Off Campus Study

Students listening to presentation on solar energy in Bonn
Students on ISEN Renewable Energy Program in Bonn, Germany.  Photo by Phil Dziedzic.

Northwestern University encourages all of its students to participate in an off campus study program at some point in their career, oftentimes during a summer, part or all of junior year, or fall of senior year.  Students may consider integrating the study of the environment into their off campus study plans in order to build upon specialized environmental courses of study or to enrich their general educational experience at Northwestern.

The first step in pursuing off campus study is to thoroughly research the programs available to you.  Below is a list of environment-related study abroad programs that are affiliated with NU.  Once you have decided on a program, you must fill out a NU Application for Permission to Study Abroad if it is for Fall, Winter, or Spring 2012 or the appropriate summer application for a Northwestern or non-Northwestern summer program.  Applications generally require three essays, transcripts, a letter of recommendation, a photo, and signatures from a School Representative, a parent/guardian, the student, and, in some cases, a major/minor adviser and/or a degree auditor.  Also, please remember that you must also fill out a program application for the program that you have chosen by the stated deadline!

To obtain more information about particular programs, pre- and post-departure requirements, or financial and academic considerations, feel free to contact the Study Abroad Office at 847-467-6400 to schedule an advising appointment or visit the Study Abroad Office website.  On the Study Abroad website, you will also find letters from each school detailing their policies and procedures for off campus study.  Searching for programs can be made fun and easy by using the Northwestern University Global Opportunities (NUGO) website.

Affiliated Programs:

NU Environmental Field School

Environmental Policy and Culture Program

Location Varies

The Environmental Field School is a program in which students are placed in national park units for about seven weeks of work. Most of these positions are internships that have students working on resource management and/or research projects during the summer. The program combines field work and academic work, students enrolled in two 300-level units.  The mission of the program is to provide students with a field perspective and experience that will complement and advance their knowledge of environmental issues.  The Program offers excellent opportunities for students in the areas ofnatural resources, cultural resources, and environmental policy, With most of the positions involving critical issues of public policy.

Contemporary India: Development, Environment, and Public Health

Study Abroad Office

Pune, India

This program will introduce U.S. undergraduates to some of the most dynamic, exciting areas of Indian society, politics, economics, and culture today. Environmental issues, development, social justice, economics and public health are areas in which India both faces unprecedented challenges and is on the global cutting edge of finding solutions. By providing a core academic base and allowing progressing specialization through electives, culminating in an internship or directed research project of the student's own choosing, the Alliance's Contemporary India program takes an interdisciplinary yet focused approach to these timely and provocative issues, both as they apply to India and in their global context.

Engineers for a Sustainable World

McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science

Teustepe, Nicaragua; Portobelo, Panama; Chagre, Panama

The Northwestern University Chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW-NU) is a nonprofit student organization that is a part of a network of students and professionals committed to progress through innovative engineering design. Through cooperative domestic and international development projects, education, and public outreach, ESW-NU tackles the challenges of long-term environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Students work to design environmentally sustainable solutions to problems in local communities through solar power, water sanitation and waste disposal, and the use of ecologically friendly biofuels, such as methane or biofuel produced from waste cooking oil.

Renewable Energy Policy and Development

Study Abroad Office, ISEN

Bonn, Germany

This program focuses on German energy policy and initiatives in renewable, sustainable, sources of energy—wind, solar, biomass, geothermal—and energy conservation in a European and global context. This 5-week, two quarter credit program offers a unique interdisciplinary curriculum and an introduction to renewable energy policy and development as a response to today’s climate and energy challenges. Students will gain a broad perspective on cutting-edge energy policies and global actors (i.e. major research institutes, UN agencies, German ministries, NGOs, international organizations and private corporations) through lectures, discussions, a collaborative energy project with other program participants, and excursions to meet with leaders and researchers in renewable energies. Short study trips to Brussels and Berlin are included in the program.

NU Global Engagement Summer Institute

Center for Global Engagement

GESI is a two-course summer study abroad program focused on teaching students about community development in a global context.  Students are placed in teams of four to six in various locations across Latin America, Africa, and Asia. 

Northwestern University Global Water Brigades

McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science


Global Water Brigades is a non-profit, student run organization that works to improve water sanitation and accessibility in rural Honduran communities. Brigades of roughly 10-20 students travel to Honduras once or twice a year to volunteer with in country staff to work to provide sustainable solutions to the lack of clean water in these impoverished villages. Possible projects include building water storage units, rebuilding water systems, and educating Honduran community members on the importance of clean water to promote healthier lifestyles.

