Northwestern University School of Professional Studies

Online Learning

SPS offers online master's degrees and certificate programs covering a range of academic disciplines. Fully accredited, SPS online courses marry the best aspects of online technology with the interactivity of the classroom in a format designed to work with students' busy schedules. Many students question if there is a difference between a degree earned online versus attending class on campus. At Northwestern, students will benefit from participating in a prestigious program with no distinctions made as to whether the degree was an online or on-campus format. Regardless of the method of course delivery, the degrees and curricula are equivalent, classes are taught by outstanding Northwestern faculty and students must meet the same admissions standards. Northwestern currently has approval or is in the process of obtaining approval to offer courses in states that require authorization for programs that are taught entirely online.

Canvas Online Learning System

As Northwestern University transitions from Blackboard to Canvas, SPS Distance Learning will be converting all online course sites to the new system in collaboration with faculty. The conversion process will begin in Fall 2014, with the goal of having all course sites in Canvas by Summer 2015. For more information, please contact the Distance Learning office at distanceeducation@northwestern.edu.

Online Programs Offered

Online Master's Degrees


Online Certificates


Center for Public Safety

Self-paced and instructor-led courses in select topics are available. Review the schedule of upcoming online CPS courses.


See hardware and software system requirements for SPS online master's degree programs.

The SPS Online Learning Philosophy

Northwestern University School of Professional Studies believes that an effective distance education should be based on theories of learning and cognition that are purposefully and strategically incorporated into the learning environment. In this way, students’ academic experiences within any given program are cohesive and consistent, yielding deep and meaningful learning. This delivery model uniquely fits the needs of working adults, allowing students to engage in course work at their convenience. Read more or watch the video for details.

Video Student Profiles

Student Profiles

Jeff Shuck, MS in Predictive Analytics programJeff Shuck, MS in Predictive Analytics program

Shuck desired a systematic approach to his analytics education. He wanted the value of “a great university like Northwestern,” but needed some flexibility. The fully online format of the predictive analytics program was a perfect fit, and he was pleased to find that it enabled deeper engagement. Read more...

Mike Morotti, MS in Medical Informatics programMike Morotti, MS in Medical Informatics program

Mike Morotti entered Northwestern’s MS in Medical Informatics program with the idea in mind of having a larger impact on clinical outcomes utilizing cutting edge computer software technology. He entered the program at a time when his company was trying to create a revolutionary application that enabled clinicians to access data, bi-directionally from anywhere, virtually anytime. Read more...

Theresa Finney DumaisTheresa Finney Dumais, MA in Public Policy and Administration program

There’s probably nothing SPS administrators would rather hear from a job-seeking graduate than “Exactly what I’ve been wanting to do. Success!” And that’s what the Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) program heard from 2011 graduate Theresa Finney Dumais. Read more...