Organization Behavior: Business Leadership

Frequently Asked Questions

Academic Information

What are the advantages of the Business Leadership program?

  • A high-achieving community of learners: students who enter the program each fall take courses together in a cohort, creating a community of working professionals who bring commitment and drive to their college studies.
  • Leadership focus for professional advancement: providing a strong focus on leadership, the program emphasizes the strategies and problem-solving skills students need to move ahead in their professions.
  • Predictable, year-round schedule: course meetings are scheduled for Saturdays so that students may plan their schedule months in advance and take two courses per term. During the second year of the program, online courses are added to the cohort to help accelerate degree completion.
  • Innovative, interactive courses: each course in the program is based on a best-practice model for adult education. Both classroom experiences and online components stress interactive learning, teamwork, and project-based curricula. Instructors function as facilitators, mentors, and learning coaches, ensuring a high degree of interaction with students.
  • Flexible structure to meet individual needs: students can work with an adviser to take more or fewer courses as needed, as well as College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests to speed their degree process.
  • Course requirements for the program are completed in an accelerated format in two calendar years.

What is a “blended learning” program?
Blended learning refers to a mix of on-campus classroom-based instruction and online learning. The program will provide an equal mix of those two components, as illustrated by the following weekly schedules for Fall 2015:

ORG BEH 307: Leadership Principles and Practice ENGLISH 205 Writing Seminar: Business Communication
Classroom Meetings
Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9
Saturday, 9:00 am to 12:00 p.m.
Classroom Meetings
Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9
Saturday, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Online Sessions and Collaborative Work
Weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10
To be arranged by students and instructor
Online Sessions and Collaborative Work
Weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10
To be arranged by students and instructor


How can I determine if the Business Leadership program is right for me?

This program may be right for you, if:

  • You are a self-starter who can be relied upon to set your goals and find a way to achieve them
  • You enjoy working collaboratively on projects that require a sustained effort
  • You are comfortable in a collaborative learning process
  • You are adept with technology in the workplace

Who teaches the courses?
Business Leadership program courses are taught by faculty from the School of Professional Studies at Northwestern University who have extensive professional experience. The instructors will also tap into a network of high-level professionals who will serve as guest speakers. The program emphasizes interactive learning and balancing theory with application.

What distinguishes the Business Leadership program from your traditional organization behavior major?
The Business Leadership program has a predetermined curriculum and is offered in a cohort format; all students complete the same set of courses to fulfill the requirements of the program. This ensures students share the same body of knowledge in the program and enables instructors to integrate new content with what has been previously introduced. In this program, elective courses within the major are chosen with a focus on the skills and knowledge needed for leadership positions. Students will earn three milestones during their time in the program that reflect the mastery of Business Leadership program content.

Additionally, the Business Leadership program includes other courses needed to fulfill graduation requirements, all of which are coordinated to enhance the major. In the first term, students take business communication while simultaneously taking and integrating ideas from the leadership course. Students fulfill a humanities requirement by taking a business ethics course, while they meet a science and formal studies requirement by taking a course on information systems. In the second year, students enroll in leadership and literature, a course that fulfills a graduation requirement while enabling students to synthesize what they have learned about leadership throughout the program.

What careers are available to those who major in organization behavior?
Advances in the behavioral study of organizations, communication theory, and psychology have broadened the foundation of the major and expanded its relevance to wide variety of careers. Students who have majored in organization behavior can be found working in hospital administration, marketing management, nonprofit administration, human resource leadership, information technology, and as leaders in corporate and non-profit industries.

Program Information

How many credits are required to complete the degree?
To receive a degree from Northwestern University, students must complete 45 units of credit. A unit is a measure of academic credit at NU: each SPS course is worth one unit of credit. Students ordinarily may transfer in up to half of the units needed for graduation, which is equivalent to 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours of credit. There will be some variation in the amount of credit transferred in, depending on how previous course work aligns with the curriculum at NU.

Your cohort plan shows a maximum credit of 23 units. How do I earn the additional credits that I will need to graduate?
The program provides all courses necessary to complete the major, as well as a significant portion of graduation requirements. Some students will need to complete additional courses to meet the 45 units of credit requirement for graduation. These courses can be taken after the completion of the cohort curriculum or as additional courses while within the cohort. Also, many students take College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests to earn additional academic credit. Many students should be able to complete their degree program within two years and two quarters after they start.

Will my degree be conferred through the School of Professional Studies? What will my diploma read?
Students who complete the Business Leadership program and satisfy all graduation requirements will be awarded a degree by the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University. The School of Professional Studies works closely with Weinberg to ensure that our academic standards adhere to the high quality and rigor required for a Northwestern University degree.

How many classes can I take per quarter?
Students will typically take two courses per quarter during the first year and three courses during the second year. The second year courses are staggered so that students are taking one 10-week online class and two 5-week on-campus courses. That way, students are only taking two classes at a time.

Where and when do classes meet?
Business Leadership cohort classes are held at the Chicago campus. Parking is available, and all locations are easily accessible by public transportation.

In the first year of the program, courses meet on the same alternating Saturdays during the term. For example, for the Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 cohort courses meet on Saturday; one meets in the morning from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and the other in the afternoon from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. The outside of class portion of the course for Weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10, would be a combination of real-time online sessions and discussions.

In the summer and the second year of the program, on-campus courses meet in an intensive 5-week format on Saturdays. Students also take 10-week online courses beginning in the second year.

Can I transfer credits to take the place of courses in the program?
Students who have taken comparable courses before enrolling in the SPS Business Leadership program may transfer up to four courses to count toward the major.

Admitted students will receive a credit evaluation outlining courses transferred into major requirements and courses transferred into general degree requirements.

Does the School of Professional Studies offer career placement assistance for graduates?
All students are encouraged to meet with an SPS academic and career adviser to discuss their goals and to make use of SPS career resources and the Northwestern Career Advancement office and its services.

Admission Information

How can I apply for admission to the Business Leadership program?
You must first complete the online application for admission. In the Undergraduate online application, select the appropriate degree program and intended major (Organizational Behavior: Business Leadership). You will also need to submit official transcripts from high school and all previously attended colleges and universities, a personal statement, $50 application fee, and a current professional resume.

What kind of professional experience is required for admission?
Candidates for the program should have five to seven years of professional experience in a leadership position or with a desire to move into a leadership or managerial role. The collective professional experience of the students in the cohort is a crucial component of the program because coursework draws on students' experiences. Outside of class, students apply what they are learning to their own work.

How much previous college credit should I have completed prior to admission?
Applicants should have completed one to two years of college coursework (30-60 semester hours or 45-90 quarter hours). Courses accepted for transfer credit usually fall under the following areas: social science, science, business, communication studies, information systems, or the humanities. Vocational or technical credits are generally not transferable. Students with less than a year of college coursework but with substantial professional experience may still apply.