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Frequently Asked Questions

Browse the topics below for answers to prospective students' most frequently asked questions about our program. See How to Apply for requirement, application and general admissions information and Tuition & Financial Aid for information specific to program costs. For housing information, see Student Resources.

Curriculum & Student Life

 Is the NUPOC MPO program accredited?

Yes, the NUPOC MPO program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). See the in-force CAAHEP accreditation letter for NUPOC. CAAHEP accreditation is based on a comprehensive evaluation of the NUPOC MPO program and recognizes NUPOC compliance with national quality standards established by CAAHEP, the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE), the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists and American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. NCOPE regularly monitors NUPOC program compliance until the next accreditation review scheduled for 2019.

 How is the NUPOC MPO Program structured?

The NUPOC MPO Program is taught using a blended learning format, which is a combination of distance and onsite learning. Students can complete Sessions 1 and 2 (July to December) and Session 7 (January to March) at any location with reliable internet access. The onsite portion of the program (Sessions 3-6) must be completed at NUPOC. Find a full description of the program on the NUPOC Curriculum page.

 When must students be physically present in Chicago?

Students must be physically in Chicago to participate in the initial orientation and throughout the 12-month onsite practicum (January to December).

 In the NUPOC MPO, are orthotics and prosthetics taught concurrently or separately?

The MPO curriculum is designed to train students concurrently in both prosthetics and orthotics. Concepts such as biomechanics, alignment considerations, motor control and pathophysiology are woven throughout the curriculum and enable students to reinforce clinical concepts for the management of both prosthetics and orthotics patients.

 How are human anatomy, biomechanics, kinesiology and pathology taught?

A strong working knowledge of these areas is essential to being a skilled and competent practitioner. Throughout the program, NUPOC teaches these concepts in specific online and onsite courses, such as Anatomy and Biomechanics, as well as in the context of practicum courses. Gross Anatomy is taught during the onsite portion.

 Will I learn as part of a class, or will I be on my own as an independent learner?

We admit each program as a cohort, and you will participate in coursework with the same group of peers throughout the course of the MPO. We utilize group and individual teaching methods throughout the distance and onsite portions of the program. To be an effective learner, you must maintain discipline to stay on task, but your peers and faculty will be readily available to collaborate with you. Most assignments will be assessed on an individual basis, and a number of projects are completed with a group of other students in your cohort. You will be required to demonstrate competence for all components of the program, including quizzes, papers, case studies, model interactions, fabrication and all skills necessary to practice safely and effectively.

 Can I work while in school?

The pace of the MPO program is quite intense, but the blended learning format gives students the opportunity to continue working while attending school. Each student is unique, and the time commitment for the program varies. To succeed in the NUPOC MPO, students dedicate an average of 20 to 40 hours per week to coursework during the distance learning portion. Students spend 40 hours per week in class during most sessions of the onsite portion, with additional coursework assigned to be completed at other times. We strongly discourage students from working during the onsite portion of the MPO program.

 Is the NUPOC MPO program considered full time?

Yes, the NUPOC MPO program is considered a full-time, professional degree program.


 Are there any breaks during the MPO program?

Over the course of the MPO program, classes are held during every quarter, including the summer. The Northwestern University Spring quarter is from January to May with a holiday on Good Friday. The Northwestern University Fall quarter is from August to December with holidays on Labor Day and Thanksgiving. For complete holiday information, see Northwestern University Calendars.

Instructional Methods for Distant Learning

 Do I need special technical skills to succeed during the distance learning portions of the program?

At the beginning of the program, you will attend a mandatory onsite orientation at NUPOC to meet your instructors and fellow classmates. During orientation, you will learn the technical skills necessary to engage effectively during the distance portion of the NUPOC MPO program.

Distance learning courses can be taken from anywhere with fast, reliable internet access. Students have successfully completed the program from various remote locations and foreign countries.


 Will I just load a CD and then watch and listen?

No, lecture content during the distant learning portion of the program is accessed online via a web-based software system. You will interact with your peers and faculty through a variety of technologies, including live video conferences, web-based discussion boards and virtual classrooms, online case studies and Canvas, the course management system. Our extensive use of technology allows you to be fully engaged with the learning process, your instructors and your fellow students without having to be on campus.


 Can I reach a NUPOC faculty member whenever I need help?

Course instructors are available by email or phone. Students also can arrange to meet faculty by appointment.

 Are there any synchronous (live, real-time) activities during the online portion of the MPO program?

