Northern Illinois University Review

Northern Illinois University is home to a nationally recognized education faculty and several popular online graduate education degree options.

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The Good

Decent degree options

Northern Illinois University offers three graduate study options for online students, including degree programs in instructional technology, school business management, and educational administration. While other schools offer more diverse options than NIU, instructional technology and educational administration are two of the most popular graduate degree subjects in the field and are sure to appeal to many students. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a school or district business manager, the school business management program, which culminates in a Master of Science in Education degree, is one of the only online options in the country. Do note that you may be required to visit the NIU campus in DeKalb, Illinois, to complete all academic requirements for these online degrees. Contact an NIU admissions counselor for further advice on degree requirements.

Quality online faculty

As a Northern Illinois University (NIU) student, you’ll work with highly-trained instructors who are experts in their respective fields. NIU education instructors average five years of online teaching experience and receive regular training in the best teaching practices for online education. With access to so much experience and know-how among your instructors, you can trust that you’ll get the highest quality online instruction available. The faculty at NIU is ranked among the best 20 online graduate education programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

No classroom teaching experience required

Whether you’re a new bachelor’s graduate or someone who wants to transition into the education field from another profession, an NIU degree is an excellent choice. Many other top online education programs require a current teaching certificate or substantial, recent classroom teaching experience. Some degree programs even require current employment as a classroom teacher. If you’re interested in the educational administration degree program, note that preference is given to applicants who can show a background in classroom teaching.

Good student retention rates

In recent years, Northern Illinois University has shown a lot of success in guiding new students toward graduation. At least 88% of first-year students in the last two academic years have continued into a second year of study, which is a fantastic success rate for an online program. If you consider that NIU is home to a reputable education faculty with many years of online teaching experience, it’s not hard to see why the university has been so successful in engaging, motivating, and retaining its online student body.

The Bad

On-campus visits may be required

Depending on the degree program you choose and the course roadmap you design, you may be required to visit the Northern Illinois University campus in DeKalb, Illinois to complete your degree. If you plan to pursue the NIU instructional technology program, you must visit campus for face-to-face classroom sessions once per academic term. If you’re interested in the school business management program or the educational administration program, you may be able to avoid campus visits depending on your curriculum choices. You should also be aware that both of these programs require you to complete an approved one-year internship. As a distance education student, you can find a suitable internship option in your local area.

The Details

General Information

  • Academic Year Founded: 2009 - 2010
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Application Fee: $40
  • Location: IL
  • Number of Graduate Education Programs: 2
  • Region: Midwest
  • School Type: Public
  • Term Schedule: Semester

Tuition Rates (per credit)

  • In-State: $325
  • Out-of-State: $650


  • Degrees: School Business Management (M.S.Ed), Instructional Technology (M.S.Ed.)


  • Certificates: N/A

Class Profile

  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Average Student Age: 37
  • Average Undergraduate GPA: 3.15
  • Avg. GRE Analytical Writing: 4.7
  • Avg. GRE Quantitative: 149
  • Avg. GRE Verbal: 156
  • Gender Ratio: 52.9% female, 47.1% male
  • Maximum Class Size: 25
  • Total Enrollment: 121


  • Average Online Teaching Experience: 5 Years
  • Full-Time Instructional Faculty: 12
  • Part-Time Instructional Faculty: 8

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2009-2010): N/A
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2010-2011): 100%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2011-2012): 88%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2012-2013): 100%
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2009-2010): N/A
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2010-2011): N/A
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2011-2012): N/A
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2012-2013): N/A

U.S. News Rankings

  • Admissions Selectivity Rank: 34
  • Admissions Selectivity Score: 58/100
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Rank: 17
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Score: 88/100
  • Student Engagement Rank: 7
  • Student Engagement Score: 92/100
  • Student Services and Technology Rank: 6
  • Student Services and Technology Score: 76/100

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