fitness.
Leading and managing people is a key capability in today’s business world. In this area of study, students explore the art and science of leading, motivating, and supervising individuals, groups, and organizations. You will develop the problem-solving, relationship building, communication, and professional development skills to contribute to a wide variety of positions in multiple industries. Graduates enter careers that call upon their broad-based skills in managing action, information, and people in for-profit and non-profit organizations in a wide range of industries.
Even the best products don’t sell themselves. In marketing, you will learn how to help companies determine customer needs and wants, and then get the right product to the right place at the right time. You will study buyer behavior, marketing research and marketing strategy. Students also can choose to focus on interactive marketing (studying search engine marketing, social media, website usability, etc.); retail marketing; or enroll in our Professional Sales Program, one of the top-rated programs in the nation preparing students for careers in business-to-business sales.
Mathematics is still the basis for understanding and solving the planet’s economic, scientific, engineering, physics and business problems. Mathematicians use computational techniques, algorithms and the latest technology to meet the increasing demand for data analysis and statistical information.
At NIU, you’ll not only learn the fundamentals, but will also choose electives that prepare you for graduate or professional school or exciting careers in dozens of fields, ranging from business and finance to data mining and market research.
Mechanical engineering is a creative and practical discipline that draws on a number of basic sciences to design and manufacture devices and products that benefit society. The curriculum covers the formulation, design, development, modeling, simulation and control of systems and components. It incorporates solid mechanics, dynamics and controls, fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, manufacturing and the conversion of energy into work. The degree is in demand across all industries, ranging from robotics to refrigeration and beyond.
Medical Laboratory Scientists provide scientific analysis of blood, other bodily fluids and tissues in a medical setting. Pursuing this degree will help you gain and develop the analytical expertise to interact with physicians, nurses, other health care professionals, patients and their families. Graduates are prepared to sit for the ASCP BOC MLS exam, the leading test for medical laboratory professional certification.
Meteorology involves the study of the atmosphere and its interaction with the earth’s surface, oceans and living things. Meteorologists make weather forecasts, and examine issues ranging from the mechanisms that fuel severe storms to how plants, buildings and landscapes affect atmospheric processes.
NIU’s meteorology program, housed in the Department of Geography, is among the largest undergraduate-only programs in North America. With a meteorology degree, you’ll have a number of exciting career options in such areas as weather forecasting; climate-impact analysis; broadcast and research meteorology; and environmental/hazards risk assessment.
It takes specialized skills to teach middle school students. This program provides students with in-depth content knowledge and instructional method preparation in two endorsement areas to teach in grades 5-8. Endorsements include English, mathematics, science, social science, bilingual/ESL, foreign language and physical education.
A music degree prepares you to share music with the world in three ways: music education, performance, and composition. Choosing the music education emphasis includes studying instrumental or vocal music while also seeking school teacher licensure. The performance track is ideal if you are going to pursue a professional career as a musician. If you want to write music professionally, the composition emphasis is for you. All three emphasis areas also include study in specific instruments and related areas such as recording arts, composition and theory, world music, and music history.
In today’s competitive health care industry, nurses with Bachelor of Science degrees (BSN) have a career edge. Many areas of nursing, such as public health and case management, require you to have a four-year degree. Earning your BSN also prepares you to pursue advanced degree programs such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Our BSN program is nationally recognized for its high quality and value, and our graduates have a high pass rate for NCLEX-RN, the national nursing licensing exam.
Nutrition, Dietetics and Wellness studies prepare you for careers promoting health, positive food choices, nutrition strategies, as well as for foodservice and management. Also, for those who chose graduate school in dietetics as the next step, our program can prepare you for the dietetic internships necessary to become a registered dietitian. Regardless, your career options are plentiful: opportunities can be found in wellness programs, food safety, schools, medical centers, and corporate sites, as well as in food sales and marketing.
OMIS majors focus on ways to make businesses better – whether through better using technology or controlling the logistics of production and delivery. You will study topics such as project and database management, process and quality improvement and decision analysis. Those skills are in high demand and can be put to work anywhere from a factory to a cruise ship company. In your career, you might focus on resource management, data administration, quality management, systems analysis, network coordination and more. In addition to its highly rated programs in both operations management and information systems, the department also offers a minor in business analytics.
