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Northwestern University

Policy on Awarding Certificates

From time to time schools create curricular packages smaller than a major or a minor (if that is an option within a school) that they present to students as a “certificate.” Programs leading to certificates are designed to recognize extraordinary work completed through a set of courses with a specified focus or concentration. Minimum criteria for certificates are as follows:

A. Undergraduate certificates may be awarded by one of the seven schools that award undergraduate degrees or by a professional school that does not award undergraduate degrees. Such certificates are generally interdisciplinary. For an undergraduate certificate to be posted on the transcript, all of the following must be satisfied:

  1. There is no major or minor in the area.
  2. The certificate requires academic course work of at least four units that are not applied to a major or minor.
  3. For certificates with course work from one school, approval is required under the standard curricular review process in the school. For certificates that contain substantial course work from more than one school, approval is required under the standard curricular review process in each contributing school.

B. For a certificate awarded by The Graduate School to be posted to the transcript, the following must be satisfied:

  1. Graduate certificates may only be earned by doctoral students.
  2. Graduate certificates must constitute at least five courses.
  3. Graduate certificates are interdisciplinary by design and thus must comprise courses from two or more disciplines.
  4. Courses that satisfy requirements for a graduate certificate may also be counted toward doctoral requirements.

C. For a certificate awarded by the School of Professional Studies for non-credit classes to be posted to the transcript, the student must successfully complete a course or a series of courses of non-credit SPS courses that together have been designated as a faculty-approved plan of study.

Responsible Office: Office of the Provost

Who Needs to Know This Policy: All Northwestern faculty members

Contacts: If you have any questions on this Policy, contact leewest@northwestern.edu

Dated: April 2017

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