Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy

Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy
School of Education and Social Policy (SESP)
Established 1926[1]
Type Unit of Northwestern University
Dean Penelope L. Peterson
Academic staff 23[2]
Undergraduates 387[3]
Postgraduates 384[4]
Location Evanston, Illinois, USA
Campus Suburban

Established in 1926, the School of Education and Social Policy or SESP is the smallest of the eight undergraduate and graduate institutions at Northwestern University. Located in Evanston, Illinois about 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, the School of Education and Social Policy is devoted to the academic study of education, and is consistently ranked among the top schools of education in the country.


Undergraduate program

Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy is housed in Walter Annenberg Hall

The School of Education and Social Policy offers undergraduates the opportunity to choose from four concentrations leading to a bachelor’s degree:

Human Development and Psychological Services (HDPS)

The Human Development and Psychological Services concentration examines the influences of the family, the schools, the community and the workplace on human development. Students in the program study both systems and individual approaches to the study of human psychopathology, growth and adaptation. Core course work addresses the following topics:[5]

Learning and Organizational Change (LOC)

Learning and Organizational Change explores how organizations and the individuals within them use knowledge and learning to create and respond to change within their environments. LOC addresses the forces of change including technology, globalization, and changing demographics, and the theories and applications of learning, management, innovation and knowledge sharing. The interdisciplinary program draws upon current research in the fields of learning sciences and organization behavior. It also draws on the disciplines of economics, anthropology, psychology, sociology and computer science to aid students in understanding and influencing change. Core course work addresses topics such as:[6]

LOC classes often involve project work in teams, presentations, frequent discussion and designing tools and initiatives for local clients. Many courses include working for clients on real-world organizational problems. Clients stem from an array of corporations, non-profit organizations and schools in the Chicago community.

Secondary Teaching

The Secondary Teaching Program combines course work in the liberal arts with professional education courses. Students earn a Bachelor of Science in Education and Social Policy (BSEd) from the School of Education and Social Policy as well as earning a recommendation for certification through entitlement for Secondary teaching grades 6-12 or K-12 teaching for art and foreign languages. Illinois certification can be earned in a wide range of majors within the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, including science certification with biology, chemistry, or physics designation; social science with history, sociology, political science, or economics designation; art, English, mathematics, French, German, Latin or Spanish. The program has been granted Approved Program status by the Illinois State Board of Education.[7]

Students in the Secondary Teaching program engage in subject matter preparation, a combination of clinical experience (practicum) and a full-time student teaching internship, which generally meet the certification requirements for other states. In the recent past, students who have completed the secondary education program have gone on to receive certification in Maryland, Minnesota, New York, California, Wisconsin and other states. Undergraduate students in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the Bienen School of Music may also earn secondary teacher certification by completing the same requirements, as well completing the requirements of the degree in which they are enrolled.

Elementary certification may be obtained through the Master’s of Science in Education (MSEd) Program. A special education masters program is also available to students, and is housed in the Communications Sciences and Disorders (CSD) department of the School of Communication.

Social Policy

The Social Policy Program explores how policies function as the guiding principles that serve as the foundation for social programs. The Social Policy Program analyzes the ways in which social policies and social institutions influence the course of human lives, and the ways in which people can influence social policies. The program provides a background in the social sciences and a familiarity with current social policy issues. The interdisciplinary program also draws upon current research in the fields of African American studies, anthropology, communication studies, economics, gender studies, history, philosophy, political science, public health, and sociology. Core course work explores the development of public policy in such fields as:[8]

  • Education
  • Poverty
  • Urban systems
  • Social welfare
  • Child care and development
  • Aging

Junior Year Practicum

Juniors in HDPS, LOC, or Social Policy are required to complete a one-term, off-campus, unpaid internship in organization relevant to their academic concentration and interests.[9] They may choose between three locations: Chicago during the school year, and San Francisco and Washington, D.C. during the summer. A major component of the practicum is for students to compile extensive field notes of their experience and attend a concurrent seminar in which they systematically examine their on-site experiences. In the past, students have worked at a variety of non-profit and government organizations, including Amnesty International, Chicago Public Schools, the US Department of State, and the Brookings Institution.

Graduate program

The School of Education and Social Policy offers five graduate degree options:

Master of Arts in Learning Sciences (LSMA)

The Master of Arts in Learning Sciences program is a full-time, 11-month course of study that prepares researchers, developers and practitioners to advance the scientific understanding and practice of teaching and learning.[10] The master's program focuses on learning from three interacting perspectives, namely, cognition, design and social context. While some aspects of the program are fixed (e.g., required courses), there is flexibility to allow students to tailor their courses and project work to suit their own particular interests. As the program progresses, students are given increasing options for electives, and they join research teams composed of faculty and PhD students, allowing for in-depth research experience.

