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International Students

Because of visa requirements, international students have several additional things to keep track of as they go through the MSEd Program. Northwestern's Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS) is a fantastic resource, and one that you should get to know very well. OISS is always the authority on visa-related issues -- but we'll highlight a couple of important things to know here. 

International students must be full-time

In order to maintain your student visa status, you must be enrolled full-time every quarter. This means a minimum of 3.0 units. If you ever need to take fewer than 3.0 units, you will need to complete a Reduced Course Load form. Keep in mind, however, that there are only a handful of specific conditions under which you can qualify for a reduced course load. If none of the conditions apply to you, you must register for a full 3 units. 

More information, including a link to the Reduced Course Load form and the specific conditions necessary to qualify, can be found on the OISS website at:

Note concerning course units:

  • Most MS_ED courses with numbers ending in -0 are 1.0 unit. The Student Teaching in Multilingual & Multicultural
  • Contexts courses (485-0, 486-0, 487-0, and 488-0) are 2.0 units each.
  • Most MS_ED courses with numbers ending in -1, -2, or -3 are 0.5 units.
  • 1 unit is the equivalent of 2-and-2/3 semester hours.

Student teaching requires a Curricular Practical Training application

Student teaching (for Elementary and Secondary Teaching candidates only) requires employment authorization. Prior to beginning your student teaching, you must complete a CPT (Curricular Practical Training) application. As part of that application, you will be required to submit a "Job Offer Letter." We will generate the "job offer" for you once the placement location is confirmed. You do not need to get a job offer directly from the school where you will be doing your student teaching. Please wait until we give you the "job offer" letter before you fill out the application -- there are items on that application that must match the letter exactly. When you fill out the form, please be sure to use Option 1: Work is needed to fulfill requirements for an established course (MS_ED 485, 486, 487, or 488, depending on which student teaching seminar you will be taking).

More information, including a link to the CPT application form, can be found on the OISS website at: 

A second year in the program requires an extension

Most candidates pursuing Educational Studies or Learning Sciences will finish in a single year. Most candidates Elementary Teaching or Secondary Teaching will require a second year in the program. This is not a problem, but it will require that you file an application to extend your I-20. We recommend that you file for the extension during spring quarter of your first year in the program. In order to request the extension, you will need a letter from the MSEd department explaining the reason for the extension (which we will provide), and you must provide financial documentation showing that you have sufficient funding to cover the extended period.

More information about filing an I-20 extension can be found on the OISS website at:

Optional Practical Training Post-Graduation

Elementary and Secondary Teaching candidates are eligible for the standard one-year OPT. Educational Studies and Learning Sciences candidates are eligible for the three-year STEM OPT.