Northwestern encourages all students to consider study abroad, as long as they meet the following eligibility requirements:
At the time of application and/or prior to study abroad, all study abroad applicants are expected to meet the following requirements:
The University Study Abroad Committee (USAC) expects all study abroad applicants to have a cumulative GPA of 2.5. USAC considers applicants' GPAs important because students will not have access to the same resources available at Northwestern while abroad. In some cases, it may be in a student's best interest to stay on campus and focus on improving grades. Additionally, most of Northwestern's affiliated study abroad providers and exchange partners require applicants to have a cumulative GPA of 2.5-3.0 or higher.
You may still apply to study abroad if your GPA is between 2.0 and 2.5, but you are encouraged to meet with a study abroad adviser to discuss available program options and your academic and personal preparedness to study abroad. You must also complete these additional requirements:
- Ask your school adviser to submit a letter of support, which endorses your study abroad plans.
- Submit a letter of recommendation.
- Submit an additional essay, which should explain why your GPA is below 2.5 and include: how your GPA is stable or improving, a detailed plan for improving your academic performance, a strong academic and/or personal interest in your study abroad location and/or courses (which are apparent in their course choices at Northwestern, extracurricular activities, application essays, etc.), and a compelling academic rationale for studying abroad during the term(s) indicated.
You must have academic support from your school and academic advisers to be able to study abroad. As part of the application process, you must meet with and obtain approval from your school adviser. If you have a declared major or minor in WCAS, you must also obtain approval from the appropriate major/minor adviser(s). Students who are on academic probation during the application process or in the terms leading up to study abroad should discuss their study abroad eligibility with their academic advisers and GLO.
Your study abroad plans must align with your intended major, whether that major is declared or not. Undeclared students should talk with academic and GLO advisers before choosing a study abroad program. If you change your major after applying to study abroad, be sure to discuss your study abroad plans with your academic advisers, so that they are aware of the change in academic status and can help ensure proper credit transfer.
You must complete at least one year at Northwestern before studying abroad. You are eligible to study abroad starting with the summer following successful completion of your first year. This requirement applies to transfer as well as first year students.
To be eligible to study abroad, you must be an active, enrolled student as you are applying to, preparing for, and participating in study abroad.
You are not eligible to study abroad through GLO if:
- You take a Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA) during the quarter(s) immediately prior to your term abroad.
- You take a voluntary leave of absence during the quarter(s) immediately prior to* and during your term abroad.
- You have graduated.
*Students who wish to take leave during the quarter(s) immediately preceding study abroad may submit an appeal to this policy. Contact Karey Fuhs (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information about the appeal process.
Study Abroad Readiness
Study abroad is not right for every student, and it is important to make this choice when you are ready. To do this, you must:
- Demonstrate seriousness of purpose and clear reasons for choosing a particular study abroad country and program. For more information, read the Get Started page.
- Demonstrate emotional stability and maturity. Through your application, preparation steps, and interactions with GLO, you must show that you have the ability to lead a stable, responsible, and healthy life abroad as a representative of Northwestern and the U.S.
- Abide by the terms and conditions of the student agreement regarding student participation in study abroad. You must sign this agreement as part of your application to study abroad.
In order to earn credit at Northwestern for any coursework completed abroad, you must complete a Northwestern study abroad application by the appropriate application deadline. Northwestern does not permit students to apply for study abroad credit retroactively. This includes all courses taken outside of the United States, even during the summer or through another U.S. university.
The Global Learning Office consults with the Division of Student Affairs at Northwestern to determine whether applicants have committed any conduct or housing violations and to ascertain the circumstances surrounding any such violations. In some cases, students will be asked to submit a personal statement and meet with an GLO representative to discuss the incident(s) and implications for study abroad. This information may be used in determining suitability for study abroad. In other cases, GLO will provide students with some program- or location-specific advising to encourage a safe, healthy, and compliant study abroad experience. Students who commit conduct or housing violations after they are approved but before they study abroad may not be permitted to study abroad.
Students who will be on disciplinary probation during the term(s) in which they are scheduled to study abroad are not eligible to study abroad for academic credit at Northwestern, even if their Northwestern application has been previously approved. If a student's program would permit them to participate while on probation, they are eligible to appeal Northwestern's policy. The appeal entails submitting a personal statement and meeting with a panel consisting of members from GLO, Office of Global Safety and Security, and Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution. The panel's decision is final and no further recourse is available.
Northwestern Language Requirement
To be eligible to study in a country in which English is not an official language, at least one quarter of instruction in an official language of the host country is required either before departure or while abroad.
Many study abroad programs have their own language requirements above and beyond the Northwestern requirement. Check your program’s website for more information.
In addition to the general requirements above, each school at Northwestern has its own specific guidelines and policies for study abroad, which are outlined in the School and Major Advising Resources.
- Bienen School of Music
- School of Communication
- McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science
- Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
- School of Education and Social Policy
- Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Many programs have prerequisites, which are explained on each program's website.
Undergraduate Registration Requirement (URR)
Please see the Registrar's website for more information on the URR and how it applies to study abroad.
Completion of Northwestern study abroad programs that offer courses with Northwestern course numbers and the “-SA” course suffix counts toward the URR as long as all other provisions are met. Refer to the list of Northwestern programs that count toward the URR.
Depending on your student status, you may need to complete certain steps before studying abroad. For information on procedures for transfer students, studying abroad as a senior, and early graduation, review student status issues.
University's Use of Email
As indicated in the undergraduate catalog, "email is the University’s mechanism for official communication with students, and Northwestern has the right to expect that students will read official email in a timely fashion." Failure to receive or read communication from the Global Learning Office does not absolve a student from knowing and complying with the content of the communication.