Transfer Applicant FAQs
- May I apply to any school and department at Northwestern as a transfer applicant?
- Who is admitted to Northwestern?
- May I reapply to Northwestern if I wasn't accepted earlier?
- Should I apply as a transfer student if I am a foreign national living outside the United States?
- When should I apply to Northwestern?
- How do I apply to Northwestern?
- When will I be notified of Northwestern's decision?
- Am I eligible for financial aid?
- Does Northwestern have residency requirements?
- Will credits earned at other institutions transfer to Northwestern?
- Is housing available for transfer and returning adult students?
- Am I required to submit scores from the writing portion of the SAT or ACT?
Transfer applicants may apply to most departments at Northwestern's undergraduate schools for any quarter. Exceptions include the following:
- Medill School of Journalism and the Theatre and Radio/Television/Film departments within the School of Communication. Applicants to these schools may apply for the fall quarter only. Admission to these departments is highly competitive. Transfer applicants preparing to begin their sophomore year will receive preference over applicants who have completed more than one year of college study.
- McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. Applicants for the fall quarter are strongly preferred given the sequence of course offerings in the curriculum.
- The Bienen School of Music. Contact the Bienen School of Music to inquire if a vacancy exists in your performance area and to schedule an audition.
Admission to Northwestern is highly competitive. Typically, 15 to 20 percent of applicants for fall quarter are admitted each year. Therefore, only students with strong academic credentials are encouraged to apply. Successful candidates generally have maintained a B average or better in rigorous academic courses and have submitted materials in strong support of their candidacy.
Transfer applicants must have completed a full year of university study to be considered for admission to Northwestern as a transfer student. Applicants must also be in good standing at their most recent postsecondary institution. Strong applicants have completed course work across the full range of the liberal arts and sciences (not just in selected disciplines) prior to applying.
Northwestern has a two-year residency requirement; applicants who have completed substantially more than two years of undergraduate work elsewhere are discouraged from applying.
If you applied for admission during the last academic year, you may request in writing to have your application reactivated for transfer consideration. Applicants who were previously denied admission to Northwestern must wait one academic year before being reconsidered and are strongly encouraged to enroll full-time at another college or university for that period.
International transfer applicants must apply for fall quarter entrance and should follow directions specifically for international students.
Please refer to Applications Deadlines and Options.
Please refer to Application Instructions for transfer and returning adult applicants.
Northwestern will not review your application for admission until we have received all required admission items. Decisions are made on a rolling basis after the application deadline. Upon your acceptance to Northwestern, it is important to pay the nonrefundable tuition deposit by your enrollment deadline. This will secure your place in the class.
Transfer applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to apply for financial aid in the form of grants, loans, and part-time employment.
Financial aid is awarded on the basis of need, but is dependent upon availability of funds. Northwestern grant assistance is generally not available to transfer or returning adult students during their first year at the University.
To apply for financial assistance applicants must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) and the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Financial Aid Profile. For best consideration and to ensure the notification at the time of your admission decision, you should apply for financial aid at least one month prior to your application deadline. Only independent or self-supporting students (As defined by the eligibility guidelines for federal aid programs) may file these forms without parental information.
Applicants are also encouraged to apply for the Pell Grant and the Illinois State Monetary Award (or other state grant) by checking the appropriate boxes on the FAFSA. Admitted students who are receiving financial aid from other sources should arrange for it to be carried over to Northwestern, if appropriate.
For more information please refer to our Financial Aid section.
For a bachelor’s degree, Northwestern requires that students enrolling as a transfer student complete a minimum of 6 quarters and 23 units earned at Northwestern University, in addition to the degree requirements established by each school and regardless of the amount of college course work completed elsewhere.
Northwestern uses a course definition in which each course equals one unit of credit. The full-time course load consists of four units per quarter or 12 units per academic year. Between 45 and 48 units are required for graduation, depending on the Northwestern undergraduate school.
The official evaluation of your credits will be made by Northwestern's Registrar's Office. Once a transfer applicant has been accepted, the Office of Undergraduate Admission will initiate the process of credit evaluation. Since this evaluation may not be mailed to you before your tuition deposit is due, you should review the following guidelines to better understand how your previous courses will be appraised:
- When college or university degree requirements are expressed in hours, Northwestern transfer credit will be determined by multiplying the ration of acceptable hours completed to the total number of hours required for graduation at your previous college or university by 45 (number of hours required for Northwestern graduation). ((Acceptable credit hours for transfer / Total hours required to graduate) X 45 = Northwestern units of credit.)
- Courses acceptable for credit must be comparable to courses at Northwestern and in comparable University departments (as listed in our course catalog).
- The following courses do not transfer:
- Courses completed at an unaccredited college or university.
- Physical education or hygiene courses.
- No more than three applied music courses (except applicants to the Bienen School of Music)
- Courses for which credit was granted by institutional examination rather than course attendance
- Mathematics courses below the level of calculus (with the exception of a combined course in college algebra and trigonometry or modern mathematics).
- Courses worth less than three quarter hours or two semester hours.
- Credit granted through CLEP examinations.
- Courses that an applicant has audited, repeated, or failed.
- English as a Second Language courses.
- Journalism courses (Medill students only).
- In nearly all areas, credit will be given for CEED Advanced Placement Examination scores of "4" or "5," or higher-level International Baccalaureate results of "5" or higher. You must arrange to have your scores sent to Northwestern.
- Students in a foreign university degree program receive credit only for examinations administered by that university (i.e., the Vordiplom awarded by German universities at the end of two years/four semesters).
- If you are transferring to the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences with sophomore standing or higher, your foreign language proficiency requirement will be satisfied if you have earned a score of "4" or "5" on an Advanced Placement Examination in a foreign language, or a grade of C or better in the final term of a second-year language course at a previous college.
- Grades and cumulative grade point averages do not transfer to Northwestern.
University housing is limited to transfer students. Rooms in residence halls are provided based on availability. If admitted without housing, you must pay your nonrefundable tuition deposit before the Undergraduate Housing Office can place your name on Northwestern's housing waiting list or before our off-campus housing office can act as a resource for additional housing options.
Writing scores from either the SAT or ACT are optional. All transfer applicants are required to submit scores from the SAT or ACT (versions without writing samples) as part of their transfer application, however.