Online and Blended Learning


New Seed Funding for Digital/Online Projects Announced

Report on 2013-2014 MOOCs now available

Professor Owen Youngman writes for The Atlantic

Professor Owen Youngman writes for The Guardian


Two recent partnerships in online learning have enabled Northwestern to continue experimenting with different modes of offering online and blended courses. Partnerships with Coursera and Semester Online (SON) have helped us lead the way in shaping the landscape of online higher education. We are continuing to offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) through Coursera, but Semester Online has been discontinued following summer 2014 courses.

In the Fall 2014 the Provost and Faculty Distance Learning Workgroup announced new seed funding to support digital/online projects that will enhance NU students’ learning through the innovative use of technologies.


Provost Dan Linzer and the Faculty Distance Learning Workgroup recently requested proposals from Northwestern faculty for digital/online projects that will enhance NU students’ learning through the innovative use of technologies, allow faculty and the University to experiment with innovative learning technologies, showcase NU faculty’s excellence in teaching and increase NU’s visibility in digital and online teaching environments. Project proposals are no longer being accepted at this time. More information can be found on the Proposal Form or at


Northwestern University is proud to partner with Coursera, a California-based education company founded in 2011 by two Stanford computer science professors. A variety of free online courses are offered. Additional courses will be featured as faculty members develop new online strategies for delivering their course content to a global audience.

Report on Northwestern's first MOOCs

An analysis of the first cohort of MOOCs, developed and launched in 2013-2014, has been conducted  to assess Northwestern’s overall strategy for MOOCs, benefits gained and implications for
next steps. Read the report HERE.

Coursera Request for Proposals

We are now seeking proposals for MOOCs to be developed summer 2015 through spring 2016.

Interested faculty should refer to the FAQs for Coursera MOOCs for more detailed information about MOOCs and the proposal process, as well as the MOOC Creation Guidelines for guidance on the development and delivery of MOOCs.  Faculty are invited to consult with the Coordinated Service Center for online courses at any point in the process of proposing or developing a MOOC by emailing

Coursera MOOC Proposal Form


The Semester Online pilot has been discontinued after its pilot year in 2013-2014. The last SON courses were offered summer 2014. The goals of SON were to give faculty and students new opportunities - new teaching tools and methods for faculty, and additional curricular breadth and scheduling flexibility for students.  The consortium of universities, in partnership with 2U as the platform provider, created a set of courses for undergraduates that we offered during fall, spring and summer terms.  While we found a high level of satisfaction among faculty teaching these courses and students taking these courses, some faculty have expressed significant concerns with some aspects of the SON model.  Furthermore, we also found a significant number of challenges in working within a consortium to offer these courses. 

The Provost would like to thank our university partners and 2U, and faculty and students who participated in the courses, for joining in this experiment.  In the coming years, Northwestern will certainly continue to explore how best to take advantage of online learning.


In addition to these two new online learning platforms, many schools at Northwester have developed their own modules and courses to offer students a variety of online, blended and distance learning opportunities. Listed here are just a few of these offerings.

School of Professional Studies 

Read more about the School of Professional Studies’ distance learning philosophy.

Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications

School of Education and Social Policy

Feinberg School of Medicine

School of Law

  • Executive LLM in Madrid, Spain - offered in collaboration with IE Law School, this program employs a blended approach, combining online instruction with periods of on-campus learning in both Madrid and Chicago.


The Faculty Distance Learning Workgroup advises the Provost on issues related to the development and implementation of distance learning opportunities at the University. Through active engagement with the schools, faculty colleagues and other groups across campus, this workgroup helps to ensure that the core teaching, research, and service mission is at the center of all distance learning initiatives undertaken by the University.

William Rogerson, Chair, Professor, Economics – WCAS
Gad Allon, Professor, Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences – KSM
Sara Broaders, Distinguished Senior Lecturer, Psychology – WCAS
Tom Collinger, Associate Professor, Integrated Marketing Communications; Senior Director of Medill Distance Learning – Medill
Mary Finn, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs – WCAS
Scott Garton, Department Head, Library, Branch and Off-Campus Services Department
Jeanne Herrick, Senior Lecturer, Writing Program – WCAS; Educational Affairs Committee, Faculty Senate
David Meyer, Professor, Physics and Astronomy – WCAS
Rick Morris, Associate Dean for Finance and Administration – SoC
Chris Riesbeck, Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science – MEAS
Cynthia Robin, Professor, Anthropology – WCAS
Joel Shapiro, Associate Dean of Academic Programs – SCS
Emerson Tiller, Professor – Law
Katrin Voelkner, Senior Lecturer, German; Director of the MMLC, Member of Council on Language Instruction – WCAS
Ben Weinkove, Professor, Mathematics – WCAS
Marianna Kepka, Facilitator, Assistant Provost for Academic Administration
Jen Koh, Facilitator, Office of the Provost