Higher Education Resources

We'll make sure you have the support and resources you need to complete your graduate degree in higher education, including:

If you have any questions or would like more information, contact our academic counselor at cahe@niu.edu. We also invite you to connect with us on social media.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please note the first sections of the FAQ address questions about NIU and the application process, followed by sections specific to the M.S.Ed. and Ed.D. programs.

About NIU and the Community

Is NIU an inclusive campus?

NIU is fully committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Led by our senior vice president and chief diversity officer, our Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts have received national recognition. NIU also is working to become a designated Hispanic Serving Institution. NIU provides support to students through numerous diversity and cultural resource centers and programs. Additionally, NIU’s College of Education provides the Dr. LaVerne Gyant Alumni Mentoring Program for our Black/African American students.

What is it like to live in DeKalb?

DeKalb and the surrounding area provide a great balance of hometown pride with educational advancement and economic development. DeKalb and nearby communities have much to offer when it comes to the arts and culture, festivals, a growing number of brewers, wine-makers and distillers, and opportunities to get outside and enjoy local parks, golf courses, nature preserves and recreational facilities. Embracing business development opportunities, including the development of a Meta/Facebook Data Center and Amazon Distribution Center, DeKalb is expanding and developing.

DeKalb is located approximately 60 miles west of Chicago with easy interstate access to great food and shopping in Chicago’s western suburbs as well as Rockford, the third-largest city in Illinois. O’Hare and Chicago Midway International Airports are approximately an hour’s drive away.

DeKalb provides a public bus system that services the campus and community with stops at business and retail centers, hospital and medical facilities, as well as transportation to the Elburn train station where the Metra trains run to and from downtown Chicago and the western suburbs.

Applying to M.S.Ed. and Ed.D. Programs at NIU

What is the application process?

The application process is administered through the Graduate School which provides step-by-step instructions. Please note that there are no test scores needed to apply to HESA graduate programs, but a current résumé or curriculum vitae does need to be submitted with your application.

What are the requirements for admission? Are GRE scores required?

The HESA program’s admissions review process is holistic. With this approach, all aspects of the student’s materials are considered, including their work experience, the transferable knowledge and skills highlighted in their resume, as well as character and personal traits shared in the letters of recommendation. This approach allows for a more meaningful assessment of each student’s personal and academic attributes that contribute to their success. You will need to submit the following application materials: completed application, written statement of goals, two letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts (with the submission of official transcripts when the bachelor’s degree is conferred) and a current résumé/CV. Note that the GRE is not required.

Is there an application fee?

NIU Graduate School requires a $60 application. Payment for the application fee must accompany the submission of the application, unless the applicant is exempt from the fee. The following individuals are exempt from payment of the application fee: individuals who received a GRE or GMAT fee reduction or fee waiver Fee Reductions (ets.org), McNair Scholars, and qualified veterans under the Illinois Veterans’ Grant (IVG) Program.

All current NIU University Honors Program students who apply to the program can apply to have their $60 graduate school application fee reimbursed as part of a partnership with the University Honors Program that guarantees admission.

Costs and Funding Your Education


What is the deadline for accepting an assistantship offer?

Offers will be sent out the week after interviews take place. If selected by a department, you'll receive one offer for an assistantship. Candidates should accept or decline their offer by the deadline included in the offer letter. As candidates accept and decline offers, additional offers may be sent out to those still seeking a graduate assistantship over the following weeks.

M.S.Ed. Program

How many credits are required?

The M.S.Ed. in higher education and student affairs requires a minimum of 36 credits (24 credits in core courses, three credits in internship and nine credits in electives).

Is a capstone required?

Students will develop an e-portfolio as their capstone project. The e-portfolio allows you to integrate and synthesize your knowledge of the concepts and principles of higher education and student affairs as well as to connect theory to practice. The e-portfolio is a demonstration of your growth and development and the depth of knowledge you have acquired throughout your time in the program.

Are there comprehensive exams?

We do not have a traditional oral or written comprehensive exam. Completion of the e-portfolio serves as a demonstration of your ability to integrate and synthesize the concepts, principles, trends and issues in higher education and student affairs.

Are internships required? What internships are available?

Internships are required. Students complete their internship in the summer. Some students hold an internship in a student services office at NIU while others take advantage of the wealth of opportunities at institutions of higher education in the Chicagoland area or beyond. Students are free to complete their internship anywhere in the country or to seek international opportunities. Approval of your internship site must be received prior to starting your internship.

Are interns paid for their work?

This depends on the internship site. Whether the internship provides compensation or is a volunteer position is determined by the internship provider.

Ed.D. Programs

What is the course delivery method for the Ed.D. in higher education?

The Ed.D. in higher education is a hybrid program where a cohort of students take two eight-week courses during fall and spring terms with two Saturdays of face-to-face instruction required per eight-week course (four Saturday classes per term). Summer classes will be six weeks and in a face-to-face weekend or online format. Face-to-face course require students to attend class at NIU Naperville.

Are there comprehensive exams?

We do not have a traditional oral or written comprehensive exam. Completion of the proposal for the dissertation of practice serves as a demonstration of your ability to integrate and synthesize the concepts, principles, trends and issues in higher education and student affairs.

Contact Us

Department of Counseling and Higher Education
Gabel 200
Counseling Admissions
Graham 416
Higher Education and Student Affairs Admissions
Gabel 201 B
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