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Northwestern MOOCs

Northwestern offers all of its massive open online courses (MOOCs) at no cost to its students, alumni, faculty, and staff. You can earn a Course Certificate and access all Northwestern MOOC content on Coursera free of charge. To enroll in a Northwestern course and activate the special free Course Certificate offer, please follow the enrollment steps listed HERE.

The benefits of earning a Course Certificate include:

MOOC Proposals

Interested faculty should refer to the FAQs for Coursera MOOCs below 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 Victoria Getis, Director of Teaching & Learning Technologies, at any point in the process of proposing or developing a MOOC by emailing


Why does Northwestern offer MOOCs?

The primary goals of engaging in the development and delivery of MOOCs are to:

  • Allow faculty and the university to explore diverse pedagogical and course delivery methods
  • Provide access to meaningful learning opportunities, without geographical or financial restrictions, to non-traditional students, current students and alumni, and those who currently have limited access to higher education
  • Expand the visibility and impact of Northwestern and its faculty
  • Showcase what is special about Northwestern’s faculty, research and curriculum

What is a MOOC?

A MOOC is a massive open online course designed to reach a broad audience around the world.

  • MOOCs typically enroll thousands of students, though not all complete the course
  • MOOCs do not count for Northwestern credit (but credit may be granted by other institutions for Northwestern MOOCs)
  • Anyone with an internet connection can take a MOOC, often for free
  • Northwestern has a partnership with Coursera, one of the leading MOOC platforms

What is Coursera?

Coursera was founded in April 2012 by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, two Stanford University computer science professors. Coursera offers courses developed by faculty from leading private and public universities to anyone around the world. Students who complete courses do not receive Northwestern credit.

Should I develop a MOOC?

Interested faculty members ought to consider the following factors when developing a MOOC proposal:

  • Does a similar MOOC already exist on Coursera? What would make yours different or more attractive?
  • Is the topic of your MOOC something that would be appealing to MOOC learners?
  • Is the format of your course appropriate for a MOOC? Can you adapt your course to the MOOC Creation Guidelines?
  • Will developing a MOOC have a positive impact on your research, teaching, and service at Northwestern?
  • Does your department have financial resources necessary to support video production, and other resources necessary to support the project administration of MOOC development?

Will a MOOC require approval?

Proposals for MOOCs must have approval from the faculty member’s respective dean’s office and will be reviewed by the Office of the Provost, which will serve as a point of review, coordination, and final approval for all MOOCs that are created. The first step is to consult with Victoria Getis, Director of Teaching & Learning Technologies, by emailing

Report on Northwestern's MOOCs

Northwestern conducted an analysis of its first cohort of MOOCs, developed and launched in 2013-2014. The resulting report assessed Northwestern’s overall strategy for MOOCs, and considers the benefits gained and other implications. Read the report on Northwestern’s first MOOCs.

What is the process for developing a MOOC?

Faculty members must submit a proposal for development of a MOOC. The MOOC may be based on an existing on-site course. If approved, faculty will work closely with course designers to develop online content and online assessment methods. The detailed process includes:

  1. Preliminary Proposal and Assessment
  • Faculty member develops a proposal for developing a MOOC
  • Proposal is reviewed by the faculty's department and Dean's Office
  • Faculty member contacts Victoria Getis, Director of Teaching & Learning Technology, to assess the suitability of the project for MOOC development
  1. Provost Review
  • Faculty member submits their proposal for approval by the Office of the Provost
  1. MOOC Development
  • If approved, faculty member collaborates in MOOC production and setting schedule with appropriate support units, based on the Coursera guidelines
  1. Final Approval
  • Office of the Provost reviews and approves the MOOC that has been developed
  1. Launch
  • MOOC is delivered
  • Faculty collaborates with appropriate support unit on assessment
  1. Assessment
  • Faculty reports back to the Office of the Provost on assessment of the MOOC
  • Assessment is shared with respective dean's office