Skip to main content
SPS Logo

Program Overview

Certificate in Agile Practices

Certificate in Agile Practices

As Agile becomes mainstream, organizations will value those employees who understand and are able to use Agile approaches to work together effectively. Whether you are a team member, Scrum Master, project manager, coach or leader, you will benefit from a deep understanding of Agile methods and how to effectively apply them in a team environment.

Northwestern University has been reviewed and approved as a provider of project management training by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Our Certificate in Agile Practices satisfies the 21-hour Agile training prerequisite to sit for the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® exam.

Northwestern University has also been approved by PMI to issue professional development units (PDUs) for our project management courses. We offer several electives for PDUs to maintain your PMI® certifications. Our faculty members are industry experts in applying Agile frameworks and leading Agile projects and will share their best practices with students. We offer weekday, weeknight and weekend learning to fit your needs.

Registration for Fall 2018 is open:

  • PROJ_PMI 350-0 Leading and Coaching Agile Teams — Register by October 26, 2018

Space is limited. Save your seat today!


About the Certificate in Agile Practices

What Is Agile?

Agile Certificate Program Goals

Student Insight

Julie Cowan, Marketing-Communications Manager, Northwestern University Office for Research
Julie Cowan

As the marketing and communications manager for Northwestern University’s Office for Research, Julie Cowan tackles projects ranging from content creation to user experience to graphic design. All research projects at the University touch the Office for Research at some point, which places communications from more than 12 research support offices and 53 University Research Centers under the purview of Cowan’s department. These creative projects have one thing in common—the need for strategic project management.

“I thought the class was fantastic. The instructor was phenomenal,” said Cowan, whose class was led by career Agile coach and SPS instructor Anthony Mersino. 

Learn more about Julie's experience in Agile for Practitioners and how Julie is now implementing Agile practices in her department.

Program Audience for Agile Certificate

This program is useful for a wide range of participants who are interested in adopting Agile principles and practices.

  • Business analysts, testing professionals, and others who are considering joining an Agile team
  • Experienced project managers who currently use traditional techniques and are seeking to incorporate Agile practices, or to become Scrum Masters or coaches
  • Managers and leaders who need to support Agile teams
  • Career-changers who want to learn Agile best practices and join an Agile team
  • Project managers who are seeking PMI-ACP® certification, or certified individuals who are seeking PDUs to maintain their certification

Agile Program Courses

Courses range from Agile Estimating and Planning to Leading and Coaching Agile Teams and Soft Skills for Project Managers. Explore all the Agile Program Courses for detail on the program's offerings.

Requirements for Agile Certificate

To earn the Certificate in Agile Practices from Northwestern University, students must complete one core course and two electives. Students may choose from Agile-specific electives, or they may choose from the general project management elective pool. To earn the Agile training contact hours required to sit for the PMI-ACP® exam, students only need to complete the core course.

Core Course

  • Agile for Practitioners (PROJ_PMI 403-0)*
    • Course length: four days
    • Offered in fall, winter, spring, and summer
    • Offered in-person at the Chicago campus 

Elective Courses

  • Leading and Coaching Agile Teams (PROJ_PMI 350-0)
  • Agile Estimating and Planning (PROJ_PMI 360-0)
  • Supporting an Agile Transformation (PROJ_PMI 365-0)
  • Any general project management elective course

To earn a certification from the Project Management Institute, such as PMI-ACP® certification, you must sit for their exam and meet their eligibility criteria.

*Formerly known as Agile for Project Management Professionals. Course name change effective Spring 2017. All course content and certificate requirements remain the same.

Agile Certificate Attributions

PMI, PMI-ACP, and the PMI Registered Education Provider logo are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Tuition and Financial Aid for Agile Certificate Program

Tuition for the Certificate in Agile Practices program at Northwestern is comparable to other competitive Agile programs in Chicago. Students in non-degree Professional Development programs are not eligible for U.S. federal loans but may qualify for a private loan to offset tuition charges. Complete details can be found on the Tuition and Financial Aid for Agile Certificate Program section of our website.

Agile Faculty

Instructors for this program have a range of expertise, specializations and work experience. Read about their qualifications on our Agile Program Faculty page.

Careers in Agile

Demand for those with a Certificate in Agile Practices is increasing.  Agile principles and practices can be applied in any industry. Explore the possibilities for individuals with these highly portable and transferable skills on our Careers in Agile page.

Find out more about Northwestern's Certificate in Agile Practices

Contact an Enrollment Advisor

An Enrollment Advisor at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies can help with any inquiries regarding our certificate programs.

Agile Certificate Program Courses

Core Courses:Course Detail
Essentials of Project Management <> PROJ_PMI 401-0

Designed for project team members and project managers / professionals who are managing projects as one part of their job, this 3-day course provides a detailed examination of the fundamental processes of project management and meets the 23 contact hour training requirements for PMI®'s Certified Associate Project Manager (CAPM)® exam. Using lectures, case studies, discussions and individual and group exercises, participants will learn how to apply the standard project management process to successfully initiate, plan, execute, monitor, and close a project. This will include an emphasis on determining how to meet customer/client needs, planning activities, and communication skills.


