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Student Status Issues

Certain students should be aware of the following Northwestern policies before studying abroad:

Transfer students

Your ability to study abroad depends on your Undergraduate Registration Requirement. As part of the application process, you will meet with the Office of the Registrar to determine your eligibility to study abroad.

Students planning to graduate early

If you hope to study abroad and graduate early, you need to review your plans with your degree auditor in the Office of the Registrar before going abroad. Whether or not you can do both depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The amount of time you have spent taking classes full-time on Northwestern’s campus
  • Whether you are getting a single or double degree
  • Whether or not you received AP credit
  • Your study abroad program and term(s), and the time it takes for Northwestern to receive your study abroad transcript

See the Northwestern University Undergraduate Catalog for details on the university enrollment requirement, the Undergraduate Residence Requirement, and the graduation requirements in your school.  To review your plans in light of your overall career at Northwestern, contact the Office of the Registrar at 847-491-5234 to make an appointment with your degree auditor.

Students studying abroad during their SENIOR YEAR

Please note that it can take 2-4 months for Northwestern to receive your official transcript from your study abroad program and for transfer credit to appear on your Northwestern transcript. If you are studying abroad during your final quarter at Northwestern, this will likely delay your actual date of graduation. Be sure to review the Office of the Registrar's Graduation Deadlines, and complete the Credit Transfer process as soon as possible after your return to campus. Contact your Academic Adviser and/or the Office of the Registrar with any questions.

It is possible to study abroad during your final quarter at Northwestern, but keep the following important issues in mind:

  • You must stay in contact with your degree auditor before and while you are abroad to discuss the timeline of your graduation and the process for receiving your diploma.
  • As noted above, it can take around 2-4 months for study abroad transcripts to arrive at Northwestern and additional time for credits to be posted and applied towards your degree program, which will likely delay your actual date of graduation. In the past, some seniors who studied abroad during the winter/spring quarters have not received their diplomas until early fall, even though they may have been eligible to "walk" at graduation in June.
  • Some programs do not end until after Northwestern's quarter is over, and you are required to complete all courses, coursework, and final assessments on-site. If your program does not end until after Northwestern’s graduation, you cannot return early to walk. 
  • Students planning to return to the U.S. to walk with their fellow graduating classmates may experience difficulty obtaining tickets to the graduation ceremony while abroad. Contact the Office of Special Events (847-491-3600 or commencement@northwestern.edu) for further details. 
  • If you are hoping to apply to graduate schools for the term immediately following your study abroad program and Northwestern graduation, make sure your graduate schools understand that your final diploma and transcript from Northwestern may not be available until for some time.

International Students

Students seeking to take courses outside the United States must apply for permission to study abroad through the Study Abroad Office by the appropriate deadline.

Only international students on F1/J1 visas seeking to enroll independently in courses at foreign institutions in their countries of permanent residence/citizenship may seek an exception to this policy. Dual citizens and other students not on J1/F1 visas may be eligible to seek a visa exemption. Refer to the Non-Northwestern University Credit Transfer Policy for Undergraduates for more information.

Consult with Northwestern's International Office (847-491-5613 or intoff@northwestern.edu) about your plans to ensure that your U.S. visa status will not be affected.

If you are currently receiving Northwestern financial aid, carefully review the financial aid policies regarding international aid for study abroad.