Jul 17, 2024  
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog

The Academic Program

Academic Objectives

Course work at North Central College is divided into three components: general education, exploration and the major.

  • General Education — The Cardinal Directions Core Curriculum hones critical communication, thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for students to succeed at North Central College and beyond. In addition to a seminar uniquely designed to help students transition to North Central, Cardinal Directions coursework offers a variety of well-tested “high impact” educational experiences to build skills sought by employers and graduate programs alike. Courses help students explore challenging topics from different perspectives, learn how to problem-solve and to participate effectively as ethical citizens and purposeful leaders in a diverse, globalized world. Students are encouraged to choose Cardinal Directions courses that speak to their personal interests and long-term goals. Cardinal Directions requirements are filled through courses that supplement or expand beyond a student’s academic major(s) or minor(s).
  • Major — Each North Central graduate must complete a major. The major provides depth and focus in a subject which may relate to the student’s career choice. Requirements for majors are listed under department or interdisciplinary program headings. Some students are able to complete two majors.
  • Minor — A student may decide to complete a minor as an optional part of their curriculum (some students may be required to complete a minor as part of their major course of study). Requirements are listed under the various department and interdisciplinary program headings.
  • Exploration — Exploration studies may come early or late in a student’s education. Those which come early may help the student choose a major. Those which come later, such as international study, Washington Term, internships or independent studies, may help the student make useful connections between a chosen major and other interests. Many students use the exploration component to develop a second major or a minor.


The courses listed herein  have been approved by the faculty as authorized by the Board of Trustees. Courses are subject to change through normal academic channels, and information about new courses approved after publication of this catalog can be obtained in the Office of the Registrar or from appropriate departments.

The frequency of offering each course is determined by the institution as demand indicates. Course numbering is intended to reflect the level of preparation which a student should have to enroll in a specific course, but courses are not numbered according to difficulty within a hundred series. Courses numbered below 100 affect the cumulative grade point average, but are not applied to the 128 credit hours required for graduation at North Central College.

Learning Outcomes Assessment

In order to provide for continual improvement in the quality of a North Central education, the College has developed an Outcomes Assessment Program, not just to find out how much and how well students learn, but also how and where they learn. What is discovered through the assessment program is used to make decisions about everything the College does, from curriculum planning to student activities to support services.

While not all students participate in every aspect of the assessment program, each student at North Central is expected to participate as needed in this important effort. Student contributions provide a clearer picture of what it means to be a North Central graduate. Consequently, the College can communicate to employers and others the qualities which they can expect in a North Central graduate.

College Scholars

The College Scholars Honors Program was created at North Central College in order to 1) attract students capable of superior work and invite them to be part of a “community of excellence,” with increased opportunity for challenging and broadening intellectual experiences; 2) develop a coherent set of academic experiences emphasizing interdisciplinary study, individualized research, global learning and the cultivation of leadership and teamwork skills within a community of highly-motivated peers; and 3) provide a range of social and academic activities that encourages honors students to build relationships with each other, professors and honors students from other institutions (through state, regional and national honors conferences). The College Scholars Program is open to students from all academic disciplines, and its curriculum can fit with any of North Central’s majors or minors.

Based upon high school records, test scores and academic interests, some students are invited to apply to College Scholars as incoming first-year students. For other interested students, including transfer students, admission can be granted by submitting an application and letter of faculty recommendation to the College Scholars Committee at any point during the year. Once admitted, a student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and a cumulative honors GPA of 3.0, in order to remain in the program.

The title of College Scholar is bestowed upon graduating students who have completed all the specified program requirements. Each student in the program who completes the curriculum is recognized as a “College Scholar” at Commencement and on all official transcripts distributed by the Office of the Registrar. For further information about the program specifics, see the College Scholars Honors Program  section.

History of Ideas

The History of Ideas  program provides an opportunity to explore some of the most influential works in world history. Students engage in the “close reading” of primary source texts from antiquity to the present with a focus on ideas central to religion, philosophy, art, literature and the social sciences. Small class sizes and a student-centered pedagogy encourage lively discussion and the development of critical thinking and writing skills.

