Free Online Courses at Northwestern

October 22, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Free Online Courses at Northwestern

Does Northwestern University Offer Online Courses?

Nowadays, practically everything that we consider to be the “new normal” takes place online. Thus, students may wonder “Does Northwestern University offer online courses?” Free online courses at Northwestern are provided for students and additional courses will be offered as teachers create new online delivery methods for their course materials to reach a worldwide audience. All Northwestern students, alumni, teachers, and staff have free access to the full course experience for any of the university’s MOOCs (massive open online courses).

These courses align with Northwestern’s goal: to steadfastly devote to incorporating the University’s teaching mission into every aspect of faculty and students’ academic experiences, whether they take classes in person or online. The institution is continuously trying to enable and coordinate initiatives across the University to give the best conditions for innovative pedagogical and teaching methods, as well as student learning evaluation approaches, to flourish.

You may enroll in classes at some of the greatest universities in the world without having a 4.1 GPA or spending thousands of dollars. To increase access to top-notch education, numerous universities offer massive open online courses (MOOCs), similar to Yale, Harvard, and Columbia.

What Courses Can I Take Online For Free?

Free online courses at Northwestern are mostly available at Coursera, a global online learning platform that provides everyone with access to online courses and degrees from top institutions and businesses around the globe. Some are a part of a multi-course program that helps you thoroughly understand a subject or talent and some have the option to pay a modest charge for certificates of completion that you can show prospective employers or add to your LinkedIn or resumé.

Young man attending an online class.

To answer the query “What courses can I take online for free?” here are some free online courses at Northwestern that might pique your interest.

Fundamentals of Digital Image and Video Processing

Duration: 36 hours

This electrical engineering course will teach you the principles of processing photos and videos as well as how to use them to resolve real-world, business, and scientific issues (which also happens to be the most popular electrical engineering course on Coursera).

High-Performance Collaboration: Leadership, Teamwork, and Negotiation*

Duration: 14 hours

Effective leadership is taught in Professor Leigh Thompson’s class, High-Performance Collaboration, at the Kellogg School of Management. Students use self-assessments to understand their leadership styles, develop negotiating strategies, and design team charters to maximize group productivity.

This course is one of six that make up the Organizational Leadership Specialization.

Modern Robotics, Course 1: Foundations of Robot Motion*

Duration: 24 hours

Since Northwestern is one of the top research universities and is highly interested in technology advancements, the free online courses at Northwestern offer The Modern Robotics: Mechanics, Planning, and Control Specialization. In the first course, students learn the fundamentals of robot configuration, including configuration space (C-space), holonomic and nonholonomic constraints, and how to represent spatial velocities and forces as twists.

The course is “not a sampler,” according to Mechanical Engineering professor Kevin Lynch, and is intended for students who want to either work in robotics or pursue additional study.

Leadership Communication for Maximum Impact: Storytelling*

Duration: 4 hours

This course, which is taught by professors from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, as well as the Spiegel Research Center, teaches students how to weave impactful stories, whether it be through personal branding, crisis management, communicating an innovative vision, or more.

The Organizational Leadership Specialization also includes Leadership Communication.

Customer Segmentation and Prospecting*

Duration: 12 hours

Achievable, short-term sales goals can be set by students once they complete this introductory course, which provides them with the knowledge, abilities, and discipline necessary for an effective and prosperous career in sales.

Customer Segmentation and Prospecting course is included in the four-course Specialization in The Art of Sales: Mastering the Selling Process.

Content Strategy for Professionals: Engaging Audiences*

Duration: 6 hours

This content strategy course, taught by three professionals, demonstrates how to produce the most effective content in the information era. Students comprehend the fundamental elements of what makes stories and information strategic, valuable, and entertaining for audiences.

The five-course Content Strategy for Professionals Specialization includes Content Strategy for Professionals: Engaging Audiences.