Total Professional Development Units (PDUs): 23 (Technical: 17; Leadership: 3; Strategic: 3)

View PROJ_PMI 401-0 Sections
Applied Project Management (On Campus) <> PROJ_PMI 402-0

Project management terms, concepts, techniques, and tools are explored to ensure the aspects of a project are organized and managed properly. Integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communication, risk, and procurement management are topics reviewed. The beginning and the end of a project and the relationships between the major milestones are discussed. Group work is required. Satisfies the 35 hour project management education requirement for the PMP® exam.


Total Professional Development Units (PDUs): 35 (Technical: 15.75; Leadership: 10.5; Strategic: 8.75)

View PROJ_PMI 402-0 Sections
Applied Project Management (Online) <> PROJ_PMI 402-DL

Project management terms, concepts, techniques, and tools are explored to ensure the aspects of a project are organized and managed properly. Integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communication, risk, and procurement management are topics reviewed. The beginning and the end of a project and the relationships between the major milestones are discussed. Group work is required. Satisfies the 35 hour project management education requirement for the PMP® exam.


Total Professional Development Units (PDUs): 35 (Technical: 15.75; Leadership: 10.5; Strategic: 8.75)

View PROJ_PMI 402-DL Sections
Agile for Practitioners <> PROJ_PMI 403-0

Agile skills are in high demand in all industries, and experienced project professionals need to pick up agile skills to stay relevant. This course, which meets the PMI-ACP® education requirements, is a workshop style course that will teach participants the principles and values of Agile, and help them apply Agile practices and techniques to their current projects. This is a highly interactive course that leverages real world examples from Scrum, Lean, Kanban and other Agile methods. Participants will work in teams to experience and apply Agile to the course exercises.


Total Professional Development Units (PDUs): 26 (Technical: 20; Leadership: 6)

View PROJ_PMI 403-0 Sections
Elective Courses:Course Detail
Developing People and Teams <> PROJ_PMI 204-0

As a project manager, it is part of your job to work with a team to achieve a specified outcome. Whether it is an existing team or a cross-functional team put together for this project, working with teams has its advantages and challenges. How can you best manage the strengths of your team to reach its goals? How can you help prepare a team for the developmental stages they will encounter while working together? In Developing People and Teams, students will look at individual development including coaching, mentoring and motivation theory. Team development will be explored through the topics of facilitation and collaboration. Participants will also have the opportunity to assess their personal style of conflict resolution.


Required Course Preparation:
Students should complete the assessment included in StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath and email their results to the instructor, Alyssa Dickman, at prior to the first day of class. Learning activities will be tailored to each course based on assessment results.

PLEASE NOTE: Students must purchase a new book in order to ensure that the assessment link is valid.


Total Professional Development Units (PDUs): 13 (Leadership: 13)

View PROJ_PMI 204-0 Sections
Soft Skills for Project Managers <> PROJ_PMI 211-0

The effective project manager possesses deep interpersonal skills and is able to use their skills to lead their project teams to deliver results. This workshop will help you improve the essential skills needed to be an effective project manager such as communication, relationship-management, conflict resolution, decision-making, and team motivation. Format includes lecture, case studies/group activities, discussions and Q & A.


Required Course Preparation:

Students must read the Introduction and Chapters 1-3 of Interpersonal Skills for Portfolio, Program, and Project Managers by Ginger Levin prior to the first day of class.


Total Professional Development Units (PDUs): 12 (Technical: 1; Leadership: 9; Strategic: 2)

View PROJ_PMI 211-0 Sections
Power Excel Skills for Project Managers <> PROJ_PMI 225-0

The Executive Team is counting on you to commit a project completion date. Mistakes will be costly due to penalties if there is any delay. Your project team is counting on you to guide their effort so the critical tasks are identified and prioritized. You are buried in a ton of project information arriving to you daily. How do you collect and organize it? How do you make sense of it? How do you use it to make the best decisions for the project?

From committing to a project completion date based on the organization's risk tolerance to creating compelling reports and charts that can drive actions from your organization to address critical issues to keep your project on track, Excel is one of the best and more flexible tools available for Project Managers to simplify tasks related to managing information and also to help on daily decision making on many levels.

Students will learn advanced excel skills through this hands-on workshop that will help them to create analytical tools, formulas, charts, graphs and macros that will support them on making critical project management decisions. Real-world experiences from project initiation to project completion will be used so students will leave each day of the training with the ability to apply what they have learned in their workplace.


Total Professional Development Units (PDUs): 10 (Technical: 7; Leadership: 3)

View PROJ_PMI 225-0 Sections
Risk Management <> PROJ_PMI 315-0

You are the project manager for a multi-million dollar project, and there can be no mistakes. Your Executive Team is depending on you to manage successfully! What do you need to do know to assess risk so you can deliver against stakeholder expectations?

