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Transferring to Northwestern

Who should apply as a transfer student?

If you enrolled in college study after secondary-school graduation, you must apply as a transfer student. Successful transfer applicants typically arrive at Northwestern having completed at least one academic year of full-time college coursework (24 semester hours or 36 quarter hours). You are eligible to apply for transfer admission while in the process of completing one full-year of college coursework, as long as you will have completed that coursework prior to the start of the term in which you plan to enroll.

You must be in good standing and eligible to continue studies at your most recent institution.

How do I apply?

The deadline for transfer applications is March 15*. All transfer applicants must apply for fall quarter matriculation.

Required items:

  • Common Application (additional "Why Northwestern" written response encouraged) or Coalition Application
  • Official secondary school transcript(s) noting graduation (Common Application Secondary School Report completed by a high school counselor is not required)
  • Official university transcript(s)
  • College report
  • Academic evaluation
  • Required standardized test scores
  • Nonrefundable application fee ($75)

In addition, we recommend that you include additional test scores, such as SAT Subject Test results, if available. Please note that Bienen School of Music applicants are required to audition. For more information, please see the Application Requirements page.

*We realize transfer applicants come from a diverse array of life experiences that may not map neatly onto the traditional academic year. For this reason, our transfer application will remain open until April 10 for students whose circumstances prevent them from meeting the March 15 deadline. Students who apply by March 15 are more likely to receive a decision from us earlier, but we will give full consideration to all applications, with a guaranteed decision by May 15. Please note that supplemental application materials, such as those for the Bienen School of Music, may have separate deadlines.

Will I receive credit for classes taken at other colleges or universities?

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. Students can expect to receive a preliminary credit evaluation prior to their three-week enrollment deadline. Deadline extension requests should be submitted to our office via email and will be reviewed on an individual basis. Since a final evaluation may not be emailed to you before your tuition deposit is due, you should review the following guidelines to better understand how your previous courses will be appraised:

  • The following courses do not transfer:
    • Courses completed at an unaccredited college or university.
    • Physical education or hygiene courses.
    • Courses for which credit was granted by institutional examination or CLEP examination rather than course attendance.
    • Courses worth less than three quarter hours or two semester hours.
    • English as a Second Language courses.
    • Courses graded with P (Pass) or S (Satisfactory) grades.
    • Work in a curricular area generally not recognized for credit at Northwestern.
  • A credit conversion formula is used to determine the number of NU units a student is awarded. The sum of transferable credits is multiplied by the number of credits required to earn an NU degree (42, 45, 48 or 50), then the result is divided by the number of credits required to earn a degree at the student’s previous institution. Courses acceptable for credit must be in a curricular area generally recognized for credit at Northwestern (as listed in our course catalog).
  • Eligible Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) scores may be used toward a bachelor’s degree. The type and level of test credit awarded is standardized across the undergraduate schools, though each school has separate rules regarding the use of test credit to fulfill degree requirements. You must arrange to have your scores sent to Northwestern.
  • Transfer credit accepted from another institution is reflected on the Northwestern University transcript with a grade of "T", not the actual grade received at the other institution. The "T" (Transfer) grade is not used in calculating the Northwestern GPA.

More details about these policies are located on the Northwestern Office of the Registrar website.

May I apply to any school or department at Northwestern?

Transfer applicants may apply to most departments at Northwestern's undergraduate schools.

Exceptions include:

  • The School of Communication: Theatre department spaces are only occasionally available.
  • The Bienen School of Music: Contact the Bienen School of Music for audition requirements and scheduling.

What test scores are required?

All transfer applicants are required to submit scores from either the SAT or ACT; the writing scores from either exam are optional. We accept scores from both the new and old SAT.

Applicants may self-report these scores, taking care to report their highest individual sections of the SAT and/or highest ACT composite score. Applicants are not obligated to report scores from all test dates, though are welcome to do so. Admitted students who choose to enroll will be required to submit official SAT or ACT test scores prior to matriculation.

Any SAT Subject Test scores, AP, or IB scores can also be sent as part of the application but these scores are not a required for a complete application.

Am I eligible for financial aid?

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.

To apply for financial assistance, you 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.

For more information please refer to our Tuition and Aid section.

When will I be notified of Northwestern's decision?

Decisions are made on a rolling basis after the application deadline. Northwestern will not review your application for admission until we have received all required admission items.

Who is admitted to Northwestern?

Admission to Northwestern is highly competitive. Typically, under 15% of transfer applicants are admitted each year. Strong applicants have completed course work across the full range of the liberal arts and sciences courses and maintained a B average.

May I reapply if I wasn't accepted earlier?

Applicants who previously applied to Northwestern and received an admission decision must wait one academic year before being reconsidered.

May I defer my enrollment?

Northwestern does not consider deferral requests from admitted transfer students; students should apply for the term in which they intend to enroll.

Does Northwestern have registration requirements?

A student entering as a transfer student in a four-year degree program must be registered at the University for at least 6 quarters and earn credit for courses worth at least 23 units at the University.

Being “registered at Northwestern” for a quarter means that during that quarter the student is registered for and completes Northwestern coursework worth at least 2 full units of credit under the supervision of Northwestern faculty members.

A full-time course load consists of a minimum of three units per quarter, although many students enroll in four units per quarter. Between 42 and 50 units are required for graduation, depending on the Northwestern undergraduate school.

Is housing available for transfer students?

University housing is available for 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.

I am a foreign national living outside the U.S.: should I apply as a transfer student?

International transfer applicants should follow directions for applying as a transfer student, noting specific additional requirements for international students.