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How CFS Credit Works

Chicago Field Studies (CFS) follows an experiential learning model where coursework is connected to field experience in the form of an internship.  Students participating in CFS earn academic credit for the work done in their CFS course.

 We offer two types of courses:

The number of credits you chose to take the CFS class for will dictate both the amount of coursework and the number of hours per week that you are expected to work at your internship.

Relationship between credits and amount of course work: The higher the units of credit, the more academic work will be required.  Students in the same variable credit course may have different amounts of coursework based on the amount of credit they are earning.

Relationship between units of credit and hours per week at an internship:

1 credit = 10+ hours/week
2 credits = 15+ hours/week
3 credits = 20+ hours/week
4 credits = 25+ hours/week

If you would like, you can intern more hours than what is required for the amount of credit that you are taking the course for, but you cannot work less.

Academic credit and grades are earned based on your coursework and participation in the CFS course. CFS courses use internships as a source of information for discussion, reflection, and analysis. Grades are based on the academic work performed in the class. Through your internship you will gain professional skills and knowledge about an industry and you will receive an evaluation from your employer at the end of your internship. The internship must be successfully completed or it may negatively impact the participation aspect of your grade.

The grade that you receive will be weighted by the number of credits CFS is taken for. For instance, if you took CFS for 4 credits, that grade will have the weight of 4 credits on your transcript. Thus CFS courses can have a significant impact on your GPA.

CFS can be done more than once by most students. Weinberg students are able to count at most 6 units of internship course credit toward their Weinberg College degree.  The total number of internship program credits a student can count toward their degree varies by school. Students from other schools should check with their academic advisors to find out what their school’s policy is.  Any CFS units taken beyond your home school’s internship credit limit (e.g. beyond 6 for Weinberg) will count toward your GPA and appear on your transcript, but will not count toward your degree.

CFS course credits may count toward majors and minors as well.  You should check with your major/minor advisors to see how CFS credits might count for you. 

For Weinberg students who started at Northwestern before Summer 2023, many CFS classes will count for one credit toward Weinberg Distribution Requirements, see table below.

For Weinberg students who started at Northwestern in or after Summer 2023 (including transfer students), CFS courses currently do not count toward any Foundational Disciplines or WCAS requirements. For students in other NU schools, please talk with your academic advisor to see if this or other CFS classes count towards any requirements for you. 

Course #

Course Title

Weinberg Distribution Requirement

CFS 291

Analysis of Field Experience (online course)


CFS 387

Field Studies in Environment, Science & Sustainability


CFS 388

Field Studies in Business Culture (online course)


CFS 391

Field Studies in Social Justice


CFS 392

Field Studies in Public Health


CFS 393

Field Studies in the Modern Workplace

III first, if III met, then IV*

CFS 394

Legal Field Studies


CFS 395

Business Workplace Culture


CFS 397

Field Studies in Civic Engagement


CFS 398

Field Studies in Humanities


III = Social and Behavioral Sciences

IV = Historical Studies

VI = Literature and Fine Arts

*If you haven’t satisfied area III yet, 393 will satisfy area III first and then if you take another area III later, you can submit a request to the Registrar to have 393 satisfy area IV at that time.