Welcome New Undergraduates

Congratulations on your admission to Northwestern University and the McCormick School of Engineering! We are thrilled you will soon join the Wildcat community and our student body of whole-brain™ engineers here at McCormick.

Before you begin your studies, please take time to prepare yourself for a strong start as a McCormick student. Browse the resources available here and carefully review the Freshman Checklist.

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Undergraduate Engineering Office

McCormick’s Undergraduate Engineering Office serves as an invaluable resource for information and assistance regarding courses, registration, majors, study abroad, your degree progress, and more.

You’ll hear from us directly throughout the summer via email. However, if you have additional questions or concerns, please email the First Year Advisers in the Undergraduate Engineering Office at mcc-advising@northwestern.edu or call us at 847-491-7379.

Meet the Undergraduate Engineering Office staff

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First Year Advisers

Starting in the 2014-2015 school year, all first-year students at McCormick will be assigned to one of the four freshmen advisers listed on this page.

Emma DecostaEmma DeCosta
Ford 1.205
Email Emma

Richard FreemanRichard Freeman
Ford 1.207
Email Richard

Ken GentryKen Gentry
Ford 1.208
Email Ken

Janice MejiaJanice Mejia
Ford 1.206
Email Janice

McCormick Academic Advisers are located in:

Ford 1.200
2133 Sheridan Rd.
Evanston, Illinois
Email: mcc-advising@northwestern.edu

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McCormick Peer Advisers

The McCormick Peer Adviser (PA) team welcomes new students to their community and guides them through the first year in engineering. PAs work as a team to serve the entire group of first-year students. Additionally, PAs are given a group they mentor throughout Wildcat Welcome and the first year.

PAs assist their group in becoming comfortable and confident in their new home. This often involves collaboration with a student’s first year adviser.

PAs support students by guiding them through Wildcat Welcome, offering a peer perspective on life in McCormick and Northwestern, and co-leading the First-Year Experience seminars.

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McCormick Dossier

The McCormick Dossier is your most important tool in planning for fall quarter. In it, you will be able to change your major (if desired), begin planning your fall schedule, and complete required placement exams. Log into the Dossier using your Net ID and Password.

Dossier is divided into three sections. Each section must be completed by July 11.

After you have submitted all parts of the dossier, your adviser will contact you. All students will hear from their adviser by August 5.

Dossier Part one: General Information

The general information section of Dossier allows you to:

  • Confirm, change, and/or explore majors (it's okay if you are undecided)
  • Indicate your interest in learning more about co-op, dual degree, and study abroad options
  • Self-report AP/IB scores (if applicable)
  • Submit documentation for any college level coursework taken prior to matriculation at Northwestern (if applicable)
  • Explore career goals
  • Reflect on your learning methods

There are many questions in this section of the Dossier that ask you to reflect on your previous learning experiences. Please take a moment to think about these questions before responding. The answers to these questions will help your adviser to know and understand you better.

Dossier Part two: Fall Quarter Study Plan

The study plan will review typical freshmen course schedules. It will then allow you to build your initial fall schedule. You will review and confirm your fall schedule with your adviser.

Dossier Part THREE: Placement Exams

The McCormick math placement is located within Dossier. There also is a link to the ALEKS exam in Dossier. Placement exams are described in more detail on this page.

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Math Placement Exam

Mathematics is a cornerstone in the foundation of engineering coursework. The Office of Undergraduate Engineering has developed an exam as a resource to determine where you should start in the calculus sequence.

  • Incoming first-year McCormick students (even those with AP or IB credits) should take this exam.
  • The exam is non-binding so it will not hurt anyone to take it.

The exam consists of a total of 41 multiple-choice questions divided into three areas:

  • Differential Calculus
  • Integral Calculus
  • Advanced Calculus

You will have 65 minutes to complete each section. The Advanced Calculus section is optional and used to determine placement in the honors math sequence. Calculators are only to be used for basic math functions. Any student with a documented disability needing accommodations should first contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities.

