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Study Abroad for McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science

McCormick students can - and do - study abroad, but it requires some advance planning! Below, you'll find the following information:

Review and download the Study Abroad Checklist for McCormick Students

Advising & Support

During the study abroad application process, you must follow these important academic advising steps:
  1. Review the information on this webpage, also documented in the Study Abroad Checklist for McCormick Students (click the button above), regarding policies and procedures for transferring course credit. Transfer credit earned for engineering/math/science courses are guaranteed to apply toward degree requirements ONLY when you have filed the curriculum petition prior to departing on your study abroad program. Courses not approved prior to departure are not guaranteed to transfer.
  2. Once you are ready to formally begin the application process, contact the Office of Undergraduate Engineering at mccormick-school@northwestern.edu, so that your study plan within McCormick Advising System (MAS) can be updated to reflect your intent to go abroad. If you have any questions after reviewing the petition instructions, please also include those in your email.
  3. Meet with your faculty advisor to discuss the courses you plan to take while studying abroad.
    1. Make sure the curriculum you intend to take will allow you to complete your engineering degree in a timely manner.
    2. If you plan to earn technical credit for engineering, math, or science courses, obtain the necessary signatures on your petition form. These courses must be approved by petition PRIOR to departure for study abroad.
    3. If you plan to earn non-technical credit toward your theme or other McCormick requirements, discuss this plan with your advisor. These courses may be petitioned AFTER your return to campus following study abroad but should still be considered in your study abroad course plan.
    4. During this meeting, your faculty advisor should approve your MAS study plan for the quarter you intend to return to Northwestern. (Ex: If you intend to study abroad in fall quarter you will need an approved study plan for winter quarter.) Note: If you are studying abroad in the summer, you may skip this step.
  4. Once your petitions have received departmental approval and your adviser has signed off on your study plan, contact the Office of Undergraduate Engineering at mccormick-school@northwestern.edu. A McCormick Undergraduate Engineering adviser will then provide an electronic signature on your study abroad application.
    1. Be sure to ask any questions you have about the course petition process.
    2. Discuss your plans to make satisfactory academic progress before, during, and after study abroad, including steps to maintain your study abroad eligibility.

Earning Credit

Only the School of Engineering has the authority to approve transfer credits to satisfy your engineering degree requirements. You must, therefore, file a curriculum petition for all coursework you wish to apply toward degree requirements. All petitions for technical credit must be submitted prior to departure for study abroad.

You must also familiarize yourself with the general transfer credit rules and how these apply to coursework taken abroad. Courses that do not meet Northwestern University transfer credit policies will not transfer, regardless of course content. Consult additional information and resources on the following GLO webpages:

Although petitions are filed prior to study abroad, transfer credit will post and be applied toward your McCormick degree progress only 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 McCormick for more information.

Technical Credit

All engineering, math, and science courses must be approved by petition PRIOR to departure for study abroad. Transfer credit is not guaranteed until petitions are approved. In addition to petitioning the first-choice courses you intend to take, you should petition back-up courses to prepare for the common scenario in which you cannot register for your first choice courses. Inability to register for first-choice courses does not exempt you from the rule that technical courses must be approved prior to departure, so these back-up courses are particularly important.

Download the McCormick Petition for Transfer of Study Abroad Credit Form (available in the Study Abroad Checklist for McCormick Students above). In addition to the form, you will need a syllabus written in English for the course in order for content to be reviewed. There are three signatures that must be obtained before a petition will be accepted by the Undergraduate Engineering Office as part of the study abroad application. These signatures must be obtained from:

  1. The instructor who teaches the course for which you are seeking equivalency OR the undergraduate department chair for the department in which the course is offered. For example, if you are seeking credit for ME 222, you must obtain a signature from a faculty member who teaches ME 222 or the undergraduate chair of ME. If you are seeking generic credit, such as EECS 2XX, the undergraduate chair is a good person to contact for this signature.*
  2. Your McCormick faculty adviser.*
  3. The undergraduate chair for your program.

*Courses from an Approved Course Equivalence (ACE) sheet require only the undergraduate chair’s signature.