Master of Science in Education (MSEd) Program

The Master of Science in Education program is a teacher preparation program. The MSEd program prepares professionals who are dedicated to and skilled at helping individuals of all ages improve themselves through education in the contexts of school, family, community and work. Students in the MSEd program pursue one of four concentrations:[11]

There are 15 courses required to complete the program. Students can choose to take courses full- or part-time, and students typically finish the program in one to two years. Students are required to complete a Master's Project as part of the program. For the Master's Project, students explore personal questions of interest and concern.

Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change (MSLOC)

The Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change (MSLOC) program at Northwestern University is designed to strengthen the ability of working professionals to use people management and learning practices to lead strategic and sustainable organizational change.[12] The program focuses on issues that traditionally fall into categories such as change management, organizational development, knowledge management, leadership development and organizational learning.

Doctor of Philosophy in Learning Sciences (LS PhD)

The Learning Sciences PhD program is a research-focused program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree. The program is designed to prepare researchers, developers and practitioners qualified to advance the scientific understanding and practice of teaching and learning. The goal of research and development efforts of the Learning Sciences is to develop pedagogical, technological and social policy innovations aimed at improving education. In addition to studying innovation, course work and research, both the PhD and MA Learning Sciences programs emphasize design as well as implementation of learning environments with a reform agenda.[13]

Doctor of Philosophy in Human Development and Social Policy (HDSP PhD)

The Human Development and Social Policy (HDSP) doctoral program, founded in 1981 under the leadership of Dr. Bernice Neugarten, prepares students to conduct research to understand and to address human problems that pose challenges to society in the new century. The aim the program is to improve human lives by examining and understanding how policies affect the lives of people, and how people can analyze and affect policy. The program covers interdisciplinary understanding of how people develop, how various experiences and contexts affect human lives, the underlying logic of program design and evaluation, and the ways in which political agendas are set and how political forces distribute opportunities in a democracy.[14]

Combining training in human development and training in public policy, HDSP furthers both scientific discovery and practice in understanding and enhancing human lives. The core curriculum in HDSP provides training in human development, qualitative and quantitativemethods, as well as policy development, implementation and evaluation. More specialized training is offered in child development and social policy, adult development and social policy and in human development and education policy.

The goals of the program are to:

  • understand the ways people develop
  • examine the effects of multiple contexts on development
  • design and evaluate programs and policies that enhance development
  • study the politics of developing and implementing such policies and programs

The HDSP doctoral program is highly selective and admits four to seven graduate students each year. Within the HDSP program, students may choose to focus on one of three concentrations: Child Development and Social Policy; Adult Development and Social Policy; or Human Development and Educational Policy. The study of health disparities is an emerging area of interest in the program. Graduates are trained to bridge the social sciences and social policy-making arenas, to teach and carry out research in academic and nonacademic settings and to occupy strategic positions in government and non-government agencies where policies are created.

Special programs

In addition to the undergraduate and graduate programs, SESP also offers two specialized programs:

Alternative certification (NU-TEACH)

NU-TEACH is an alternative teacher certification program, provided in collaboration with the Inner-City Teaching Corps (ICTC), the Chicago Teaching Fellows, and Chicago Public Schools. Those who enroll in the program engage in a summer of course work at Northwestern as well as supervised student teaching in Chicago schools. After formal course work, students move to their own classrooms for a year under the mentorship of a master teacher. Successful completion of the year results in an initial alternative certificate, permitting participants to teach in Chicago for four years before applying for a standard certificate.[15]

NU-TEACH started in summer 1998 with 30 interns, and the program has grown each year, placing dozens of teachers in Chicago elementary, middle and high schools.

Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences (MPES)

The Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences is an interdisciplinary doctoral training program intended to develop scholars trained to conduct relevant and reliable research on pressing policy and practice issues in education. The program integrates training in statistics, evaluation, cognition and learning, and education policy. Program hallmarks are interdisciplinary teaching and mentoring of fellows by core and affiliated Northwesternfaculty engaged in education-focused research. Successful graduates of the program receive a Certificate in Education Sciences in addition to a doctorate in their discipline.[16]

Affiliated projects and centers


The graduate school at SESP consistently ranks among the top graduate schools of education nationally. The most recent ranking by U.S. News & World Report places SESP at 8th nationwide.[17]

Notable alumni


External links

Coordinates: 42°03′16″N 87°40′44″W / 42.054307°N 87.67897°W / 42.054307; -87.67897

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