The Office of International Program Development (IPD) at Northwestern welcomes over 50 exchange students from over a dozen university partners each year. Students enroll directly in courses across a wide variety of disciplines and can take part in hundreds of student clubs, events, and activities. Learn more about Northwestern's history and what makes Northwestern unique.
Northwestern follows a quarterly academic schedule, which consists of three quarters lasting approximately 10 weeks each (Fall, Winter, and Spring), plus a summer term. International exchange students may study at Northwestern for one, two, or three quarters during the Fall Quarter, Winter Quarter, and/or Spring Quarter. Review the calendar for Northwestern University for term dates.
Exchange students will be expected to arrive on campus prior to the start date of the term to participate in orientation activities. The duration and schedule of orientation programs will vary, depending on the term of arrival.
- Fall Arrivals: Exchange students are invited to participate in orientation activities open to all new Northwestern and transfer students, including: International Student Orientation, hosted by the International Office, and Wildcat Welcome, hosted by the Office of New Student and Family Programs. These typically take place about 10 days prior to the start date of the Fall Quarter. IPD will also organize some customized programming for exchange students.
- Winter and Spring Arrivals: IPD will provide orientation a specialized orientation program for exchange students only, scheduled one day prior to the start date of classes.
Academics and Enrollment
Undergraduate students at Northwestern typically take three or four courses per quarter in a variety of subjects. Most courses at Northwestern are worth 1 unit of credit and meet for three hours per week over the 10-week quarter. Some classes have additional laboratory or discussion sections. International exchange students must maintain full-time enrollment, which is defined as three or more credits per quarter. It is not recommended that exchange students take five classes, what is considered at Northwestern to be an overload, given various demands and priorities on and off campus.
For the purpose of transferring credit to your home university, 1 unit of Northwestern credit should be considered the equivalent of 2.66 U.S. semester hours. Confirm rules and guidelines regarding the transferability of credit with your home university.
Also visit the following pages for additional academic information and expectations:
Northwestern can only guarantee on-campus housing for students who study at Northwestern for the full academic year: Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters. Students who will study at Northwestern for one or two quarters only are not guaranteed on-campus housing, but we will do our best to accommodate students if there is space available. It is anticipated that it may be easier to accommodate students in the Winter and/or Spring, rather than the Fall.
- On-Campus Housing: If there is space available, undergraduate exchange students have the option to live in residence halls, residential colleges, residential communities, or special-interest housing. Consult the Residential Services website for information about on-campus undergraduate housing options. Also reference North by Northwestern's Housing Guide.
- Off-Campus Housing: Students also have the option of living in an apartment or shared house in the Evanston or Chicago area. Consult Off-Campus Life resources. Also review a webinar on off-campus housing options, organized by the International Office and Off-Campus Life.
Health and Wellness
As a Northwestern student, you are required by Illinois law and University regulations to show proof of immunizations and to submit a completed Admission Health Record. Furthermore, exchange students are required to be enrolled in the Northwestern Student Health Insurance Plan (NU-SHIP) during their time at Northwestern. Exchange students are only enrolled in NU-SHIP for their term(s) of study. IPD will provide more information about the enrollment process, coverage dates, and premiums via email shortly before your arrival.
For more information about health requirements and resources, visit:
- Entrance Health Requirements
- Student Health Insurance
- Health and Wellness (International Office)
- Health Service (Evanston)
- Counseling and Psychological Services
As an exchange student, you are not responsible for paying tuition to Northwestern; you will only be billed by Northwestern for your room and board (if you live on campus) and the Northwestern Student Health Insurance Plan (NU-SHIP). You will also need to budget for the cost of textbooks, visa fees, and personal expenses during your time at Northwestern. Consult the exchange student Money Matters section for additional information about expected program costs, billing, payments, and other financial information.