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High School Courses

What high school classes should I take?

The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the Medill School of Journalism, the School of Education and Social Policy, the Bienen School of Music and the School of Communication require that entering students complete a minimum of 16 courses (most applicants present more) in the following academic areas:

  • English: 4 full-year courses
  • Foreign language: a minimum of 2 full-year courses of one foreign language
  • History and social science: a minimum of 2 full-year courses
  • Laboratory science: a minimum of 2 full-year courses
  • Mathematics: a minimum of 3 full-year courses
  • Additional subjects: 1-3 full-year courses in the academic areas listed above

The McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science encourages strong preparation in mathematics and science. Recommended coursework includes:

  • English: 4 full-year courses
  • Laboratory science: a minimum of 3 full-year courses; chemistry and physics preferred
  • Mathematics: 3.5-4 full-year courses; calculus preferred, if available; the minimum requirement includes 2 full-year courses of algebra, 1 full-year course of plane geometry and 1 semester of trigonometry
  • Additional subjects: 5-6 full-year courses; these should include courses in foreign language, history and social sciences

How important is my secondary school transcript?

The evaluation of your secondary school transcript is an important part of the admission process. We are not simply looking for high grades; the strength of your academic program is also considered. In addition, the admission committee makes note of any accelerated, honors or Advanced Placement courses taken.

Every secondary school is different in its level of competitiveness and in the range of courses offered. These factors are also considered when admission decisions are rendered.

Will I receive credit for classes taken at other colleges?

In some circumstances, credits taken at other universities can also be applied towards a Northwestern degree. Although official evaluation of your credits will be made by Northwestern's Registrar's Office, it may be helpful to know the following guidelines. 

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)

Does Northwestern award credit for dual enrollment courses?

Northwestern awards credit for college-level courses taken prior to high school graduation (or the equivalent) in accordance with university guidelines. Please note that students are only considered transfer applicants if they have enrolled in one year of full-time college-level coursework after high school graduation or the equivalent.