Open Online Courses

Northwestern has partnered with the online learning platform Coursera to provide universal access to short courses in areas our faculty teach and research. Medill offers online courses in three areas of specialization – and all are open to any interested learner. The topics include Social Media Marketing, Content Strategy and Organizational Leadership, in cooperation with Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, the School of Communication and the McCormick School of Engineering. These free massive open online courses, also known as MOOCs, are taught by our faculty and allow professionals to gain valuable skills to gain a leg up in their current career, or to decide to continue their education in Medill’s many degree-oriented programs.

individual courses

The free online courses can all be accessed at no cost. Simply select the individual course and register for the upcoming enrollment period that fits your schedule.

Each of the specializations listed above are comprised of between three and five online courses. For an additional fee, participants may receive graded feedback and earn a Course Certificate upon successful completion of course requirements. Certificates provide official recognition of successful completion of the course.


Specializations on Coursera are a premium-paid learning option designed to give participants deep mastery of a particular topic. Each Specialization consists of a rigorous sequence of online courses, graded feedback and a hands-on Capstone Project to demonstrate their knowledge by tackling a real problem faced by professionals in the field. Participants who complete the courses and Capstone will have produced professional-quality examples of their work to add to a resume or portfolio and will be even better prepared to apply their knowledge.

Specializations vary in length, with shorter Specializations including as few as three courses and taking two to three months to complete, and longer offerings including five or more courses and taking up to six months. A Course Certificate will be awarded for each individual course and a Specialization Certificate will provide official recognition of completion of the entire sequence from Northwestern and Coursera.

who should participate in a medill IMC mooc?

From obtaining a new skill to developing a mastery of existing ones, we welcome those of any background and level of experience to participate in our MOOCs. Participants will gain exposure to topics both in-demand and relevant to a variety of professions.
Current Students
Students in any field along their educational path are invited to augment their current coursework from our most popular specializations and courses. The flexibility inherent to MOOCs allow current learners to manage their own pace while expanding their knowledge and job competitiveness.
Whether you need to sharpen an existing skill or are interested in discovering something new, staying current in a quickly changing world is important. We invite you to join a global network of individuals dedicated to continued learning.
Those interested in honing a new skill or furthering their career advancement can work at their own pace. An optional Course or Specialization Certificate is a great way to strengthen a resume so you can achieve your individual goals.
In today’s marketplace, organizations need effective, profitable social marketing strategies. In these courses, led by Medill IMC Lecturer Randy Hlavac, you’ll learn to match markets to social strategies to profitably grow your business. You’ll use social media tools and platforms to design, manage, and optimize social campaigns to promote growth and position your brand in the global digital marketplace, and you’ll develop targeted content to spark dialogue with various social communities.
Online courses in Content Strategy, led by Medill IMC and Journalism Professor Candy Lee and former Dean John Lavine, use credible, trustworthy, transparent media to communicate stories and information to enhance an organization’s strategic goals. Topics like “Engaging Audiences for your Organization” and “Expanding Your content’s Impact and Reach” are just a few notable online courses in this subject, and are applicable to professionals in all industries who want to leverage content to be successful.
The Organizational Leadership online courses teach participants how to successfully lead organizations through clarity of purpose and effective collaboration — by building and motivating teams; designing and delivering powerful stories; developing strategies to appropriately influence; understanding underlying customer analytics and applying innovative approaches to deliver impact. This string of online courses include, “Leading for Maximum Impact: Storytelling” taught by Medill faculty members Candy Lee, Hud Englehart, Ernest Duplessis and Tom Collinger.

what previous students said


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 NU MOOCs). Anyone with an internet connection can take a MOOC, generally for free. Northwestern faculty can offer a MOOC through Northwestern’s partnership with Coursera.
What is Coursera?
Coursera is one of the leading providers of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). It was founded in April 2012 by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, two Stanford University computer science professors. Coursera offers classes developed by faculty from leading private and public universities to anyone around the world who has internet access. Students who complete courses do not receive Northwestern credit.