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Undergraduate Leadership Program & Certificate

Students enter our program seeking to be more effective leaders…and happen to pick up a certificate along the way.

Here are a few things participants say they want to learn:

  • "Work on my weaknesses"
  • "Grow as a leader and as a person"
  • "Know how to lead"
  • "Know the right answer"

Sure, you'll talk about all of these topics, but many more. You'll also learn about the major theories and frameworks that effective leaders use every day.

And in the end, what you get out of the program will be meaningful to you as an individual, to your role as a leader, and to the effectiveness of your team. You will be changed for good.

Evanston campus undergraduate students are eligible to enroll. LDRSHP courses are offered through the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Paradigms & Strategies of Leadership

This is an introductory class that can function as a stand-alone course or as the first step toward the Undergraduate Leadership Certificate.

Paradigms & Strategies of Leadership (LDRSHP 204) will help you become an effective leader on campus, in your community, and in your career. You will begin to develop your leadership toolkit, including how to:

  • Ask powerful questions
  • Inspire others
  • Mobilize different types of people to maximize performance
  • Thrive in teams
  • Lead change
  • Overcome adversity and learn from failure

During the class, you'll examine fundamental challenges and concepts through exercises, lecture and discussion.

Leading from Design

Leading from Design (LDRSHP 304) launches you on an arc of individual leadership development that begins with two assumptions:

1) If leadership is to be effective and sustained, you must lead out of who you are.

2) To lead out of who you are, you must know who you are.

From this starting point, this course takes you through a regimen of interior work to increase your self-awareness and provide you with tools you can use to continue to grow in this area after you complete the program.

Field Study in Leadership

As the third and final course in the Undergraduate Leadership Certificate path, Field Study in Leadership (LDRSHP 396) shifts the focus to the follower side of the leadership process. Specifically, you will explore the question “What do I understand about the perspective and experience of those I hope to lead?” This two-credit class includes a weekly seminar and a major leadership project of your own design. Here are a few recent examples:

  • President of an anti-bullying program in which Northwestern athletes work with students at local elementary and middle schools
  • Head of corporate relations for Dance Marathon
  • President of Student Government
  • Stage manager for a university theatre production

The minimum requirements for a field study experience to be approved are as follows: 

1) The endeavor must be one where the student doing the field study is mobilizing a group of at least 3 people (other than the student themselves) to collaborate with one another to accomplish a common purpose, goal or objective. 

2) The student must spend at least 160 hours leading the endeavor.

 The seminars and field experience combine to provide a space for you to discuss theories and insights, test them in a leadership setting where the stakes are real, report back and debrief the results and then further refine your leadership approach.

Certificate Steps and Requirements

To complete the Undergraduate Leadership Certificate, students are required to successfully complete the following three courses while enrolled at Northwestern University. 

  • Paradigms & Strategies of Leadership (LDRSHP 204) (Prerequisite for LDRSHP 304)
    • Course is offered each Fall and Spring.
  • Leading from Design (LDRSHP 304) (Prerequisite for LDRSHP 396)
    • Course is offered each Fall and Winter.
  • Field Study in Leadership (LDRSHP 396)
    • Course is offered every quarter. 

If you have any further questions, please contact  Prof. Todd Murphy.

What alumni are saying...

“As an athlete, the Leadership Certificate Pathway has not only helped me in the classroom, but has been extremely applicable on the court as well. It has been rewarding to see lessons that are talked about in class show up in my day-to-day life. It provides students with a platform to engage with others and bounce ideas off of each other to improve not only themselves, but the others within their class.” – ULP student (Class of ‘22)

“I found the leadership program to be unbelievably important. The classes really allowed me to reflect on myself and understand motivations of leaders that I have since used in different clubs and teams I've been on. I am so glad I decided to do the program and I got a lot out of it. My coaching experience truly saved the project I was working on. My coach was able to help me work through all the issues that arose and then she later wrote me a very important letter of recommendation!” – ULP student (Class of ‘22)

“The leadership program helped me think more deeply and thoughtful about the value of my present and future leadership roles and my efficacy in those positions. It helped me to understand more clearly the type of person I am. It also helped me understand how to be a leader even when I'm not in a leadership position. In my first job out of college, my supervisors called me a "role model" (as in someone who they felt was a leader amongst my colleagues), and I think this was due in large part to my work with the Center for Leadership. In addition, as a relatively introverted individual and someone who is non-confrontational, I think that it helped me understand what is going through the mind of a leader (even when they are ineffective) and what drives particular types of leaders to act in certain way. This has helped me understand how to make the best of difficult work situations.” – ULP student (Class of ‘20)

“The Leadership program at NU was a tremendous experience. Not only did it offer great insight from a wide variety of established leaders and reflection from peers, it also provided substantive concepts that I use today while training leaders within my organization. Also, one obstacle to making an impact post-graduation is being viewed as experienced enough to have your insights be reputable. The field study and accompanying Leadership Certificate is, at an absolute minimum, a valuable piece of cultural capital.” – ULP student (Class of ‘20)

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