Links to and classifications of Illinois post-secondary schools

This page outlines basic information about colleges and universities in Illinois which I have found useful for advising college students at Northern Illinois University. This page began as my personal set of links to the home pages of the many schools with which NIU is expected to cooperate or compete. I have fleshed it out with some information about rankings and commentary about the possibility of transfering degree work from one institution to another. I have also added some links to further sources of information, in particular to sites offering lists of and comparisons among schools.

Parts of this document:

NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences

Northern Illinois University

Dr. Qingkai Kong
Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois, 60115 USA

Telephone 1-815-753-6739
Fax 1-815-753-1112

Notes on transferring coursework between schools

The Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI) [local copy] is designed to assist in the process of transfer of general-education courses between participating schools. Please note that the final decisions about the implementation of these guidelines to your bachelor's degree program are made by the school which awards the degree --- not the student, the IAI, the state of Illinois, nor the school where you completed each course.

NIU maintains articulation guides showing which courses at community colleges transfer to which NIU courses. See the Articulation tables.

There are courses with similar-sounding titles or descriptions which may not transfer; there are also courses which may be rather different but which can be accepted for transfer purposes as though they were cognate with a course at another school. The intent of the IAI is that courses at each school would compared to a list of standardized courses; courses at two schools converting to the same IAI course should transfer without difficulty. But there may be exceptions to this rule, and there may also be courses which transfer between a particular pair of schools, even when one or both of the schools does not recognize the courses as equivalent to any of the IAI standards. Therefore, it is important that the transfer student consult an advisor at the school TO which he or she wishes to transfer the course to verify transferability --- preferably before registering for the course which the student hopes to transfer.

Observe that most transfer information concerns lower-division courses. This is intentional. Please remember that an undergraduate education is more than a set of courses completed; it is strongly recommended that students complete as much degree work as possible at a single "home" institution.

If you have taken a course at another institution and want a second school to acknowledge that course in some way (e.g. to complete a degree requirement, to meet a course prerequisite, or to count for your credit-hour total or GPA) you must be prepared to document the nature of the course and your performance in it. Courses already paired under IAI should require no additional records beyond a transcript from the first school showing your grade. (An unofficial transcript may be sufficient, but you will probably need to ask the first school's registrar to send a transcript to the second school's. This will probably cost a small fee.) Additional information may be requested, especially for upper-division courses:
  ** Books and other readings used (Know the authors!)
  ** Instructor's syllabus, course outline, and/or catalogue description
  ** Copies of final exams or major papers
After all, the receiving school will want to know just what it is giving credit for. Please be prepared to respond to a little probing --- if you passed a course, you ought to have retained enough understanding for a pop quiz!

For more information about math course transfers to NIU consult our transfer information page.

Descriptions of NIU's courses are in the Undergraduate Catalogue and the Graduate Catalogue. These are available on-line from the Registrar. (The Registration Office also monitors course availability and scheduling at NIU: see the search tool at )

There are online courses offered everywhere; they vary widely in quality and format. For a list of on-line courses offered in Illinois, visit (Illinois Virtual Campus).

Special remarks for those transfering courses to NIU:

  1. In general, you may not transfer any of your last 30 credit-hours from another institution.
  2. Transfers are only valid if the GPA of all courses taken at the sending institution is at least a 2.0 (In particular, a single D won't transfer!)
  3. Courses may transfer but their grades do not. You cannot improve your NIU GPA this way. There may also be a delay when registering for a course whose prerequisites include completing another course with a minimum grade
  4. Transfer credit can be applied toward the student's major (or minor) only with the written approval of the NIU department concerned.
For more information, read the section of the Undergraduate Catalogue entitled Transfer Credit, or contact the Registration Office, 1-815-753-0681.

In the case of mathematics courses, transfer might be facilitated if you get the course instructor to write a note clarifying that the course matches one of the common undergraduate courses listed in the Illinois Mathematics and Computer Science Articulation Guide.

Some math courses are common sources of difficulty when transferring to NIU:

Four-year schools operated by the State of Illinois

The IBHE monitors all the four-year schools in Illinois, public and private, but has particular authority over the four-year public schools.

These are the state-run four-year schools:

It is typically the case that courses and undergraduate programs at these institutions are comparable; while we recommend students select an institution with which they are comfortable and then stick with it, an undergraduate student who has pursued course work faithfully at one of these schools will probably find the academic programs at another of these schools to be similar enough to allow a transition.

Students interested in selecting or comparing these institutions should observe however that there are signficant differences in the institutional cultures and statistics. Based on the school population, student profile, breadth of programs, and research orientation of the faculty, it is probably useful to distinguish three groups and limit comparisons to schools within a group. The groups seem to be:

(The Year 2000 Carnegie classification segregates exactly the third group as the Master's Colleges and Universities. That classification distinguishes ISU as Doctoral/Research-Intensive, and lists the remainder as Doctoral/Research-Extensive, a categorization which applies to the nation's top 148 institutions.)

Please note that higher-education systems differ markedly by state; in particular, the system of higher education in Illinois is organized rather differently from the commonly-understood systems in other states such as Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana (see also here), Missouri, Kentucky, New York, and California.

