Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston, and a leader in interdisciplinary research, urban engagement, and the integration of classroom learning with real-world experience.
We offer a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in six undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools, and two part-time divisions. Northeastern's six undergraduate and eight graduate schools and two part-time divisions offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in a wide variety of academic disciplines and professional areas.
Increasingly, the hallmark of our undergraduate and graduate programs is an approach that places the subject of study within a broader interdisciplinary perspective. Our 1,257 full- and part-time faculty members frequently bring the same interdisciplinary thinking to their research, collaborating with colleagues in other colleges to find solutions to real-world problems.
Faculty members infuse undergraduate and graduate classrooms alike with the spirit of discovery, and students in all degree programs have ample opportunities to participate in research. Our faculty researchers and their student collaborators enjoy access to the largest academic library in Boston, and to some of the most advanced research facilities and institutes in the area, both on campus and in greater Boston.
Academic Status at Northeastern
As an international exchange student at NU, you will be registered as a full-time non-degree seeking student. You can select your courses from most of the schools and colleges at Northeastern University so long as your previous coursework meets the prerequisites for courses. Also you are not required to take all of your classes within the same college; for example, you might register for 2 classes in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, 1 class in the College of Arts, Media and Design and 1 class in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business.
Please refer to the Office of the University Registrar for current and future Academic Calendars. Generally the:
- Fall term commences in the beginning of September.
- Spring term commences in the beginning of January.
- Summer terms commences in the beginning of May.
Classes and Credits
Most classes at NU are worth 4 credits each. Your study abroad advisor will be able to explain how the 4 NU credits will convert to your home university’s credit system.
Exchange students must maintain full-time status at NU and not violate their J-1 visa status requirements. This means that you must register for at least 12 credits per semester. You cannot register for more than 18 credits. For most students, this means taking 3 or 4 academic classes per semester.
Class Numbering System
At NU, classes are numbered from 1000-level (introductory) to 4000-level (advanced) for undergraduates. Classes at the 5000-level are usually intended for Master’s (graduate) students. You are eligible to take all undergraduate classes for which you are qualified, with the exception of those listed under “Course Restrictions” below. In most cases, if you meet the prerequisites, you are also eligible to take 5000-level classes in most departments, with some exceptions (again, see “Course Restrictions” below).
- 1000-1999 Introductory level (first year) Survey, foundation, and introductory courses, normally with no prerequisites and designed primarily for students with no prior background
- 2000–2999 Intermediate level (sophomore/junior year) Normally designed for sophomores and above, but in some cases open to freshman majors in the department
- 3000–3999 Upper intermediate level (junior year) Designed primarily as courses for juniors; prerequisites are normally required, and these courses are prerequisites for advanced courses
- 4000–4999 Advanced level (senior year) Designed primarily for juniors and seniors; also includes specialized courses such as research, capstone, and thesis
- 5000–5999 First-level graduate Courses primarily for graduate students and qualified undergraduate students with permission
- 6000–6999 Second-level graduate Generally for master’s and clinical doctorate only
- 7000–7999 Third-level graduate Master’s- and doctoral-level courses; includes master’s thesis
Assessment and Grading
The Office of the University Registrar provides a detailed explanation of NU’s grading system. NU classes involve graded homework, essays, and exams throughout the semester and a large assessment or exam at the end of the semester. Final grades typically represent a weighted average of these components. Many professors also consider class participation when assigning grades. All of your classes and grades from NU will be reported to your home university.
Exchange students will request to have their official transcripts sent to their home institution through their student portal, see Registrar instructions. It is recommended students request their transcripts in advance and choose the option to have the transcript “held for grades”. This will guarantee that the transcript will be processed as soon as grades are received at the end of the semester. Please note, transcripts are not automatically ordered or processed by GEO.
You can also view your unofficial transcript through myNEU.
It is common for most NU classes to require a specific textbook. In most cases, you will be able to purchase your textbook before the semester starts as professors will post the course requirements in BlackBoard before the first week of classes. However, for some classes, the textbook may not be announced until the first day of classes. Once you have finalized your class schedule, you can find out which textbooks you’ll need from your course syllabi or the NU Bookstore. The Student Government Association also has a textbook exchange for buying and selling books here.
You may find American culture to be more casual than that of your home country. This will probably extend to the classroom as well. Keep in mind, however, every professor and class is different and the expectations of the class are set during the first class meetings.
Active participation is expected
Except in very large lecture hall situations, professors generally expect and encourage questions and lively discussion. If the class isn’t structured for questions during class time, make sure you have your questions ready to ask your professor after class, during office hours, or before the next class. There is no shame in not understanding something.
Independent thinking is highly valued
As you pursue your studies, you should critique theories, evaluate options, formulate models, and challenge yourself. Bring your conclusions and questions to class and share your insights with your classmates and professors.
Informality is normal
Students may dress casually. They may eat or drink during class. Some may be allowed to address certain professors by their first names. None of that behavior reflects a lack of respect for the professor or the classroom experience.
None of the above is a sign of disrespect of your professor or classmates.
Important Perspective on Academic Honesty
Honesty is a critical requirement of American academic culture and Northeastern University standards. Universities across the country operate on an honor system based on a simple principle of academic honesty: each student’s answers or written submissions must reflect his or her personal understanding and work.