Interdisciplinary Studies

North Central has long maintained a commitment to interdisciplinary study. Interdisciplinary courses, drawn from two or more academic departments, express the College’s conviction that knowledge flows across disciplinary boundaries. These courses promote the mutual enrichment of fields of inquiry and encourage an integrative and holistic approach to research and problem solving.

Interdisciplinary majors or minors are offered as fully developed multi-disciplinary programs in such areas as Classical Studies East Asian Studies ; Environmental Studies ; Gender and Sexuality Studies ; Global Studies ; History of Ideas ; Leadership, Ethics and Values ; Middle Eastern and North African Studies ; Race and Ethnic Studies  and Chicago Area Studies .

The Leadership, Ethics and Values Program (LEAD)

Leadership, ethics and values are hallmarks of a North Central College education. Recognizing the need for responsible, values-sensitive leaders in business, government, the professions and service organizations, North Central has developed a distinctive, comprehensive program of courses and co-curricular activities designed to help students develop their own leadership capabilities. It is the College’s conviction that students who develop skills in leadership enhance their prospects for meaningful work, rewarding careers and the personal satisfaction that comes from taking the initiative and engaging others in the pursuit of worthy goals.

The Leadership, Ethics and Values Program is successful if it touches each student in some way that advances our institutional mission of creating “curious, engaged, ethical and purposeful citizens and leaders in local, national and global contexts.” The College has created a rich variety of LEV options for students including academic coursework, Leadership and Ethics Concentrations, academic degree options and co-curricular activities with depth and meaning. Students complete an advanced level seminar that focuses on LEV themes. LEAD courses at the introductory and advanced levels offer opportunities to study the emergence and exercise of effective, moral leadership under various complex conditions which characterize our society and our world (see Course Descriptions  for descriptions). The LEV program also offers students majors and minors concerned with leadership, social change and conflict resolution. Non-credit workshops help students develop leadership skills which can be practiced in campus and community activities. The program also sponsors—frequently in association with other campus groups—a range of conferences, speakers and seminars which bring to the campus academic experts on values and applied ethics, as well as recognized leaders in the professions, business and government.

Please see the Leadership, Ethics and Values  section of the catalog for further details on academic opportunities.

Off-Campus Study Opportunities

Education Abroad (i.e. Study Abroad) is encouraged by North Central to enrich the academic and personal experiences of students in a culture beyond our national boundaries. The Center for Global Education (CGE) offers approximately 36 programs around the world for all majors, minors, budgets, interests, and comfort zones. The College currently sponsors the following education abroad opportunities: exchange programs in Australia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan; direct enrollment programs in Australia, Botswana, Chile, China, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Malta, New Zealand, Scotland and Spain; and group programs in Costa Rica and England. In addition, programs are available through NAC&U (New American Colleges and Universities Study Abroad Programs) consortium, EA (Educators Abroad) and SIROL (Student-in-Residence-on-Leave).

Internships can be completed alongside coursework in Melbourne, Australia; Gaborone, Botswana; Viña del Mar, Chile; San José, Costa Rica; Lille, France; Berlin, Germany; Milan, Italy; Kyoto and Morioka, Japan; Amman, Jordan, Hamilton, New Zealand; Granada, Spain; and Taichung, Taiwan. Students studying in Costa Rica and Morioka, Japan are required to do an internship as part of their program.

Education abroad must be planned and arranged in consultation with an education abroad advisor preceding the North Central education abroad application deadline. The deadlines are December 1 for fall semester and academic year programs, and May 1 for spring semester programs.

Cardinal Destination Courses Abroad (CDCA) give students the opportunity to participate in short-term international travel experiences. A CDCA is a 2-3 week faculty-led course that takes place shortly after the spring semester ends during the month of May (May Term). Students travel internationally as a group with North Central College faculty/staff member(s). Each Cardinal Destination course Abroad includes linked prerequisite work completed in the spring semester before departure. CDCA opportunities vary in topic, prerequisite work, and destination each year.

SIROL (Student-in-Residence-on-Leave) status allows a student to remain officially enrolled at North Central College while participating in a non-North Central College program abroad. Students are responsible for independently researching SIROL options abroad that best meet their needs; however, all SIROL plans must be approved by both the Registrar and a North Central College education abroad advisor before registering and receiving credit. There is an additional fee to participate in a SIROL program and North Central College financial aid is not applicable.

