Northwestern Classes for the Non-Student

Living near a top-tier university has perks—even if you’re not an enrolled student.

Northwestern University offers continuing education courses on myriad topics as well as fitness facilities and classes at reasonable rates.

The Alumnae Continuing Education program offers university-level noncredit courses taught by Northwestern faculty. Each year, more than 2,000 Chicagoland residents take classes such as “FDR and His Times,” “World War II and Eastern Europe,” “The American Civil War (1861-1865)” and “Paris: World Capital of the Arts,” just to name a few. Better still, the proceeds from these courses, which run around $90, go toward funding scholarships for undergraduates, fellowships for graduate women and grants and gifts to university schools and departments. Click here for course information and to register.

Norris Mini Courses are another way to get smart on a topic and have fun doing it. These one-day workshops and five-week noncredit courses are held on the Evanston campus and offer individual attention in an informal environment. The topics range widely:

  • Food preparation (BBQ tips, Cake Decorating and Herbal Tea Making)
  • Art (drawing, watercolor, puppet making, t-shirt printing)
  • Exercise (tai-chi, ballroom dancing, yoga)
  • Lifestyle (gardening, guitar, fiction writing)

Prices for the one-day course (2 hours, on average) are less than $10 and the five week courses range from $55 to around $110.

According to programming assistant Aurelia Cunie at Norris, the mix of classes changes throughout the year. “We generally see the most response to popular classes we always offer, which include Guitar, a Wilton Cake Decorating course, Fiction Writing in Depth, and Ballroom and Latin Rhythm & Salsa,” Cunie says. “This spring we developed partnerships with a student-run community garden and our on-campus catering service to offer food preparation and gardening workshops.” For more information, visit

Lastly, non-Northwestern community members also can take advantage of many of the Mind/Body courses taught at the university’s Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center (SPAC), including personal training and massage therapy. For $139 for three months, guests can obtain a non-member pass allowing unlimited access to all 10 yoga/Pilates classes available throughout the week.  For more information, visit

According to Nancy Tierney, manager of fitness and wellness at SPAC, class participants range in age from 30s to 70s, with an influx of NU students (who also have access to Mind/Body classes) during the school year.

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