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Study Abroad for Bienen School of Music

Students in the Bienen School of Music can - and do - study abroad, but it requires some advance planning! Below, you'll find the following information:

Consult information about study abroad on the Bienen website

Advising & Support

Dr. Linda Jacobs, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, will support you throughout your study abroad journey. You are encouraged to bring up your interest in study abroad early, so that the Assistant Dean can assist you in pursuing study abroad along your unique academic path in Bienen.

As you are applying to study abroad, you must meet with the Assistant Dean, and she must sign off on your study abroad application before it can be submitted. In discussing your application with you, the Assistant Dean will focus on:

  • The implications of study abroad on your progress towards the bachelor’s degree
  • Completion of music major, distribution, and other requirements through study abroad
  • How to obtain advising for a second degree, major, or minor outside of Bienen (see Five-Year Dual Degree Students)
  • Making satisfactory academic progress before, during, and after study abroad, including steps to maintain your study abroad eligibility
  • How well prepared you are to undertake study abroad as part of your undergraduate career

Five-Year Dual Degree Students

Music students in a five-year dual degree program are subject to all policy and procedural guidelines set by each school. Linda Jacobs will address requirements for the Music degree. You will also need to meet with your other school adviser to discuss your study abroad plans and degree progress.

Earning Credit

Eligible credits from study abroad count as electives unless they are authorized to count toward degree requirements. During the application process, you must consult with the Assistant Dean about courses that may substitute for music major requirements. In some cases, the approval of the program coordinator may also be necessary.

The petition for credit process can only go forward after courses have been completed, you have completed a study abroad program evaluation, and an official transcript has been processed by the Registrar’s Office. Retain all class descriptions, syllabi, papers, readings, and other course materials from your classes abroad; they may be needed as part of the petition process. Students can consult the credit transfer process for Bienen for more information.

Applied Study (Lessons)

Credit for applied study / private lessons abroad will only be accepted toward the Northwestern degree if approval from the applied lesson instructor in Bienen is obtained. If no approval is given, applied lesson credits will transfer back to Northwestern as electives.

Ensemble Requirements

Because most music majors are required to have four full years of a major ensemble, it is best to find an ensemble abroad to help fulfill your requirements. Otherwise, you will need to make up additional ensemble requirements at Northwestern either before or after your study abroad.

Substitution of Other Required MUSIC Courses

Students should submit requests for the substitution of other music requirements (e.g., 300-level musicology requirement) to the Assistant Dean. Such requests should be made prior the student's leave if possible, or via email during the registration period abroad.

Distribution Credit

Courses taken abroad may be used to satisfy distribution requirements, provided they are substantially similar to courses on the WCAS approved list. The Assistant Dean approves distribution courses for four-year Bienen students; five-year students follow the approval process through the non-music school.

Timing Considerations & Graduation Issues

Usually, the best time for music students to study abroad is during the third year. Most of the Bienen core requirements are offered sequentially, and it is recommended that you complete the sequence of music theory, music history, aural skills, and keyboard skills prior to your study abroad. Another option is to study abroad during the summer.

Studying abroad can also impact your ability to graduate early and the number of courses required to be taken at Northwestern. In particular:

  • If you are a senior returning from study abroad and you have not yet petitioned to graduate, you must file your petition as soon as possible. The forms may be obtained in the Office of Student Affairs, and after completion, must be signed by the Assistant Dean. If you are completing a second degree, major, or minor in Weinberg College, you must also file a separate petition to graduate through that Weinberg department.
  • If you study abroad during the last quarter(s) of your senior year, your study abroad transcript may not arrive and be processed in time for you to graduate that quarter.
  • All Northwestern students are subject to the Undergraduate Registration Requirement (URR) and are responsible for ensuring that they meet this requirement. Only Northwestern study abroad programs offering direct credit count toward the URR. All other study abroad, including exchange programs, affiliated programs, and unaffiliated programs, do not count toward the URR.

Contact Linda Jacobs for more information.

Suggested Programs for Music Majors

Interested in other programs that offer music courses or non-major credit? Search for more study abroad options.