Jul 19, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

University and Graduate Education Information


As a public comprehensive university located in a major metropolitan area, Northern Kentucky University delivers innovative, student-centered education and engages in impactful, scholarly and creative endeavors, all of which empower our graduates to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives, while contributing to the economic, civic, and social vitality of the region.

Our 2018 Vision

Northern Kentucky University will be acclaimed by students, alumni, the region, and the commonwealth for:

  • Our Success…in preparing graduates for a global society.
  • Our Contribution…to regional progress and economic growth.
  • Our Delivery…of distinctive academic programs.
  • Our Dedication…to the development and well-being of our people.
  • Our Effectiveness…in securing and managing resources sustainably.

Our Core Values

These are the core values that NKU embraces as we go about our work:

  • We will promote a culture that fosters and celebrates EXCELLENCE in all that we do.
  • We will engage in honest, fair, and ethical behavior, with INTEGRITY at the heart of every decision and action.
  • Ours will be a community that embraces INCLUSIVENESS, diversity, and global awareness in all dimensions of our work.
  • We will approach our work - how we teach, engage, and serve - with creativity and INNOVATION.
  • We will maintain a climate of COLLEGIALITY built on respect and characterized by open communication and shared responsibility.

Institutional History

NKU is the youngest of Kentucky’s eight state universities. The university’s roots go back to 1948 when the University of Kentucky established a two-year community college in Covington. In 1962 the extension branch was renamed Northern Community College. Five years later, a grassroots petition asking for a new college in the region was signed by more than 3,000 people including children, many of whom would someday graduate from NKU. As a result, an independent four-year degree-granting institution was created in 1968 by then-governor Louie B. Nunn, who signed legislation to establish Northern Kentucky State College, which eventually became Northern Kentucky University.

In late 1969, Dr. Frank Steely was selected as NKU’s first president. He immediately began work to hire faculty and staff, obtain funding, and oversee building construction. From 1970 to 1972, undergraduate courses were offered at the old community college’s location until Nunn Hall was completed in Highland Heights. When Nunn Hall opened in 1972, it constituted all of NKSC: the president’s office, classrooms, library, bookstore, vending machines - everything was located there.

Rapid growth occurred during the early years: nine buildings were constructed in the 1970s. The Salmon P. Chase Law School of Cincinnati merged with NKSC in 1971, and the first intercollegiate men’s basketball game was held that year. The first NKSC commencement ceremony was in the spring of 1973; graduate programs were added in 1975; the state college became a full-fledged university in 1976; and before the end of the decade the athletics program was winning regional championships. Chase Law School moved to the main campus in 1982. The first residence hall also opened that year, marking a shift from a student body composed exclusively of local commuters to a more diverse one from across the nation and the globe. When President Steely resigned in September 1975, the school enrolled almost 4,300 students.

Dr. A. D. Albright served as the second president, leading the institution from 1976-83. During his term, additional academic buildings opened and eased overcrowding. The 1977 opening of the University Center with a place to eat, meet, and hold student activities brought a more traditional campus feel. In 1983, at the end of Dr. Albright’s presidency, the school enrolled about 8,500 students and employed 1,160 faculty and staff.

In the 1980s and early 90s, NKU began to focus on its place in the region and the world. Dr. Leon Boothe, president from 1983-97, sought to diversify the university by initiating an international exchange program. He also led the first capital campaign in response to state funding cuts that reached a cumulative 30 percent of the university’s state appropriation. At the end of Dr. Boothe’s presidency, enrollment stood at 11,785, and 1,584 faculty and staff served the university.

Dr. James C. Votruba became NKU’s fourth president in 1997 and retired from the position in the summer of 2012. Under his leadership, new programs were added including cutting-edge undergraduate programs, many more master’s degree options, and two doctoral programs. Numerous buildings were built during his tenure including the Dorothy Westerman Herrmann Natural Science Center, the James C. and Rachel M. Votruba Student Union - named for President and Mrs. Votruba upon his retirement as president - The Bank of Kentucky Center, and NKU’s newest building: the super-high-tech Griffin Hall, home to the College of Informatics. Throughout his presidency, Dr. Votruba built on the concept of NKU as a metropolitan university, calling on the whole campus to become locally and regionally engaged for the benefit not just of the campus but also the community at large. On numerous occasions, NKU has been recognized nationally for its success in sharing knowledge through public engagement.

