About General Education

A central part of the undergraduate experience at NIU, general education helps you build a foundation for lifelong learning, career success and responsible citizenship. General education requirements at NIU include courses in Foundational Studies and Knowledge Domains.

Along with major requirements and learning opportunities outside of the classroom, general education courses provide opportunities for you to meet baccalaureate learning outcomes.


The general education program at NIU has three fundamental purposes:


The foundational studies courses develop foundational, transferable skills and career-ready competencies including critical thinking, teamwork, analytical skills and expressive abilities.


The knowledge domains courses develop basic knowledge and broader insights about the world around us, how individuals fit into that world and what individuals can do to address complex issues.


Our general education program seeks to unleash your curiosity, necessary to identify and address issues from multiple perspectives beyond your major, as a student and throughout your life.

Guiding Principles

  • The general education program is intentionally designed to be student-centered; recognizing student preferences for content, schedule and modality.
  • General education courses balance learning across skills, knowledge and exploration as noted in the philosophy of general education.
  • Along with major requirements and learning opportunities outside of the classroom, general education supports NIU’s baccalaureate student learning outcomes.
  • General education courses in the knowledge domains are mapped to specific baccalaureate learning outcomes and include assessment of those learning outcomes.
  • General education courses in the knowledge domains should not have any pre or co-requisites, or advanced knowledge and abilities that would exclude any student from any major or college from being successful in the course.
  • General education courses should intentionally position the course from multiple perspectives, using inclusive pedagogy recognizing the expansive background and experiences of all students.
  • General education courses should, to the extent possible, embed high impact practices such as writing intensive, collaborative assignments, experiential learning and undergraduate research.
  • General education courses will be offered at least every four years.
  • General education courses will be reviewed at least every four years to determine if they are addressing the chosen knowledge domain baccalaureate learning outcomes, retaining the philosophy of general education and reducing academic equity gaps.
  • Instructors and teaching assistants assigned to teaching a general education course are supported by a community of practice with professional development opportunities to support excellent teaching in our general education courses.

Contact Us

Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies
Ian Gawron
Catalog Editor/Curriculum Coordinator
Williston Hall 300
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