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Study Abroad for School of Education & Social Policy Students

SESP students of any major can - and do - study abroad! Below, you'll find the following information:


Advising & Support

Your SESP adviser will support you throughout your study abroad journey. You are encouraged to bring up your interest in study abroad early, so that your SESP adviser can assist you in pursuing study abroad along your unique academic path in the School of Education & Social Policy.

As you are applying to study abroad, you must meet with your SESP adviser, and they must sign off on your study abroad application before it can be submitted. In discussing your application with you, SESP advisers will focus on:

  • The implications of study abroad on your progress towards the bachelor’s degree
  • How to obtain advising for a second major or minor outside of SESP
  • How study abroad can fit into your schedule alongside the practicum and/or student teaching 
  • Completion of distribution and other requirements for graduation through study abroad
  • 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

Refer to the SESP Academic Advisers page for information about how to contact your SESP adviser.

Earning Credit

Eligible credits from study abroad count as electives unless they are authorized to count toward major/minor credits by the department or as distros by your SESP adviser. You should consult your adviser during the application stage to determine the feasibility of using courses taken abroad to satisfy degree requirements. Credit in SESP will not be given for courses that are inappropriate to the School’s curriculum or that do not meet the usual standards for credit in the School. For example, you will not receive credit for course equivalents you’ve already completed at Northwestern.

Per SESP policy, students cannot earn credit toward the degree requirements for non-practicum internships. If you complete an internship for credit while abroad, this credit will transfer back as elective credit. Students interested in completing their SESP practicum internationally should work directly with the SESP Practicum Adviser, Funmi Ojikutu ( A potential international practicum search will follow the practicum site search timeline and should be discussed with your SESP adviser and the practicum director following the sophomore meeting. 

The application of your credits earned abroad to the degree requirements approved by your SESP adviser will take place once your courses have been completed, you have filled out a study abroad program evaluation, and an official transcript from the program abroad has been processed by Northwestern’s Office of the Registrar. 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. 

Distribution Credit

If you study abroad on an Northwestern-run program that offers regular NU classes, you do NOT need to go through this credit transfer process. These courses are subject to the same rules and restrictions as the same numbered courses taught in Evanston. If a course with that number when taught at NU fulfills a distribution requirement it will automatically be one when taken abroad.

Major & Minor Credit

Your SESP major adviser is responsible for advising you and making decisions about how study abroad credits may be applied toward its requirements. SESP students typically earn credit abroad that goes toward a combination of distribution courses and/or extension courses for their SESP major. Please consult with your SESP adviser if you are looking for suggestions. Your adviser should be involved in guiding and approving your class schedule while abroad, so you know in advance which courses will be counted in which ways upon your return to campus. 

If you have a second major or minor that falls under Weinberg, you are expected to seek advising from your major or minor department about your study abroad course plans, rules and policies for earning major or minor credit, and remaining degree requirements.

Timing Considerations & Graduation Issues

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

  • Make sure to plan study abroad around SESP Practicum and Field Studies.
  • If you are abroad during spring of your junior year, be sure to complete and submit your graduation petition soon after your return to campus.
  • 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 your graduation term to be spring of that year. This simply means that your degree may not officially be conferred until summer or fall, though you will not be required to continue enrolling in classes in those terms, and you may still participate in the graduation ceremony in June. 
  • 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 your SESP adviser for more information.

Other Important Considerations

Global Engagement Experience

SESP is adjusting to rapid globalization by pushing students to broaden their cultural perspectives through their academic pursuits. Effective fall of 2019*, SESP students studying Human Development in Context, Learning & Organizational Change, Learning Sciences, and Social Policy must fulfill a Global Engagement experience one (or both) of the following ways: 

  • Studying abroad anywhere in the world for any amount of time; OR
  • Completing one year of college-level foreign language study (or equivalent, e.g. AP credit or knowledge as a heritage speaker).

More than 40 percent of SESP students have historically studied abroad, learning from an immersive experience in another academic and social culture.

*For students who started at Northwestern any time between and including fall 2019 through spring 2021, the Global Engagement requirement is waived. Once study abroad programs are reopened, we encourage these students to consider pursuing study abroad, though it will not be required for these students. 

Practicum and Internships

Fitting in both practicum and study abroad is very possible.Be sure to work in advance with your SESP adviser to ensure that you follow proper procedures and meet all necessary deadlines while abroad. It is especially important to do as much advance work as possible in lining up practicum sites.

Honors and Scholarships

If you are interested in pursuing a senior honors thesis, you should discuss this with your adviser before you depart. You may not be abroad in the spring of your junior year or the fall of your senior year if you want to participate in the honors program. The same is true if you want to apply for various national scholarships such as Rhodes or Marshall when you return, where deadlines are early in Fall Quarter. Scholarship information is available from the Office of Fellowships.


Suggested Programs for SESP Students

SESP students participate in a wide variety of study abroad programs. These programs are highlighted because they have enrolled high numbers of SESP students.

Interested in other programs? Search for more study abroad options.