Certificate of Professional Development in the Environmental Geosciences

The United States produces billions of tons of solid, liquid and gaseous wastes every year. To deal with the threat that some wastes pose to the environment, federal and state governments have created complex guidelines for the shipment, storage, disposal and clean-up of such products. Qualified professionals with a thorough understanding of the issues and problems of waste handling and disposal are urgently needed.

To help satisfy this need, NIU offers a certificate of professional competency to participants who complete a series of classes focused on environmental geosciences. The courses have been designed and integrated to provide both the theoretical background and the most up-to-date technical evaluations and solutions and to meet the needs of professionals in government agencies, environmental consulting firms and engineering firms in the northern Illinois and general midwest regions.

The certificate is awarded upon successful completion (an average grade of C or better) of five graduate-level courses from the list of recommended courses. Each course equals three semester hours of graduate credit and involves 40 hours of class time.

Requirements for admission to these courses include:

  • A bachelor's degree in science or engineering
  • Introductory college-level courses in chemistry, physics and either physical geology or geo-engineering
  • Some certificate courses have specific additional prerequisites.

Students must be registered at NIU as a regular graduate student or a student-at-large. Enrollment is on a course-by-course basis. Students intending to apply the environmental geosciences courses to an NIU graduate program should consult with their graduate advisors and formally apply to the Graduate School as early as possible. You are encouraged to complete the five courses within four to five years. Comparable course work from other institutions may be accepted in transfer for the certificate on a case-by-case basis.

Classes may be offered on the main NIU Campus, at the Naperville, Rockford or Hoffman Estates campuses or online. 


The Certificate is awarded upon successful completion of five graduate-level courses from the list of recommended courses. Each course equals three semester hours of graduate credit and involves approximately 40 hours of class time.

Recommended Courses
(You may take these in any sequence unless prerequisites exist. )

GEOL 509X Water Quality
GEOL 520 Geochemistry of the Earth's Surface
GEOL 521 Environmental Geochemistry
GEOL 525 Engineering Geology
GEOL 547 Quantitative Techniques in Geology
GEOL 568 Geomicrobiology
GEOL 577 Field Methods in Environmental Geosciences
GEOL 588 Environmental Change
GEOL 590 Hydrogeology
GEOL 591 Geophysical Well Logging
GEOL 593 Groundwater Geophysics OR GEOL 596 Geophysics
GEOL 630 Groundwater Modeling
GEOL 632 Advanced Groundwater Hydrology
GEOL 635 Groundwater Geology
GEOL 637 Contaminant Hydrogeology
GEOL 647 Quaternary Stratigraphy
GEOL 651 Applied Geophysics
GEOL 654 Geophysical Field Methods
GEOL 725 Water Resource Geochemistry
GEOL 735 Soil Mechanics
GEOL 746Q Hydrology Geology Seminar
GEOL 747C Environmental Geochemistry Seminar
GEOL 748J Engineering Geology Seminar
GEOL 790 Geologic Problems of the Midwest

GEOG 553 Environmental Resource Planning
GEOG 555 Land Use Planning or GEOG 557 Fundamentals of GIS or
     GEOG 559 Geographic Information Systems
GEOG 592 Hydrology (also listed as GEOL 592X)

IDSP 541 Environmental Management Systems

TECH 533 Toxicology for Industry
TECH 540 Monitoring and Evaluating Work Environments

POLS 624 Natural Resources Policy or PSPA 659 Topics in Public Administration