Environmental Science at Woods Hole

Marine Biological Laboratory

Woods Hole, Massachusetts

This program consists of 15-week fall semester at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, featuring a field and laboratory-based introduction to ecosystem science and the biogeochemistry of coastal forests, freshwater ponds and estuaries.  Scientists at the Ecosystems Center serve as faculty for the program.

School for Field Studies

Kenya & Tanzania, Costa Rica, Mexico, Australia, Turks and Caicos, and more

The School for Field Studies offers semester and summer programs focused on environmental topics ranging from wildlife management to sustainable development to marine resource conservation.  It is committed to students combining hands-on environmental studies with scientific research to develop sustainable solutions to critical environmental problems.

SEA Semester

This program, focused on marine science, maritime culture, and environmental studies, takes place half on land and half on sea and grants a semester of credit.  After six weeks of coursework in Woods Hole, MA, students begin their time at sea.  Semester programs include Oceans & Climate, Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems, Energy and the Ocean Environment, and Marine Biodiversity and Conservation.

University of Queensland

Study Abroad Office

Brisbane, Australia

UQ  offers many of the features you would expect to find at a research university of more than 35,000. A large, green and open campus located on the Brisbane River and close to the South Pacific shore, UQ is a world leader in bio-technology, marine science, and engineering. It offers a wide range of courses related to Australia in English, history, political science, and sociology. Students directly enroll in UQ.

IPD Science and Engineering Programs: ETH-Zurich

International Program Development

Zurich, Switzerland

At Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, more commonly known as ETH, students will have the opportunity to combine coursework with research.  ETH is located in Zurich, consistently rated as one of the best places in the world to live.  ETH is a science and technology university with particularly strong programs in architecture, engineering, computer science, materials science, industrial management and manufacturing, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, earth sciences and environmental sciences. Students enroll directly in the university and take classes with local students.

IPD Science and Engineering Programs: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology*

International Program Development

Hong Kong

Students at HKUST may take classes in fields such as biomedical sciences, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, engineering, business, economics, and finance. Students enroll directly in the university and take classes with local students. With advanced research facilities in fields such as microsystems, energy systems, multimedia technology, biotechnology, nanoscience and optoelectronics, HKUST is at the cutting-edge in important fields.  Students are able to combine research with courses in a wide-range of fields.  HKUST is a uniquely international university, but maintains strong ties to Chinese culture and institutions and offers an excellent program in Chinese Studies.

Tropical Biology on a Changing Planet: Costa Rica Study Abroad Program

San Jose, Costa Rica

This is a unique and rigorous field-based program where the tropical forests of Costa Rica serve as a classroom. OTS provides students with an in-depth understanding of scientific ecology, complemented by a strong foundation in social, political, economic, and scientific aspects of resource management. The program presents a unique opportunity to learn about the inner workings of field ecology under the direct guidance of experienced ecologists. Students have ample opportunity to enjoy a hands-on, participatory learning process, as well as to expand their academic and personal horizons in the context of a supportive learning environment.

University of Stirling Study Abroad

Study Abroad Office

Stirling, UK

The University of Stirling sits on a pastoral, park-like campus and has one of the largest populations of home students in Scotland, making it rich with opportunities for an integrated Scottish experience. The university offers flexible academic programs, of which environmental sciences, ecology, environmental education, marine biology and marine science, as well as Scottish studies, film and media studies, communication and psychology are popular among students. Students are directly enrolled in the university and receive guidance and support from an adviser of studies and from the Study Abroad Office on campus.

University of Sydney

Study Abroad Office

Sydney, Australia

Located in Australia's largest city, the University of Sydney is known as the premiere university of Australia.  The university specializes in cutting edge research in the natural sciences, classics, history, and Australian Studies. A Conservatorium of Music and School of Art add to the comprehensive nature of the institution, which in total enrolls more than 40,000 students. Students directly enroll in the university and live in residential colleges with Australian students.

