Social Sciences, BPhil


In curriculum taught by Northwestern University faculty, social sciences disciplines are equally represented in the core courses, while research and methods courses foster engagement with key texts, scholarly sources, and the gathering and analysis of evidence. Advanced elective courses offer the opportunity to emphasize certain academic subjects and engage in exploring others including African American studies, economics, history, and international studies.

The bachelor's degree requirements are 45 units total and include distribution, writing, and elective courses, and the major requirements. 

Social Sciences Major Requirements

Course Title
Four Core Courses
One of the following:
Culture and Society
Human Origins
Archaeology: Unearthing History
The Study of Culture Through Language
Political Science
One of the following:
Introduction to Political Theory
American Government and Politics
Law in the Political Arena
Introduction to International Relations
Introduction to Comparative Politics
PSYCH 110-CNIntroduction to Psychology
One 100-or 200-level Sociology course 1
Research/Methods Courses
STAT 202-CNIntroduction to Statistics
or PSYCH 201-CN Statistical Methods in Psychology
Methods and Analysis
One of the following:
Ethnographic Methods and Analysis
Introduction to Empirical Methods in Political Science
Sociological Analysis
Research Seminar
One of the following:
Senior Seminar
Political Research Seminar
Field Research and Methods of Data Collection
Senior Research Seminar
Five 300-level courses in anthropology, political science, psychology or sociology 2

Degree Requirements

SPS programs lead to one of three Northwestern University bachelor’s degrees, the bachelor of philosophy (BPhil),  the bachelor of science in general studies (BSGS), and the bachelor of philosophy in communication (BPhilCom), which is conferred by the School of Communication

The bachelor of philosophy (BPhil) and the bachelor of science in general studies (BSGS) are conferred by the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. The primary difference between the two degrees is that the BPhil includes a modern language requirement. Some majors offer a choice of the BPhil or the BSGS degree.

Bachelor of Philosophy

To earn the BPhil degree, students must complete a total of 45 units, including a writing requirement, two years of study in a foreign language (or demonstration of equivalent foreign language proficiency), distribution requirements, a major, and electives. Foreign language proficiency may be demonstrated by completion of a second-year language sequence with a grade of C or better at an accredited college or university. Minors are optional.

Courses Units Earned
English 111 or 205 and 113 2
Modern Foreign Language 6
Humanities 4
Science 4
Social Sciences 4
Major Requirements 10-22
Electives Up to 15
Total 45

About the Writing Requirement

The writing requirement ensures that all students can meet the rigorous writing demands of courses in all disciplines. Transfer and performance-based admission students must fulfill the writing requirement through one of two options:

Option 1: Complete an English composition course at SPS.

Demonstrate successfully completion of English 111 or 205. A grade of C or higher is required. 

Option 2: Successfully appeal the writing requirement.

Students who believe they have the writing skills necessary for university-level research and analytical papers may appeal the SPS writing requirement. Submit a letter of appeal and two college/university research papers written during previous studies or at SPS. Following the review of the appeal, students will receive an email reporting the results, followed by a letter. Send appeal materials to:

Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs
School of Professional Studies
Northwestern University
339 East Chicago Avenue, 6th floor
Chicago, Illinois 60611

Appeal materials must be submitted by the quarter deadline before entry.

About the Distribution Requirements

Students complete course work in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences to obtain a broad experience in the liberal arts. Courses that satisfy these distribution requirements include the following areas:


Art history, classics, comparative literary studies, English literature, foreign languages (up to two units), history, music history, philosophy, religion, and some courses in African American studies, foreign languages with literature, gender studies, performance studies, radio/television/film, and theatre.


Astronomy, biological sciences, chemistry, earth and planetary sciences, engineering, geography, information systems, mathematics, physics and some courses in anthropology, communication sciences and disorders, psychology, radio/television/film and statistics.

Social Sciences

Anthropology, economics, history, linguistics, political science, sociology, and some courses in African American studies, communication sciences and disorders, gender studies, psychology and statistics.