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Northwestern University

Transfer Student Questions

This page can help answer questions you may have while getting started at Northwestern as a transfer student. Your best source for information regarding your particular credits and questions will be your assigned Weinberg Adviser. 

How do I make sense of my credit evaluation?

This form from the Registrar’s Office is a preliminary evaluation of your coursework at your prior institution. It lists the credits Northwestern has accepted toward your degree here and explains the initial determination of your transfer credits. Transferred credits may show up as a specific course (Econ 260, for instance), or as an unspecified course at a particular level within a department (Phil 3XX, for example). No matter how many credits you ultimately transfer, you will be required to take at least 23 courses at Northwestern. 

Why does my credit evaluation list “Gen_Cred”?

In most cases, you have received general credit because your prior institution operated on the semester system; we grant general credit to allow for the difference between semesters and the quarter system we use at Northwestern.

How will my AP/IB credit count?

Be sure to have your AP scores reported to the Registrar’s Office! You can consult our AP/IB credit tables to see how particular scores will be recognized. Consult your College Adviser for information about how your AP/IB scores may be counted toward your Undergraduate Registration Requirement (see below). 

Can I take a course at Northwestern for which I’ve already been given transfer credit?

If you have received transfer credit for a specific course (Chem 103, for example), then you may not subsequently retake that course for credit. If you think there has been an error in how the credit has been evaluated, you should consult with your Weinberg Adviser as soon as possible.

What should I do if I think a course has been transferred incorrectly?

It is important to remember that the credit evaluation is an initial examination of your prior coursework.  Oftentimes, a course will be transferred at a different level than a student thinks appropriate (as a 100-level course instead of a 200-level, for example), or a course will be counted in a different department than a student believes correct. In some cases, corrections are not necessary; in others, these changes can easily be made. When you meet with a College Adviser you will be able to determine if changes are needed and how to get those changes made.

What is my Undergraduate Registration Requirement?

The Undergraduate Registration Requirement (URR) specifies how many quarters must be spent at Northwestern and how many units of credit must be earned through Northwestern courses in order to receive a Northwestern degree. All transfer students must spend at least 6 quarters at Northwestern and earn at least 23 units of credit in Northwestern courses. See the Registrar’s website for details on what counts as a Northwestern quarter or unit of credit.

How do I know if a transferred course will count toward Weinberg requirements?

The Registrar’s Office will make an initial determination of which courses will satisfy distribution requirements. If you think that courses should count differently or if some potential distros were overlooked, discuss this with your College Adviser. You may also have satisfied some or all of your >Foreign Language Requirement through prior coursework or AP scores. Again, consult your College Adviser and your credit evaluation. This transfer credit worksheet (doc) can help you sort through your degree requirements.

Will I be able to count any of my transferred courses toward a major or minor?

The answer is likely to be yes, but you will have to get such substitutions approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) for your intended major or minor. Be sure to bring course descriptions and syllabi to the DUS when you declare the major or minor so that you can discuss the courses. You should also discuss with the DUS any questions you may have regarding initial course placement in the major or minor, when necessary. All transfer students must take at least 4 300-level courses in their major at Northwestern. (If your major requires fewer than four 300-level courses, then all required 300-level courses must be completed at Northwestern.)

Can I pursue a pre-med course of study as a transfer student?

Yes, although transferring can impact how you complete the pre-medical course of study. There are multiple strategies for fulfilling pre-med requirements, and you may want to consider spreading out the coursework as much as possible. Transferring may also impact your choice of major, which can in turn affect your ability to complete the pre-med course. Your best bet will be to discuss your plans right away with your College Adviser.

Can transfer students study abroad?

Yes, within certain limits. Your ability to study abroad will depend on your URR (see above) and the quarter and length of time you’d like to spend abroad. Consult your College Adviser about your particular situation. You should also consult the Study Abroad Office for information about programs, rules, and applications.

Can I take courses at another U.S. institution as a transfer student?

After you enroll at Northwestern, you can receive credit for additional courses taken at other universities. You can use this credit to fulfill your degree requirements (although distribution requirements may not be satisfied by courses at other institutions once you’ve matriculated). You will, however, still have to complete your Undergraduate Registration Requirement of a minimum of 6 quarters and 23 Northwestern courses.

Should I take any placement exams?

Placement exams are available in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and many foreign languages. Any coursework you’ve done in those fields at your prior institution will be assessed when you matriculate, but these evaluations can be tricky, particularly with language courses. A year of Spanish coursework, for instance, at another school may not be the equivalent of a year at Northwestern. If you have received credit for less than two years of language instruction, you should strongly consider taking the placement exam to confirm the placement; you can discuss your results with your College Adviser. You can also talk with your College Adviser or a department adviser in mathematics, physics, or chemistry to see if it makes sense to take a placement exam in that field. It is helpful to bring a copy of syllabi of relevant coursework from your previous institution when you discuss NU placement with a departmental adviser. Information about specific placement exams can be found on the Office of Orientation and Parent Programs website.
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