Northern Illinois University Your Future, Our Focus Northern Illinois University Your Future, Our Focus

Rankings and Recognitions

Girl in Lab

Since NIU was chartered in 1895, it has been the recipient of numerous prestigious national rankings and recognitions, maintaining academic achievements across the university. These are proud honors for NIU because they reveal some of the things we value most. For example, NIU’s ranking in the top 150 universities by Washington Monthly for research and service demonstrates our commitment to providing students with cutting-edge curriculum while also inspiring them to give back to their communities. Ranked in the top third of Colleges Worth Your Investment, the university remains dedicated to its mission of making a college degree attainable for everyone.

To view rankings and recognitions awarded to individual colleges, follow the links to the left.

NIU Earns National Rankings

Washington Monthly

  • According to Washington Monthly’s 2015 National Universities Rankings, NIU ranks in the top 200 universities in the following categories:
    • Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students)
    • Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D.s)
    • Service (encouraging students to give something back to their community)

U.S. News and World Report

Brookings Institute

  • Median Mid-Career Salary: NIU ranks in the top 10 in Chicago
  • Occupational Earnings Power: NIU ranks in the top 10 in Chicago

  • College Education ROI Rankings: NIU ranks in the top third of Colleges Worth Your Investment and is among the top ten colleges in Illinois for both in-state and out-of-state tuition. This ranking measures "what you pay to attend versus what you get back in lifetime earnings."
  • Social Mobility Index: NIU is ranked 30th by CollegeNet and Payscale for social mobility, or the extent that a college or university "educates more economically disadvantaged people at a lower tuition so that they graduate into good paying jobs."

The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

Corporation for National Community Service

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

  • APLU logoInnovation and Economic Prosperity University: NIU is designated as one of 16 inaugural institutions nationwide for working with public and private sector partners to support economic development through innovation and entrepreneurship; technology transfer; and talent, workforce, and community development.
  • Economic Prosperity University Award for Place: NIU is recognized as a top university for its community, social, and cultural development work.

NIU Earns Academic Prestige


  • Nationally Accredited University: Northern Illinois University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Nationally Accredited Programs: NIU is accredited in business, engineering, nursing, visual and performing arts, and all teacher certification programs (among others), for meeting the highest standards of academic quality and rigor.


  • Cargegie Foundation logoResearch Universities: NIU is classified as a Research University (high research activityby the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This designation is reserved for universities that award at least 20 research degrees during the year.
  • Curricular Engagement and Outreach and Partnerships: NIU has an elective classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in Curricular Engagement and Outreach and Partnerships for its collaboration with its larger communities (local, regional/state, national and global).