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Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the IMC Online program?

IMC Online students can complete the program in just under two years by taking two classes per quarter, but they have five years to finish.

When can I begin the IMC Online program?

IMC Online students may apply to begin in the fall, winter, spring or summer quarter.

How many hours a week can I expect to spend on each class?

This depends on a few factors, including your familiarity with the course content and your individual study habits. In a typical week, a student might put in about five to seven hours of work per class. However, that may increase to around 10 hours a week per class when larger assignments are due.

What does an online class look like? Can I see one?

The best way to envision a class is by viewing the IMC Online video.

Canvas, our course management system, is user-friendly, cross-platform and easy for all to navigate. Students have 24-7 access to their course pages from computers, tablets or phones and will find course materials such as syllabi, assignments, emails, discussion boards, faculty-provided multimedia and video-conferencing tools.

The curriculum and faculty for the online program are the same as our on-premise courses. While the format has been modified to accommodate the needs of busy working professionals, the courses are the same as our on-campus courses.

Are the MOOCs part of the IMC Online program?

Medill has created several Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). We offer courses in social media marketing, leadership, content strategy and more. These courses do not count toward our degree programs, though students are encouraged to consider these to supplement their knowledge in the graduate program. For more information, visit our MOOC page.

What do students say about the benefits and drawbacks of studying online?

Benefits
  • Flexibility
    Every week, you can alter your approach to coursework to account for shifting work hours or responsibilities, travel, etc.
  • Deeper input
    Unlike on-premise classes, the discussion forum means all students are required to engage, and as such, have their voices heard. We find having the entire class participate expands breadth of input and that having the whole week to contribute to the discussion often results in deeper, richer conversations and learning for students.
  • Diversity and breadth of perspective
    The multiple inputs gained through virtual collaboration add to the curriculum and class experience. Students gain experience learning with and from students in different jobs, companies and geographies. Each student brings real-world examples to the classroom from their career. Many students talk about how much they earn from their classmates’ professional experiences.
Drawbacks
  • Extra initiative and discipline
    Students in online classes need to take initiative to do the work, typically on their own timetable. This requires an extra level of discipline for those with full time jobs and, often, families. Access to resources, professors and other student are still there for you as an online student, but you must schedule the time needed to stay engaged.

How are group projects handled for an online class?

Group projects are required for many classes. Students can connect with their groups via phone, email and our course video conferencing tools, as well as Skype, Google Hangout, etc. We understand students will likely be in many time zones and have different schedules, so group projects are designed with those considerations in mind.

What is the average GPA/GRE/GMAT score of admitted students?

The Office of Admissions does not have a stated minimum score. We pursue a holistic review of applicants and consider many items including your work experience, prior academics, essays, recommendations and demonstration of success.

What if I haven’t taken the GRE or GMAT?

You will probably receive your unofficial test scores (test-taker copy) before we receive your official scores. These usually reach us around three weeks after you take the test. If you have received your test scores, indicate them in the space provided for self-reported scores in the online application.

If you don't have your scores by the time you apply, email a copy to MedillGraduateAdmissions@northwestern.edu as soon as you receive them. Scores sent this way are unofficial, but they will enable us to start reviewing your file. We cannot complete reviewing a file without test scores.

Official test scores must be sent directly to Medill from ETS or GMAC. Our GRE code is 1699, and our GMAT code is 6WZ-XH-66.

You may request a waiver of the GRE and GMAT requirement if:

  • You are a current degree-seeking Northwestern University student or degree-holding Northwestern University alumnus.
  • You have five or more years of full-time professional work experience in marketing or a closely related field.

You can request this waiver in the Test Information section of the application. If you request a waiver, Medill may still recommend that you take the GRE or GMAT if we think it will allow us to give better consideration to your application. Please email MedillGraduateAdmissions@northwestern.edu if you have questions about your eligibility for a waiver.

Is it possible for students to transfer between the online IMC program and full-time or part-time IMC programs? Or is it possible to mix and match courses in different versions of the program?

We encourage applicants to apply to the program they intend to graduate from, yet it is possible to transfer between programs if students’ circumstances change. Also, students living in the Chicagoland area may register for on-premise classes in Evanston and Chicago if space is available.

Does Medill accept transfer credits?

No. In some cases entering students may be granted a waiver for a course that would substantially replicate prior graduate-level coursework or equivalent professional work experience. However, students granted such waivers must still complete the required number of credits at Medill for their degree program. Waivers do not shorten the time it takes to earn a degree.

Does Medill allow students to defer their enrollment?

Yes. Deferral requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Deferrals are intended to assist admitted students who encounter unexpected changes in their life or work situations that make it difficult or impossible to matriculate at Medill in the quarter for which they were admitted.

An admitted student seeking to defer enrollment must send a written request (email is OK) to the Office of Graduate Admissions. The request should include the reasons for seeking the deferral. If the deferral is approved, the student must submit a second $500 nonrefundable deferral deposit, in addition to the original $500 nonrefundable tuition deposit, in order to hold a place in a future class. Both deposits will be applied toward tuition upon enrollment; however, neither will be refunded if the student does not enroll.

If you have a question about whether your situation would qualify for a deferral, please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions.

Are the same services (Career Services, networking, events, etc.) available to me as an online student?

Yes. Many of our resources are available online and, importantly, this includes our Career Services team. They offer one-on-one career counseling and access to MEDILLINK, the jobs and career system for students and alumni. For campus-based events and facilities, you are free to travel to Northwestern at any time to participate in events and access facilities and resources.

Is it harder to network in an online class compared to campus classes?

As members of a professional master’s program, our faculty understand the value of networking. Students in the online program discover and build relationships with others, just as they would in on-premise programs.

Furthermore, faculty actively engage in helping their students make connections with professional contacts. So while students may not be face-to-face with their classmates or professors, there are certainly many opportunities to interact and get to know each other.

Do employers view applicants with online degrees as lesser than applicants who have “traditional” degrees?

Northwestern holds rigorous academic standards and must meet strict guidelines for quality to retain accreditation. At Northwestern, we do not introduce programs online unless they will mirror the quality of on-campus instruction.

The Medill School and Northwestern University have a vested interest in making sure our online students receive an education that equals that of students on campus. As more and more colleges and universities successfully integrate fully online and blended graduate degrees into their curricula, we find that employers are becoming more and more aware of the quality of these programs.

The degree you earn upon completion of the IMC program is identical to the one students who complete the program on campus earn. There is no designation for online or on-premise.

Whom do I talk to about receiving accommodations?

AccessibleNU serves, supports and empowers Northwestern students with disabilities by ensuring equal access to fully participate in academic programming and all other facets of university life. For more information about receiving accommodations, please visit AccessibleNU’s frequently asked questions page.