Consortium Exchange coursework is available to North Central students through the College’s membership in the Council of West Suburban Colleges (CWSC). North Central degree candidates may cross-register for courses at Aurora University or Benedictine University as part of their regular course load without additional tuition. Information is available in the Office of the Registrar.

Morton Arboretum — The College maintains this affiliation through the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area. Located nearby in Lisle, Illinois, Morton Arboretum offers courses in botany, soil science, ecology and related areas in which North Central students may enroll for credit. Specific courses are announced annually, with key courses repeating on a two-year cycle. Some courses may include opportunities for international travel. Information is available from the Department of Biology. Registration is arranged through the Office of the Registrar.

Shedd Aquarium — The College maintains this affiliation through the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area. Located in downtown Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium is one of the world’s best aquariums and offers a variety of courses for credit in both freshwater and marine biology, some of which include trips to destinations such as the Bahama Islands. Detailed information is available from the biology faculty. Registration is arranged through the Office of the Registrar.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (GETS) — The Department of Religious Studies at North Central offers students a unique opportunity to take graduate-level courses at GETS in Evanston on Chicago’s north side. Those interested in the professional fields of ministry, service and social engagement may take a variety of classes in their areas of interest. Courses may be in online, summer-intensive or traditional format.

Benefits of the program include the following:

  • earn up to 15 hours of elective credit (from an approved list of courses) toward the degree at NCC
  • transfer up to 15 hours of credit to a graduate school 
  • reduce the cost of graduate education
  • prepare for ordination, particularly in the United Methodist Church
  • work with experts in spiritual formation, urban ministry, Latinx or black theology
  • experience what it is like to go to seminary and prepare alongside diverse peers

Juniors or seniors with at least 12 completed credit hours in Religious Studies and permission of the department chair of the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department may enroll in courses at GETS. Coursework to be taken at GETS must be approved by the chairperson of the Department of Religious Studies prior to enrollment. 

For more information on taking classes at GETS, students should contact their academic advisor or a professor in the Department of Religious Studies. 

Pre-Professional Programs

Pre-Health — The Pre-Professional Health Program provides support and guidance to students planning for careers in healthcare. Students work toward a B.A. or B.S. degree at North Central in a major of their choosing based on their interests, skills and abilities. They apply for admission to a health professions program, typically in the junior or senior year of college, and begin that program following graduation from North Central. Pre-health areas include dentistry, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, podiatry, athletic training and veterinary medicine.

Admission to health professions programs (masters or doctoral) is a competitive process based on academics and activities achieved prior to applying for the program. North Central’s designated Pre-Professional Health Programs Advisor serves as a critical resource in identifying the academics and activities needed to be a competitive applicant, provides guidance and support during the application process and arranges for mock interviews as students prepare for the final steps prior to acceptance to their preferred programs. Prerequisite coursework varies for individual health professions programs, with common courses required in biology, chemistry, physics, math and psychology.

A wide range of support services is available to students preparing for careers in healthcare. The Pre-Health Organization (PHO), a student-led branch of the Student Government Association (SGA), was created to instill cooperation, education and a sense of community among pre-health students. The PHO sponsors a health professions speakers series, makes recommendations for healthcare related volunteer opportunities and identifies research opportunities for current students. In addition, the PHO reaches out to alumni that have achieved success in various health professions and encourages them to serve as mentors for North Central students.

Interested students should contact the Pre-Professional Health Programs Advisor or a member of the PHO executive board for more information.

Dual Admission for Bachelor’s Degree and Master of Occupational Therapy — The Dual Admission program provides early assurance to select high school seniors motivated to become Occupational Therapists with a clear pathway to achieving their goals directly out of high school. Click here for more information on this program.

Osteopathic Medicine — North Central College has an affiliation agreement with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) to offer high school students and current North Central students opportunities in the nation’s largest medical college and only academic health center in the osteopathic profession.

In the agreement between North Central and LECOM, based in Erie, Pa., qualified high school and North Central College students interested in becoming a medical doctor will have the opportunity to be admitted jointly into both institutions. Application in the LECOM’s Early Acceptance Program (EAP) can occur as early as the student’s senior year in high school or within the first two years of study at North Central College.

