Top of Page
Skip main navigation

Student Guide to Earning ExEL Units

Congratulations on taking your first step to learn more about Experiential Learning (ExEL) at NSU! We are extremely excited to present this initiative to the class of 2021 and all classes moving forward.  Incorporating this experience into your undergraduate journey will benefit you both personally and professionally, by providing you with real world, hands on educational opportunities. Throughout your educational journey at NSU, you should be actively engaged in opportunities relevant to your field, practicing your critical problem solving skills and reflecting on your experiences. The world is your oyster, and here at NSU, we aim to provide you with all the opportunities you need to succeed in your future.

Below is a detailed explanation of the ExEL requirements as well as the steps you will need to take to earn your ExEL units for each category.


You will need to complete 6 units of ExEL for graduation.  A unit is determined by the amount of hours of Experiential Education you complete, with a distinction between curricular and co-curricular experiences.

  • Curricular: Related directly to an academic course or research. For example: COMP 2000, ENVS 1500, ACT 2020

                1 unit= 10-39 ExEL hours

                2 units= 40+ ExEL hours


  • Co-Curricular: Related to co-curricular activities outside the classroom. For example: Study Abroad, Community Engagement, Faculty Mentored Research or Professional Growth

                1 unit= 39-80 ExEL hours

                2 units= 80+ ExEL hours


As a freshman student, you are required to take UNIV 1000 (First Year Seminar) during your first semester.  This course is ExEL designated and will count as 1 unit.  Additionally, you will be required to complete a Senior Capstone project/course during your graduating semester, which will also count as 1 unit.  Considering 2 units are incorporated into your curriculum, throughout your time at NSU, you will need to seek out opportunities to complete 4 additional units. 

Listed below are the 5 categories you can chose from to complete your 4 ExEL units, as well as the steps to take for each. We encourage you to take advantage and seek opportunities in multiple categories to complete your 4 units.  This will serve you best and be most fulfilling to your undergraduate journey.

  • As noted above, there are an array of academic courses from you to choose from that have been designated ExEL.
    • Schedule an appointment with your assigned academic advisor to review your academic plan and browse the available ExEL courses you may be interested in taking. 
    • Ask if any of your major courses have an ExEL designation. If so, create an Academic Plan with your advisor to take these courses in future semesters, if you so choose.
    • Your Academic Advisor will walk you through the registration steps, which will be the same as every other class, to register for ExEL courses in the upcoming semester.
  • With NSU’s Carnegie Foundation classification as a high research activity institution, there are endless opportunities to conduct research in your desired field.
    • Your first step in conducting research is to approach one of the many prestigious faculty members (one who you have probably had a class with or was recommended to you by a colleague) and ask them if they are accepting students to help them with any research they may be conducting in the upcoming semesters, OR, you yourself can propose a research topic to a faculty and request that they mentor you through your project.
    • Once you have secured a verbal agreement from a faculty member, you will need to schedule an appointment to meet with your Academic Advisor to complete an “Independent Study Form”. 
      • Your advisor will give you further instructions on completing this form and submitting it to the academic division for formal approval.
  • If you have the opportunity to do research over the summer and are not interested in this counting for credit, but you still want to earn an ExEL unit, you will need to plan ahead to have this experience designated ExEL. 
    • Please contact Jeff Hartman at to review the process to have your research experience ExEL designated.
  • The Office of International Affairs has endless opportunities for Study Abroad all over the world, an experience you will remember for the rest of your life! ExEL and the Office on International Affairs provides you the opportunity to prepare for your travel with intention and critically reflect on all aspects of your experience throughout and after your return.  In doing so, you will be able to transcribe this experience on your resume into one that will be valued in the job market.
    • Once you have decided on an intended semester to travel, schedule a meeting with the Office of International Affairs to discuss where you want to go and to which university.
      • Some countries have various programs/universities to choose from based on your interests.
    • Meet with your Academic Advisor to discuss when would be a good semester to study abroad based on your major and academic planner.
    • Once you chose the university, you will need to scan their course offerings and select classes to take while you are abroad. Obtain the syllabus/course description for each course so they can be evaluated by Transfer Evaluation Services.  You will know how these course will be applied to your curriculum before you leave.
      • You must take at least 12 credits during the fall and winter semesters, and 6 credits over the summer.
    • Meet with your academic advisor to turn in your course descriptions and process a “Concurrent Enrollment/Travel Study” form.  This will take 1-2 weeks to process.
    • Once you have confirmed your courses and transfer evaluation, you will then need to complete the “ExEL Study Abroad Agreement”.  The Office of International Affairs will guide you through this process.
  • Embracing NSU’s core value of ‘Community Engagement’, the Office of Student Leadership & Civic Engagement (SLCE) is where you will find numerous opportunities to give back to become an engaged citizen of your local community, as well as alternative break opportunities in various US cities and abroad.
    • Visit the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement to discuss upcoming service opportunities you can get involved with.
    • Once you have decided what project you want to participate in, you will need to register yourself on OrgSync in order to track your ExEL experience and fulfill all reflections.
      • Please note that in order to earn ExEL units through Community Engagement, your experience must be intentional and designated ExEL before you participate.  You cannot participate in a community service project or service day and have it count towards ExEL after the fact.
    • The Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement will guide you through the steps you need to take to coordinate and approve your ExEL Community Engagement Experience.
      • There is not limitation to the number of experiences you can combine to accumulate your 80 hours.  However, you will need to have each experience designated ExEL before you participate.
        • We encourage you to seek long term opportunities that extend over the entire semester or even a full year. 
    • ExEL Community Engagement does not have to come from the Office of SLCE; if you have your own project or service opportunity you would like to participate in, bring your idea/interest to a SLCE coordinator, who will guide you through getting your opportunity designated as ExEL before you begin, in order to earn an ExEL unit.
  • NSU has an abundant amount of internships available to you, no matter what your field of study.  Internships are valuable to you not only so you graduate with relevant experience in your industry, but internships also provide an opportunity for you to explore your field and further confirm your interest and career goals for your future. Consequentially, an internship may provide you with insight that your major/career goals may not be right for you.
    • Schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor within the Office of Career Development.
      • A Career Advisor will guide and teach you how to best portray your skills on your resume depending on the type of internship you are seeking.  If you don’t have a resume, a Career Advisor will get you started on building one.
      • Your Career Advisor will guide you through the steps to have your internship designated ExEL in order to earn your unit.
        • If you wish to have your internship count for credit towards your academic curriculum, you will also need to meet with your Academic Advisor.
Return to top of page