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Double Counting

The School of Education and Social Policy maintains specific policies about the application of a single class toward 2 different requirements (e.g. fulfilling both concentration/core and distribution requirements (distros) or fulfilling a concentration/core and second major/minor requirements), thereby double counting the course. For SESP students, SESP’s double counting rules always take precedence over those of another school. 

You may double count up to 3 courses between your SESP concentration or core courses and a WCAS second major. You may double count up to 2 courses between your SESP concentration or core courses with minors or adjunct majors.  

You may double count courses with a certificate, IF AND ONLY IF the certificate requires more than 4 unique courses given that certificates must have a minimum of 4 unique courses (separate from your SESP concentration or core courses). For example, you can count one IMC elective towards your SESP concentration.  Then there are four unique courses counting towards IMC, the three core courses and one elective.  The prerequisite classes are not considered in the double counting.  

For programs with prerequisites, there is no limit to the number of prerequisite courses that may also be used for your concentration requirements. Because each program is different, consult with your SESP adviser if you need clarification. 

Double counting for each additional major or minor is independent of the other. For example, a student could count SESP 210 (statistics) for a formal studies distribution requirement, for the Elem Teach/HDC/LOC/LS/Social Policy core, for an Economics second major, and for a statistics minor. In this example, the student could still double count 2 more classes for the Economics major and 1 more class for a statistics minor.   

If you wish to double count a distribution course toward a concentration requirement, you must discuss your interest with your adviser. Some courses will automatically double count (such as Statistics). You may double count no more than three3 concentration/core courses toward your distribution requirements over the course of your undergraduate academic work at Northwestern. The double counting of distros is independent of double counting with a second major, minor or certificate.  

For Secondary and Elementary Teaching students, the policies regarding double counting are completely different because of State Board of Education requirements. Secondary and Elementary Teaching students should speak with their adviser to learn specifics. 

For each course that you double count toward a distribution requirement, you must take an additional course to fulfill the required minimum of 42 credits to graduate. 

Standard courses that may be double counted between the core/concentration and distribution requirements include: 

Table listing the standard courses that may be double counted between the core/concentration and distribution requirements.





SESP 210


Formal Studies

Ethics (Phil 260)



CHEM 210-1,2,3


Natural Sciences 

For pre-med


The following chart summarizes the double counting policies. Note that the policies also apply to study abroad credit. 


The following chart summarizes the double counting policies.

Second program requirement 

SESP requirement 

# of courses eligible to double count 

second major courses 

concentration / core courses 

adjunct major courses  

concentration / core courses 

minor courses 

concentration / core courses 

certificate courses 

concentration / core courses 

Possibly 1  or 2  (certificate must be a minimum of four unique courses and some certificates are only four units, so the number to double count is zero) 

second major, adjunct major minor or certificate courses 

distribution courses 

Dependent on department policy 

second major, adjunct major, minor or certificate courses 

elective courses 


second major “related” courses 

concentration /core courses 



concentration /core courses 



Miscellaneous double counting policies 
Each SESP undergraduate concentration is different in terms of what may be counted toward the concentration. A second major or minor takes up most if not all of any remaining electives you have. You may not double count an elective course as a concentration, core, or distribution requirement.