NKU’s athletics program was very successful during Dr. Votruba’s tenure as president. As a member of NCAA Division II, NKU won three national championships and 22 regional titles. The university’s first national athletics championship was earned by the women’s basketball team in 2000. When the women repeated in 2008, they became the first women’s team in Kentucky to win two national championships. The men’s soccer team followed in 2010 with a national title of its own.

At the end of Dr. Votruba’s presidency, NKU employed about 2,030 faculty and staff who served close to 15,800 students: 85 percent undergraduates, 11 percent graduate students, and 3 percent law students.

NKU named its fifth president, Geoffrey S. Mearns, a former federal prosecutor, law school dean and provost, in 2012. Under his leadership, the university continued to excel and attract high-achieving students who benefited from a student-centered faculty and extremely dedicated administrators and staff. 

Following a storied Division II tenure, the athletics program reclassified to Division I beginning in 2012, joining the Atlantic Sun conference. In July 2015, NKU moved to the Horizon League, with member schools located in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

NKU Today

Today, NKU is a vibrant, exciting center of teaching and learning, research and creative work, and service to the northern Kentucky region, the commonwealth, the nation and the world.

In July 2018, the university welcomed its sixth president, Dr. Ashish Vaidya. Prior to joining NKU, Dr. Vaidya served as the interim president of St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. The university also opened the Institute for Health Innovation (IHI), a transdisciplinary center that furthers NKU’s commitment impacting population health issues. The IHI brings together programs and departments across the university to prepare graduates for real-world challenges. The Institute is housed in the Health Innovation Center (HIC),  NKU’s new state-of-the-art facility that opened in the fall of 2018.

NKU offers associate degrees in a limited number of areas and eight bachelor degrees: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Bachelor of Music (B.M.), Bachelor of Music Education (B.M.E.), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.), Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.), and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.). Undergraduate students have a choice of 73 majors and 89 minors. Students can also choose from among more than 200 student clubs and organizations ranging from disciplinary clubs such as the biology club to service organizations, advocacy groups, Greek organizations, sports clubs, faith-based organizations, leadership societies and more.

Since active NCAA Division I membership was granted in 2016, NKU athletics wasted little time making its presence felt on the national scene. Women’s soccer won the Horizon League Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament that fall. Men’s basketball followed in March with the University’s second Horizon League Tournament title and faced Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament in front of 4.93-million viewers on CBS. Since then, NKU has added a Horizon League regular-season title in men’s basketball and several individual league titles as well.

Graduate Degrees Conferred

The University is authorized by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to confer the following graduate degrees:

Master of Accountancy

Master of Arts in Communication

Master of Arts in Education: Teacher as a Leader

Master of Arts in English

Master of Arts in Integrative Studies

Master of Arts in Public History

Master of Arts in School Counseling

Master of Arts in Teaching

Master of Business Administration

Master of Legal Studies

Master of Public Administration

Master of Science in Athletic Training

Master of Science in Business Informatics

Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Master of Science in Computer Information Technology

Master of Science in Computer Science

Master of Science in Cyber Security

Master of Science in Business Leadership & Innovation

Master of Science in Exercise Science

Master of Science in Health Administration

Master of Science in Health Informatics

Master of Science in Health Science

Master of Science in Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Master of Science in Nursing

Master of Social Work

Education Specialist in Educational Leadership

Education Specialist in Teaching and Leading

Doctor of Education

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration

The Catalog

The university’s catalog is the document of authority for all students. It contains detailed information that will help students succeed in their degree and certificate programs, have a positive university experience, and graduate in a timely manner. The catalog contains information on domestic and international admissions; tuition and fees; degree requirements for every program; general education requirements; university-wide graduation requirements; academic opportunities; support services; enrichment opportunities; university policies and procedures; and faculty and administration. It also contains a brief description of each of the courses offered by the university. Students are strongly urged to read the catalog carefully and work closely with their advisors.

Catalogs for the current academic year, and 10 prior years, are available at http://catalog.nku.edu.

Catalog Changes

The information contained in the catalog is accurate at the time of publication. However, Northern Kentucky University reserves the right to change regulations, policies, fees, services, and curricula through official actions of the NKU administration, its Board of Regents, or the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.


