NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences
Transferring to Northern
NIU welcomes transfer students from community colleges and
from other four-year institutions. We have a very large number of
transfer students who do very well, and have a long tradition
of cooperation with other schools in the state. If you would like
to transfer to NIU, we would be most happy to work with you to make the
transfer as seamless as possible. You may also complete the bulk
of your work at NIU but take a few courses at another institution
if you prefer.
This document contains items of interest both to (A) students coming from
another institution who wish to transfer to NIU and begin a major in
the mathematical sciences here, and to
(B) "native" students attempting to transfer individual mathematics courses
from another institution back to NIU.
Policies regulating the use of coursework from another school
to meet requirements for an NIU degree are itemized in the Undergraduate
Catalogue. Among them we note that (i) there is an upper limit to
the number of credits which can be transferred to NIU; (ii) NIU reserves
the right to classify
a transfer course as a substitute for whatever
NIU course we believe it best matches, or possibly only as an elective
not matching any single NIU course, or possibly as not offering any NIU credit
at all; (iii) grades from another institution
are never transferred to an NIU GPA; however, NIU advisors will look
at your transfer grades: transfers are accepted
only when the external GPA is at least a 2.0, and transfer grades are
considered when assessing whether NIU course prerequisites have been
met with a transfer course. Other regulations address the manner in
which General Education requirements may be met by transfer students,
course repeat benefits, and so on. For further information consult the
Undergraduate Catalogue, or see an NIU advisor in your department or
college office. Some useful links are given below.
Note for potential mathematics majors:
It is often true that during a transfer, a student finds the
requirements to be completed will take somewhat longer than might
have been the case for another student who started at NIU as
a freshman. This is particularly true for students who have not
previously declared as a mathematics major at another institution.
NIU native students expecting to become mathematical sciences majors have
typically completed their calculus sequence by the middle or end of their
sophomore year. If you transfer to NIU with the calculus sequence
incomplete, you cannot reasonably expect to finish the bachelor's
degree in our department with just another two years at Northern.
There are some special facts particular to mathematics courses and
mathematics majors who transfer to NIU:
- Incoming students who have taken no previous post-secondary
mathematics class must take our placement exam.
Other students are placed into their initial mathematics courses based
on their prior academic work. We will attempt to place you into
a course where you are most likely to succeed; in some cases this
may mean a course which has some overlap with courses you may have
already taken. Note: NIU offers no transfer credit for
mathematics courses below College Algebra.
- NIU has no control over the placement policies or other decisions
taken by other institutions. If you wish to transfer a math course to NIU
from another school, they may impose additional prerequisites or
otherwise restrict your ability to enroll, beyond what might be
required of a comparable course at NIU.
- Students with an Associate's degree are considered to have met the
General Education requirements for NIU bachelor's degrees, including
the Core Competency component. If you are pursuing a major with no
specific math requirement, and have an Associate's degree, you will
need no further math course at NIU. However,
the General Education requirements for the State of Illinois Teacher
Certification are distinct and are not automatically met by completing
an Associate's degree. If you are pursuing teacher certification,
please contact us for advice while arranging your community college
coursework so that you can make progress on your General Education
coursework. This applies both to potential math teachers (who need to
carefully select General Education courses outside of mathematics)
and to potential teachers in other fields (who may need mathematics
courses beyond the minimum required for the NIU degree).
- NIU does not always recognize courses at another institution as
being wholly equivalent to its own. In order to avoid having to take
additional coursework after transfer to NIU, students are encouraged
to contact an NIU advisor even while registering for courses at
other schools. We can often advise in advance about courses which do
or do not transfer.
In particular, schools (such as DePaul University and, formerly, the College of DuPage)
which operate on a schedule of academic quarters rather than semesters will
offer courses which cannot be expected to match NIU's semester-long courses;
likewise we cannot accept a 3-credit-hour course as equivalent to our
four-hour courses (especially Calculus 1-2-3 and Linear Algebra).
We do accept a school's entire calculus sequence as transfer
for our Math 229, 230, and 232 if that school's sequence carries
the IAI M1-900 code.
There are a few courses about which we receive frequent questions:
- Most community colleges offer courses labelled "Intermediate Algebra".
These do not transfer to NIU for any graduation credit.
However, you must take such a course if you wish to take our College
Algebra course, Math 110, and received a placement group of D or E
on our placement exam. There is an
Intermediate Algebra course, KCMA 098,
offered on the NIU campus by
Kishwaukee College; but please note that this is in fact not an NIU course.
You are welcome to take the corresponding course at any other institution
instead of the KCMA course. You will not be allowed to register for
our Math 110 until you provide evidence of a C or higher in the
Intermediate Algebra course. We will not reserve a place in Math 110
for you during registration if you are still taking Intermediate Algebra.
- Many colleges do not offer an equivalent to our Math 101.
The fact that a school calls its course "General Education Mathematics",
for example, is insufficient; such courses are often closer to our
procedurally-oriented College Algebra (Math 110), and are in particular
not sufficiently broad to meet NIU's Quantitative
Look instead for the IAI code M1-901 in a school's course description.
The community colleges having a comparable course at this writing include:
DuPage (Math 1220 or the former Math 120), Elgin (MTH 101), Highland (Math 165),
Illinois Valley (MTH 100), Kishwaukee (Math 101), Moraine Valley (MTH 120),
Oakton (MAT 125), Triton (MAT 101), and Waubonsee (MA 101).
(It is also possible at some schools to take a mathematics course
which does not articulate to any single NIU course but does meet the NIU
Core Competency requirement in mathematics. Consult an advisor for
A transferrable course has in the past also been available on-line at
Waubonsee and Moraine Valley Community Colleges.