The exam is online only through the McCormick Dossier. It will be available starting June 2 and will remain available through 11:55 p.m. on July 11.

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First Year Curriculum

Northwestern works on the quarter system, three quarters per year; each quarter students typically take four classes/credits, along with a zero (0) credit freshmen seminar.

While course plans will vary from student to student based on major, interests, and other factors, there is a standard set of sequences that McCormick freshmen begin in the first year:


Three of the courses will be in mathematics, one per quarter, all in calculus or differential equations. Where you begin in the math sequence (Math 220, 224, 230, 234) is determined by AP/IB exam scores and your results on the McCormick Math Placement Exam.


At least two courses should be in basic science. Most students begin with Chemistry 101 or 171, unless they have tested out with AP/IB credit.

Engineering Analysis

Three of the courses will be the first three quarters of the Engineering Analysis (GEN_ENG 205-1, 2, 3) sequence. These three courses cover material in linear algebra, mechanics, physics, and computer proficiency.

Design Thinking & Communication

Two of the courses will be the Design Thinking and Communication (DTC) sequence. This two-quarter sequence is dedicated to learning the design process and will focus on clear and effective writing; to register for a quarter you will need 0.5 credits of DSGN, and 0.5 credits of ENGL separately. Either Fall or Winter quarter you will need to take DTC I (DSGN 106-1 & ENG 106-1); Spring quarter you will take DTC II (DSGN 106-2 & ENG 106-2).

First-Year Experience

Each quarter you will enroll in a zero credit seminar, “PRDV 396-0 Special Topics in Personal Development: MEAS First-Year Experience.” This course will help your transition to college; give you a place to discuss academic, social, or other issues with peers; and provide information on the resources available at Northwestern.

The remaining courses are typically science requirements and elective choices.

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Suggested First Year Courses


  • Math (Calculus)
  • Science (Chem)
  • GEN_ENG 205-1
  • DSGN 106-1 (.5 credit)
  • ENGLISH 106-1 (.5 credit) or Elective*


  • Math (Calculus)
  • Science (Chem)
  • GEN_ENG 205-2
  • DSGN 106-1 (.5 credit)
  • ENGLISH 106-1 (.5 credit) or Elective*


  • Math (Calculus)
  • Elective or Science (Chem)**
  • GEN_ENG 205-3
  • DSGN 106-2 (.5 credit)
  • ENGLISH 106-2 (.5 credit)

* Undergraduates will take Design Thinking and Communication 1 (DSNG 106-1 and ENGLISH 106-1) in the Fall OR Winter, not both.

** Should be the third quarter of chemistry if majoring in Chemical Engineering, Environmental Enginereing, Biomedical Engineering, or Materials Science & Engineering

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Summer emails

Before undergraduates begin the fall quarter, McCormick will send out monthly emails regarding upcoming important events, including our introductory webinar in July.

Please ensure the Undergraduate Engineering Office has your current email address.

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Computing at Northwestern

Northwestern Information Technology (NUIT)

NUIT serves as Northwestern's central information technology organization, providing support for computers, telephones, multimedia equipment, and the networks that connect them.

Computer Recommendations

  • What sort of personal computer do you need in the campus environment?
  • What should you consider when purchasing a new system?

View and download Northwestern University's computer recommendations.

MATLAB Software

First year McCormick students use a mathematical software programming package called MATLAB as part of the Engineering Analysis (EA) course sequence. You should purchase this software by August 1.

Download MATLAB software for a reduced price

View our MATLAB & Computing Resources page

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McCormick Google Hangout

McCormick will host an interactive Google Hangout in June and July, answering questions about your first year engineering schedule, advising, Wildcat Welcome events, math placement exam information, details on transfer credits and AP/IB score results, and much more.

Check your Northwestern email for more information on this online session!

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Helpful Links