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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 listed in 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 May 15 and must be completed by July 15. First-year advisers will reach out to students on a rolling basis after you complete the dossier. Keep in mind that in addition to completing your dossier, you are required to take placement exams by June 15, as outlined on the Placement Exams and Assessments page. 


One of five first-year advisers will be assigned to you this spring and will remain your primary contact throughout your first year:

After you meet the dossier deadline, your first-year adviser will email you about fall course options. If you have any questions before then, you can email your adviser using the contact details that appear in your dossier.

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.

Before fall course registration, your first-year adviser will lead group advising sessions, and your peer adviser will help you organize your course schedule before registration. 

Fall Course Registration

Academic advising and fall quarter registration occur within the Purple Prep period, prior to students arriving to campus. The school-based advising opportunities mentioned above will fully prepare you for fall quarter course registration on September 9 or 10. You will also participate in a virtual peer adviser group meeting in early September for additional support. Learn what a peer adviser is and when you’ll hear from yours

Your registration appointment day and time will be announced in late July. You share an appointment time with your peer adviser group, allowing your PA and a school staff member to virtually support your group during your registration block. More information regarding advising and registration, along with when you can begin looking at available courses, will be released in August’s Purple Prep email.

Fall Course Planning

Your first-year adviser will use the information you provide in your dossier to approve your fall quarter 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 share details on any advanced content you have studied with your adviser. 

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 June 15.

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 May). 

Department of Chemistry initial chemistry assessment

The initial chemistry assessment is required for new 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 May).

Department of Chemistry placement exam

The chemistry placement exam is only required for students who would like to take CHEM 171 Advanced Inorganic General Chemistry, CHEM 210-1 Organic Chemistry, or CHEM 212-1 Organic Chemistry (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 May).

McCormick Math Proficiency Exam

Students who believe they have mastered the content of one of the required courses in the math sequence (MATH 220-1, 220-2, 228-1, 228-2) but who have not earned credit for that course via AP/IB exam or eligible transfer credit will have the option to complete a McCormick Math Proficiency Exam. Your first-year adviser will email you information about the exam sign-up process, relevant dates, and other details later in the summer. In the meantime, be sure to note in your dossier that you believe your math preparedness is higher than what your earned credit would indicate. Before taking the exam, students will have to provide their adviser with documentation of previous formal study in the corresponding math subject area.

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

As participants in the Engineering First-Year Seminar, all new engineering students will meet regularly with first-year and peer advisers 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 winter. Students will enroll in the noncredit First-Year Seminar during both quarters.


Deferred Students Entering in Fall 2021

If you opted to defer your entry to McCormick in 2020 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.