Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

News Release

Contact: Joe King, Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-4299

March 20, 2006

NIU creating three new homeland security certificates

DeKALB, Ill – Northern Illinois University announced today that it is nearing approval of several new certificates that will prepare students for careers in homeland security and disaster preparedness.

“These certificates were created in response to an important un-met need in government and industry for people trained to prepare for and respond to emergency situations,” said Virginia Cassidy, NIU’s vice provost for academic planning and development. “Students who earn these certificates will graduate with the expertise to help plan for and react to all types of disasters – natural or manmade.”

Each of the four NIU certificates in homeland security is designed to provide students with an understanding of issues related to homeland security and natural disasters, while focusing on specific areas of interest related to the student’s primary field of study.

Students who earn the certificates will be able to assist in the development and implementation of systems for homeland security planning and management at the local, state and federal levels. They will be able to identify hazards due to human-made and natural disasters and advise public and private organizations of best practice risk management preparation, as well as response and recovery strategies.

The proposed certificates, available in versions for both graduate and undergraduate students, are in the areas of:

  • Biochemical Sciences (including classes in microbiology, virology, biochemistry and other topics)
  • Environment and Hazard Risk Assessment (including classes in probability theory, natural hazards and environmental risks, statistical methods of forecasting, geographic information systems and other topics)
  • Health Sciences (including classes in community health programs and issues, health services management, epidemiology, behavioral and social aspects of public health and other topics)
  • Manufacturing and Industrial Technology – Already approved, this track includes courses in decision analysis, toxicology, industrial safety and industrial risk management.

Each track requires students to enroll in at least 18 hours of classes. Three to six of those hours comprise the required core courses. Within each track are one or more required classes and a selection of electives from which students can choose. Efforts are underway to offer the certificates both through traditional classroom instruction and online.

The foundations course, which is being developed in an online format by NIU, will be made available for use at universities across the state that wish to incorporate it into any homeland security programs they may develop.

The proposed tracks are now before curriculum committees and should be approved in May. As nearly all of the courses already exist, students can begin taking classes to be applied toward the certificate as early as this summer.

The pending approval of the certificates will thrust NIU into the forefront of homeland security preparation in the state of Illinois. Currently no other college or university in the state offers such a comprehensive set of certificates.

“We are very excited to be leading this effort,” NIU President John G. Peters said. “Since we opened our doors 105 years ago, our mission has been to meet the most pressing education needs of the state, and today that means helping to develop a new generation of leaders who will step up in times of trouble.”

For more information on the certificates visit: