About Adler University

Adler University was founded more than 60 years ago, based on a revolutionary idea first presented by Alfred Adler: Real, sustainable health for individuals relies on community health. Practitioners must advocate for the systems and conditions to create it. Through our graduate programs, research institutes, professional training, and community partnerships, Adler University furthers Alfred Adler’s pioneering work by graduating socially responsible practitioners, engaging communities, and advancing social justice.

Alfred Adler and His Significance

Alfred Adler (1870-1937) was an Austrian physician and psychologist who gained early prominence as a contemporary of Sigmund Freud. Adler served as the founding president of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society beginning in 1908, and is credited with developing the concept of the “inferiority complex” as an important part of personality development.

Alfred Adler’s most influential concept—one that guides Adler University today—is that of “social interest.” Adlerian psychology teaches that our individual health resides in our community life and equality-based structures. To truly help individuals, in other words, we must also address systemic social injustices and inequities.

This approach led Alfred Adler to be referred to as the world’s first “community psychologist,” and to his split from Freud. Alfred Adler believed Freudian psychoanalysis was too focused on the concerns of a small sampling of privileged, well-educated Viennese patients, and therefore wasn’t effective in terms of long-term, sustainable, and scalable therapies that addressed deeper social problems.

The Roots of Adler University

Alfred Adler gained more prominence after World War I by establishing a series of child guidance clinics and lecturing throughout Europe and North America. Because of his Jewish heritage, he was forced by the German Reich to shutter his clinics in the early 1930s, and immigrated to the United States.

Although Alfred Adler died in 1937, his legacy was preserved and sustained by Rudolf Dreikurs, a fellow Viennese psychiatrist who moved to Chicago shortly after Adler’s death. Dreikurs was instrumental in leading the child guidance movement in America, and became heavily involved in Chicago’s Hull House, a center of social reform.

Dreikurs founded the Institute of Adlerian Psychology in 1952, which over the years evolved to become the Adler School of Professional Psychology—and Adler University today.

Adler University, Our Online Campus, and the Future

Over more than 60 years, we have held to and advanced Adlerian themes of social interest, social responsibility, and social justice. We expanded to a second campus in Vancouver, British Columbia, and added a range of advanced degrees to include flagship master’s and doctoral psychology and counseling programs, as well as specialties in Criminology, Emergency Management, Military Psychology, and Public Policy concentrated on Human Rights Advocacy and Urban Mental Health.

Officially renamed Adler University in January 2015, our institution continues the work first envisioned by Alfred Adler and furthered by our founders: All students, faculty, and staff engage with communities to advance social justice, helping those facing the greatest barriers to health, equity, and social inclusion.

Our fully Online Campus advances our mission. We believe that through the latest instructional technology, online learning allows a wider range of traditional and nontraditional students to earn their advanced degree from Adler University without the restrictions and requirements of an on-campus program.

Through our Online Campus’ outreach, Adler University can empower even more people who share a commitment to social justice to become socially responsible practitioners willing and able to engage their communities.


Adler University has been continuously accredited since 1978 by the Higher Learning Commission.

Adler University is approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and has obtained the necessary state authorization to enroll students in all states and provinces.

Adler University’s educational offerings are approved for federal veterans benefits by the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs—a recognized State Approving Agency.

Adler University is also authorized under federal law to enroll eligible international students.

Adler University is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA). The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is an agreement among member states, districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs.

About Online Learning

Adler University approaches online learning with the same commitment to academic excellence and student support that has been the hallmark of our more than 60-year history. Our innovative online graduate courses deliver an engaging, interactive learning experience designed to accommodate your busy schedule.

Adler’s online coursework is developed and delivered by faculty members who are qualified subject matter experts trained in online instruction. Adler’s online programs are regionally accredited through the Higher Learning Commission and the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and meet the rigorous Quality Matters standards for effective online course design.

Online Learning Basics

Adler’s online graduate courses are eight (8) weeks in length. Each week, students are expected to review the course materials, participate in learning activities, and complete required assignments. Our convenient asynchronous learning model, in which you can complete course requirements at any time within a specific date range, allows you to work at your own pace, around your own schedule.

Our easy-to-use online learning system—Ember—allows you to explore course materials and interact with instructors and classmates through a variety of web-based tools and features:

  • Audio and video lectures and presentations
  • Video conferencing
  • Discussion boards
  • Document downloads
  • Interactive games
  • Simulations and role-playing
  • Online chats

About Cohort Learning

Every student progresses through our online graduate programs as part of a specific learning group called a “cohort.” We strongly believe this unified group approach is the best way to enhance the learning experience of each candidate, to encourage in-depth discussions related to coursework, and to create professional networking opportunities.

Student Support

Online learning offers a great deal of independence and flexibility, but that doesn’t mean that you’re alone. Adler’s online student body is supported by the same administrative and academic staff who serve our on-campus students, as well as a Student Success team devoted specifically to our online students. Your instructors are also available to answer your questions, provide more information, and connect you with additional resources to help you succeed. In addition, your cohort classmates will be a source of ongoing support and collaboration as you progress through your degree program, and well after graduation.