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McCormick School of Engineering

Welcome to McCormick! In addition to Purple Prep, your go-to source for school-specific information is McCormick's website for new students. It is the portal to essential information about AP/IB credits, online placement exams and assessments, software needs, and the McCormick online dossier, where you will complete many of the McCormick-specific tasks on your Purple Prep checklist. 

McCormick's Online Dossier

The online dossier is your most important tool in planning for fall quarter. When complete, it will include information about your academic interests, previous coursework, AP/IB scores, and other details that will help you and your adviser work out your class schedule. Note that you will need to include details about AP/IB scores in the dossier even if they were already submitted to Northwestern. The dossier becomes accessible on June 1 and must be completed by July 31. First-year advisers will reach out to students by August 31. Keep in mind that in addition to completing your dossier, you are required to take placement exams by July 31, as outlined on the Placement Exams webpage


One of six first-year advisers will be assigned to you this June and will remain your primary contact throughout your first year. You will see your adviser listed in your Dossier account.

As long as you meet the dossier deadline of July 31, your first-year adviser will email you about fall course options by August 31. If you have any questions before then, you may email your adviser. You will also be required to complete the McCormick Academic Advising Module online from August 28-September 6. In late August, your first-year adviser will share details about accessing the module. 

In addition to your first-year adviser, your McCormick peer adviser—an upper-level engineering student who can answer questions about life at Northwestern—will be in regular email contact with you later in the summer.

Fall Course Planning

Your first-year adviser will use the information you provide in your dossier, along with placement scores, to recommend your fall course selections. Those selections will be based on requirements for first-year engineering students, any earned AP/IB credits, and information you provide on college-level content you have covered through possible transfer credits. In some cases, particularly with math, there are additional exams that your adviser may recommend to ensure proper placement. Therefore, it is very important that you tell your adviser about any advanced content you have previously studied. 

Fall Quarter Course Registration

You will register for fall courses during Wildcat Welcome, after arriving to campus. Your academic adviser will assist you in understanding degree requirements and guide you in determining which classes to take in your first quarter. Your peer adviser will also provide advice from a student lens.

Class selection will be among the topics covered when you engage with your academic adviser after completing the McCormick dossier.

Transferring Non-AP/IB Credit

If you believe you may be eligible to transfer college-level credits from other institutions (other than through AP/IB) be sure to review the registrar's information on transfer credit for incoming first-year students. A link to this information is also available on McCormick's new student website. We encourage you to submit required forms as soon as possible to ensure timely credit posting. It is extremely important to communicate with your first-year adviser if you are attempting to transfer in any credits, especially those for math or science courses.

Placement Exams and Assessments

As shown on the Placement Exams webpage, all incoming first-year McCormick students must take required exams or assessments in math and chemistry—in addition to any other relevant exams—by July 31.

Department of Mathematics math placement exam

The math placement exam is required for new McCormick students regardless of their intended major or their AP/IB credit. Access the exam by accepting the invitation to join the Canvas exam page (emailed in early June). 

Department of Chemistry initial chemistry assessment

The initial chemistry assessment is required for all incoming first-year McCormick students regardless of their intended major or their AP credit in chemistry. Access the assessment by accepting the invitation to join the Canvas exam page (emailed in early June).

Department of Chemistry placement exam

The chemistry placement exam is only required for students who would like to take Accelerated General Chemistry (CHEM 171), Organic Chemistry (CHEM 215), or Organic Chemistry for Majors (CHEM 217) (for Integrated Science Program students). Students wishing to take one of the three previously mentioned courses must take both the initial chemistry assessment and this chemistry placement exam, regardless of any AP/IB credit earned. Students who took AP, IB, or other honors/advanced chemistry coursework in high school are advised to take the chemistry placement exam.

For detailed information on chemistry placement and courses, view the Department of Chemistry website. Access the placement exam by accepting the invitation to join the Canvas exam page (emailed in early June).

Other Placement Exams

Please be sure to review the Placement Exams and Assessments page for information on other optional exams that you may choose to take based on your course interests.

MATLAB Software

First-year engineering students use MATLAB, a mathematical software programming package, as part of the Engineering Analysis course sequence. MATLAB is provided free of charge and may be downloaded over the summer from McCormick’s website for new students.

Engineering First-Year Seminar

First-year engineering students are required to participate in first-year experience programming, which includes taking the zero credit McCormick First-Year Seminar. In this course, first-year engineering students meet regularly with peer advisers and other first-year students to gain insights into student life, discuss any questions about academic matters and campus resources, and receive support during the ongoing transition process.

McCormick’s First-Year Seminar begins in fall quarter and continues through the winter quarter. Students will enroll in the seminar in both quarters.

Deferred Students Entering in Fall 2023

If you opted to defer your entry to McCormick in 2022 or earlier, you must complete all required placement exams and the McCormick dossier by this summer's deadlines—even if you met some or all of these requirements before. Placement exam scores and responses to dossier questions from previous years will not be accepted this year.