Multiple & Unaffiliated Programs
Participating in multiple study abroad programs during your Northwestern career, especially when they are during consecutive terms, is encouraged but requires careful planning. If you are considering multiple study abroad experiences, especially if they are consecutive and/or in different locations, make sure to consider the following:
- Application Requirements
Students intending to participate on one program during the fall quarter and on a different program during winter/spring, spring, or summer must submit two separate applications: one for your fall quarter program choice and another for your winter/spring, spring, or summer choice. You can indicate a second choice program option in each application. In both applications, mark "Yes" to the "Multiple Programs in Same Academic Year" question. Lastly, you will be required to complete an additional application essay, which provides an academic rationale for why you are selecting two different term-length programs, rather than one full-year program.
- Visa Considerations
If you plan to study abroad in two separate locations during two consecutive terms, you will likely experience complications applying for a visa, if your host country requires one. Travel prior to the start of your program can also interfere with the visa process. It is your responsibility to research entry requirements for your program(s) of choice and speak with your ULA adviser to discuss options.
- Undergraduate Registration Requirement
Don’t forget that you must fulfill the Undergraduate Registration Requirement (URR), even if you study abroad for multiple terms.
Northwestern encourages students to study abroad for the full year. If you decide – while you are abroad – that you would like to extend your stay, follow the necessary procedures by the published deadlines.
Northwestern strongly encourages students to apply to study abroad on Northwestern programs or affiliated programs, which have been vetted and approved by the University Study Abroad Committee (USAC) and the International Travel Risk Assessment Committee (ITRAC). We have close working relationships with affiliated programs and deem them to be of high quality in terms of academic standards, housing, cultural immersion, administrative support services, health, safety and security. USAC’s lengthy vetting process for these programs includes consultation with relevant departments to assess academic rigor and fit as well as the ITRAC to evaluate student services. Our affiliated programs are run by other universities and non-profit organizations that are recognized for offering high-quality programs in the field of education abroad. Our affiliation agreement with their programs binds us to work closely together, and our partners communicate regularly with us, including during times of crisis. Given today's global environment, we value these close relationships more than ever.
If you have specialized academic needs that cannot be met by one of our many Northwestern and affiliated options, you may be granted permission to apply to an unaffiliated program or foreign institution during the academic year if you find a program that meets the standards above, present a compelling academic rationale, and we can determine that credit will be eligible to transfer back to Northwestern. Non-academic reasons include but are not limited to: following a family tradition, studying abroad with a friend from another institution, seeking less expensive options, or having a desire to live in a specific city. While ULA recognizes that these may be important aspects of a study abroad experience, they are not sufficient to override the combination of criteria that we have evaluated and approved in our Northwestern and affiliated programs. Similarly, it's unlikely that permission will be granted to apply to an unaffiliated program in a country, and especially a city, in which we offer affiliated program option(s).
Please note: Northwestern is more likely to grant permission to apply to unaffiliated programs run by universities/organizations that sponsor programs on our affiliated list than those run by other universities/organizations, for the reasons described in the first paragraph above. Students are not permitted to apply to more than one unaffiliated program or unaffiliated foreign institution, and the unaffiliated option must be their first choice. Multi-location programs, such as Semester at Sea, are rarely approved on an unaffiliated basis.
For more information, visit the unaffiliated programs page.