Program Overview:

Pregraduate Study

Create a custom course of study to prepare for graduate school, professional school and PhD programs. Students develop an academic plan of four to eight courses that capitalizes on their backgrounds and perfectly suits their academic goals, guided by the admissions requirements of their graduate programs of interest. Courses within a single subject can be grouped into a concentration, or a specialized studies program can be built across subject areas for interdisciplinary study. Students will have the opportunity to strengthen their academic transcript, show recent academic success and secure current letters of recommendation from NU faculty. This certificate is a credential that will enable students to stand out in their application for advanced study.

Students interested in pursuing specialized study for professional or career advancement should explore the Specialized Studies for Career Advancement post-baccalaureate program.

Program Details

Time to Completion

  • Two quarters to two years, based on your goals and number of courses


  • Courses are available on Northwestern's Evanston and Chicago campuses


  • Evening and Saturday courses


  • When applying, select from the concentrations below, or, for specialized, interdisciplinary study, choose Specialized Studies as Certificate Program

Pregraduate Concentrations

Create a plan that consists of courses drawn from one of the following subjects. If you choose to focus on a single subject area concentration, be sure to check one of these concentrations listed in the online application.

  • Anthropology
  • Art History
  • Biological Sciences
  • Business
  • Communication Studies
  • Communication Systems
  • Economics
  • English and American Literature
  • History
  • Information Systems
  • Journalism
  • Mathematics
  • Organization Behavior
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Radio/TV/Film
  • Sociology

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Pregraduate Specialized Studies

Students interested in interdisciplinary study outside of the pregraduate study concentrations listed above can create a specialized program. Collaborate with an adviser to link courses from subjects across the undergraduate curriculum in specialized study to meet specific academic goals.

Specialized studies can also be an ideal means of preparation for law school and master’s programs in education.

Law School Preparation

Course work at SPS provides the opportunity to develop strong writing and verbal communication skills, an understanding of society and human nature, and critical and creative thinking skills—all assets for the study of law. Students can lay the groundwork for law school by completing courses in English, history, political science, communication studies and psychology. Working with an adviser, students develop a Specialized Studies program that is geared toward their specific academic needs and that will augment their application to law school.

Education Master's Preparation

Based on undergraduate course work and the requirements of the chosen program, students can take general education courses to prepare for graduate study in elementary or secondary while satisfying some teacher certification requirements. In Illinois, the requirements for certification are determined by the certifying institution. Career changers interested in a secondary education graduate program will need to satisfy the course equivalents of a major, which, in many cases, can be fulfilled at SPS, either through one of the offered concentrations, such as English or history, or through a self-designed Specialized Studies program. Both course equivalent and general education requirements vary in among graduate programs; these requirements should be confirmed before selecting courses for a Specialized Studies program to prepare for a master’s in education.