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Pre-Enrollment Programs

Create a home base for exploration.

Making the transition to college can be daunting, but we're here to help.

New home, new classes, new friends:  every student faces a transition period when coming to Northwestern that's often exciting and just a little bit nerve-wracking. To help acclimate students to campus, Northwestern offers a variety of programs that are designed to develop academic and social support networks for incoming first-year students. Not quite what you're looking for? Check out the other ways that Northwestern supports undergraduates by heading over to our Academic Support page.

Summer Academic Workshop

Group of students standing in front of building

Northwestern University's Summer Academic Workshop (SAW) is a three-week program designed to equip students with the tools to thrive at Northwestern. Students will enroll in writing course designed to strengthen their writing skills and gain key insights and resources to help them successfully navigate the university.

Students will live together in a traditional campus residence hall and experience Northwestern life under the mentorship of six upperclass peer counselors. As a participant, you will also have the opportunity to move into your permanent residence hall earlier than the regular move-in date for incoming students. All meals are provided during the program.

Housing, meals, and social activities are completely covered through the Office of the Provost. Students and families are only expected to pay for personal items and transportation to campus.

For more information about SAW contact:

Robert Brown
Director of Social Justice Education


Group of students standing in a lab

Bio/ChemEXCEL are intensive five-week residential summer programs for incoming students to the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences that are designed to prepare students for the typical course load of a pre-med or science major at Northwestern University. These courses are taught by graduate students who are specially trained by the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching, and are offered at multiple levels to accommodate students with different academic backgrounds.

Students will participate in meet-and-greets with Northwestern faculty and staff members, as well as visits to research laboratories and facilities, a local pharmaceutical company, the Feinberg School of Medicine, and the Field Museum in Chicago.

Students who successfully complete the program will get preferred admission into NU Bioscientist, our first-year research preparatory program, and will also get to participate in our textbook loan program during the academic year. 

The University will cover all costs of tuition, airfare (for students who live more than two hours away from Northwestern), housing, food, books, and program sponsored events.

For more information about BioEXCEL or ChemEXCEL contact:

Dr. Luke Flores
Assistant Director of First-Year & Transition Programs

Bridge Program

Two students posing for a picture in a park

Bridge is a four-week, intensive summer program offering two parallel tracks: one for students considering coursework in chemistry or economics, and the second for students who want to focus in the humanities and social sciences. Students who complete the program receive two elective credits with no grades. Students who did not take AP or IB coursework are especially encouraged to apply.

For more information about the Bridge program contact:

Dr. Luke Flores
Assistant Director of First-Year & Transition Programs


Engineering students posing for a picture

EXCEL is a cultural leadership development program for engineers whose mission is to provide an environment that fosters the development of a cultural community of support while reinforcing excellence in academics. The relationships that develop during the program provide a support network and a formula for success for engineering students.

During the summer before their first year at McCormick, EXCEL students live on campus and participate in academically rigorous coursework, including leadership classes that help prepare them for their first year of engineering study. Students who participate in the program form a close social support network and assume many of the leadership roles among the engineering student organizations (e.g. National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, etc.)

During the five weeks students are on campus they will live together with other program participants in one of the residence halls and get a sense of what college life will be like for you in the fall. Students will attend classes in chemistry, calculus and engineering analysis (which combines linear algebra and Matlab computer programming) plus a course in leadership, where they will work as part of a team to solve a real-world engineering problem.

Thanks to generous corporate sponsors, Alumni, and Northwestern University, the expenses for the program—including tuition, room and board, textbooks and transportation*—are covered. Please contact us for more information if you have any questions or concerns.

* We cover the cost of round-trip transportation for students who live more than 90-miles outside of Chicago.

For more information about EXCEL contact:

Ellen Worsdall
Assistant Dean & EXCEL Director

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