Northwestern University: Distance Learning Programs In-Depth

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Communication Systems Strategy and Management Program
Evanston, Illinois

Distance Learning Program

The School of Communication offers its Communication Systems Strategy and Management Program (M.S. degree in communication) in a blended learning environment to a cohort group of 30 midlevel to senior-level managers. This two-year program provides the advanced skills and expertise to effectively close the technology disconnect that occurs between an organization's technical experts and its nontechnical executive decision makers.

The distributed learning component gives students a real-time classroom experience via videoconferencing, the ability to work and learn in group projects with other students over a distance, and an outstanding environment of collaborative learning as compared to other remote classroom programs.

Students enrolled as distance learners interact with Evanston-based instructors and students in real time. All students, on campus or remote, work together on team assignments that allow them to learn from interactions with students employed in different companies.

Delivery Media

Distance learners attend three on-campus instructional meetings during each year. In the first year, students participate in a new-student orientation at the beginning of the fall term and two weekend meetings at the beginning of the winter and spring terms. In the second year, students participate in the fall orientation, a weekend meeting at the beginning of the winter term, and a weekend during the spring term for Final Presentations.

The remainder of the program is delivered synchronously via DSL or cable teleconferencing. Students take two courses at a time, meeting one full day per week on alternating Fridays and Saturdays for thirty weeks per year. Classes meet from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 2 to 5 p.m. central time. There is no summer school.

Recorded Webcasts of all lectures are available for student review. The program creates a 24-hour-a-day, seven-daya-week conference bridge for all participants. This feature permits all learners, regardless of where they reside, to create virtual working groups.

Program of Study

The Communication Systems Strategy and Management Program focuses on business and management expertise, much like an M.B.A., but with the addition of an effective foundation of study in technology and system principles.

As the most effective organizations optimally align IT strategies with company business objectives, this program addresses the ever-increasing demands placed on the investment, productivity, and performance of these technologies and systems, including the development of products and services in both the traditional economy and the continually evolving Internet economy.

All students take the same courses in a lockstep sequence, with no electives or independent studies.

Student Services

The University offers library services online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Credit Options

All credits must be earned in the Communication Systems Strategy and Management Program (equivalent to 48 credit hours). No transfer credits are accepted.


The faculty is made up of world-class Northwestern University professors. They possess extensive hands-on work experience as consultants to business and industry as well as government and private institutions.

Northwestern University is an ambitious institution, striving for a level of preeminence achieved by only a handful of institutions in the world. Innovative teaching and pioneering research come together in a highly collaborative environment that transcends traditional academic boundaries.

Founded in 1851, Northwestern University is a private institution located in Evanston, Illinois, on the pristine shores of Lake Michigan, just 12 miles north of Chicago. Northwestern University currently has 11,600 students enrolled in seven schools on its Evanston campus.

The University has 2,250 full-time faculty members, including Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur Fellowship recipients, and members of numerous honorary and professional societies. Northwestern has graduated more than 160,000 students—alumni who became leaders in business, government, law, science, education, medicine, media, and the performing arts. Northwestern is recognized both nationally and internationally for the quality of its educational programs at all levels.

As the program is interdisciplinary, it draws on faculty members not only from the nationally renowned School of Communication but also from Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Kellogg School of Management, Medill School of Journalism, and Northwestern University Information Technology department.


Applicants should have a minimum of four years of professional experience, an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university, three letters of recommendation, and proficient written and oral English skills. Interviews are strongly recommended. Having an engineering degree or technical background is not required. GRE or GMAT scores are not required.

Tuition and Fees

The all-inclusive fee for the three-term 2004 academic year was $26,817 ($8939 per term). The fee covers tuition, the orientation session, books, the latest equipment and software for learning via videoconferencing, hotel accommodations, and meals for on-site meetings. Distance learners provide their own laptop computers and transportation to and from on-site meetings.

Students take two 10-week courses or one 10-week course and two 5-week courses per year. Each ten-week course is equivalent to 4 credit hours. Each five-week course is equivalent to 2 credit hours. The equivalent per-credit-hour cost is $1075.

Financial Aid

Financial assistance is available to eligible students in the form of Federal Stafford Student Loans or private loans.


Donna Weirich, Director
Communication Systems Strategy and Management Program
Northwestern University
2240 Campus Drive
Evanston, Illinois 60208
Phone: 847-491-3848
Fax: 847-467-1036
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site:


Applicants can download application materials from the Web by visiting or may request materials via the methods listed in the Contact section.

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Northwestern University: Distance Learning Programs In-Depth

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Northwestern University: Distance Learning Programs In-Depth