Application to the EAP is separate from the application to North Central College. A student may apply for EAP consideration as a high school senior. The specific criteria for acceptance into the programs will vary from school to school, but the general requirements are listed below:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (international students may apply to Pharmacy);
  • Must not hold a bachelor’s degree or higher;
  • Must have at least two years remaining as a full time student at the undergraduate institution;
  • SAT Score (Math and Verbal Reasoning) greater than or equal to 1240 or higher on a single exam or an ACT Composite score greater than or equal to 26 on a single exam; and
  • A high school unweighted GPA of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
  • Students already attending the affiliate institution must have a cumulative overall GPA of 3.4 or higher and a science GPA of 3.2 or higher.

The process to enroll in the EAP is to submit an inquiry at http://portal.lecom.edu. Students will receive an email from LECOM with username, password and instructions to complete the application.

For more information about the program, contact North Central’s Pre-Professional Health Programs Advisor.

Dentistry — North Central has an affiliation agreement with the School of Dental Medicine at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) to grant qualified students an opportunity for provisional early acceptance to the School of Dental Medicine in Bradenton, Florida leading to the Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) degree.

Application in LECOM’s Early Acceptance Program (EAP) can occur as early as the student’s senior year in high school and up until the start of the third year at North Central College.

Application to the EAP is separate from the application to North Central College. A student may apply for EAP consideration as a high school senior. Minimal qualifications to participate in the EAP are:

  • High school unweighted GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale or higher
  • ACT composite score ≥ 26 on a single exam, or SAT score of ≥ 1240 on a single exam
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

A current North Central College student is eligible to apply and must have a cumulative overall GPA of 3.4 or higher, science GPA of 3.2 or higher, and at least two years remaining as a full-time student at North Central College. 

The process to enroll in the EAP is to submit an inquiry at http://portal.lecom.edu. Students will receive an email from LECOM with username, password and instructions to complete the application.

Pharmacy — North Central College has an affiliation agreement with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) to offer high school students an opportunity for a “reserved seat” in their School of Pharmacy leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) Degree.  Students would complete a bachelor’s degree at North Central prior to enrolling in the PharmD program at LECOM.

In the agreement between North Central and LECOM, qualified high school students interested in becoming a pharmacist will have the opportunity to be admitted jointly into both institutions. Application in the LECOM’s Early Acceptance Program (EAP) can occur as early as the student’s senior year in high school and up until the start of the third year at North Central.

Application to the EAP is separate from the application to North Central College. A student may apply for EAP consideration as a high school senior. Minimal qualifications to participate in the EAP are:

  • High school unweighted GPA of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • ACT composite score of 21 or higher on a single exam or an SAT composite score of 1100 or higher on a single exam taken
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

The process to enroll in the EAP is to submit an inquiry at http://portal.lecom.edu. Students will receive an email from LECOM with username, password and instructions to complete the application.

For more information about the program, contact North Central’s Pre-Professional Health Programs Advisor.

Pre-Law — The pre-law program at North Central College prepares students for admission to and success in law school. In coordination with the NCC Pre-law Club, an atmosphere of intellectual exchange and challenge is provided through courses, programs and individual consultation among students and pre-law faculty advisors.

Following the recommendations of the American Bar Association’s statement on pre-law education (http://www.abanet.org/legaled/prelaw/prep.html), students are encouraged to take the most demanding courses they can find to prepare for their careers. Specifically, preparation for law school involves striving for excellence in the following skills and areas of knowledge: problem solving, critical reading, writing, oral communication and listening, research, task organization and management and a value for helping others and striving for justice.

There is no curricular track for pre-law at NCC: students matriculate into reading- and writing-intensive majors. While students of nearly any major can be admitted to and are successful in law school, the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences are recommended areas of study. Many pre-law students participate in NCC’s excellent co-curricular programs, acquiring leadership experience crucial in a legal career. Some of the many relevant opportunities available are: The Mock Trial and Model UN teams, the Dispute Resolution program, internships and opportunities for service and travel in the U.S. and abroad.

Interested students should contact the current student president of NCC’s Prelaw club, or one of NCC’s pre-law advisors.

Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC)

North Central students are eligible to participate in two- and four-year ROTC programs leading to a commission in the U.S. Army or the U.S. Air Force. The four-year programs are open to entering freshmen, while the two-year programs are intended for junior-level transfer students or students with prior military service. ROTC classes are taught at Wheaton College (Army) and the University of Chicago (Air Force). Students should contact the ROTC office at the appropriate institution to register for ROTC classes and to inquire about financial aid.

A maximum of ten North Central College credit hours (ten semester hours) of military science course work is accepted in transfer toward a North Central College degree. Prior to registering for ROTC course work, students should consult with the Office of the Registrar at North Central to verify which course work will be accepted in transfer. The student must also request that a transcript be sent to the North Central College Registrar after each term in which military science course work is completed.

Center for Student Success

Academic Advising — Each student is assigned a success coach who provides assistance with developing an academic plan. Students may meet with their success coach to review an academic plan, and/or attend advising workshops. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their success coach prior to making any changes to their schedules as this can interfere with a graduation timeline. Students are expected to assume responsibility for planning their academic programs in accordance with College regulations, policies and requirements.

Academic Success Services The Center for Student Success provides a range of support to help students succeed academically. Services include free peer tutoring and other academic support services such as time management and study skills. Tutoring is available during daytime hours and evening hours. Students should see the Student Success HUB page for further information.

Student Disability Services — Disability services provides accommodations to students with verified physical, psychological and/or learning disabilities, as well as chronic health conditions. The goal of these services is to provide equal access and support to allow students to pursue their educational goals and participate in the activities of the College. More information about accommodations can be found under Accommodations for Students with Disabilities  in this catalog. Students can contact Student Disability Services at 630-637-5264 or email sds@noctrl.edu. Also visit the Student Disability Services HUB page for the most up to date information.

Writing CenterThe Writing Center Staffed by advanced students, the Writing Center is an excellent resource for students at all levels of writing.  Consultations are free and offered in-person or online. Tutorials can happen at any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming a topic to final revision. Students can make an appointment to visit the Writing Center, or you can walk into Oesterle 242 without an appointment.

Math Resource Center — The Math Resource Center provides daytime, peer tutoring assistance to help students succeed in math.  This free, walk-in tutoring program supports students in a variety of 100-level math courses. Student tutors and math faculty are available to provide assistance during morning and afternoon hours in the center.

School of Graduate and Professional Studies

Non-Traditional Studies — North Central College offers the opportunity for adult learners to enjoy up to three classes as a student at-large. A student at-large allows adult learners to register for and take courses without committing to a degree program.

Graduate Programs — North Central College offers twelve graduate degree programs that complement and enhance the College’s distinctive educational mission and liberal arts heritage by providing opportunities for advanced scholarly work and professional development:

  • Master of Arts in Higher Education Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Professional and Creative Writing
  • Master of Arts in Sport Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Teaching
  • Master of Arts in Trauma-Informed Practices
  • Master of Athletic Training
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Financial Management
  • Master of Business Administration with a specialization in International Business
  • Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Human Resource Management
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Occupational Therapy
  • Bridge Master of Occupational Therapy
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy Doctorate

North Central also offers graduate certificates for individuals who have earned an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree, and now seek short, more focused programs of study. Certificates are offered in:

  • Creative Writing
  • Financial Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Medical and Regulatory Writing
  • Trauma Informed Educational Practices for Children and Adolescents
  • Post-Graduate APRN Certificate

To meet the needs of busy adults, graduate degrees are offered in flexible formats with classes meeting on campus, blended and online.  Most importantly, these programs are characterized by the same attributes which distinguish North Central’s undergraduate programs, especially;

  • Faculty recognized for their expertise in and commitment to teaching, as well as their ability to bridge academic theory with current and future professional practices.
  • Cross-curricular focus on the interrelatedness of knowledge among academic disciplines.
  • Emphasis on high-level critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills.
  • Small classes providing optimal student-faculty interaction and creating a learning environment which fosters both collaborative learning and individual inquiry.
  • Personalized academic and career advising by program faculty, counselors and administrative staff.
  • A “rolling” admission process allowing for multiple program entry points throughout the academic year.