Northern Illinois University Reviews and Ranking Awards

Dekalb, Illinois

University Headquarters

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Located approximately an hour's drive due west of Chicago, Northern Illinois University offers students a top-notch education in a mid-sized town. NIU's 12,000 undergraduate students have a full roster of majors and minors to choose from including journalism, statistics and actuarial science, history, art, and a full list of STEM subjects. In sum, NIU students will have no problem pursuing their academic and professional dreams.

Overview of Northern Illinois University (NIU)

After class, NIU has many enrichment opportunities for its students. NIU offers over 300 student organizations that offer leadership opportunities, learning, fellowship, and fun. Organizations are formed around common interests that include, but aren't limited to, politics, recreational activities, and academic interests. For socializing, students also join Greek organizations which offer terrific service opportunities, tradition, and strong alumni networks.

NIU not only helps develop young minds but they also offer opportunities for physical development. The Recreation Center, for instance, is full of fitness classes, training machines, and courts for a wide range of pick-up games. Students also enjoy competing in the intramural sports system as well as the more formal club sports arena. Club sports include teams that compete in sports that include archery, E-sports, Jiu Jitsu, ice hockey, and soccer.

General Information

School Type Public
Campus Setting Suburb: Small
Campus Housing Yes
Student Faculty Ratio 15:1
Graduation Rate 49%
Year Founded 1895

Student Enrollment

Total Students16,609


Undergraduate Student

Male 5,944
Female 6,187

Graduate Student

Male 2,194
Female 2,284

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Top Rankings For Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University Reviews

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NIU Acceptance Rate and Admissions


Male 6,652
Female 9,035


Male 3,126
Female 4,427

Acceptance Rate48%

Male 47%
Female 49%

Enrollment 1,883

Male   875
Female 1,018
Application Fee $40
High School GPA Required
High School Rank Required
High School Transcripts Required
College Prep Courses Required
Recommendations NA
SAT/ACT Required
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Required
Application Deadline August 1
Common Application Accepted No

NIU Tuition Cost & Financial Aid

Such a terrific education is not without a price. Luckily for Illinois residents, the cost of education at NIU is reasonable and competitive with in-state tuition at many other public institutions nationwide. In fact, NIU doesn't list separate costs for non-Illinois residents. They do report that a year's worth of tuition, books, and fees is under $14,000. When the tally adds expenses such as room and board, food, and various other costs, a year at NIU costs around $27,000. However, the financial picture improves once financial aid packages are applied.

That is, the NIU financial aid office is able to lower the initial sticker price with scholarships and grants that bring the average net price down to a mere $18,000 for a year. The net price refers to the remaining cost to the student after financial aid, scholarships, and grants are applied to their school costs. For lower-income families, that price is just over $15,000. At the top end, families that earn over $110,000 pay under $24,000. Considering the opportunities a NIU education affords its graduates, this is a great value.

Average net price 2018-2019
Net Price $18,346
Average Total Aid $10,411
Students Receiving Financial Aid 97%
Room & Board $10,880

Sticker Price

  • Tuition In-State - $12,352
  • Tuition Out-of-State - $12,352
  • Books and Supplies - $1,300
  • Room & Board - $10,880
  • Other - $2,870


Students choose their college or university based on many factors. Some wish to attend the school that educated their parents, while others dream of brisk football afternoons. These personal factors are all valid but should be weighed in light of objective educational statistics such as each school's retention and graduation rates, to name two.

In fact, Northern Illinois University reports strong numbers on both counts. Their retention rate is a measure of how many first-time full-time students return for a second year. When a high number return that is seen as verification that students are receiving a quality education. At NIU, students return at a rate of 72%. Then, the overall graduation rate is reported at 49%. NIU also reports that 42% of students decide to enroll at other institutions and transfer out. This indicates that NIU has prepared its students for success either at their Dekalb, IL campus or elsewhere.

These strong numbers are no doubt due to a number of factors. Students stick around a college campus and graduate as a result of many factors, but one stands out. That factor seems to be the student-to-faculty ratio. Given that NIU is home to over 12,000 students, it’s somewhat surprising that they support student-to-faculty ratio of only 15 to 1. That number is an average that surely indicates that students will find themselves in rather small classes towards the end of their time at NIU.

Student Population Total

Student Population 16,609

Evening Classes : No
Online Learning : Yes

Most Popular Programs & Majors

(# of Diplomas Awarded by Subject)

All Business Majors 650 Total Graduates / 20%
Accounting 169 Graduates
Marketing/Marketing Management, General 145 Graduates
Operations Management and Supervision 96 Graduates
Finance, General 89 Graduates
Health Professions and Related Programs 518 Total Graduates / 16%
Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse 159 Graduates
Health/Medical Preparatory Programs, Other 157 Graduates
Public Health, General 56 Graduates
Dietetics/Dietitian 54 Graduates
All Engineering Majors 238 Total Graduates / 7%
Mechanical Engineering 123 Graduates
Electrical and Electronics Engineering 90 Graduates
Industrial Engineering 23 Graduates
Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering 2 Graduates
All Social Science Majors 196 Total Graduates / 6%
Political Science and Government, General 80 Graduates
Sociology, General 69 Graduates
Economics, General 24 Graduates
Geography 13 Graduates
Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs 188 Total Graduates / 6%
Speech Communication and Rhetoric 162 Graduates
Journalism 26 Graduates
All Other Diplomas 44%

Outcome & Salary

Upon graduating from the halls of Northern Illinois University, students go on to achieve great things in Illinois and beyond. One way of measuring their initial success is by way of the top-earning degree holders. Among NIU graduates, the electrical engineering students start their careers with top median salaries of $67,000. Other STEM degrees pack the top earnings list with computer science rounding out the end. Those workers join firms on the silicon prairie and report median salaries of $60,000. Elsewhere in the alumni network are the communication majors who report median salaries of $37,000.

Graduates Salary
College Grads Early Career Salary $53,900
College Grads Average Salary $71,349
College Grads Mid Career Salary $97,000
Return on Investment (ROI)
10 Year Salary Earnings Potential $713,490
20 Year Salary Earnings Potential $1,683,490
Cost of Education (Net Price) 4 Year $73,384
10 Year Projected ROI $640,106
20 Year Projected ROI $1,610,106
No College Education Salary Comparison
National Average Salary $38,792
10 Year Projected Income $387,920
20 Year Projected Income $775,840