Northern Illinois University College of Law

The information on this page was provided by the law school.

Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs


Northern Illinois University was founded in 1895, and the College of Law was established in 1978. NIU Law seeks to prepare its graduates not only for the traditional role of lawyers but also for the myriad tasks lawyers are called upon to perform. The school has a diverse and professionally distinguished faculty dedicated to teaching and scholarship.

Our Campus

NIU Law is located in DeKalb, a community conveniently located approximately 60 miles west of Chicago. DeKalb is close enough to the Chicago metropolitan area to draw on its many resources, yet it retains its own college-town flavor. It is a safe and affordable environment with a high quality of life.

The university’s main campus is set on 755 acres of rolling country land. The lush campus features two lagoons, several museums, and a vast variety of cultural opportunities. It provides an excellent environment for the study of law.

Though on a relatively large campus with all of the associated activities and opportunities, the College of Law is a small oasis at NIU’s center.


The David C. Shapiro Memorial Law Library provides extensive law library materials and online legal resources for its law students and also provides unparalleled research services from the law librarians and staff. The law library core collections offer a comprehensive American legal collection with an emphasis on US and Illinois legal materials. Online and print coverage of international, European Union, and British law is also selectively collected in addition to other areas of curricular emphases. As a selective federally designated depository, the law library also receives selected US government documents. In addition to its physical collection of over 250,000 volumes and volume equivalents, the law library also offers access to Westlaw, LexisNexis, HeinOnline, Bloomberg Law, and a wide range of other online legal resources. Laptop users enjoy convenient access to these electronic resources anywhere in the law school through NIU Law’s wireless network. Access to most of these resources is also available off campus. The library also features a student computer lab that offers high-speed Internet access and printing. The law library has ample comfortable seating for quiet study and collaborative work after recent renovations.

Further research support is provided through Founders Memorial Library, the university’s main library, which is conveniently located adjacent to NIU Law. Founders Memorial Library contains over 2 million volumes and an additional 1.3 million federal, state, and international government documents. It also subscribes to diverse collections of nonlegal online resources that may be accessed either on or off campus.

Enrollment/Student Body

The student body represents universities from coast to coast and reflects a broad spectrum of ethnicities, cultures, and home states. Our low student-to-faculty ratio, currently 7.3 to 1, facilitates a supportive environment with a lively exchange of ideas. NIU Law provides an atmosphere of shared goals and achievement and a genuine sense of community.

Curriculum and Clinical Experience Opportunities

NIU Law provides its students with a curriculum that will make them well-rounded legal professionals. The innovative first-year curriculum includes small sections to permit more feedback and interaction with faculty, something that is rarely found in law schools. The required first-year curriculum is designed to ensure the development of a fundamental understanding of the law, legal analysis, and the legal process. In the innovative Introduction to the Legal Profession course, professors provide students with an introduction to the professional role of the American lawyer through speakers and panel discussions.

During the summer, electives are offered at NIU Law. Also during the summer, NIU Law offers an international law program in France. During this program, students receive six hours of credit in international and comparative law.

The upper-level curriculum features an excellent skills program for hands-on learning, clinic and externship opportunities, and certificate programs for students wanting to focus on a specific area of law.

All students must participate in an externship or legal clinic. The clinical lawyering skills programs offer students the opportunity to acquire the essential techniques needed in pretrial and trial work through structured simulations and experiences in an array of legal settings. The externship programs provide students with sound experience under the supervision of highly qualified practicing attorneys or with opportunities to be law clerks for state or federal judges. The Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic in Rockford (consisting of a Civil Justice Clinic and a Criminal Defense Clinic), and the Health Advocacy Clinic in Aurora give students the opportunity to apply legal theory as they represent clients and resolve disputes in a real-world setting.

Certificate Programs

NIU Law offers six certificate programs in criminal practice, civil advocacy, public interest, business law, international law, and law and women’s studies. Except for the certificate in law and women’s studies, applicants for each of the certificate programs must earn a minimum of 15 credits (criminal practice and civil advocacy) or 18 credits (public interest, business law, and international law) composed of required basic courses, capstone courses, and elective courses relating to a specific certificate program. Valuable capstone opportunities are available to applicants in each of the programs, such as externships or participation in a clinical program.

Students are also required to complete an approved cocurricular or extracurricular legal skill development activity, such as a moot court competition, trial advocacy competition, client counseling competition, or approved pro bono service.


NIU Law enrolls an entering class of approximately 100 students each year from an applicant pool of more than 600 candidates. NIU Law is a relatively selective institution. NIU Law grants admission on a competitive basis through an evaluation of an applicant’s aptitude and professional promise.

Factors of most importance to the admission committee are the applicant’s undergraduate record, LSAT score, reasons for seeking admission, school or community activities and accomplishments, employment background, and ability to add diversity to the law school community and the legal profession.

Applicants must submit their applications online at In addition to the applications, prospective students must submit personal statements and résumés directly through LSAC’s website. NIU Law requires applicants to use the LSAC Credential Assembly Service (CAS). International students who do not have a degree from a US institution must submit all international transcripts and TOEFL scores to CAS. In order for NIU Law to receive LSAT scores, applicants need to submit official undergraduate and graduate transcripts as well as one letter of recommendation to CAS. Applicants are encouraged to submit their applications early, even if they have not taken the LSAT, due to the limited number of seats in each entering class.

Student Activities

Students are offered a wide variety of educational and professionally oriented activities. Among these are the Northern Illinois University Law Review, a forum for the expression of serious legal scholarship; the Trial Advocacy Society; and the Moot Court Society. Students compete in a wide selection of moot court and alternative dispute resolution competitions. There are about 25 official student organizations at NIU Law, all under the auspices of the Student Bar Association. The student organizations include affinity groups, career-focused groups, political groups, and religious groups.

Expenses and Financial Aid

NIU Law offers its students small class sizes and a quality legal education at an affordable cost. For the 2018–2019 academic year, combined tuition and fees for US residents is $22,179.44, substantially lower than the national average.

Scholarships and grants are available for students from a variety of sources. After their first year, students may qualify for research assistantships or graduate assistantships. Information on scholarships, grants, and loans is available on our website. The priority deadline for the FAFSA is March 15.

Career Opportunities

The Office of Career Opportunities has a strong track record in assisting and preparing graduates for rewarding careers through references to prospective employers and through on-campus interviews. The office assists current students in obtaining enriching summer legal employment. Due to NIU Law’s small class size, personalized counseling is a reality.


Affordable housing is available both on and off campus. Handicap-accessible housing is also available. For information about on-campus housing, prospective students may telephone 815.753.9669 or visit the student housing website.

Many moderately priced apartments are available close to the university. Prospective students may contact off-campus housing at 815.753.9999 or visit the Military and Post-Traditional Student Services website.


We encourage you to visit our law school community and our website. Check our admission webpages for activities and programming, or call us at 815.753.8595.

Admitted Applicant Profile

25-75% UGPA Range at Northern Illinois:

3.13 to 3.65

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Northern Illinois:

147 to 152

25-75% UGPA Range at Northern Illinois:

3.13 to 3.65

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Northern Illinois:

147 to 152

25-75% UGPA Range at Northern Illinois:

3.13 to 3.65

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Northern Illinois:

147 to 152

Contact Information

Swen Parson Hall, Room 151,
DeKalb, IL 60115-2890,
United States