The Business of Social*

Duration: 6 hours

How to integrate a useful tracking system with social marketing is a typical business demand that The Business of Social tackles. This course teaches students how to engage customers directly using social media and mobile platforms while measuring social investments in terms of cost, revenue, profit, and return on investment (ROI). Additionally included are management strategies and legal issues.

This course is one of the six that makeup Northwestern’s Social Media Marketing Specialization.

Sports Marketing*

Duration: 14 hours

The principles of sports marketing are covered in this course, including approaches to ticket pricing, event advertising, sponsorship growth, and social media promotion. Additionally, students learn about how crises develop and how different businesses use sports to build and position their brands.

Sales Pitch and Closing

Duration: 14 hours

As part of the Art of Sales Specialization, Course 3 will teach you how to deliver engaging presentations with swagger and self-assurance. You’ll also pick up some tips on how to pose the inevitable last query. Last but not least, you’ll discover how to build your brand and go above and beyond for your customers.

The Importance of Listening

Duration: 4 weeks

You will delve deeper into social media’s big data and have a fuller understanding of what can be inferred from interactions on social media sites in this second MOOC in the Social Marketing Specialization, “The Importance of Listening.” How much information can be gleaned from a single post, image, or video will astound you. Special tools, templates, and videos will be provided to MOOC purchasers to improve learning.

By finishing this course, you will gain a deeper understanding of the data and be better equipped to make wiser decisions and anticipate crises, which will help your content strategy be more effective.

*The course can be accessed on Coursera Plus.

Are Online College Courses Worth It?

Most university alums will tell you that their time on campus was the finest of their lives, including attending classes, making new friends, partying, and engaging in extracurricular activities. On the other end of the scale, are online college courses worth it? There are a couple of quite apparent explanations for that, though.

Female students studying in a library along with other students.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which is currently taking place, is the very first one. As a result, more individuals are choosing Northwestern courses online as opposed to attending classes. The only way to safeguard both you and others is to do that. Although this is the main factor influencing people’s decision to enroll in Northwestern online courses, it is by no means the sole one.

The second factor is the cost. You will need to pay more than $60,000 for one academic year at Northwestern University. It does not mean it’s not worth it, but not everyone can afford to pay that much.

Because you may access free online courses at Northwestern on a variety of online learning platforms and benefit from learning from the best, therefore they are so well-liked. Financial difficulties won’t prevent you from studying because the bulk of Northwestern courses available on Coursera is entirely free (apart from a degree).

Moreover, adaptability. You probably won’t find a standard learning institution acceptable for you if you have a full-time job that you don’t want to lose but still want to learn new skills and essential knowledge. Instead, think about enrolling in Northwestern’s online courses, which let you learn whenever and wherever you want at your own speed. By doing so, you can continue to increase your knowledge and get a better employment offer.

How Do I Choose A Course At Northwestern?

It’s time to move on to the greatest Northwestern courses that are offered online and expose you to each of them now that you are aware of all the primary advantages of online studying. Northwestern offers MOOCs in three ways:

Individual Courses

All the free online courses at Northwestern are open to everyone. Simply choose the specific course you want to take and sign up for the subsequent enrollment term when it works for your schedule.

Course Plus Certificate

Participants who complete the course requirements may, for an extra cost, receive graded comments and obtain a Course Certificate. Certificates serve as official proof that a course has been successfully completed.


Specializations are premium-paid educational options created to give learners in-depth mastery of a specific subject. Each Specialization includes a demanding series of online courses, graded feedback, and a practical Capstone Project that allows students to apply what they have learned to a real-world issue faced by industry experts.

Young woman attending an online class.

Each course will receive a certificate, and the specialization certificate will serve as official proof that the entire sequence has been finished.

Whichever your goal for online learning is, it is crucial to be careful in picking from free online courses at Northwestern. Now, to answer the important question “How do I choose a course at Northwestern?” below are some brief suggestions on how to select the most appropriate course for your needs, considering the wide range of offers, various distribution methods, structures, and constraints.

