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International Students

A diverse cohort is an important aspect of the MSES program, so we are happy to be able to accept international applicants. At Northwestern, you will join a vibrant community of over 5,000 international students from over a hundred countries. Please note that all international students must submit their online application no later than February 15 to join the next cohort, starting that Fall. Both international students and domestic students must apply through the McCormick application portal. Prospective students are highly encouraged to attend an MSES info session—doing so will waive the application fee and provide a first glance at the program.

Visa Status

All international students must fulfill the US government’s visa requirements in order to participate in the MSES program. To be eligible for a student visa, students must have a course load of at least three units of credit per quarter. Since the MSES program is full-time, all MSES students are eligible for a student visa. 

Once you are accepted into the program, you can begin your student visa application process. At Northwestern, international student visa status inquiries are handled by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS). Upon acceptance, you will be able to set up a Northwestern NetID and password. Using these credentials, you will be able to initiate your visa status process—for either an F-1 or a J-1 visa—through the OISS Portal. It’s important to note that students must initiate this process by requesting their documents in the portal.

For a more complete step-by-step overview of this process as a newly admitted international student, click here.

Work Eligibility

Information on F-1 or J-1 work eligibility can be found on the OISS Website.

On-Campus Work Eligibility 

Students on an F-1 or J-1 visa are eligible to work on-campus for a maximum of twenty hours per week. J-1 students must have authorization before starting any work.  You will require a social security number to work on campus and are not eligible for any jobs classified as work-study positions.

Off-Campus Work Eligibility 

During the course of their program, students on F-1 and J-1 visas may be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Academic Training (AT). Once authorized for CPT or AT, international students may work in off-campus positions (paid or unpaid) that directly relate to their coursework. Note that students must have a job offer letter before they are able to apply for CPT at AT. OISS is the main touchpoint for CPT or AT application requests.

Working After Graduation 

OPT (Optional Practical Training) is a temporary work authorization granted after graduation. MSES students are eligible for OPT or AT, and are encouraged to apply for it via the OISS website. Note that the MSES program is also eligible for the 24-month STEM OPT extension. International students can make use of MSES Staff, the McCormick Engineering Career Development Office, and the Northwestern Career Advancement Office to help with their job search. 

Funding and Scholarships

International students in the MSES program are encouraged to apply for additional funding and scholarships. They may be eligible for merit- and needs-based scholarships from the MSES Scholars Fund, and should consult the MSES financial aid page here. In addition, students may find the Office of Fellowships helpful; and are encouraged to schedule an appointment with them to discuss further funding options. 

Transcript, Grade, and Language Requirements 

International students must demonstrate English proficiency to be eligible to apply:

  • Option 1: Submit TOEFL or IELTS scores from the past two years to demonstrate language proficiency. To be eligible for admission, applicants must score at least a 100 on the TOEFL (send to institutional code C527), or 7.0 on the IELTS (e-deliver score results to "Northwestern University - Master in Energy & Sustainability"). The program does not accept alternative proficiency tests (e.g. DuoLingo). 
  • Option 2: Show evidence of prior post-secondary degrees (undergraduate or other graduate) taught in English. The student’s transcripts must clearly state English as the language of instructions or must secure a letter from their degree program stating that English was the language of instruction.

We recognize that students from different educational systems may have different formats for their grades and transcripts. This should not discourage students from applying; the MSES admissions team will do its best to determine equivalency with the American 4-point grading system internally. For the most accurate results, applicants may consider submitting a 3rd party evaluation report that converts transcripts to a US 4.0 GPA scale, like WES or ECE.  For any transcripts in a language other than English, we request that students submit a translated copy along with the original.  

International Resources at Northwestern 

Northwestern’s strong international student community means there are a variety of resources, networks, and communities available to incoming students. Prior to arrival at Northwestern, students are encouraged to attend a Graduate International Student Orientation (GISO) if possible. Once at Northwestern, students can make use of the many opportunities at the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs and can join communities centered around international students such as the International Student Association and NU World Cup.  

Points of Contact 

For all MSES-related queries, international students should contact program assistant Keller Paulson. Other MSES points of contact are visible on the contact page.  

For most visa-related and work-eligibility queries, international students should contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS). Additional information may be available on the McCormick School of Engineering website