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Program Overview

Business Essentials

Business Essentials Certificate Program

The Business Essentials certificate program is designed for those who are new to a business environment or who lack an academic background in business. This program offers foundational courses in accounting, finance, marketing, and organization behavior, providing students with an understanding of essential business principles and practices.  Individuals who come from a liberal arts background may be especially interested in this program, which will enable them to learn about the basic principles of business in a real-world context. 

Fully online certificate completion is available—choose from eight online courses in the program.

This program was formerly titled Business Practices.



About the Business Essentials Certificate Program

Business Essentials Goals and Courses

Complete This Certificate Online

Complete the Business Essentials certificate fully online with four of these courses:

  • ACCOUNT 201-DL Introduction to Financial Accounting
  • ACCOUNT 202-DL Introduction to Managerial Accounting
  • CIS 350-DL Strategic Information Systems
  • FINANCE 202-DL Introduction to Finance
  • MKTG 201-DL Principles of Marketing
  • ORG BEH 301-DL Organization Behavior
  • ORG BEH 367-DL Strategic Planning and Management
  • PHIL 364-DL Business and Professional Ethics

View Business Essentials Courses


Business Essentials Tuition

Post-baccalaureate students at Northwestern's School of Professional Studies pay per course. For more information about financial obligations and tuition, please visit the Tuition page.

Admission for the Business Essentials Certificate

In addition to completing an online application, you'll also need to submit a few supplemental materials. A list of requirements for admission including application deadlines and tips on how to apply can be found at the Admission page.

Business Essentials Registration Information

Whether you're a first-time registrant or current and returning student, all students register using our online student registration and records systems. Important information about registering for courses at SPS, including registration timelines and adding or dropping courses in which you are already enrolled, can be found on the Registration Information page.

Find out more about the Business Essentials Certificate

Program Courses:Course Detail
Introduction to Financial Accounting <> ACCOUNT 201-DL

The content of the course is designed to provide students with a firm understanding of the financial accounting process, and to include identifying, recording and communicating accounting information to external users. The course will discuss Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and explain how their framework fosters the relevance and reliability of financial statements. Students can expect an introduction to the techniques of accounting and the accounting profession with an emphasis on organizing information for decision making and the information needs of creditors and equity holders. Topics include financial statements, transaction analysis, accrual accounting, cash management, inventories, receivables, long-term and intangible assets, liabilities, stockholders' equity, cash flow statements, and financial statement analysis.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.

View ACCOUNT 201-DL Sections
Introduction to Managerial Accounting <> ACCOUNT 202-DL

A continuation of the introduction to accounting, with emphasis on providing relevant and timely accounting information and analysis to managers for use in planning, decision making, and controlling strategic operational objectives. Topics include the classifications of costs and different ways of reporting and analyzing those costs; the operating budgeting process; capital budgeting; and job-order, standard, process, and activity-based costing systems. Prerequisite: While there is not a formal prerequisite for this course, it is helpful for students to have a basic understanding of algebra and statistics, especially concepts such as standard deviation, correlation, covariance and regression. Also, some knowledge of accounting is helpful, such as familiarity with balance sheets, cash flow statements, and income statements.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.

View ACCOUNT 202-DL Sections
Information Technology Strategy <> CIS 350-DL

This course examines current issues, themes, and research related to the strategic use of information systems in organizations at a high level. It focuses on the use of information and information technology for competitive advantage in businesses, organizations, and nonprofits. The management of information as a resource and information systems planning and its relationship to strategic planning are discussed. Cases are used to illustrate the use of information systems to gain a competitive edge. Both successful and failed IT systems and projects, past and present, are studied. Topics include the use of strategic information systems for competition, business-IT alignment, global IT issues and outsourcing, knowledge management, and strategic information systems investment and evaluation. This course is part of the Business Leadership year two cohort.


This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.

View CIS 350-DL Sections
Introduction to Macroeconomics <> ECON 201-CN

This course is an introduction to economics with emphasis on macroeconomics. The course covers aspects of general economics that everyone should know, including how the market system works, how prices are determined, why shortages and surpluses occur, and why some people earn high incomes and others earn low incomes. Topics include: supply and demand, competition vs. monopoly, inflation, unemployment, recessions, booms, fiscal and monetary policy, budget deficits, international trade, and exchange rates. Prerequisite: two years of high school mathematics or MATH 101.

View ECON 201-CN Sections
Introduction to Macroeconomics <> ECON 201-CN

This course familiarizes students with the basic principles of macroeconomics including the role of the government, the role of banks, the importance of interest rates, and the effects of policies involving trade, tax, and other concepts. The course covers a variety of economic topics, including why auction markets are so common, why countries would desire to trade with one another, how currencies are valued and traded, why shortages and surpluses occur, and why some people earn high incomes while others earn low incomes. Also, the class with have a couple interactive online opportunities to learn from different economic situations. Topics include: supply and demand, competition vs. monopoly, inflation, unemployment, recessions, booms and recessions, fiscal and monetary policy, budget deficits, international trade, and exchange rates.

