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Northwestern University

Bridge Program

College is different from high school in ways that students often don’t anticipate. The Bridge program is designed to help students identify and hone the skills they’ll need to navigate the transition to college-level work with confidence. Whether you have a course of study in mind or just want to explore, Bridge is an excellent place to start your Northwestern journey. First-generation students, students from lower-income backgrounds, and students who attended high schools with limited or no AP/IB preparation are especially encouraged to apply. The program is free to attend.


The dates for the 2023 program are Saturday, August 5 to Friday, September 8. Students will live in Shepard Hall during weeks 1-4 and will move to their fall housing assignment during week 5. The tentative 2023 program schedule is here. The class schedule/times will not change but other activities may shift. A full dining hall meal plan is provided to students during the entire program. 


Bridge revolves around two half-credit “core” classes that all students take in common: 

  • “Introduction to Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning,” an interdisciplinary class introducing students to the methods and questions typical of STEM and other quantitative fields; and
  • “Introduction to Critical Thinking,” an interdisciplinary class introducing students to the methods and questions typical of the humanities and social sciences. 

Medill students take one additional full-credit class, “Introduction to Journalism,” introducing them to the basics of researching and reporting the news, with an emphasis on the city of Chicago. 

Weinberg students take one additional half-credit core class as well as a half-credit elective. All Weinberg students take “Exploring the Liberal Arts,” in which professors from a dozen different Weinberg departments introduce the work done in their departments and its place in the larger Weinberg curriculum. They also choose from one of the following: 

  • “Problem-Solving in Chemistry,” introducing concepts, habits of mind, and study skills essential to success in introductory general chemistry; 
  • “Problem-Solving in Economics,” introducing concepts, habits of mind, and study skills essential to success in introductory economics;
  • “Asking—and Answering—Questions in the Social Sciences and Humanities,” introducing students to the basics of research with an emphasis on the city of Chicago. 

Although Bridge classes vary in terms of content, they each share the goals of fostering community, preparing students for the pace and rigor of the quarter system, and teaching or honing effective study habits and other essential skills that transcend disciplines. To get a better sense of what the classes are like, check out the syllabi from 2022 below. Please note that syllabi change from summer-to-summer!

Introduction to Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning
Introduction to Critical Thinking
Exploring the Liberal Arts
Problem-Solving in Chemistry
Problem-Solving in Economics
Asking - and Answering - Questions in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Bridge courses are taken Pass/No Pass. Unless they choose not to participate, Bridge students are automatically enrolled in the Arch Scholars Peer Mentoring program starting in the fall quarter.

In addition to coursework, Bridge students will participate in social hangouts with their classmates led by the program counselors. Counselors are former program participants who will give you honest, meaningful advice on how to succeed at Northwestern University. In these conversations you will learn more about the true college experience, your classmates, and yourself. 


Bridge instructors are among the most dedicated - and popular - in the university. The 2023 faculty include (in alphabetical order):


  1. There is no charge for tuition - the program is free to attend! 
  2. We will arrange and pay for airfare/train tickets for students who live more than a 3-hour drive (about 150 miles) from campus
  3. Preferred admission into NU Bioscientist, our research preparatory program for first-year students.
  4. Enrollment in the Arch Scholars peer mentoring program for first-year students.
  5. Early move-in to fall housing! 

How do I apply?

The Bridge program is full for the summer of 2023 and will not accept any additional applications.


Contact Rebecca Enright Siroky, Assistant Director for Undergraduate Academic Affairs. 

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