Once all three signatures are obtained, the petition may be submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Engineering (mccormick-school@northwestern.edu). If course information is not available at the time of application or if course plans are altered prior to departure, signed petitions must be submitted BEFORE you depart for your study abroad program. Requests for course review cannot be made while you are on your study abroad program.

Non-Technical Credit

You will also use the McCormick Petition for Transfer of Study Abroad Credit Form (available in the Study Abroad Checklist for McCormick Students above) to apply study abroad credit toward your theme requirement. You do not need to complete the “Verification of Equivalency” section; list the course and the category (FAL/HSV/SBS) into which you think the course would fall. Also be sure to list the courses and the fact that they were taken abroad on your theme form. Note that courses taken outside of engineering, math, and science that will be applied as credit toward your theme may be petitioned either BEFORE you depart or AFTER your return to campus following study abroad.

If you are taking non-technical courses for any second majors, minors, or certificates, it is important to verify the possibility of transferring planned courses back to those requirements prior to study abroad. Those programs will have their own policies and procedures for counting transfer credits toward requirements. Refer to School and Major Advising Resources.

Timing Considerations & Graduation Issues

The best term to study abroad as an engineer will depend on various factors, so be sure to talk to your advisors about possibilities! Below are some suggestions and considerations:

  • Summer after first year: Summer study abroad will not conflict with academic course sequencing. The summer after your first year is particularly appealing, because you use the skills and experience you gain through study abroad as you apply to internships, research, or other opportunities in subsequent summers.
  • Junior or senior year: Typically, studying abroad during the Fall term allows you to year a semester’s worth of credit, which can be advantageous for making degree progress. Also, in Europe, senior-level engineering courses are often offered at the master’s-level, giving students access to a wide variety of course topics, less rigid course sequences, and courses taught in English.
    • If you plan to study abroad during your senior year, make sure you have completed and returned a degree application, along with any other necessary paperwork required for your degree, prior to applying to study abroad.
    • 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 the Office of Undergraduate Engineering for more information.

Other Important Considerations

Registration

  • Before going abroad: For students going abroad in fall, winter, or spring quarters, the study plan for your first quarter back at NU will be approved as part of your application process. This allows your advising hold to be released while you are abroad without an additional advising appointment. Students going on summer programs will register for fall classes in spring prior to departure and will return in time for the regular academic year so there is no interruption of the standard advising process that takes place each quarter.
  • While abroad: You will register for the quarter in which you will return to NU using CAESAR during the regular registration period. This means that it is critical that you continue to check your NU email account and the Registrar’s Office website for updates on registration dates and appointments. It is also strongly recommended that you check CAESAR for any registration holds prior to your appointment time. Dealing with registration holds from abroad can be time consuming so it is important to be aware of these in advance. If you encounter issues registering via CAESAR while abroad, you should contact a member of the Undergraduate Engineering Office.

Honors & Scholarships

If you are interested in pursuing honors work in your major, you should be sure to discuss this with your department before you go abroad. Many honors programs require application at the end of the junior or beginning of the senior year. The same is true if you might want to apply for various national scholarships such as Rhodes or Marshall when you return, which have deadlines early in fall quarter.

Fellowship information is available from the Office of Fellowships. Also refer to the Global McCormick website for an updated list of Engineering Abroad Fellowships & Scholarships.

Global Engineering Program

The Global Engineering Program is designed to structure a path whereby McCormick undergraduates can successfully incorporate significant international experience into their already rigorous engineering curriculum. Successful completion of the program will be noted on students’ transcripts. McCormick students may use study abroad to fulfill various requirements of the Global Engineering Program.

Majors and Minors

The information on this page applies to all McCormick majors. Review study abroad program options for McCormick students.

While these general resources are helpful for any engineering student, each McCormick department is responsible for advising students and making decisions about how study abroad credits may be applied toward its requirements. Click on the links below for information about your major/minor.

If an advising resource for your major/minor is not listed, it does not limit your eligibility to study abroad. Contact the Global Learning Office for more resources on choosing an appropriate program.

McCormick Majors
Biomedical Engineering Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics
Chemical and Biological Engineering Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences
Civil and Environmental Engineering Manufacturing and Design Engineering (MaDE)
Computer Science Materials Science and Engineering
Electrical and Computer Engineering Mechanical Engineering