Through this course, students will gain an in-depth understanding of types of risks that threaten projects and the use of various techniques for assessing and managing risk and approaches to reduce project risk. Particular emphasis is placed on areas of risk identification, analysis, response planning and monitoring and control. Use of case studies will help illustrate how risk management is used successfully and will allow the students to develop practical skills for use in the workplace.


Total Professional Development Units (PDUs): 15 (Technical: 11; Leadership: 4)

View PROJ_PMI 315-0 Sections
Practical Project Planning <> PROJ_PMI 345-0

The effective project manager is able to create an effective set of project plans that communicate the work, assignments, decision-making flows, and risks to the project sponsor, stakeholders, and team members. These plans must be at the level appropriate to manage the risk of the project, and at the same time be understandable by the project team, and easy-to-maintain as the project progresses. During this three-day workshop, designed for project managers, you will complete a comprehensive set of project plans, learning and applying practical techniques. Using hands-on activities, case studies, and your own projects, you will improve your capabilities completing the project charter, the project participation matrix, communication plan, and risk management plan. You will also learn practical techniques for establishing project ground rules, meeting cadences, and collaboration tools.

Total Professional Development Units (PDUs): 16 (Technical: 12; Leadership: 2; Strategic: 2)

View PROJ_PMI 345-0 Sections
Leading and Coaching Agile Teams <> PROJ_PMI 350-0

Agile frameworks empower teams with flexible tools to manage timelines, deliverables and budgets, and still meet stakeholder needs. This overview course will provide leaders and coaches insights into how to support Agile teams. Participants will learn the mindset, culture, values, and principles that make Agile techniques work. They will also learn some of the key differences between traditional and Agile approaches. Finally, participants will learn and practice the key leadership and coaching skills needed to provide an environment for Agile teams to thrive.


This course uses "experiential learning", meaning that students will learn new skills and practice them in the course. Students will use exercises and case studies to gain hands-on experience with various Agile techniques and leadership tools.


Please note: This class is best suited for individuals who have some experience working in teams.


Total PDUs: 12 (Technical: 5; Leadership: 7)

View PROJ_PMI 350-0 Sections
Agile Estimating and Planning <> PROJ_PMI 360-0

As Agile methods and tools continue to grow in popularity, people are interested in how to leverage Agile to improve their projects. Contrary to what some people think, planning in Agile projects is more rigorous and disciplined than it is in traditional projects. The purpose of this course is to provide project managers, Scrum Masters, product owners, functional managers and Agile team members with an in-depth understanding of how to plan for Agile projects.


Agile estimating and planning helps to get a project off on solid footing. Working together in teams, participants will select a product to use for their case study and will apply the planning and estimation techniques for the course on that product.


Planning for Agile projects starts with the big picture of product roadmaps and release plans, and drills down into the work that an Agile team will do within an iteration. Participants will learn how to plan for iterative and incremental solution development, and how to address change in a plan.


The course also looks at the two types of estimates used on Agile projects, relative estimates in story points and absolute estimates in ideal days. Participants will learn when to use each of these, and how to include the entire team for more accurate estimates that team members will support.


Please note: This course will be helpful to those who are familiar with estimating and planning traditional projects or who have an agile background but want additional detail on how to effectively plan agile projects. This course is not recommended as an elective for those in the Project Management for Practitioners track.

This course qualifies as education contact hours for the Project Management Institute’s Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) exam. Note that in order to sit for the PMI-ACP® exam, students must meet additional requirements set forth by PMI that can be found on their website.


Total Professional Development Units (PDUs): 12 (Technical: 12)

View PROJ_PMI 360-0 Sections
Supporting an Agile Transformation PROJ_PMI 365-0

The use of Agile frameworks and approaches are quickly becoming the new norm. In fact, a 2015 Hewlett Packard survey showed that Agile has become the primary approach for technology projects.


The purpose of this course is to provide managers, project managers, agile practitioners and other leaders a broad understanding of popular agile methods, how Agile relates to culture, how organizational change succeeds, and how to support an organization undertaking a transformation from traditional development to agile development.


Whether you are an agile novice or experienced agile practitioner, this course will provide you with a basic understanding of what an Agile Transformation means, how to assess the cultural fit for Agile, and success patterns that other organizations have used to introduce and sustain Agile. Participants will learn the 8-stage model of leading change based on the work of John P. Kotter. Participants will use instruments to assess the culture of their own organization, to determine the receptiveness for Agile, and to assess the risk and readiness for an Agile initiative. Finally, participants will develop their own custom transformation roadmap based on patterns that others have found useful.


This course qualifies as education contact hours for the Project Management Institute’s Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP®) exam. Note that in order to sit for the PMI-ACP® exam, students must meet additional requirements set forth by PMI that can be found on their website.

Please note: This is an advanced class which is best suited for those who have some previous training or experience with Agile frameworks. It is not recommended as an elective for students in the Project Management for Practitioners track.


Total Professional Development Units (PDUs): 12 (Technical: 2; Leadership: 10)

View PROJ_PMI 365-0 Sections
Back to top