We are still evaluating a similar course at the
University of Illinois at Springfield.
(See also here).
- Students wishing transfer credit for NIU's Math 201, typically
Elementary Education majors, must complete another school's whole
sequence in Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers. This is
commonly a two-semester sequence at other schools (e.g. Moraine Valley's
MTH121 and MTH 122). Note: Math 201, with a C or higher,
is a prerequisite for Math 402 (Methods of Instruction in the Mathematics
Curriculum for elementary school) which is required for most students seeking
certification to teach elementary and middle school. Students taking
Math 402 are assumed to have the background of our Math 201 students,
nearly all of whom (by meeting the NIU Admissions requirements) have
two years of high school algebra and a year of high school geometry.
So if you wish to transfer in an equivalent to Math 201, you are responsible
for ensuring that you also have a background at least comparable to
the Intermediate Algebra and Basic Geometry courses offered at
most community colleges.
- It is better, if possible, to complete the entire calculus sequence
at a single school (usually three semesters or four quarters).
Note that the appropriate calculus courses for mathematics majors are
not the common one-semester calculus courses designed for
students in business or the social sciences. If you have taken only
such a course, you will need to start with our Math 229 (Calculus I)
and will not receive any transfer credit for your other calculus course.
Note that Math 229-230-232 use trigonometry heavily, so a trig-based
pre-calculus course (our Math 155) is a prerequisite.
- Few community colleges' Linear Algebra courses will transfer in as
the equivalent of our Math 240, which is a four-semester-hour course;
the fourth hour is essential in order to work adequately with axiomatics
and proofs. If you expect to transfer to NIU please contact us before
taking a linear algebra course elsewhere. (Three community colleges whose
Linear Algebra courses do articulate as NIU's Math 240 are
those at Heartland, McHenry County, and Waubonsee Community Colleges.)
- NIU's Math 402 (Methods of Instruction in the Mathematics
Curriculum for elementary school) cannot be
taken at a community college but there are other colleges and
universities which may offer this course. Illinois State University's
course (also numbered Math 402), Dominica's EDU 566 and
Roosevelt's ELED 321 articulate as our Math 402.
The corresponding courses at Elmhurst, UIC, and North Central will
not (they will carry only elective credit). Courses at other
institutions may be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
- While NIU's computer programming courses are 4-credit-hour
courses, the comparable courses at other schools may not be. The
difference is particularly important for students intending to seek
State of Illinois Secondary-School Teacher Certification in Mathematics.
Please consult with our department for further information.
The College of DuPage is a special case because they have recently
switched from quarter-long courses to semester-long courses. Courses
of both types will continue to transfer; of course a few years from now
when we see credits for quarter-long courses we will have to ask the
student how much he or she has retained from a long-ago course.
At the present time, we recommend the following equivalences for
students planning to transfer from COD to NIU:
- Core Competency: For NIU Math 101 credit, take COD course Math 1220 (NOT Math 1218).
- Developmental: COD will place some students into their Math 0481
or Math 0482 ("Fundamentals of Math"). Neither of these carries NIU credit
But they are excellent preparation for courses (like NIU's Math 110) that
you may need for your major. (You should consult with an NIU advisor about
what math you will need.) If you take Math 0482 at COD and get a grade of
C or better, you can enroll in NIU's Math 110. If you take Math 0481 at COD
but not 0482, then there is no NIU math course which is appropriate for you
but you should be ready to take KCMA 098.
Note that both NIU and COD will find for each student a course at that
institution which matches the student's skills; you cannot necessarily
expect that the placement at one institution will be appropriate at another
- College Algebra: The best equivalent of NIU's Math 110 is COD's
Math 1431. Take this course (NOT Math 1428) to prepare for NIU's Math 211,
Math 210, Math 206, or Math 155. We do not recommend the "Technical Math"
courses (1115 and 1116) at COD for this purpose.
- Pre-Calculus: To prepare for NIU's Math 229 you need COD's Math
1431 and Math 1432.
- Math for Elementary-School Teachers: You must take both COD 1321
and 1322 to get credit for NIU's Math 201.
- Statistics: COD's Math 1635 can be used as NIU's Stat 208 or
as NIU's UBUS 223. It cannot be used as our Stat 301, which is required
for some majors (e.g. most of the social sciences) and minors (including
our own Minor in Elementary Mathematics Education).
So if you need Stat 301 for those purposes, you should plan to take the course
Students coming from Elgin Community College should take advantage
of the excellent collection of transfer guides they make available.
In particular, the guide for an
ECC to NIU
Mathematics Education transfer program includes just about everything
you should know (except that it fails to mention you must also have a
2-semester sequence of one science, e.g. two physics or two biology
courses). Students from ECC who wish to pursue another emphasis in our
department would lose nothing by following that prescribed program
(although in fact they have more options than the students in the
Education emphasis, for whom that guide was written).
During your orientation sessions before you begin classes at NIU,
you will meet with advisors from your College (for math majors, that's
the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences),
who will review your transcripts and help identify the remaining coursework
to obtain an NIU degree. You should also meet with an
advisor within your department, who will help plan a sequence of
courses which will take advantage of work you have already completed
at another institution. You are encouraged to consult with our
advisors even before matriculating at NIU so that we can help you
make optimal use of your time at another institution in preparation
for the transfer.
Students who transfer to NIU with the intention of completing
the requirements for the Initial Teacher Certification in secondary-school
mathematics are urged to review the recommendations at
The requirements are dictated by the state but each institution
must interpret these requirements in the context of its own
course offerings. Again, we encourage an individual consultation
with one of our advisors to work out the details.
Director of Undergraduate Studies:
Dr. Qingkai Kong
Back to the NIU Math Department Web page
Last modified: 2009/03/10 (zjy)