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Northern Illinois University Your Future, Our Focus Northern Illinois University Your Future, Our Focus

5 reasons to choose a research university

Not all universities are created equal.

Northern Illinois University is recognized as a public “research university.” So our faculty members are not only expected to be awesome teachers, they also are on a quest to discover new information, create inventions and innovations, push the boundaries of their artistries and help solve complex, real-world problems.

Biology research with professor Nick BarberTheir work benefits society and our students, who often come along for the educational ride. Working alongside professors—many of whom are top names in their fields—our students get amazing hands-on learning experiences in the laboratory and in the field.

Here are five reasons to choose a research university such as NIU.

  1. Research will spark your interests and imagination. 
    At NIU, our professors are involved in a broad array of investigations in areas ranging from the hard sciences and the humanities to business and engineering. It’s hard not to find something you’ll be interested in.
    • Cancer research? We’re doing it.
    • Climate change? We’re on it.
    • Particle physics? Yep, we’re working to better understand how our universe works at its most basic level.
    • Other areas of research at NIU, just to scratch the surface, include nanotechnology, meteorology, communication, robotics, neuroscience, environmental studies, accelerator science, advanced manufacturing, human behavior, nonprofit management, language and literacy, antibiotic development, energy technology, historical investigations and ways to improve government and business.
  2. You will learn from professors who are on the cutting-edge of their fields.
    Our professors’ work is recognized in publications ranging from Popular Science to the New York Times. More importantly, they bring the latest knowledge in their fields back to their classrooms. So you’re not only learning from textbooks but from professors who are out in the field, have the most up-to-date information and, in some cases, wrote the textbook. Just recently, for example, our professors garnered media attention in the U.S. and across the globe with studies on invasive mammals, tornadoes and materials science.
  3. Geology research labYou can become a researcher, too. As a freshman, in fact.
    NIU has an array of programs that encourage students to conduct their own research under the guidance of faculty mentors. One example is our popular Research Rookies program. Student research is such a big deal on campus that there is an entire office dedicated to experiential learning and a designated Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day on campus each spring. Hundreds of students participate. You can check out some of their super-cool research in this quick video.
  4. You could get funding for work and travel.
    Several funds at NIU are available to support student research, including USOAR and the Student Engagement Fund. Here’s just one example of three students who conducted their research in Guadalajara, Mexico.
  5. You will build a network and boost your resume.
    OK, that was two reasons. Both will be important when it’s time to get a job or go to graduate school. Conducting research helps you make connections with faculty members, who in turn have great connections with other researchers in the field. As for the resume, that’s a no-brainer. Employers are impressed by students who take the initiative to discover something new.

To learn more about student research at NIU, visit the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning.