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Academic Certificate & Courses

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Undergraduate Leadership 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 those topics, but much 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.

Paradigms & Strategies of Leadership

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

Paradigms 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.

Paradigms & Strategies of Leadership (LDRSHP 204) is offered every Fall and Spring.

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

Field Study in Leadership

Many students who complete the Paradigms course go on to do the Field Study in Leadership (LDRSHP 396). This two-credit experience includes a seminar class and the opportunity to conduct 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

TIP: The program is designed so that you can earn the certificate within one year, but that's not a requirement. You may start during any fall quarter and continue the program when you are ready to propose a great field study project, then complete it with an approved elective course.


You can fulfill the third and final certificate requirement by choosing an elective course from our list of approved courses, or petitioning for a non-listed class that interests you. Once you have started in the certificate program, contact Professor Todd Murphy to petition an elective course.

TIP: Some schools at Northwestern allow specific courses to be double-counted if they are not also applied to a major or minor. Be sure to check with your academic advisor to find out how your credits may be applied.

For complete details, see Certificate Program Requirements.

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