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. 

If you are a new first-year student, browse the resources available here and carefully review the Freshman Checklist.

If you are a transfer student, skip ahead to the Transfer Student section. Transfer students follow a different summer process and do not need to complete the Dossier.  

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First Year Advisers

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.

First-year Adviser Fall Office Hours  





2:00-3:00 pm

Prof. Gentry


3:00-4:00 pm

Prof. DeCosta 


3:00-4:00 pm

Prof. Mejia


6:00-7:00 pm

Prof. Brown


10:00-11:00 am

Prof. Zissimopoulos

Join drop-in office hours using Zoom during the day and time noted above. 

Ordel Brown
Ford 2.215
Email Prof. Brown

Emma DeCosta
Ford 2.211
Email Prof. Decosta

Ken Gentry
Ford 2.207
Email Prof. Gentry

Janice Mejia
Ford 2.217
Email Prof. Mejia

Angelika (Kiki) Zissimopoulos
Ford 2.205

Email Prof. Zissimopoulos

McCormick Academic Advisers are located in:

Ford Center 2.210
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 share some important information with your adviser, begin planning your fall schedule, and complete many required placement exams. Log into the Dossier using your Net ID and Password.

Dossier opens on June 15 and must be completed by July 31.

After you have submitted all parts of the Dossier, your adviser will contact you. All students will hear from their adviser by September 1.

Dossier Part One: General Information

The general information section of Dossier allows you to:

  • Sign the required academic integrity agreement
  • Indicate your interest in learning more about co-op, dual degree, and study abroad options
  • Self-report AP/IB scores (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: Assessment Exams

The required McCormick math assessment exam is located within Dossier. All students must complete this exam by the July 31st deadline. 

Dossier Part Three: Fall Quarter Study Plan

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

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Math Assessment 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) must take this exam.
  • Transfer students are not required to take this exam.
  • The exam is non-binding so it will not hurt anyone to take it.
  • The exam will not override AP or IB credits.

The exam consists of a total of 23 multiple-choice questions divided into three areas:

  • Differential Calculus: Required
  • Integral Calculus: Required
  • Advanced Calculus: Only students who wish to be considered for honors calculus must take this section of the exam

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 1 and will remain available through 11:55 p.m. on July 31.

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Chemistry Assessment

The Chemistry Assessment is required for all incoming McCormick students and must be completed by the July 31 deadline. 

Chemistry also offers a placement exam for students who are seeking placement in higher level chemistry courses but do not have AP/IB credit. This exam is optional and does not need to be taken by all incoming students.

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

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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 first-year experience 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 220-1, 220-2, 228-1, 228-2) is determined by AP/IB exam scores and your results on the McCormick Math Assessment.


Students required to take chemistry should begin this coursework in their first year. While some majors do not require chemistry specifically, the inorganic chemistry sequence can be used in the basic science requirement that all students must complete. It is recommended that all engineering students take at least one chemistry course.

  • Majors requiring inorganic chemistry: Civil Manufacturing and Design, Mechanical, Materials Science
  • Majors requiring inorganic and organic chemistry: Biomedical, Chemical, Environmental
  • Majors that do not specifically require chemistry: Applied Math, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical, Industrial

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 ENGLISH separately. Either Fall or Winter quarter you will need to take DTC I (DSGN 106-1 & ENGLISH 106-1); Spring quarter you will take DTC II (DSGN 106-2 & ENGLISH 106-2).

First-Year Experience

Each fall and winter quarters you will enroll in a zero credit seminar, “PRDV 101-1 McCormick 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
  • GEN_ENG 205-3
  • DSGN 106-2 (.5 credit) ENGLISH 106-2 (.5 credit)*

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

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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.

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Summer Emails

McCormick will send email to you throughout the summer using your u.northwestern address. Be sure to check this account often.

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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 Northwestern University's computer recommendations.

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, your previous credits will be reviewed through the online transfer credit form. A link to this form is included in an email sent to each transfer student after NU receives a deposit. You will also receive details on the timeline for advising and registration through this email.

Transfer students do not need to complete the Dossier, physics assessment, or Math placement exam.  If you will need to take chemistry at Northwestern, you ARE required to take the chemistry Assessment.

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Helpful Links