Expect the 2020-21 academic year to look and feel different than what you saw when researching or visiting Northwestern or what you may have envisioned as your first year of college. While we are doing everything we can to safely and effectively bring our students to campus, the delivery of classes will be a hybrid of in-person and remote learning—and cocurriculars, student groups and events, and typical enrichment offerings may be altered or paused until they can safely resume. We will keep you updated on any changes to our plans so please look out for communications from the University, the School of Communication, and/or your advisors.
Each department has its own professional advisors, who are experts in everything relating to your academic requirements: credit checks, degree requirements, which professors teach which classes, etc. These advisors are available to meet with you as frequently as you would like, to help you plan your classes, address any of your academic questions, and help you get the most out of your educational experience. In addition to these departmental advisors, there are faculty advisors who serve as unofficial mentors for students. You are free to pick whomever you’d like as a faculty mentor, someone who perhaps shares your interests, or with whom you just feel comfortable talking. If you have any questions, feel free to contact any of the advisors.
Every major has three kinds of classes: major requirements, distribution requirements (across the university), and electives. Roughly one third of your classes fall into each category. During Wildcat Welcome, right before you begin your Fall Quarter as a first-year student, you will have access to peer advisors, group advising, and individual advising to give you all the information you need about how to register for classes, and which classes you should take. Throughout your undergraduate studies, you will also meet with your advisor, who will ensure that you take all the classes you need in the required areas.
There are approximately 1,100 undergraduate students in SoC.
It is not difficult to add a major and/or minor in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; however, there are no second majors within the School of Communication. The SoC offers minors in dance, film and media studies, human communication sciences, performance studies, sound design, and theatre. Your advisor can help you make decisions about second majors and minors once you arrive on campus.
We will be following expert guidelines on the maximum size of gatherings for the forseeable future in order to safely maintain social distance. In past years, though, the number has varied. Within SoC, the largest class is about 120 students – although such classes are rare – smallest can be about 10. Most are between 30-40 students. There are also many seminar and performance-based classes that will have 20 students or less.
Within SoC, it’s generally very easy to switch majors. The only exception is that the theatre program is capped at 100 students, in order to keep acting classes small. Given the high popularity of the program, this maximum is reached quickly, so switching to the theatre program can be tricky. Otherwise, it’s rarely a problem to transfer into a new major—even outside the School of Communication. Inter-school transfers are very common at Northwestern, as students are expected to test a variety of interests. Of course, it’s much easier to transfer majors/schools earlier in your NU career, so you have time to complete the necessary requirements for graduation—not all majors have comparable requirements so extra classes may be needed. Discussing your options with your adviser will ensure that the transfer process goes smoothly.
Getting students involved in research opportunities is a major priority in the School of Communication. Currently, students can do research for course credit through independent studies—arranged between you and a professor of your choice; research practica, in which you work in a faculty member’s research lab; research seminars, for group research projects; or writing a senior honors thesis, a year-long individual research project of your choice. Professors also can apply for funding to hire undergraduate students to help them with their own personal research. There are also small grants available for summer and regular-year research projects.