Health, Science and Society

This certificate program is designed for students interested in pursuing careers in medicine, public health, healthcare policy, or as healthcare providers and those who are interested in the impact of science on society. Premedical and prehealth students needing additional humanities and social science coursework may find this certificate beneficial, particularly as medical and professional health schools place an increasing importance on cultural competency.

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About Health, Science and Society

Health, Science and Society Required Courses

Students must complete a minimum of four courses selected from courses covering topics related to health, medicine and society. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the following courses will be offered:

  • ANTHRO 315 Medical Anthropology
  • BIOL SCI 312 The Evolutionary Biology of Human Anatomy, Health, and Disease
  • PHIL 269-DL Bioethics
  • PSYCH 213 Social Psychology (was PSYCH 204)
  • PSYCH 244 Developmental Psychology (was PSYCH 218)
  • PSYCH 303 Psychopathology
  • PSYCH 354 Special Topics: Brain and Behavior in the Era of Digital Technology
  • PSYCH 366 Stereotyping and Prejudice

Students may count other courses in the social sciences and humanities toward the certificate, with the approval of their academic adviser. Students may substitute one 300-level biology course toward the four-class minimum for the certificate.

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Health, Science and Society 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 Health, Science and Society

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 on the Admission page.

Health, Science and Society 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 Health, Science and Society Certificate Program


Program Courses:Course Detail
Human Origins <> ANTHRO 213-CN

This course focuses on the emergence of the human species through the process of organic evolution, emphasizing genetics, the fossil record, and comparison with our nearest living relatives. Carries science credit.


View ANTHRO 213-CN Sections
Medical Anthropology <> ANTHRO 315-CN

Topics in this course include: theories of interactions between culture and biology that affect human health; beliefs and practices for curing illness and maintaining wellbeing; cross-cultural study of infectious and chronic diseases, mental illness, infant/maternal mortality, poverty, and gender. Carries social science credit.


View ANTHRO 315-CN Sections
The Evolutionary Biology of Human Anatomy <> BIOL_SCI 312-CN

This course utilizes an evolutionary perspective to understand key features of human anatomy, health and disease. Coverage will include review of some basic evolutionary processes, a brief overview of human evolutionary history, followed by a consideration of the primary body systems and regions in the human organism. Our focus will be on the historical context of selected human structures and their function/dysfunction across these systems. Some specific topics covered include: evolutionary compromises and plasticity in musculoskeletal structures; complex structures and birth defects (pharyngeal arches, etc.); human developmental genetics, environmental plasticity, and epigenetics in relation to health and disease; theories of “mismatch” between modern lifestyles and our evolved features (related to metabolism; allergy, the microbiome, cancer, etc.); population growth and zoonoses; and human life history and aging in evolutionary perspective. This course is suitable for students interested in human evolutionary biology and health, and those planning careers in the health sciences.


View BIOL_SCI 312-CN Sections
Topics: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on COVID-19 <> GBL_HLTH 390-CN

This course is an inquiry into the current coronavirus (SARS-CoV2, Covid-19) epidemic, taken from multiple perspectives in public health and the social sciences. The course will consider the pandemic in real time, in the context of other disease outbreaks to learn what is different about this one, about its modes of transmission and its impact on individuals, communities, and nations. Applying public health research methods including epidemiology, outbreak investigation, and medical anthropology, we will examine several responses organized to combat the pandemic, in clinical sciences, community health, and supply operations and logistics. Finally, we will gain skills in locating and critically analyzing information. The foci are health outcomes and communities most impacted by the virus. Evaluation methods include weekly response papers, participation in discussion, and a final project. Carries social science credit.


There is no available section.
Bioethics <> PHIL 269-DL

This course will consist of an analysis of the ethical issues that arise as a result of the developments in medicine and biotechnology. Topics considered will include the physician/patient relationship, the researcher/human subject relationship, issues at the beginning and end of life, children’s issues, the right to health care, and the allocation of scarce medical resources. The course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.

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 269-DL Sections
Social Psychology <> PSYCH 213-CN

This course will survey the field of social psychology, which is the study of how social forces and social relationships shape individual thinking and behavior, with a focus on the classic studies and enduring topics in the field. Sample topics include: the self and self-esteem, altruism, aggressive behavior, close relationships, stereotyping and prejudice, and behavior in groups. Students will also be exposed to recent research and current debates on these topics. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

This course was formerly PSYCH 204 Social Psychology.


View PSYCH 213-CN Sections
Developmental Psychology <> PSYCH 244-CN

The focus of this course is the development of perception, cognition, language, personality, and social interaction from infancy through adolescence. The course considers perspectives and methods in developmental research. As each new topic is introduced, students are encouraged to think critically about the assumptions and methods that underlie research on particular issues. A central goal is to help students develop an appreciation of different criteria for evaluating research and other forms of evidence. The course will have weekly quizzes and a comprehensive final exam. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

This course was formerly PSYCH 218 Developmental Psychology.


View PSYCH 244-CN Sections
Psychopathology <> PSYCH 303-CN

This course introduces the study of psychopathology with an emphasis on the continuum between normal and abnormal patterns of behavior, emotional regulation, and thought processes. Students will learn about different types of psychological disorders including mood disorders, panic, anxiety, obsessions, personality disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse, eating disorders, sexual dysfunctions, childhood-onset disorders, trauma, and neurocognitive disorders. We will consider biological, psychological, and societal causes of dysfunction. We will also explore how psychopathology has been understood throughout history, how those views have evolved to inform psychological treatments available today, and how culture continues to play a role in shaping our conceptualization of mental illness. Lastly, opportunities for prevention and organized efforts to promote mental health will be discussed, including research on how to cultivate happiness. Lectures will draw from real-world examples, fictional depictions of mental illness, and clinical case studies. Students will be assessed through a midterm exam, a final exam (non-cumulative), and a research paper. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.


View PSYCH 303-CN Sections
Evolutionary Psychology <> PSYCH 342-CN

Theory, methodology, and empirical data related to how evolution has influenced human psychology and behavior. Emphasis on mating. Carries science or social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.


There is no available section.
Stereotyping & Prejudice PSYCH 366-CN

This course analyzes causes and consequences of stereotyping and prejudice, as well as methods used to study these issues. Students may conduct original research. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 205 or equivalent.


View PSYCH 366-CN Sections