Prospective Adult and Higher Education Student Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply?

M.S.Ed. students can find in-depth information about applying here.

Ed.D students can find in-depth information about applying here.

What are the application deadlines?

M.S.Ed.: Application deadlines are set by the Graduate School.

Ed.D.: Your admission packet must be complete by February 1 to be considered for admission in Fall of the year in which your packet is submitted. We only admit students into the Ed.D. program once a year. However, students may take up to 15 credits as a Student-At-Large and, pending acceptance, count them toward their Ed.D. if they complete classes that are required for the degree.

What prerequisite work must I complete before applying to the program?

M.S.Ed.: In order to be considered for admission into the program students must have attained a Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in any field.

Ed.D.: Students who have been accepted to the program and whose Master’s degree is outside the field of adult education must take deficiency courses. These courses are CAHA 500, CAHA 501, and ETR 520 (or equivalent) and do not have to be completed before beginning coursework as an Ed.D. student.

What are you looking for when you evaluate a candidate for either program?

We consider all of the required items we ask for to complete your application packet. Your transcripts, GRE or letters of assessment, letters of recommendation, and general “fit” are all part of admission considerations.

Do I need to take the GRE?

M.S.Ed.: GRE scores are not required for the M.S.Ed program.

Ed.D.: If you have taken the GRE in the past, you must provide your official GRE scores. They can be older than the typical 5 years, but you still have to submit an official score report. If you have not taken the GRE, there are a couple options that you can discuss with faculty members in the CAHE department. Please e-mail CAHE_Advisor@niu.edu with questions about the GRE requirement.

Can I check the status of my application?

Yes. Log in to MYNIU using your username and password. Then click on Student Admissions, then Application Status.

When will I find out if I am accepted into the program?

Usually, students will know if they are accepted into the program about two weeks after the deadline of the term in which they wish to enroll. However, due to volume of applications, decisions have come out later than this. In some cases, students will find out earlier.

What happens if I am accepted to the program?

Upon acceptance, M.S.Ed. students will be assigned to a staff advisor, and Ed.D students will be assigned a faculty advisor. They will be notified of who their advisor is in a letter from the CAHE Department. Students should reach out to their advisor before they enroll in classes as a degree-seeking student in the program. The advisor will provide you with important information about course requirements and planning. They will also discuss creating your Program of Study, which is required in order for students to graduate.

What is a Program of Study?

A Program of Study is a list of courses created by both student and advisor which outlines the courses the student will complete to attain their degree. This Program of Study is signed and put into the student’s file and is a requirement for M.S.Ed. students to enroll in the competence option they select. If, after signing the Program of Study, you wish to change your course plan, contact your advisor to make the changes.

What is a Student-At-Large (SAL)?

Students-At-Large are students who are enrolled in classes, but are not currently degree-seeking students at NIU. Prospective students apply as a SAL in order to complete certificate programs or in order to take classes that will allow them to enhance their performance in their current job. In some cases, students enroll as a student-at-large so that they may start taking classes as they await acceptance into the M.S.Ed. or Ed.D. program. Acceptance as a Student-At-Large does not guarantee acceptance into either program.

Are cohorts offered?

In order to allow our students to have more flexibility in time to degree, we do not offer a cohort program for the M.S.Ed. or Ed.D. program.

What kind of Financial Aid can I get to help pay for my degree?

We are not able to work individually with students to answer this question. Students interested in Financial Aid will have to contact the Student Financial Aid Office to determine what types of assistance they are eligible for.

How do I graduate?

M.S.Ed.: Students must complete the four foundational courses required of students in the Adult and Higher Education program. Student must also complete a minimum of 24 elective credit hours and enroll in a competence option for the degree. Students in this program have three options to fulfill the competence requirement, which are the Capstone (CAHA 598), Thesis (CAHA 699), or the Comprehensive Exam. Students must have a minimum of 36 credit hours accepted toward the program to graduate.

Ed.D.: The steps that students must complete in order to graduate can be found here.

What kind of jobs can I get with this degree?

M.S.Ed.: Depending on their concentration, students enroll in this program in order to gain the experience necessary for a job in Student Affairs in Higher Education, Non-Profit Management, Adult Education, or International and Community Development.