Philosophy is the investigation of the deepest and most enduring questions about ourselves, the world in which we live and our place in it. This area of study fascinates and propels us to examine and reflect on what truly makes us human.
Philosophy has been called “the ultimate transferrable work skill.” You will develop the ability to think creatively and ask the right questions. You also will acquire analytical, investigative, written and communication skills valued in any workplace. Our graduates have become professors, attorneys, data analysts, publishers and journalists, just to name a few of their professions.
Physics is the study of matter and energy and the laws that govern their interactions. Advances in technology, such as transistors, lasers and microwaves, all resulted from basic physics research. Beyond practical applications, the study of physics will help you see and explore aspects of the world that are invisible to our ordinary senses.
We offer emphases in professional physics, applied physics or physics secondary education (teacher licensure). Our students frequently conduct research, including work at federal laboratories. Our graduates are highly sought-after for careers in research, education, medicine, engineering, chemistry, ecology and the military.
Political science is the study of politics and its connection to human life. As a political science major, you will examine such areas as the relationships between law and political institutions; economic and political power; and culture and political identity. You also will have many opportunities for engaged learning, including internships, travel abroad programs and a spring break trip to Washington, D.C.
Ultimately, you will gain solid basis for intellectual and personal growth, civic participation and professional success. NIU political science majors have gone on to careers in numerous areas, including law, business, journalism, education, intelligence and government.
Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior. You will choose from a wide range of courses on current topics in the field, including stress, trauma, sexuality, motivation and adolescent development. As part of the major, you will participate in a set of learning experiences that focus on research in psychology.
Psychologists work in many settings, including schools, hospitals, businesses, government, laboratories, nonprofits and mental health organizations. Our graduates with bachelor’s degrees have found jobs in research, business, child care, employment counseling, foster care work, social work, marketing, personnel selection and other fields.
Public Health degree holders focus on health issues such as wellness promotion, disease prevention, health care access, and community safety. They have careers in health departments, nursing homes and healthcare accrediting agencies. They hold titles including epidemiologist, health administrator, health educator, and geriatric care manager. Our program helps you acquire the health care planning and information handling skills necessary for this diverse and changing field.
Sociology is a fascinating field of study, examining the dynamics of social life, social change and the underlying factors that shape human behavior. You will explore such topics as the causes and consequences of crime, poverty and wealth, prejudice and discrimination, law and deviance, religious beliefs and social movements.
At a time when technology is rapidly spurring social development and interaction, sociology has never been more relevant, and demand for sociologists is expected to grow. Our graduates have entered a wide variety of fields, including social services, criminal justice and law enforcement, market research, business management and public health.
Individuals with special needs require teachers with special skills. Graduates of this program teach students ages 3-21 with a wide spectrum of special needs including learning and developmental disabilities, behavior disorders, autism or vision impairments. The program provides highly interactive classes, including extensive training in the use of assistive technology. Students pursuing an emphasis in visual impairments will focus on skills that will allow them to eventually work as orientation and mobility specialists and as teachers for both children and adults with visual impairments.
When you pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art, you’ll choose a concentration in a specific area to prepare you for professional careers in art and design. You’ll learn technical skills along with cultural foundations, and distinctive experiences needed to become an articulate artist and designer. Our program offers the following Design and Media Arts emphasis areas: Photography, Time Arts (Animation, Video), and Visual Communication (Graphic Design). The Studio emphasis area offers these: Ceramics, Drawing, Fibers, Illustration, Metals and Jewelry (Digital Fabrication), Painting, Printmaking, and Sculpture.
Technology majors learn how to manage, operate and maintain complex technological systems by applying engineering, mathematics and technical management skills to the solution of real-world problems. You can learn fundamental engineering skills including welding and advanced mold-making, while developing and understanding basic and advanced theory within specific disciplines such as electrical engineering; manufacturing; energy and the environment; and industrial management. You will leave with a mix of practical and theoretical skills that make you an attractive employee to nearly every industry. As the name technology implies, our students learn the latest industry applications and equipment.
Those who aspire to work in theatre, be it on stage or behind the scenes, pursue degrees in Theatre Arts. Our program aims to prepare actors, designers, technicians and dancers for professional careers in their chosen field. Within this program you’ll select an emphasis in acting, design and technology, and dance performance.
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