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Northwestern Exchanges

In exchanges, you directly enroll at a Northwestern partner university abroad, which are some of the most prestigious institutions in the world. You have the flexibility to choose courses from the course catalog at your host universities. Some exchanges are restricted to certain departments or disciplines; others allow you to choose from a wide variety of courses across the university.

Northwestern financial aid may be used for participation on Northwestern Exchange programs.

For most exchanges:

Academic Expectations

Northwestern exchange programs are immersion programs in which students enroll directly in courses offered at Northwestern partner institutions. Partner universities are chosen because they offer similar access to academically rigorous courses, research opportunities, and world-class faculty to those that are available at Northwestern. Therefore, students should expect for coursework to be demanding and require significant reading and study outside of class.

Although students can expect for their courses to be as challenging as their Northwestern courses, they should also be prepared to experience a very different academic culture, structure, and/or pedagogical style at their host university. Students may find that expectations regarding attendance, assigned readings, participation, grading, and other course attributes and requirements may be quite different from Northwestern. This is both an opportunity and challenge of participating in an exchange program: Students will be able to learn about a totally different academic system, take classes with local students, and study in the host language (if applicable), but this requires identifying, understanding, and adjusting quickly to these new academic expectations. 

Exchange students are expected to learn and abide by all academic policies, rules, and norms of their host university, so it is important that you take time to identify resources that can help you navigate your new university environment. Speak to past exchange students, both from Northwestern and from your partner institution, before you depart, and ask your instructors and other on-site contacts for assistance and feedback.

Finally, as with all other study abroad students, remember that you are participating in this program as a representative of Northwestern, and you are expected to approach your academic work with dedication and integrity.

Cultural Expectations

Exchange programs are unique in that they offer students a fully immersive experience. Think back to when you came to Northwestern as a first-year student and the time it took for you to develop your social network, adjust to the new academic challenges and expectations, and navigate the campus environment. Arriving at your host institution will involve a similar degree of adaptation, except the linguistic context – as well as cultural rules and norms both inside and outside of the classroom – will likely be different. Plus, the amount of time that you will have to experience university life – and adapt accordingly – will be much more compressed. You only have a few months, rather than four years!

As a result, exchange programs require that students exhibit a great degree of independence, personal responsibility, and self-direction, since it will be up to you to define your goals, identify resources, make connections, and seek help when necessary. It is important that you make a concerted effort to take advantage of opportunities available to you through your host institution and host city, as well as to cultivate relationships with local students and community members.