Ed.D.: Typically, students in our programs advance in their current field. For example, students employed in higher education obtain entry or mid-level manager positions in educational administration. Others might pursue teaching opportunities in higher education. If looking at a specific career field it is often best to research that career and see what qualifications are needed

Am I able to progress straight from my M.S.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education to the doctoral program?

Applying to the doctoral program is a different process than for the Master's program, so students will need to submit an entirely new application both through the Graduate School and the Counseling, Adult and Higher Education (CAHE) department. In order to avoid duplicating application and transcript fees, work with you advisor if you wish to make this transition. Additionally, you will need to submit 3 letters of reference, a career statement (specific to the doctoral program) and submit a writing sample to the CAHE office. The writing sample will be proctored by the CAHE office, unless arrangements for another proctor are made and the CAHE department is notified.

Application to the doctoral program is a two part process. Once the application deadline passes, the faculty reviews prospective student application packets and determines who will be invited for an interview. Only COMPLETED application packets are reviewed. Not all applicants are invited for an interview (the faculty invite those who qualify for an interview). Of those students invited for an interview, the faculty then make admissions decisions (not all students invited for an interview are admitted).

Can my master’s degree count toward the Ed.D.?

Yes. 30 semester credit hours of your master’s degree will count toward the total 93 hours for the Ed.D. The credits earned in the master’s degree are time exempt - meaning that it does not matter when you took the courses. Students still must complete a total of 63 semester hours of credits (including a minimum of 15 hours of dissertation credit) beyond the master’s degree.

How long does it take to complete my degree?

M.S.Ed.: This depends on the student’s enrollment status (e.g. full-time, part-time). If enrolled as a full-time student, the program typically takes 2 years. If enrolled as a part-time student it can range from 2 to 6 years depending on the number of courses a student takes each semester and whether they take courses during summer session. There is a 6 year limitation of time on coursework for the master’s program, where, if students have not completed the degree, they have to either have the course content that is past this time revalidated, or retake the course. This revalidation will be up the department to approve. Generally, faculty determine if the student is still currently knowledgeable on the content area for a particular course before revalidating.

Ed.D.: Generally, students take a varying amount of time to complete their dissertation. If a student works steadily and makes regular progress toward completion, it will take roughly 6-8 years to complete the doctorate if they enroll part time. This will decrease if students enroll as full-time students. Students need to take 48 credits of classes (beyond the master’s degree) and at least 15 dissertation credits. Classes are typically 3 credit hours each. There is a 9 year limitation of time on coursework for the doctoral program, where, if students have not completed the degree, they have to either have the course content that is past this time revalidated by the department that offered the course, or retake the course. This revalidation will be up the department to approve. Generally, faculty determine if the student is still currently knowledgeable on the content area for a particular course before revalidating.

Will courses that I have taken at another school or in a different program transfer to the program?

It is possible that some courses may transfer to the program. However, these decisions will be made by the students’ advisor and not until after a student has been accepted into the program. The advisor may review your transcript before you are accepted and provide an idea of what might be accepted as transfer credit, but this review is not binding.

Can I complete coursework for the program at NIU's satellite sites?

Yes. Some courses may be offered at NIU’s satellite campuses in Naperville or Hoffman Estates. However, it is not possible to complete all coursework at satellite sites. Most courses are offered on the DeKalb campus.

What kinds of options do I have to take classes? Are they offered on weekends? Online?

Each faculty member decides the format in which her/his courses are offered. In the traditional format, most courses are offered from 6:00 - 8:40 pm once each week during the semester. Some courses are offered from 3:00 - 5:40 pm once each week as well. These afternoon courses are often targeted for master’s students but many classes can be taken by both master’s and doctoral students. Weekend courses are also popular. Faculty meet 2-3 weekends a semester (on a Friday and Saturday for example). On occasion, faculty may teach a course online. Others have hybrid courses where 25-50% of the course is online and the rest of the meetings are face-to-face.

Are courses offered in the summer?

Yes. Typically, required courses such as CAHA 500 and CAHA 501, as well as other entry level research courses, are offered during the summer term. Other courses may also be offered and course availability depends on enrollment. Classes can be cancelled if they are under enrolled during the academic year and in the summer.

How do I know which courses are offered when?

We have a course rotation posted on our website, which will be useful for students as they plan their courses. This is subject to change based on faculty availability and course enrollment.