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Northwestern University School of Professional Studies

About SPS


Thomas Gibbons

Dear Friends of SPS,

It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the 2023–24 school year. At SPS, we strive to create new programming that meets the evolving needs of working professionals, and this year is no exception. 

We’ve added a range of online stackable certificates on the graduate and undergraduate levels. Stackable certificates offer several benefits. They enable students to build credentials incrementally, quickly enhancing their skills and value in the workplace. Study can be targeted to align with a student’s specific needs and interests. Stackable certificates also provide clear pathways to degrees and further career advancement — as students earn their certificate credentials, they also earn college credit that can be applied toward a degree.

The addition of this new type of programming further enhances our ability to provide professionals with high-quality, flexible and accessible programs that help them reach their career goals. I look forward to another year of learning, growth and achievement throughout the entire SPS community.


Thomas F. Gibbons
Dean, School of Professional Studies
Northwestern University

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A core part of Northwestern's mission since 1933

Northwestern University School of Professional Studies students are part of a unique and distinguished university community. They learn in a supportive, collaborative environment in courses — offered online and in the evenings on Northwestern's Chicago and Evanston campuses — that enable them to balance their personal and professional lives with the pursuit of learning. Classes in SPS degree and certificate programs are taught by some of the university's most respected and talented teachers — scholars and professionals who value the diversity, energy, and creativity of our students.

One of the 12 colleges and schools of Northwestern University, SPS and adult learning have been a core part of Northwestern’s mission since 1933. SPS is enmeshed in many parts of the University — sharing faculty members, creating innovative programs and setting the standard for higher education for adults. SPS students become part of a university ranked among the nation’s best universities with top medical, law, and business schools, and a faculty that has made pioneering contributions to materials science, nanotechnology, economics, the humanities, and more.

Our Mission

Providing innovative learning opportunities

The mission of the School of Professional Studies is to provide a superior Northwestern education to outstanding students whose academic pursuits must be balanced with professional or personal commitments. SPS strives to be a national leader in continuing and professional education by providing innovative learning opportunities that serve the lifelong learning needs of its students.

Meet some of our students and alums


Stephanie Kang

It was incredibly important for me to maintain my professional experience while I went to school. Northwestern gave me the most flexibility and the best-rounded coursework, so I knew Id be able to learn what I wanted to on a timeline that accommodated my busy schedule. ”

Stephanie Kang, MS in Global Health

My professors are running businesses, working for consulting firms and agencies, and navigating today’s workplace just like I am. Hearing about their experiences and creative solutions to work challenges many of us face is not only really interesting but also applicable. ”

Tori Bell, MS in Information Design and Strategy
Tori Bell
Dennis Shea

Northwestern is a high-end research facility and I’m certain some of the more advanced concepts I learned here are going to help me fit in well at Yale. ”

Dennis Shea, Prephysician Assistant certificate program
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About the Dean


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Thomas F. Gibbons is the dean of Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies, which offers adult learners a broad spectrum of undergraduate and graduate programs as well as certificate and professional development programs. Dean Gibbons launched Northwestern’s first fully online master’s degree and has since developed many other award-winning distance education academic offerings. He also oversees a variety of special programs, including the Center for Public Safety, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and Northwestern’s Summer Session. Dean Gibbons, who is an attorney and also a senior lecturer at Northwestern’s School of Law, teaches courses at the graduate and undergraduate level in conflict resolution, negotiations, mediation, and arbitration. He is also a labor arbitrator and mediator, and past president of the University of Professional and Continuing Education Association, of the Association for Conflict Resolution, Chicago Chapter, and the past chairman of the Chicago Bar Association’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee. Dean Gibbons holds law degrees from Yale Law School and DePaul University College of Law, a master’s degree from Drew University, and a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University.

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