About Us

Points of Pride

The NIU Department of Political Science has over 500 undergraduate majors and minors and roughly 200 graduate students.

The NIU Department of Political Science is a student-centered research department with a commitment to engaged learning at the undergraduate level.  This commitment is demonstrated through the following:

  1. Congressional InternsA leading role in NIU’s new congressional internship program
  2. An annual presence in the NIU at Oxford program
  3. Annual participation in the prestigious Conference on U.S. Affairs at West Point
  4. An award-winning Model United Nations Club
  5. A successful Model Illinois Government
  6. A Pre-Law Society
  7. A Mock Trial team
  8. A Political Science Student Advisory Committee, and
  9. A newly-designed honors program featuring teaching and research apprenticeships
  10. An Undergraduate Leadership Development Seminar

The Department coordinates a Washington, D.C.-based congressional internship in which five of its undergraduates participate each summer.  Students receive a $5,000 scholarship to defray associated costs.

The NIU Department of Political Science is known internationally for its strength in Southeast Asian Politics.  It has four full-time faculty members working in this area and six faculty members who are associates of the university’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies.  Recently, Danny Unger took the lead in securing $110,000 in funding for the center from the Royal Government of Thailand.

The NIU Department of Political Science is known nationally for its longstanding strength in the history or political philosophy from Plato to the present.  The success of the Ph.D. program in political theory is indicated by the many dissertations that have been published as books, an excellent record of graduate placement, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship aid received from the Earhart Foundation since the early 1970s.  As a recipient of these fellowships, NIU enjoys very good company, which includes prestigious private universities, such as Harvard, Yale and the University of Chicago, and top state universities, including Arizona, Florida, Indiana and Michigan State.

The NIU Department of Political Science takes great pride in the quality of its undergraduate majors.  The Student Lincoln Laureate is an annual honor reserved for the top senior from each of the state’s public and private four-year colleges and universities.  The award recognizes excellence in both curricular and extracurricular activities.  A Political Science major won this award in 2005, was first finalist in 2006, won the award in 2007, and 2008, was first finalist in 2009, won the award in 2010, was first finalist in 2010, was a nominee in 2010, and won the award in 2012.

The Department takes great pride in training its doctoral students to be effective teachers.  A Political Science Ph.D. student has been honored with the university-wide Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.  (The award was established in 2004.)

Public Administration

Kurt Thurmaier talks with Lucy, a student at the Nyegina Secondary School.NIU’s public administration program, a division within the Department of Political Science, produces about one-third of all Illinois city managers.

U.S. News & World Report ranks NIU’s Masters in Public Administration program third nationally in the specialty field of city management and urban policy. That’s ahead of programs at all public and private institutions in Illinois and at such prestigious schools as USC, Syracuse and the University of North Carolina.

U.S. News & World Report ranks NIU’s public administration program 13th nationally in the specialty of public finance and budgeting.

The Division of Public Administration boasts one of the top internship programs in the country, placing future city managers in suburban internship experiences.

Throughout its history, NIU’s public administration program has had nearly a 100 percent placement rate.  That means that within six months of graduation, nearly all of the graduates have landed jobs.

Public Administration Director Kurt Thurmaier this past summer launched the university’s first-ever study abroad program to Tanzania.  Participating students learned about non-governmental organizations in developing countries and helped build a school dormitory there.