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The International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) is a network of more than 300 U.S. and international universities that engage in reciprocal student exchanges. ISEP provides Northwestern students opportunities for study at more than 300 institutions in more than 50 countries through two options:

  1. Exchange placements (competitive placement) allow qualified Northwestern students to pay their usual tuition and fees before they go abroad, creating a "place" and a set of benefits for an incoming student. The students within the network then "switch" places. For example, a Northwestern student could go take someone's place in Germany, while the German student takes someone's place in Finland, while the Finnish student takes someone's place in China, and so on.
  2. ISEP-Direct fee-paid programs (non-competitive) offer access to over 30 universities in 20 countries and are marked with a D in the Directory descriptions. Often, if ISEP-Exchange space isn't available, you will find ISEP-Direct as an option at that university. For ISEP-Direct, you pay a fee to ISEP based on the actual cost of operating the program at the host university.


Exchange programs are generally considered to be a full cultural and academic immersion. Since you are taking someone's place, you may be the only Northwestern student at your host institution. You will be doing just as the locals do: taking their courses and living just as they do, much like the international students who study at Northwestern. The cultural experience usually begins before you even leave Northwestern as you learn about a different system of higher education in your host country.


Student who choose to pursue study abroad through an ISEP placement should be independent, self-motivated, and flexible. Due to the volume of pages that must be submitted for an ISEP application, students should begin preparing the application at least two months prior to the application deadlines.