Yes, the NUPOC faculty believe that some distance learning (DL) activities should be conducted synchronously (live) to ensure that all students have the best learning experience possible. Most DL activities are asynchronous, while other DL activities are synchronous. Students have several days to complete scheduled activities at their convenience, including quizzes, provided work is submitted by the deadline indicated in the course materials. 

Online synchronous activities occur at local Chicago time. Students who live in other time zones must adjust their schedules to participate at the designated Chicago time. For example, when a MPO activity begins at 5 p.m. CST, East Coast students must begin at 6 p.m. EST; Mountain State students must begin at 4 p.m. MST; and West Coast students must begin at 3 p.m. PST.


 What are the hardware and software requirements for the MPO?

To facilitate reliable access to the NUPOC online curriculum, each incoming student will receive a new iPad  that is preconfigured with all required software. 

In addition to the iPad provided by NUPOC, all students are required to have their own computer (desktop or laptop) equipped with a functional webcam and microphone to use for NUPOC synchronous sessions. 


 What are the internet connection requirements for the MPO?

Students are required to have access to a reliable, high-speed internet connection. While students may connect via Wi-Fi, NUPOC highly recommends using a wired internet connection because faster internet connections improve the online learning experience. Course materials are primarily hosted in Canvas, the learning management system, and occasionally, courses may link to external content.

All costs associated with internet access will be borne by the individual student. 

Your connection must be stable and fast enough to support your use of Northwestern online resources. Typically, 2.5Mbps upload and download speeds will support your NUPOC educational activities. Be aware that other devices on your network, such as streaming or online gaming, will negatively impact your speed.

  • Downstream: 2.5 Mbps
  • Upstream: 2.5 Mbps



  • Most cable and DSL connections are sufficient.
  • Private Wi-Fi networks (home or office) are sufficient.
  • Public Wi-Fi (hotels, airports, apartment complexes) may not have sufficient bandwidth and may be incompatible, independent of bandwidth limitations.
  • Satellite connections are usually insufficient. Latency is also an issue.
  • Wireless G3 cards are known to be incompatible. In addition to insufficient bandwidth, other issues also exist. 
  • Wireless G4 cards should have sufficient bandwidth, but we do not yet know whether they will have the same issues that G3 cards appear to have, which are independent of available bandwidth.

Secure Computing  

Students are expected to follow safe computing practices while enrolled in NUPOC programs. Northwestern University has a license for Symantec Endpoint Protection, and this software is available at no cost to students, faculty and staff to protect your computer against viruses and other malware. To practice safe computing:

  • Install Symantec Endpoint Protection
  • Complete daily updates of virus definitions and virus scans  
  • Update the operating system and installed software 
  • Install software only from sources that are known to be safe 
  • Avoid high-risk websites

 Will students have technical support for technology related to the NUPOC MPO?

Yes, Northwestern University Information Technology provides technical support for software that NUPOC requires MPO students to use. Technological redundancy is built into the NUPOC distance learning system to resolve possible lock-outs, dropped testing or connection issues during online learning. 

Certification & Residency

 How do I become certified in orthotics and prosthetics?

To become a board-certified practitioner in orthotics and prosthetics, you must successfully complete all of the requirements of the MPO program, complete a National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education–accredited residency and successfully pass a multi-part national board examination.

 How do I find a P&O residency after graduation from NUPOC?

Residency sites post openings and schedule interviews directly with our students while they are still enrolled in the MPO program. Residency sites must be accredited by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). NCOPE maintains a list of residency locations on their website.

Residencies adhere to strict guidelines that ensure that the resident receives the training necessary to demonstrate clinical competency in all aspects of P&O. A P&O residency is a paid, clinical position. We recommend that students consider residency as an extension of their education, but it does not involve a tuition obligation.

 What types of residencies are available?

Residency sites may offer the following types of residencies:

  • A 12-month Prosthetics residency
  • A 12-month Orthotics residency
  • The option to complete individual residencies in both Prosthetics and Orthotics (for a total of 24 months)
  • A combined Prosthetics/Orthotics residency lasting 18 months

Graduating students are encouraged to select a residency that most closely matches their needs and career goals.

 How does NUPOC assist graduates in their residency placement?

Extended exposure at a residency site provides the best foundation for your P&O career. Throughout the USA are many locations where graduates can obtain that important extended technical and clinical experience. NUPOC does not limit the residency options of any graduates. 

NUPOC’s extensive network of alumni often contact our faculty with information regarding residency opportunities. Additionally, NUPOC faculty and staff support student efforts to find an appropriate residency in multiple ways: 

  • Résumé writing sessions during the onsite portion of the program 
  • Mock interviews with local clinicians who provide immediate feedback 
  • A Career Day, when students can schedule in-person or remote interviews with prospective residency sites