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EIU Pine Honors College

National Student Exchange

Program Description and Goals

The National Student Exchange (NSE) is a program for undergraduates attending participating institutions within the United States and its territories, and the provinces of Canada.

Students on NSE spend one or two terms at a single host campus, or one term each at two different host campuses.  Many students who participate in NSE hold one or more of the following goals, for their exchange:

  • To expand personal horizons, by engaging with one or more cultures they had not previously directly encountered. 
  • To grow undergraduate competencies, by taking courses and/or completing minors not available to them at EIU.
  • To investigate graduate school options by attending the very institutions they are considering, or attending institutions within an easy traveling distance.
  • To explore areas in which they have not lived, where others have said job opportunities in their fields are plentiful, to gauge amenities and affordability.
  • To experience what it means to be closer to full independence, by living and studying far from family and friends. 
  • To test the waters of solo travel, before finally deciding for or against a more immersive true study abroad experience.

Students who participate in National Student Exchange develop skills aligned with EIU university goals.  Their horizons are expanded as they explore diverse perspectives and think critically about previously held beliefs regarding the practice of their disciplines, the impact of culture on everyday life, and the role of national identity in international citizenship. 

As at EIU, students’ growth while on exchange is expressed through speaking and writing.  Faculty at their host institutions assess students both formally and informally, and submit course grades that later contribute to students’ cumulative GPAs back at EIU.


Eligibility Criteria

To apply for a National Student Exchange placement, a student must meet the following minimum eligibility criteria required by all NSE campuses:

  • Be enrolled full-time at EIU, for at least two terms prior to the first term of placement.
  • Plan to enroll as a full-time student, for any and all terms of placement.
  • Have earned a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher, at EIU, both at the time of application and at the close of the final term prior to placement.+ 
  • Have maintained good academic, personal, and financial standing at EIU.
  • Plan to maintain good academic, personal, and financial standing at any NSE host campuses attended.
  • Be prepared to cover all expenses associated with the proposed exchange, in full and in a timely manner.

 +Please note:  Individual institutions participating in NSE establish their own minimum cumulative GPAs.  Though most require only a 2.5, some require a 3.0 or higher. In many instances, students participating on Honors exchange or R.A. exchange are expected to meet higher GPA requirements.  GPA requirements are provided under the “Conditions” tab on each institution’s NSE page.


Application Process

The first step in the application process is to either register for group information session, or schedule an individualized informational appointment, with Ms. Sara Schmidt, NSE Coordinator for EIU.  To schedule an individualized appointment, please  select an open time using or call (217) 581-2017.  


Information Sessions

Group information sessions allow students to learn about what NSE is, and how NSE works, in an atmosphere allowing them to benefit from answers to both their own, and their peers', questions.  Below are upcoming information sessions, for Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 (updated 2/24/20).

 Spring 2020

  • Wednesday, March 25            5-6pm            
  • Tuesday, March 31                 5-6pm
  • Saturday, April 11                   11a-noon

 Fall 2020

  • Tuesday, September 8            5-6pm
  • Saturday, September 19         1-2pm
  • Wednesday, October 7           5-6pm
  • Saturday, October 17              10-11am
  • Saturday, November 5            11a-noon
  • Thursday, November 11         5-6pm
  • Tuesday, December 1             5-6pm
  • Saturday, December 5            11a-noon

To register for a session, please respond to the Doodle poll at: or e-mail  On Doodle, please register using both your first and last name.  This will enable Ms. Schmidt to contact you with the location of your session.  The location will be determined by the total number of participants, and be communicated at least 24 hours in advance of the session.


Individualized Appointments

Ms. Schmidt typically schedules informational appointments from March 15 through November 30, for placements for the following year.  Appointments may be requested between December 1 and February 1, as well, though for most students that does not leave enough time to complete the campus application process.



National Student Exchange (NSE) allows students to apply for either "conference placement" or "post-conference placement."  All 160+ campus coordinators are required to attend an annual conference, in order to send and receive students on exchange.  The first full week in March is when the conference is held.  

It is always best for students to seek "conference placement," because when the conference starts all available 'slots' are open at all participating institutions.  By the time the conference is over, approximately 2/3 of campuses will no longer be in a position to accept additional incoming students.  Many among the remaining 1/3 will have only a few 'slots' available.  

That said, students who cannot make the mid-to-late February application deadline for "conference placement" may instead pursue "post-conference placement." These students can work with Ms. Schmidt to identify appropriate options from among the approximately 1/3 of campuses that still have 'slots' available. 

The application deadline for "post-conference placement" varies from campus to campus.  For fall semester placement, deadlines may fall anywhere between March 30 and August 15.  For spring semester placement, deadlines may fall anywhere from August 1 through December 15.  So, it is important for students considering "post-conference placement" to contact Ms. Schmidt as soon after the placement conference as possible. 


Online Resources

For information about institutions participating in National Student Exchange, please see the NSE website, at

Related Pages

Contact Information

Sandra and Jack Pine Honors College

Pemberton Hall South
600 Lincoln Avenue
Charleston, IL 61920
(217) 581-2017
(888) 440-4664
Fax: (217) 581-7222

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