Cheating (having someone else write your papers, take your exams or give you answers during an exam) and plagiarism (submitting someone else’s work as your own) are unacceptable. Using English language translation services to complete your work is also dishonest since your language proficiency is a requirement of your studies.
Infractions of the standards of academic honesty, no matter how minor, are unacceptable and carry serious consequences ranging from a failing grade on a paper or exam to suspension or removal from the University. Please review the academic integrity policy of NU.
Descriptions of NU classes can be found in the NU Course Catalog. This is a full list of courses offered throughout the year. You can use the previous fall or spring offerings as a guide for choosing your courses, however there is no guarantee that the exact same courses will be offered.
To learn when certain courses are offered, use the Dynamic Scheduling Tool. Start by selecting the term/semester in which you are looking for course. Please note, that not all courses are offered in every semester. This is the recommended method for finding courses to take during your NU experience. Use this tool while completing your GEO Incoming Exchange Application to select your courses and to discuss these course selections with your international office advisor before coming to Boston.
If you require a course syllabus ahead of time for approval by your home university, please contact The Global Experience Office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will make every effort to obtain the syllabus for you, but we cannot guarantee that they will be available.
There are many types of courses with multiple components such as co-requisites, lectures, discussions, and/or labs. Pay attention to these requirements (outlined in the Dynamic Schedule) to ensure that these are recorded in your course selection form.
Below are NU schools and programs in which classes are not available to exchange students. Please take these into consideration when planning your courses.
- School of Law
This is a separate graduate-level degree program which is not available to exchange students. We recommend that if you are studying undergraduate law at your home institution you browse through the Undergraduate Course Catalog to find courses which have a law focus in many different areas of study.
- International Business (BSIB) Core Courses
- Strategy Courses (STRT)
- English as a Second Language (ESL)
- College of Professional Studies (CPS)
- Cooperative Education courses and experiences
This program is designed for full-time degree seeking NU students to alternate semesters of academic study with semesters of full-time employment in positions related to your academic and/or career interests. As an exchange student only here for 1 to 2 semesters you will not have access to this program or its courses.
Exchange students will not able to enroll in the following classes:
- BUSN 1101
- INTB 1202, 2202, 3202, 4202
- MGMT 4310, 4603
Other classes have very limited availability and may not be open to exchange students or require approval by the college. These include graduate-level classes in engineering and business programs.
In the course selection portion of your application there are 8 course options to fill out. It is strongly recommended that exchange students plan for alternative courses, in case their first-choice courses reach capacity, there are scheduling conflicts, or there are course restrictions. Please note that the application is administered through GEO, but final course approval and enrollment are at the discretion of each academic department/college.
Registering for Courses
GEO will register you for your classes several weeks before coming to NU based on the course selection form that you have submitted with your application. Please remember that we cannot guarantee enrollment into any particular course, so you should be flexible when planning your course schedule. Follow the steps below to register for your courses.
Step 1: Select Your Courses
Make a list of the courses you would like to take at NU using the NU Course Catalog and the Dynamic Scheduling Tool. Remember that you will be taking 3 – 4 courses at NU. It is a good idea to have a few additional options in case any of your top choices are not available.
Step 2: Review Requirements
Carefully review all prerequisites listed for every class you are interested in taking and meet with your advisor to ensure that you meet those requirements. If prerequisites are listed, you will have to provide evidence (usually your transcript and/or syllabi from the course) to show that you meet these requirements. Students generally are not allowed to take any course for which they do not meet the prerequisites. Make sure you do not choose any courses listed in the Course Restrictions section above.
Step 3: Review Schedule
When you have found 3 – 4 classes for which you believe you are qualified, check their scheduled days and time using the dynamic search tool to ensure there are no scheduling conflicts. Days of the week are represented by letter codes for the day of the week MTWRF:
Monday (M) Tuesday (T) Wednesday (W) Thursday (R) Friday (F)
Please note that we cannot register you for classes that have overlapping schedules. At NU, you are required to attend each session for all of your courses. This means that you cannot take 2 classes that are at the same time or have any overlap in time. Typically there is a 10-minute break between classes that allows you time to get from one to the next.
Step 4: Register for Classes
Completing your application with course requests allows the GEO registrar to begin registering your for courses and working with the colleges if you need approval for courses. Please note that all course change requests, before and after arrival, must be supported by a strong academic reason.
There is an Add/Drop period at the beginning of every semester when you can make changes to your class schedule if necessary. See Registrar schedule.
Classes that are Full or Unavailable
NU cannot guarantee enrollment in any course, which is why it is recommended to choose 4 courses and 4 alternates. There are restrictions on certain classes and levels which may not be available to exchange students. In addition, courses may be full before it is your turn to register. Please be flexible when planning your courses and have a backup plan if you are not able to register for your first choices. If a particular class is already full, it may be possible to gain admission. There are three ways to do this:
- Check back regularly because it’s possible that someone currently registered in the course will withdraw, and a space will open up for you to register.
- In some cases, there is an option to be added to the course waitlist. See the Registrar procedure here for waitlist registration.
- During the Add/Drop period, you can work directly with GEO to add and drop courses that you have been approved to take. Please note that during this period, other students may also be dropping classes so there could be extra space for you.