Illinois State University (ISU) is a public university in Normal, Illinois. ISU was founded in 1857 as a normal school and now awards bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. It is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The university offers extended education non-degree programs throughout the state of Illinois.
In addition to the numerous classroom, dormitory (including apartments for graduate students) and administration buildings, ISU features a former one-room schoolhouse that is now a museum, a motorcycle driving area for the Motorcycle Safety Program, and an outdoor adventure center for recreation equipment and programs. There is also an off campus university farm for agricultural research. On campus, the Fell Arboretum was established in 1995 and is characterized as “a living laboratory.”
ISU is comprised of seven colleges with nearly 35 academic departments. Colleges include the College of Applied Sciences and Technology, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Fine Arts, and the Mennonite College of Nursing. The ISU bachelor’s programs are structured around a general education program, with core courses in particular areas. There is also an honors program which includes special activities, research participation, independent study, and professional mentorships.
Master’s degrees are awarded in arts and humanities, education, nursing, social work, theatre, and writing, among others. Students can also get a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in either Art or Theatre, or an educational specialist (Ed.S.) degree in school psychology.
The school awards doctoral degrees in eleven fields, including English, mathematics, biological sciences, school psychology, and several different branches of education.
Foundations of Inquiry
ISU offers a “Foundations of Inquiry” program that assists freshmen in transitioning from high school to college and is required for all freshmen. A primary focus of the program is teaching students how to construct and evaluate arguments, a foundation of scholarly inquiry. This includes evaluating problems and thinking critically. Emphasis is placed on open communication, intellectual activities, and the use of technology.
The ISU library system offers a wide range of electronic catalogs and on-line databases, in addition to a large collection of physical volumes. The central library also features a computer lab, a media resource center, a bindery, a teaching materials center, and several special collections.
Most Popular Fields of Study
The Katie School of Insurance and Financial Services was founded in 1991 in the University’s College of Business. The School offers a curriculum in risk management and insurance professions. Through the school, students can acquire internships and begin their careers in the growing insurance industry.
The Management and Quantitative Methods Department is home to a variety of studies related to professional leadership and success. A significant area of focus is entrepreneurial studies, based on faculty experience in consulting and management. An Organizational Leadership program creates effective managers for all levels of leadership and provides them with the skills and experience to lead an organization.
Admissions to ISU are competitive. Ninety percent of freshmen ranked in the top 50% of their graduating class; twenty percent ranked in the top 10%. The middle 50% of students scored between 22 and 26 on the ACT. The average GPA of incoming students is 3.5.
Applications to the undergraduate programs are accepted through March 1 for the following fall semester. In addition to the application form and a modest fee, students must provide a required personal statement, high school transcripts, and test scores. Students must have completed four years of English, three of mathematics, two each of the social sciences, laboratory sciences, and one foreign language, and two years of electives. Fine arts can substitute for foreign language. Applications can be submitted on-line.
Graduate students must provide the following for admissions to the graduate school: application and modest fee, transcripts, appropriate test scores and any other material required by the department or program.
Among eligibility requirements for financial aid from ISU are the expected family contribution and satisfactory academic progress, both of which are explained in detail on the University’s website. The office of admissions provides some of the merit-based scholarships at ISU; others are available via specific departments. Special scholarship programs exist for academically outstanding students, students from diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, and community college transfer students.
Financial aid is available with a combination of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs. All new loan borrowers are required to go through “Entrance Loan Counseling.” Loans cannot be processes until such counseling is complete. Illinois State also offers loan consolidation.
Student Financial Aid Details
There are ample opportunities for student recreation at ISU. The arboretum and planetarium offer students the opportunity to explore lesser-known aspects about the natural universe. There is also a bowling and billiards center and the university golf course for students who need to blow off some steam. The Bloomington-Normal community offers a wide variety of shopping, the Miller Park Zoo, and the Route 66 Museum & Hall of Fame.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
The athletics department at ISU is known as the Redbirds. The Redbirds compete on the intercollegiate level in NCAA Division I. Men’s competitive athletics include baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, tennis, and track & field. Women’s competitive athletics include basketball, cross-country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track & field, and volleyball. Support activities include a cheerleading squad, a dance team, and a marching band.
There are a wide range of club and intramural sports for the enjoyment of any interested student. Sports facilities include a golf course, a stadium, a field house, a pool, a track facility, a soccer field, a baseball field, a gymnasium, and an arena.
The Redbirds are represented by Reggie Redbird, and have been since the name was decided in a campus-wide vote in 1980. Another symbol of ISU spirit is the Battle Bird, a sculpted likeness of the mascot that players touch before each game to bring them good luck. Each year students bid on the opportunity to be designated “Keeper of the Bird” and have the responsibility of keeping the Battle Bird safe.
Academics. Illinois State University. Web. 16 June 2011.
Fiske, Edward B. Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011. Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2010. Print.
Graduate Programs. Illinois State University. Web. 16 June 2011.
Pope, Loren. Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You. New York: Penguin. 2007. Print.
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.