Northern Kentucky University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degrees. Contact SACSCOC at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA, 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Northern Kentucky University.

The following organizations have accredited specific NKU programs:

AACSB International-the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
American Bar Association; American Chemical Society (ACS)
American Council for Construction Education (AACE)
Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)
Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC)

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA)
Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT)
National Association of Schools of Music (NASM)
National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
Technology Accreditation Commission, ABET, Inc.

Persons holding a baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent from an institution accredited by the U.S. Department of Education are eligible to apply for admission to a graduate program.

All graduate level coursework successfully completed from an accredited higher education institution may be considered for transfer credit at NKU. The credit is posted in the form of an equivalent course at NKU with the associated earned credit hours onto the student’s academic record transcript.

Campus Calendars

NKU provides a variety of calendars online (http://nku.edu/calendars.html), including a master calendar and several academic calendars. In addition, there are calendars of events such as athletic and music events.

Campus Map

NKU makes available online (www.nku.edu/campusmaps.html) a variety of campus maps, including: a three dimensional view of the Highland Heights campus with links and information about each building; a two dimensional map of the campus; a regional map showing the location of the Highland Heights campus and a map giving directions to the Highland Heights campus.

History of Graduate Education

Graduate programs in education were initiated in 1974; business administration in 1979; public administration in 1989; nursing in 1992; technology in 1997; accountancy in 1998; computer science in 1999; information systems (now business informatics) and teaching in 2001; industrial/organizational psychology and liberal studies in 2004; school counseling and community counseling (now clinical mental health counseling) in 2005; communication and executive leadership & organizational change in 2006; health informatics in 2007; English and the doctor of education in 2008; computer information technology in 2009; public history in 2010; social work in 2010; education specialist in educational leadership and the doctor of nursing practice in 2011, health science in 2014, and education specialist in teaching & leading and legal studies in 2015, LL.M. in U.S. Law in 2016, exercise science in 2019 and athletic training in 2020. We also offer numerous certificate programs. New graduate programs are planned to meet the demands of our growing population.

NKU continues to thrive as evidenced by the new state-of-the-art informatics building. Total enrollment is more than 15,000 and growing. Currently, there are over 3,600 graduate students. NKU’s location six miles south of downtown Cincinnati allows the serenity of a suburban setting with the activities of a metropolitan area.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Office of Graduate Education is to advance and support high-quality graduate education. This is accomplished by encouraging and supporting the development and delivery of outstanding graduate programs, as well as contributing to the recruitment, admission, and retention of well-prepared and successful graduate students. The Office of Graduate Education also contributes to the development and fair enforcement of policies related to graduate students and graduate programs.


Office of Graduate Education

The vice provost for graduate education, research & outreach has the primary responsibility for overseeing graduate education. The Office of Graduate Education serves as the coordinating office for the University’s graduate programs. It is responsible for marketing, recruiting, and admitting graduate students. The director of graduate education is responsible for implementing the Graduate Council’s policies and procedures and for coordinating negotiations for cooperative graduate arrangements with other universities. The director facilitates the development of new programs; works with graduate program directors to ensure the quality of graduate programs; acts as an advocate for graduate student concerns; and oversees the placement of graduate assistants. He/she serves on the Graduate Council as a non-voting member and hears procedural appeals from graduate program directors.

The Office of Graduate Education is located in Lucas Administrative Center 302. To contact us please call (859) 572-6364, email graduate@nku.edu, or visit our website at http://inside.nku.edu/graduate.

Graduate Council

The Graduate Council is the official university body that oversees and interprets all policies, procedures, curricula, and regulations associated with NKU graduate programs. It approves all policies with regard to graduate courses and programs and establishes all rules, regulations, and procedures governing admission, academic policies, curriculum, and evaluation of programs in which graduate degrees or certificates are awarded. The council also rules on appeals for waivers of any graduate regulations with the exception of admission decisions. The council’s recommendations and decisions are advisory to the provost.

Voting members of the Graduate Council include representatives of each of the graduate programs, two at-large members elected by the graduate faculty, one graduate student, and the chief academic officer for graduate education. The director of graduate education is an ex officio member of the council.