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Course Planning

This page outlines important academic information and considerations at Northwestern. In addition to familiarizing yourself with the information below, it is important that you understand the various academic requirements set by your home university. For more information about the academic experience and culture at Northwestern, we encourage you to speak with past exchange students who have studies at Northwestern previously, as well as Northwestern students who may be studying at your home university currently.

Important Dates

Northwestern's academic calendar includes registration dates, the first and last days of classes, and more.

Credit Requirements

Most courses at Northwestern are worth one unit of credit and meet for three hours per week over the ten-week quarter. Some courses have additional required discussion or laboratory sections. Exchange students must maintain full-time enrollment at Northwestern, which is three or four credits per quarter. It is not recommended that exchange students take five classes in any quarter (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, one unit of Northwestern credit should be considered the equivalent of 2.66 U.S. semester hours. Be sure to confirm rules and guidelines regarding the transferability of credit with your home university.

Choosing Courses

As long as prerequisites are met, and courses are open, exchange students have full access to undergraduate courses in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as limited access to courses in the following schools:

  • Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
  • School of Education and Social Policy
  • School of Communication
  • School of Professional Studies

Courses in the following departments and schools are not open to exchange students:

  • Integrated Marketing Communications (Medill)
  • Kellogg School of Management
  • Pritzker School of Law
  • Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Bienen School of Music
  • The Graduate School: Although exchange students are admitted to Northwestern as undergraduates, they may have limited access to graduate courses in special circumstances, assuming prerequisites are met. In general, you should avoid choosing courses at the 400-level (i.e., course numbers of 4XX), since these are graduate courses.

For a list of courses, refer to the Undergraduate Catalog. Follow these guidelines as you are searching for classes in which you intend to register.


Northwestern cannot guarantee enrollment in any specific courses. Although exchange students are expected to list preferred classes in their application materials, it is important to identify various backup course options in case you are unable to enroll in your preferred courses. Be sure to work with your home university to make sure that preferred and alternative course options align with your degree plans.

You will register online through CAESAR. Registration appointment times are predetermined by Northwestern student ID numbers, so you can register for classes at your appointment time and any time afterward, until the add deadline. Exchange students are not eligible for pre-registration. Consult Northwestern's academic calendar for registration periods.

Review registration resources before your enrollment appointment time and while registering to troubleshoot any issues you may have with online registration. GLO will also provide additional instructions and tips shortly before registration opens each quarter.