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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 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 seminar 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.

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.


If you are a student who took Paradigms and Strategies of Leadership prior to January 1, 2020, you can either take LDRSHP 304 or substitute an elective course from our list of approved courses or you may petition for a non-listed class that interests you.

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 Steps and Requirements.

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