View ECON 201-CN Sections
Introduction to Finance <> FINANCE 202-CN

An introductory course covering the basic concepts and models used in finance. Explores the mathematics and spreadsheet modeling techniques used in evaluating various financial assets, including stocks and bonds. Also surveys the risk-return tradeoff in financial markets and how investors gauge risk, as well as the basic concepts of Markowitz's mean-variance portfolio theory. The nature and impact of interest-rate risk on financial institutions is considered, and the duration of a financial asset is introduced in this context. Introduces the efficient market hypothesis and its implications for personal investing and corporate finance. Prerequisite: MATH 101, STAT 202, or college algebra, statistics, financial accounting, microeconomics, and macroeconomics, or equivalents. Carries business credit.

View FINANCE 202-CN Sections
Introduction to Finance <> FINANCE 202-DL

The focus of this course will be on quantitative tools that are primarily used in the field of finance. In particular, we will put heavy emphasis on the mathematics of interest rates, including the tools used to value common stock and fixed rate bonds. We will discuss how rates of return for these instruments are measured. We will then look at the capital budgeting process and learn how managers determine in which projects to invest a firm’s limited resources. We will also study the probabilistic and statistical tools necessary to understand how investors and financial economists evaluate risk. Primary emphasis will be on an intuitive understanding of portfolio theory and its impact on estimating the expected return on an asset given its systematic risk through use of the Capital Asset Pricing Model. The course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.

View FINANCE 202-DL Sections
Principles of Marketing <> MKTG 201-DL

Marketing structure and processes whereby products proceed from the place of production to final use or consumption. Sales management, retailing, foreign trade, advertising, channels of distribution for marketing different types of products, activities of wholesale and retail middlemen and other important marketing institutions, cooperative marketing, market risk, sources of marketing information, price determination, governmental activity related to marketing, cost of marketing, and general critique of market structure.


This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.

View MKTG 201-DL Sections
Organization Behavior <> ORG_BEH 301-CN

Organizations are a part of our everyday lives. Whether at work, school, church etc., similar interpersonal and group behaviors and dynamics apply. The focus of this course is to examine several aspects of organizations from an integrated perspective, including how the formal organization, culture, people and work can all connect to transform inputs to outputs. Emphasis will be placed on understanding individual differences as the foundation of our interpersonal and managerial effectiveness. Case studies, classroom and online discussions, team assignments and presentations will all be part of the learning. At the end of the class, it is anticipated that students will have a better understanding of today's complex organizations and more equipped to navigate the workplace.

This course combines classroom lecture and discussion with an online component. For the lecture and discussion components, this course is paired with an afternoon session of ORG BEH 311-CN, and the in-class meetings are on alternate Saturdays: 1/11, 1/25, 2/8, 2/22 and 3/7. This course is part of the Business Leadership year one cohort.

View ORG_BEH 301-CN Sections
Organization Behavior <> ORG_BEH 301-DL

Our contemporary lives are shaped by participation in commercial, social, and government organizations. This course uses social science research to explicate the dimensions of formal organizations and show how they influence our public and private behavior. The course will investigate sources of organizational success (positive function) and failure. Students will learn how to address organizational dysfunction through applying research-based solutions. Exercises include case study scenarios, role-play videos, simulations, and path-dependent decision making. By the end of the course, students will be able to diagnose organizational problems and devise targeted remedies. This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.

View ORG_BEH 301-DL Sections
Strategic Planning & Management <> ORG_BEH 367-DL

This course applies the concepts of strategic planning to various types of organizations. Initial discussions will provide a basic framework for preparing a strategic plan for corporations, non-profits and government agencies. Practical applications will be developed from case studies and the experiences of the instructor and students. Since we can learn from wide range of situational discussions, we will consider entrepreneurial and established operations, as well as success stories and failures. This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.

See Northwestern Summer Session schedule to view available sections of this course.

There is no available section.
Entrepreneurship and Technology <> ORG_BEH 369-CN

This course focuses on early-stage companies (including, but not only, startups) and how they are structured, financed, managed, scaled, and sold. It is an example-driven course that requires research outside class. While the course focuses on technology companies, this is interpreted broadly to include telecommunications, financial technology, medical technology, hardware innovation, and other topics; this is not a sector-specific course focused on "pure tech" (e.g. social media startups, ad tech, etc.). This is a case-driven, highly-collaborative course with a Socratic, conversational classroom environment, and it includes a midterm exam and a final project.

View ORG_BEH 369-CN Sections
Business and Professional Ethics PHIL 364-DL

This course examines, from a philosophical perspective, a variety of ethical issues relating to contemporary business. Types of questions asked in the course include: Should corporations be viewed solely as profit-making entities? What is the appropriate regulatory response to recent corporate scandals? What obligations do corporations have when they market their products? How should corporations be evaluated when it comes to broader issues of social and economic justice, such as CEO compensation, health care coverage, and income disparities? What is the impact of the increasing globalization of corporations on these topics? The course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.

This course was formerly PHIL 390 Special Topics: Business Ethics.

Note: This course is limited to School of Professional Studies students only. Undergraduate students in other schools at Northwestern are not permitted to enroll in this course.

View PHIL 364-DL Sections
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