Scheduled vs. Self-Paced

One of the three key factors to consider while selecting an online course is choosing between these two possibilities. It’s critical to confirm that you can move through the course at your own pace. The greatest choice will be this if you have a busy family schedule or erratic job hours because it may easily fit into your daily or weekly routine.

Young teacher talking to a group of students.

Just make sure to go along at a moderately steady speed so you don’t waste precious time going back to study previous material. Be prepared to set aside those hours if the course has a predetermined schedule and you must study a specific number of hours per week.

These can easily mount up in coursework if you are not diligent, much like in regular classes. The amount of study time that instructors anticipate you to set aside for each unit will probably be included in the course descriptions.

Student Interaction

You don’t have to study alone just because you’re the only one at the computer. If you miss interacting with other students and find it boring when the material is just relevant to you, think about enrolling in classes that emphasize peer interaction. These frequently take the shape of forum posts where students and instructors discuss the subject of the lesson.

Female student attending an online class using a laptop.

This needs to be noted in the section of the course description. Some programs, such as those that emphasize acting and language, may even provide live instruction using video conference rooms.

Certification And Accreditation

This is a complicated thought, to be sure. A course with accreditation and certification is the way to go if you are interested in finishing one with a view to career advancement, employment, or changing career pathways. This will make it simpler for the potential employer to assess your application and confirm your skills.

The majority of courses offer certification, which is typically accompanied by a cost even if the course material is free. On the other hand, a certificate is optional if you are studying for your own interest.

The usual advice is to enroll in a school that has been accredited to ensure that the material you are learning complies with government requirements and to protect yourself from having to take a subsequent accredited course to make up for it in the future. By looking for a link to the institution’s accreditation status at the bottom of its webpage, you can determine whether it is accredited.

Course Cost

Today, many classes are available without charge. Free courses on everything from marketing to Python and Java programming are available. These might have some restrictions, such as not providing graded tests and completion certificates, or putting an expiration date on access, but the information is still available for free.

However, you can also find courses that cost thousands of dollars or euros. These, on the other hand, are provided by famous colleges and learning institutions, and students have the same rights as those who attend classes on a conventional campus. The course quality is also seen to be higher but at a larger cost.

On the same subject, however, some courses provide all the resources necessary for a fruitful learning experience, while others do not. In this situation, review the list of prerequisites to determine how simple it is to obtain the required books or supplementary software.


As with any other product or service, depending exclusively on the description provided runs the risk of disappointment and increases the time needed to find a replacement. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you check online for reviews whenever you locate a course that interests you. You might be able to find real-world stories from people who have taken the same course by conducting a fast Google search. Though smaller sites’ course descriptions might be easily changed, be wary of reviews that are posted directly on them.


Different organizations and websites cater to various audiences. If the same university is offering classes in crystal therapy and game theory, be dubious. These frequently advertise inexpensive courses, but the practice shows that the platform is more concerned with enticing as many students as possible than it is with the quality of the courses they offer. Again, it doesn’t harm to look into their web reputation.

The reason Northwestern is ranked so highly in both domestic and foreign publications since Northwestern is ranked #10 nationally by US News and World Report, the most extensively used rating system in the US. Indeed, prospective students keep coming to Northwestern because of the university’s reputation for academic excellence, school spirit, a record of research accomplishments, illustrious alumni network, and welcoming Midwestern culture.

On the other hand, admission to Northwestern is one of the most difficult in the US. Northwestern’s acceptance rate had been about 9% for the preceding few years, but in 2021 it fell to 6.8%, in part because of an increase in applications brought on by test-optional regulations connected to the pandemic.

Even though not everyone can be admitted to this top-ranked university, free online courses at Northwestern are at hand for you to be able to experience what is it like to study at Northwestern. AdmissionSight can assist you in navigating through the online courses and finding what will benefit you in the long run. Furthermore, AdmissionSight can help you with the tough admissions to Northwestern or any other reputable institution in the country. Book an initial consultation to discuss this further.

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