The College of Business had its origins in business education beginning in 1914 at a time when the mission of Northern Michigan University was teacher preparation. With expanding programs, the name department of commerce was assigned in 1933.

By 1966, the need for business graduates had increased to permit the formation of a School of Business with three departments of accounting and finance, business education, and commerce and industry with offices in Kaye and Payne Halls, located near where the Cohodas Hall stands today.

In 1967, Walker L. Cisler, then president and general manager of Detroit Edison, pledged support to Northern’s business programs and the academic area was renamed the Walker L. Cisler School of Management. During World War II, Mr. Cisler served as an officer in the military specializing in providing power and electricity. He received numerous honors and recognitions, such as the Croix de Guerre, Bronze Star, and Legion of Merit. He also served as an international consultant in power and energy while leading Detroit Edison Corporation.

With a vision of technology in business, Northern created programs in computer information and office systems in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Faculty offices were moved to the Learning Resources Building, later to Magers Hall and in 2005 to Cohodas Hall, where it currently serves about 900 majors each year.

In 1996, the College of Business was reorganized with the disbanding of the departmental concept. Currently, an associate dean assists the dean in college administration, with faculty committees in each discipline to support the details of education in management, marketing, entrepreneurship, finance, accounting, information systems, and the two-year degrees. Given the importance of student internship and Northern’s emphasis on quality student services, the college also has a coordinator of internships and student services.

In 2015, the College of Business was again reorganized into two departments: the Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship and the Department of Accounting, Finance and Information Systems. Internships are coordinated by the faculty chair.