Frequently Asked Questions
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 1,150 undergraduate students in SoC.
Classes are pretty much divided between buildings at the northern-tip of campus (North Campus) and the southern-tip (South Campus). Typically—although this may vary occasionally—classes for Theatre, Radio/Television/Film, Performance Studies and Dance are held on South Campus. Classes for Communication Studies and Communication Sciences & Disorders are usually held on North Campus, although sometimes they meet on South Campus.
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 theatre, dance, sound design, film and media studies and human communication sciences. Your advisor can help you make decisions about second majors and minors once you arrive on campus.
Students who graduate from SoC get jobs in virtually any field. Because all of our majors teach you critical thinking skills and help you develop intellectually, you are qualified in many different areas. The jobs you decide to accept after you graduate will be limited only by your own interests. You will also have ample opportunities to do internships, which will help you gain experience and make the career choice that's right for you.
SoC has distinguished graduates in almost every field. Learn more about our distinguished alumni.
Chicago is a gold-mine of social, cultural and professional opportunities for students. Students can seek their own internships and part time jobs, visit museums, see some of the best live theatre in the country, and browse through miles of shopping and top-rated restaurants. Chicago enables all Northwestern students to pursue what they've learned on campus and explore their own personal interests in great depth.
Evanston is about 5-10 miles north of Chicago. It is extremely easy to get there by car—many NU faculty commute every day, which can take between 30-60 minutes, depending on traffic—or by public transportation. Northwestern's campus is located within blocks of public trains and buses which will all take you to almost any place you want to go within Chicago for less than $5. Moreover, Northwestern has a free shuttle which will take you from the Evanston Campus to the Chicago Campus located downtown, within walking distance from many hot city spots.
It varies. 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.
The program is very evenly blended to include both theory and production. You will have ample opportunity to explore each component of the major; so, if you're not sure which area you'd like to pursue, you have the ability to experiment to find your preference. If you are interested in theory only, and have no interest in learning production, you have the option of being a Film and Media Studies minor instead of a major, which will expose you solely to theory. To find out more, you can contact your adviser, or check out the Radio/Television/Film website.
In a typical year, there will be somewhere between 60 and 80 shows produced on campus. The Mainstage season in the Wirtz Center consists of between five and seven shows annually, including at least one musical. Additionally, student theatre and film projects abound. None of the productions, Mainstage or otherwise, require that you be a theatre major to be cast in a show. Moreover, any student can produce a show—the options are endless; if none of the available options meet your interests, you can create a new group.
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.
Most students find studying abroad easy to manage. The Study Abroad Office serves as a resource for exploring available programs. It's a good idea to consider continuing or starting a foreign language if you're interested in studying abroad.
Every University defines a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science differently, that is, these degrees aren't standardized. The only difference between the two in the SoC is that a B.A. has a language requirement, and a B.S. may or may not, depending on the major. Typically, students in the performing/production arts (Theatre, Performance Studies, Radio/Television/Film) prefer a B.A. because it seems to fit better with their field. Students in the communication sciences (Communication Studies and Communication Sciences & Disorders) tend to choose a B.S., for similar reasons. The option is completely up to you, however. Talk to your adviser if you have more specific concerns.
Unless you are able to/want to commute from home, first-year students are required to live on campus. Some students love living in the dorms and decide to stay there all 4 years. A majority of students, however, have moved out of the dorms by their junior year. Many students rent apartments near campus and some switch to Greek housing. Northwestern is located in a very nice area of Evanston where there are ample apartment options within blocks of campus. Apartments can sometimes be more affordable than living on campus, and many students prefer it because they can pick their own rooms and roommates. The disadvantage is that some apartments can be much further away from campus than dorms; so, if you don't have a car, these commutes can be frustrating. For more specific questions, visit residential life at NU.
The School of Communication does not require students to have a single type of computer (i.e. PC or Mac). Please see NUIT's recommended laptop hardware for PC and Mac. For R/T/F follow the "power user" section.
The registrar's office maintains the university academic calendar.