Skip to main content

Student Status Issues

Transfer and international students, and students planning to graduate early or study abroad during their senior year, should be aware of the following Northwestern guidelines and policies before studying abroad.

Transfer Students

Be sure to review the Undergraduate Registration Requirement (URR) carefully. Consult with GLO, your academic advisers, and/or the Office of the Registrar if you are concerned about meeting the URR and studying abroad.

Studying in your Home Country

International students on J1/F1 visas, as well as dual citizens not on J1/F1 visas, who are seeking to enroll independently in courses at foreign institutions in their countries of permanent residence/citizenship may be exempt from applying for permission to study abroad by the study abroad application deadlines. Refer to the Registrar’s Office website for information about transfer credit processes and contact Jessica Fetridge at for more information. If it is determined that you are eligible for the “home country exemption,” you must:

  1. Consult with your academic advisers regarding your academic plans.
  2. Consult with the Office of International Student and Scholar Services regarding your visa status (if applicable).  
  3. Make all of your own arrangements for your study as a visiting student, rather than as a study abroad student. GLO is not able to provide any adviser or home university certifications, nor can we advise you regarding course selection. If you receive financial aid from Northwestern, please note that financial aid cannot apply to the home country exemption.
  4. Submit a Post-Matriculation Transfer Course Proposal form for each course you expect to take by the end of the quarter prior to the start of your coursework abroad.
    1. Mark “yes” to the question, “I.” By marking “yes” to this question, your forms will be routed to GLO to verify that you have indeed received the “home country exemption” before the form is then routed for academic approval.
    2. You should submit these forms prior to study.
  5. Make sure that you are registered in a health care plan during your studies, since you may not be eligible for GeoBlue Global Health Insurance through Northwestern. For more information, visit the study abroad health insurance section or the Office of Global Safety and Security site.

Students Planning to Graduate Early

If you hope to study abroad and graduate early, you need to review your plans with your academic advisers and degree auditor in the Office of the Registrar before going abroad. Whether or not you can do both depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The amount of time you have spent taking classes full-time on Northwestern’s campus
  • Whether you are getting a single or double degree
  • Whether or not you received AP credit
  • Your study abroad program and term(s), and the time it takes for Northwestern to receive your study abroad transcript

Refer to the Registrar’s Office website for information about preparing for graduation.

Students Studying Abroad during Their Senior Year

Please note that it can take 2-4 months for Northwestern to receive your official transcript from your study abroad program and for transfer credit to appear on your Northwestern transcript. If you are studying abroad during your final quarter at Northwestern, this will likely delay your actual date of graduation. Be sure to review the Office of the Registrar's graduation deadlines, and complete the credit transfer process as soon as possible after your return to campus. Contact your academic advisers and/or the Office of the Registrar with any questions.

It is possible to study abroad during your final quarter at Northwestern, but keep the following important issues in mind:

  • You must stay in contact with your degree auditor before and while you are abroad to discuss the timeline of your graduation and the process for receiving your diploma.
  • As noted above, it can take around 2-4 months for study abroad transcripts to arrive at Northwestern and additional time for credits to be posted and applied towards your degree program, which will likely delay your actual date of graduation. In the past, some seniors who studied abroad during the winter/spring quarters have not received their diplomas until early fall, even though they may have been eligible to "walk" at graduation in June and were not required to continue enrolling in classes in those terms.
    • If you receive financial aid for study abroad, you are required to transfer your credits back to Northwestern, regardless of whether you "need" the credits or intend to petition for specific departmental credit.
  • Some programs do not end until after Northwestern's quarter is over, and you are required to complete all courses, coursework, and final assessments on-site. If your program does not end until after Northwestern’s graduation, you cannot return early to walk. 
  • Students planning to return to the U.S. to walk with their fellow graduating classmates may experience difficulty obtaining tickets to the graduation ceremony while abroad. Contact the Office of Special Events (847-491-3600 or for further details. 
  • Students must be enrolled at Northwestern in order to be eligible to participate in study abroad. You cannot study abroad after graduating. Students may participate in study abroad during the summer after their fourth (senior) year, as long as they petition to graduate after Summer term. Note the timelines for transfer credit above.
  • If you are hoping to apply to graduate schools for the term immediately following your study abroad program and Northwestern graduation, make sure your graduate schools understand that your final diploma and transcript from Northwestern may not be available until for some time.