Private institutions of higher education in Illinois

From we learn there are 123 private colleges in the state of Illinois; I have found 131. The list you are reading includes all the schools on the web pages of the Carnegie Foundation, US News, and the North Central Association accrediting agency, as well as all the institutions on Other lists consulted include those at,,, (seems to be identical to, likewise,,, all look the same...
An extremely lengthy list of Illinois institutions -- perhaps not quite the same as a listing of post-secondary schools --- is included as part of NIU's Interlibrary Loan records. (See also this addendum to that list.)

Among the private schools there is considerable difference in orientation and quality. Students are advised to exercise caution before attempting to equate any work at one school with work at another school. For comparisons of degree programs consult rating services; for comparisons of individual courses, consult an advisor at your school.

We organize the private schools according to the Carnegie Foundation classification. This is a characterization along only one axis, of course. (I have tried to match the 1994 Carnegie lists with names on other lists and with websites, but there are some name changes and so on; please let me know if I have mislabeled anything!)

New! As of Summer 2000, the Carnegie Foundation has reorganized the research and doctoral categories into just two: a "Doctoral/Research - Extensive" and a "Doctoral/Research - Intensive" category. In the first group are NIU, SIUC, UIC, UIUC; Loyola, Norwestern, and U of C. In the second are ISU and DePaul, IIT, and now also National-Louis. (Except for this last migration, the list of Master's Colleges and Universities is unchanged.)

There are five private Ph.D.-granting institutions in the state; listed with their Carnegie classification and their ranking among "National Universities" on the US News website:

For comparison: Northern is a Doctoral-1 institution.

The fourteen private schools with a Carnegie "Masters" classification (USNews "Regional Universities" group) are:

All except North Central are Carnegie Masters-1.
There are seven Baccalaureate-1 schools (USNews "National Liberal Arts" group) and seventeen Baccalaureate-2 schools (USNews "Regional Liberal Arts" group): Finally there are 14 private schools with the Carnegie "Associate's" rating:

The following 47 schools are listed by Carnegie as "Specialized Institutions" (Religion and Theology[R], Medical[M], Other Health Professions[H], Engineering and Technology[E], Business and Management[B], Art, Music, and Design[A], Law[L], Teachers Colleges, Other Specialized Institutions[O], Tribal Colleges and Universities); students wishing to transfer courses from these schools to Northern should expect considerable administrative difficulties in general. (The same applies to other institutions listed in the final list, which carry no Carnegie ranking at all as far as I can tell.)

Not classified by Carnegie (but appeared on some other list): [*]: Not accredited by NCA. In general, courses taken at non-accredited schools cannot be transferred to NIU.

Community College Districts in the State of Illinois

The Illinois community colleges are governed by the ICCB and each has a market area; these are displayed below on the maps taken from (where they are clickable!)

Most community colleges are full participants in the IAI. In some cases there are further compacts between these schools and NIU designed to facilitate transfer. However, students are in every case still encouraged to speak with an advisor in the major department at NIU to which they hope to transfer credit, even while still enrolled at the community college (this way the student can get advice about course selection which will be of value further along in his or her education.) See also NIU's office of community college relations; they provide links to the full Articulation Handbook showing which Community College courses transfer to which NIU courses.

The links above were swiped from,,, and . For a complete (?) listing of all community colleges in the USA see or

Secondary education (and below)

Going a notch down: see also the State of Illinois education pages, which link to the ISBE (elementary, secondary, charter schools). They provide listings of the school districts (names, addresses, and phones, no web links). For links to some schools and school districts with home pages see

Top feeder high schools for NIU (those which 100 or more graduates among the NIU undergraduate population in Fall 1999): in order,

The Illinois Math and Science Academy

Catholic schools are organized by diocese. For the Diocese of Rockford there is a Catholic Education Office, from which we may find a list of schools, only a couple of which seem to have web pages. For the Archdiocese of Chicago we have the Office of Catholic Education which provides a list of diocesan schools with web sites. See also the National Catholic Educational Association.

Comparison schools outside Illinois

Finally, we list the schools in the NIU "comparison group". Here is a file received from Dean Wheeler, May 10 2000 -- a copy of a fax to him from NIU provost's office, Mar 07 2000.

[Remarks: all are listed as "Public Control". Fall 1982 enrollments were given; apart from William and Mary, range is from 9101 (U Montana) to 36,127 (Texas Tech). List was dated 10/14/85 -- old-style 2-digit year convention assumed :-) FICE (?) code shown by each institution. List is alphabetical by school's state. I added the URLs; I hope I have linked to the right schools! -- djr]

1985 Insitutional Comparison Groups
Doctoral Institutions -- Group 13

A comprehensive list of American schools' web pages is at For a world-wide list of 5396+ schools, see the list for International Association of Universities - IAU.

A fairly comprehensive list of USA Math departments is at, from which one may typically click once or twice to the university main page (or divine the URL directly).

Head-to-head comparisons of schools may be accomplished at the US News higher-education web site or See also the Carnegie Foundation for classifications of schools.

For further information about the accreditation process of post-secondary schools in the US visit the US Department of Education. (Note that NIU is accredited by the North Central Association as well, along with most other institutions in a 19-state region.)

last modified 2006/05/24 (zjy).