Program Overview

Mobile App Developer Certificate Program

The Mobile App Developer Program takes a unique approach in a fast-growing field. Students bring their own project to the program and work with industry-expert faculty members who also act as mentors. The mentors help students get the most out of their idea and prepare it for production or for demo to venture capital firms. Students also gain exposure to the incubator/start-up culture in Chicago, and learn from practitioners with experience at Fortune 500 companies and agile start-ups. Courses meet in-person and meetings are spaced to allow time for students to work on their projects with their instructor using online collaboration tools. The entire certificate can be completed in about six months, and includes programming instruction in both Android and iOS platforms.

Request Information THE NEXT COHORT BEGINS FALL 2014

Why learn mobile?

Taz Stephens, regional vice president in Chicago for Randstad's U.S. staffing business has seen a 20 percent increase since last year in the number of tech-job openings it's trying to fill downtown. Pay is up 10 percent in the past year. It goes way beyond just needing a mobile app. More companies are putting their internal software on mobile platforms and using it to reach their customers, making already-scarce app developers harder to find. "The market is tight, akin to what we saw in the dot-com days," he says.

--Crain's Chicago Business 1/12/2014


Belly Inc. has quite a stretch goal: The startup wants to massively expand its tech staff in the next 18 months. The Chicago-based company, which runs a digital-rewards program for retailers, wants to have 100 engineers by then, up from 16 today.

--Crain's Chicago Business 3/25/2014

Program Goals

Students will be well prepared to:

  • Design mobile applications for Android and iOS devices
  • Create applications that are designed with the end user in mind
  • Analyze user data to identify opportunities and constraints for application development
  • Manage application development projects using agile project and scrum management tools

Certificate Requirements

Students complete four required courses covering the fundamentals of mobile app development and one elective. The program can be completed within 6-9 months. We recommend the following pathway through the program.

REQUIRED COURSES (4)

  1. Application Design and Prototyping
  2. Mobile Optimized User Design
  3. Coding in iOS or Android
  4. Analytics for Application Design

ELECTIVES (choose 1)

Choose an elective to customize your experience or take a look at our suggested tracks below.

  • Take a second coding course (iOS or Android)
  • Learn about project management
  • Take a leadership course to learn how to effectively manage and lead teams within your organization
  • Explore your entrepreneurship drive and how to exploit new opportunities

New elective courses will be added periodically. If you have a suggestion, please share it with us via email at pdp@northwestern.edu.

Suggested Tracks

The Corporate Developer

While you have IT experience, maybe you also need project management experience to bring projects to scale. This suggested track combines user-friendly design tactics and team leadership skills to build a robust solution for your business.


  • Application Design and Prototyping
  • Mobile Optimized User Design
  • Coding in Android or iOS*
  • Analytics for Application Design
  • Agile Project Management or Leaders as Change Agents

*iOS recommended for those with some programming knowledge of C languages.

The Experienced Coder

You want to create apps for multiple platforms for multiple audiences. This suggested track will allow you to get both kinds of coding experience necessary to deploy on the widest possible range of devices.


  • Application Design and Prototyping
  • Mobile Optimized User Design
  • Coding in Android
  • Coding in iOS*
  • Analytics for Application Design

*iOS recommended for those with some programming knowledge of C languages.

The Entrepreneur

While you have an idea for the next great app, you've never coded before. We offer the tools to create a technical profile of your app, and provide programming introduction to prepare your idea for venture capital or to launch in the marketplace.


  • Application Design and Prototyping
  • Mobile Optimized User Design
  • Coding in Android or iOS*
  • Analytics for Application Design
  • Explore your entrepreneurship drive and how to exploit new opportunities

*iOS recommended for those with some programming knowledge of C languages.

Prerequisites and Technical Requirements

Knowledge of some programming: This program requires knowledge of a programming language which allows students to take full advantage of each course. We recommend experience with java or a C language.

Technical requirements for all classes: Students need to bring their own devices and laptop to each class. Students can bring a PC or Mac for the App Design for Android Operating Systems class.

Technical requirements for the App Design for Apple Operating Systems: Students will need their own Mac laptop with administrator access.

Core Courses:

  • MOB_APP 301-0 App Design and Prototyping
  • MOB_APP 302-0 Mobile Optimized User Design
  • MOB_APP 304-0 Application Design for iOS
  • MOB_APP 305-0 Application Design for Android
  • MOB_APP 306-0 Analytics for Applications

Elective Courses:

  • LEAD_ART 200-0 Leadership and Organizational
  • LEAD_ART 202-0 Leaders as Change Agents
  • LEAD_ART 204-0 Developing People and Teams
  • MOB_APP 410-0 Exploring Entrepreneurship
  • PROJ_PMI 206-0 Tech Planning for Leaders
  • PROJ_PMI 350-0 Agile Project Management
  • PROJ_PMI 401-0 Project Mngmnt Practitioners
  • PROJ_PMI 402-0 OR 402-DL Project Mngmnt Professionals