University of Melbourne

Study Abroad Office

Melbourne, Australia

Located in Australia's second largest city, the University of Melbourne is one of Australia's top five institutions, with more than 30,000 students and nearly 2,000 teaching staff. Students on the program directly enroll in the University of Melbourne, and live in on-campus residential colleges with Australian students. As a comprehensive research university, the University of Melbourne integrates study abroad easily into students’ academic programs. Among study abroad students, Arts, Economics and Commerce, Education, Engineering, Land and Food Resources, Music, Media Studies and Science are popular subjects of study.

University of New South Wales

Study Abroad Office

Sydney, Australia

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) is located in the Kensington and Coogee Beach neighborhoods of Sydney.  Many Northwestern students who attend UNSW take engineering and communication studies/RTVF courses.  UNSW also specializes in Australian Studies, English, sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), engineering (civil, environmental, geomatics, mechanical, electrical, manufacturing), mathematics, education, political science, history, psychology, gender studies, classics, media/communications, philosophy, and foreign languages.

University of Otago

Study Abroad Office

Dunedin, New Zealand

Since this is a direct university enrollment program, Northwestern students will be able to experience first hand what it’s like to be a student in New Zealand; they will have access to nearly all the same opportunities and courses as regular students and will rely on the University of Otago International Office for support.  Maori studies, humanities, sciences (especially geology and biology), physical education, arts, music, theology, communication studies, film studies and production. Geology is very enthusiastic about having international students take their classes.

The Victoria University of Wellington

Study Abroad Office

Wellington, New Zealand

With over 100 years of history, Victoria University of Wellington (also called the "Vic") offers study abroad students an opportunity to study a wide variety of subjects in a beautiful urban setting.   Political science, international relations, Maori studies, women's studies, film/theatre, earth sciences (includes earthquake studies as Wellington sits on a major fault line), public policy, deaf studies, criminology, development studies, media studies, and tourism management with an environmental focus. There are opportunities for research and field experience in the earthquake and Antarctic studies disciplines, and in criminology and women's studies.

King’s College, University of London Study Abroad Program

Study Abroad Office

London, UK

On the program, Arcadia University directly enrolls students in King's College so that students take courses alongside their British counterparts. Popular with students because of its central London location and long and distinguished reputation, King's College is known for its academic quality in the biological and health sciences, humanities, and physical sciences. The Department of War Studies, unique among UK institutions, offers courses in public policy and international relations.

Oxford University Visiting Student Program

Study Abroad Office

Oxford, UK

Students are directly enrolled in the university and will be able to study in the sciences, social sciences or arts at one of four colleges: St. Anne's, St. Edmund's, Hertford College or Lady Margaret Hall. Each college has its own unique character that has been shaped by centuries of history and tradition. While the range of courses offered is broad, students are expected to focus on a couple of subjects in depth. Academic specialties include: English, History, Anthropology, Sociology, Math, Geography, Psychology, Computer Science, Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Physics), Politics & International Studies, Economics, Art History, Music, Classics, and Engineering.

Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles (ESPCI ParisTech)

International Program Development     

Paris, France

ESPCI is one of the leading Grands Ecoles in France.  This new exchange targets mainly students in engineering, chemistry, physics and biology, who will have the option of conducting research abroad for 3-6 months. In the fall, Northwestern students will have the option of combining research at ESPCI with language training or other courses offered through IPD programs offered at Sciences Po in Paris.  NU Students will be offered several housing options available to our students in Paris, including home stays through Atome and dorms at St John’s or FIAP.

Ecole Polytechnique (Northwestern Exchange)

International Program Development

Paris, France

École Polytechnique, located 30 minutes from the center of Paris, is a world-class research institution.  Students live on campus and have a wide-range of activities, sports and student groups to choose from while at the same time enjoying the proximity to one of the great cities of the world.  École Polytechnique is renowned for their training in mathematics, physics, electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, biology, chemistry, and economics.  Students enroll directly in the university and take classes with local students.

Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS)

Study Abroad Office

Copenhagen, Denmark

The DIS curriculum is subdivided into a number of programs, such as Public Health, Global Economics, Psychology, and Biomedicine. Students build their own curriculum from over 120 courses taught across a great spectrum of majors, but each through a Danish, Scandinavian or European lens. Interactive classrooms combine expert faculty, guest lectures and field studies to create an intense, experiential learning environment.  Programs open to NU students include Sustainability in Europe.

*There are at least nine IPD programs.

Online Resources for Off Campus Study

NU Study Abroad Office:

Northwestern University Global Opportunities (NUGO):

International Program Development: