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College of Education Facts and History



  • US News & World Report ranked the College of Education’s online master’s programs in school business management and educational technology No. 3 in the nation for 2015.
  • The College employs some 90 tenured and tenured-track professors.
  • There are more than 50,000 living COE alumni. More than 60 percent of them live in Illinois.
  • The College will distribute approximately $175,000 in scholarships for the 2016-2017 academic year.
  • In fall 2015 the College enrolled 1,320 undergraduate students and 1,177 graduate students.
  • The College received more than $3 million in sponsored funding in 2015.
  • The COE’s six departments offer a total seven undergraduate programs, 16 master’s programs, six doctoral programs and one educational specialist program.


  • Chartered in 1895, Northern Illinois University first opened its doors in fall 1899 as the Northern Illinois State Normal School to prepare college-educated teachers. A total of 173 students enrolled; the first class of 16 students graduated the following June.
  • The original student body represented 34 Illinois counties and two states. In all, one-fourth of the students came from DeKalb County, and most, 146, were women.
  • NIU’s first international students were enrolled in 1904. The Philippines sent 11 young men to receive teacher training here.
  • McMurray Hall was built in 1911 to house an experimental school to provide training for kindergarten teachers, one of the country’s first and most advanced early education programs.
  • Fanny Ruth Patterson graduated in 1915, the first African American student to graduate at NIU.
  • In 1921, Northern Illinois State Normal School became Northern Illinois State Teachers College.
  • Beginning in July 1943, the state of Illinois required that all teachers have a four-year degree.
  • In 1955, Illinois State Teachers College became Northern Illinois State College.
  • Northern Illinois State College become Northern Illinois University on July 1, 1957.
  • An advanced degree - the Master of Science degree in education - was first approved in 1951 followed by the certificate of advanced study in 1958.
  • The College of Education was established in 1959, consisting of nine departments: Education Administration Services, Elementary Education, Secondary and Adult Education, Student Teaching, Nursing Education, Outdoor Teacher Education, Physical Education/Men, and Physical Education/Women.
  • The doctorate in education was approved in 1961. The first doctorates in education were conferred in 1965.
  • Today the College of Education consists of six departments: Counseling, Adult and Higher Education (CAHE); Educational Technology, Research and Assessment (ETRA); Kinesiology and Physical Education (KNPE); Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF); Curriculum and Instruction (CI); Special and Early Education (SEED).

Contact Us

Dean's Office
General Information
Phone 815-753-1949
Graham Hall 321

Student Services
Phone 815-753-8352
Gabel Hall 138

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