First-Year Students

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 by reviewing the information and resources below.

If you are a transfer student, visit our Transfer Students page; you will follow a different summer process. For example you do not need to complete the Dossier and have unique course registration considerations.

Please keep in mind that McCormick will send emails to you throughout the summer using your @u.northwestern.edu address. Be sure to check this account often.

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Meet Your First-Year Adviser

As a first-year student, you will hear from us directly throughout the summer via email by August 31. However, if you have additional questions or concerns, please email the First-Year Advisers in the Undergraduate Engineering Office at mcc-advising@northwestern.edu.

Meet first-year advisers

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Meet Your Peer Adviser

Every year, McCormick works with the Office of Student Transition Experiences to recruit around 50 peer advisers (PAs) to help with orientation activities, welcome you to the Northwestern community, guide you through your first year in engineering, and co-lead the PRDV 101: First-Year Experience (FYE) seminars in fall and winter quarters. PAs work as a team to serve the entire group of first-year students and individually to mentor 8-12 first-year students, often in collaboration with each student’s first-year adviser.

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Summer Prep

McCormick Dossier

The McCormick Dossier is your most important tool in planning for fall quarter. In it, you will be able to share important information with your adviser and begin planning your fall schedule. You will be asked to tell us about you and your interests and plan your fall courses. Your adviser uses this information to advise you on your fall classes.

Log into the Dossier using your Net ID and Password. Dossier opens on June 1 and must be completed by July 31.

Log into McCormick Dossier

Math Placement Exam

Access the Math Placement Exam, which is required for all incoming McCormick first-years, on Canvas. This exam opens in Canvas on June 1 and is due by July 31.

The Honors Calculus Exam, included in the McCormick Dossier, is only required for students who wish to take the ESAM 252 sequence. This sequence is a multivariable calculus course that covers the same content as Math 228 but in more depth and at a faster pace. Please note that this is separate from the Math Assessment housed in Canvas, which is required for all incoming McCormick first-years.

Chemistry Assessment

The Chemistry Assessment is required for all incoming McCormick students. It opens in Canvas on June 1 and is due by July 31.

Chemistry also offers a placement exam for students who are seeking placement in higher-level chemistry.

Both the chemistry assessment and placement exam are available on Canvas.

Computer Science Placement Exam

The Computer Science Placement Exam is completely optional. You may choose to take this placement exam if you have substantial Computer Science (CS) background covering the topics of the CS foundation courses AND are planning to pursue formal CS study through a CS major or minor at Northwestern.

This exam will be used to verify whether students are prepared to begin their CS coursework at a point beyond the foundation courses. Placing out of a course does not earn you credit for that course, you will have to replace the credit with an extra 300-level CS course. Click below to see the list of topics covered in each of the introductory foundation courses. 

Computer Science Foundation Course Topics

Please note that AP CS A already maps to CS 150, so you should not take the exam if you have already taken AP CS A. Additionally, if you have any transfer credits that have already mapped to specific CS courses (not CS 1XX), you do not need to take the exam. 

The CS Placement Exam will be taken online on Friday, August 30th starting at 2:00pm (Central Time). You will take the exam on Canvas while connected to a Zoom call to the exam proctors. If you are not available at this time, please let us know as soon as possible. 

Please email advising@cs.northwestern.edu and sara@northwestern.edu if you have any questions. 

Register for Computer Science Placement Exam


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First-Year Curriculum & Courses

Northwestern operates on a quarter system: fall, winter, spring, and summer. Each fall, winter, and spring quarter, students typically take four classes/credits following a standard sequence, but vary based on each student’s interests, goals, and course of study. First-year students take an additional zero-credit First-Year Experience (FYE) seminar in fall and winter quarters.

First-year curriculum

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Choosing a Major

During your first year, you’ll explore the academic paths available to you and select 1 of 12 different majors.

Choosing a Major

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Course Registration

You’ll likely register for courses during Wildcat Welcome after you arrive on campus.

Course Registration

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AP/IB Credits

Northwestern accepts credit for many AP/IB exams. See the AP/IB charts for required scores and corresponding credit.

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Transferring College Credit

If you have already completed college-level coursework prior to entering Northwestern, your credits may be eligible for transfer. See information from the Office of the Registrar for full rules and procedures.

Note: This process is for entering first-year students who have taken college-level courses while still in high school. Transfer students, please see the transfer student page for more details on your credit review process.

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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.

McCormick does not have additional recommendations beyond those provided by NUIT.

MATLAB Software

First-year McCormick students use a mathematical software programming package called MATLAB as part of the Engineering Analysis (EA) course sequence.

Download MATLAB software for free

View our MATLAB & Computing Resources page

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Transfer Students

We are so pleased you will be joining us in McCormick. As a transfer student, summer preparation is distinct in some ways from that of first-year students. Please review our processes and requirements to start preparing for the school year.

Transfer Students

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Helpful Links

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