Certificate Programs

NIU is consistently recognized for its holistic approach to the training and development of successful lawyers through rigorous coursework, skills training, experiential clinics, externships, pro-bono opportunities and a full complement of specialized certificate programs.

Certificate programs capitalize on our faculty expertise to enable students to focus on specialized areas of the law. This focused training also increases the student’s visibility to prospective employers in the particular field.

The College of Law offers six certificate programs:

Note: The general guidelines apply to all current NIU Law certificate programs except the Certificate in Law and Women's and Gender Studies.

  • Certificate programs will not require fewer than 15 credits or greater than 18 credits.
  • Each certificate program requires a capstone course, for a minimum of three credits. A capstone course may be a clinic, an externship, a seminar, or a directed research project or the equivalent.
  • Certificate programs may also include non-credit requirements when appropriate including, without limitation, extra-curricular competitions, field work and pro bono work.
  • Certificate programs may not include first-year courses to meet the number of credits required for the certificates.
  • A certificate will not be awarded unless you have an overall cumulative GPA of 2.7 or higher.
  • A certificate will not be awarded unless you have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher for the courses required for a certificate.
  • If you take more than the minimum number of elective courses required for the certificate, the cumulative GPA will be calculated based on your highest grades among the minimum number of eligible courses required in order to be awarded the certificate.  Required courses must be included in the cumulative GPA.  GPAs will not be rounded up in determining qualification.
  • If you earn a certificate, it will appear as an official comment on your J.D. transcript. If you have that official comment, you may indicate your certificate status on your resume and biography.
  • You must complete the 90 semester hours required for the Juris Doctor degree and must satisfy all J.D. requirements in order to be eligible for a certificate.
  • You must apply for a certificate by submitting an application by September 30 for December graduates and by March 31 for May graduates. Please see the Instructions for Certificate Applications.
  • You may not earn more than one certificate. The limitation on the number of certificates you can earn does not include interdisciplinary certificates offered jointly by the College of Law and the Graduate School.
  • The creation of each certificate program includes the designation of a supervising faculty member. The supervising faculty member determines whether courses such as externships, seminars and directed research projects are sufficiently related to the subject matter of the certificate to meet certificate requirements.
  • Each academic year, the Associate Dean, in consultation with the supervising faculty members, will review the College of Law course offerings and may recommend changes to the list of capstone courses, elective courses, and additional activities and competitions that qualify for certificate eligibility.
    • The recommendations will be submitted to the Curriculum Committee, which will review and approve them using procedures similar to those employed for experimental courses. 
  • Each semester during the academic year, the Associate Dean will post the current year’s requirements for an NIU-COL certificate on the NIU-COL web site, including the effective date of such requirements. The Associate Dean will also adopt and publish application forms to be submitted by students in accordance with paragraph 10 of these guidelines.
  • If a required basic course for any certificate program is not offered during any academic year, you may substitute another course approved in advance by the supervising faculty member, provided that no course may be counted twice toward the certificate program requirements.
  • You may qualify for a certificate by meeting the requirements in effect at the beginning of any semester you are enrolled as an upper-level student at the College of Law.
  • You may apply up to a total of six credit hours of courses from another NIU department or college or from another ABA-accredited law school to meet the requirements for any certificate program, provided that a petition for transfer of those credits to the College of Law has first been approved by an associate dean, and the faculty supervisor for the program has determined in advance that the courses meet the objectives of the program.
  • Applications for certificates submitted in accordance with these guidelines will be approved by the supervising faculty member and the Associate Dean.