Northwestern University, EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - ADMISSION

    Evanston, IllinoisLocation
    UniversitySchool type
    EStd 1851established year

    Northwestern University 2021-2022 Admissions: Acceptance Rate, Requirements, Deadlines, Application Process

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    Supriya Sarkar

    Study Abroad Expert | Updated on - Apr 26, 2021

    2020 admissions at Northwestern University saw an overall acceptance rate of 9% indicating very intensive criteria of selecting their prospective students. Established in 1851, the university has been providing quality education to students from over 70 countries and has an overall international population of 10% in its undergraduate programs alone. It has once again been ranked at #9 position among the best places to study in the USA as per the U.S. News & World Report 2021.

    • Over 45% of undergraduates receive financial aid each year and more than $195 million were awarded as financial aid to needy students in the academic year 2019-20.
    • The class profile of the class of 22 indicates that around 1,936 students are in the first year and about half of them have applied through Early Decision.
    • Notably, the class profile also shows that 73% of undergraduate students have combined more than two areas of study.
    • Deadlines for completion of the College Scholarship Service PROFILE for students who require Financial aid must be noted.

    Out of over 37,000 applications received, only about 3,700 of them were admitted. It is transparently evident that it is not very easy and in fact, the aspirants need to face tough competition to secure a seat in this prestigious institution. Over 70% of these undergrads combined two or more areas of study. Northwestern has 8000 plus undergraduate students,13,000 plus graduate students, and a faculty ratio of 6:1. The university also has over 40 University Research Institutes and Centers and has a great reputation for its research-based programs. Hence, a college like Northwestern makes the US a perfect study destination for international students from all over the world. 

    Northwestern University Admission Requirements for Top Courses

    Programs Deadlines Basic Academic Requirements
    M.Sc Computer Engineering Fall: February 28 IELTS  7  |  TOEFL  90
    M.Sc Computer Science Fall: February 28 IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    M.Sc Information Systems Fall: July 15
    Winter: October 15
    Spring: January 15
    Summer: April 15
    IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    M.Sc Data Science Fall: July 15
    Winter: October 15
    Spring: January 15
    Summer: April 15
    IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    MBA Round 2: January 6, 2021 (International Deadline)
    Round 3: April 7, 2021
    IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    M.Sc Integrated Marketing Communications Round 1: October 18  
    Round 2: January 3
    Round 3: February 28
    IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    Part-time MBA Spring 2021: January 6, 2021
    Summer 2021: March 31, 2021
    Fall 2021: June 9, 2021
    IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    Executive MBA September 2021: Round 1: April 21, 2021; Round 2: June 2, 2021
    January 2022: Round 1: August 18, 2021; Round 2:October 6, 2021
    IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    M.Sc Management Studies Round 3: April 30, 2021 IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    M.Sc Transportation Systems Analysis and Planning Fall: January 15; Spring: October 15 IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    One-year MBA Round 3: April 7, 2021 IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    M.S Mechanical Engineering Fall: April 30 IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    M.Sc Theoretical and Applied Mechanics December: 15 IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    B.Sc Computer Engineering Early Decision: November 1
    Regular Decision: January 1
    IELTS 7 | TOEFL 90
    • Northwestern offers a variety of graduate and undergraduate programs. Their most popular majors include Economics, Psychology, Communication and Journalism, Political Science & Government and Journalism.
    • Northwestern issues international students all four-year aid awards which would help students plan their entire undergraduate studies financially which is noteworthy.
    • An option for an Application fee waiver is also available.
    • Northwestern University understands the seriousness of the COVID-19 and tries its best to monitor its spread. It has convened a group of senior administrators who would manage and lead the University’s response to the outbreak.
    • For this, a special website has been created that would provide the students, parents, staff, and everyone else with the latest updates and information related to the University’s response from time to time.


    Application Portal Online
    Application Fee 75 USD
    Acceptance rate 8.4%
    Average SAT score 1440-1550
    Average ACT score 32-35
    Mode of Payment American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and VISA
    Academic Calendar Semester
    Financial Aid Available for both Domestic and International Students.

    Northwestern University Admission Deadlines

    Given below are the deadlines for admission into different courses at Northwestern University:

    Type of Deadline Deadline
    Early Decision Application deadline November 1
    Regular Decision application deadline January 1
    Transfer applicant’s deadline March 15
    Regular Decision student-reply deadline May 1
    Graduate programs Vary with department

    Northwestern University International Student Admissions

    Northwestern welcomes students from all over the globe. It does not differentiate between domestic and international students by restricting the number of international students. It requires the candidate to begin the application process during the final year of his/her pre-university preparation and complete an academic program that would allow them to get admitted into a degree-seeking program in an accredited university in his/her home country.

    Application Portal: Common Application.

    Application Fee: 75 USD

    Admission Requirements:

    Northwestern University Admissions have eligibility criteria given below for international students to fulfill:

    • Common Application or Coalition Application
    • Secondary school report which includes official high school transcripts and counselor recommendation letters.
    • At least one teacher recommendation is required.
    • SAT or ACT scores for UG
    • GRE/GMAT for PG
    • For those candidates who are not native English speakers and their schooling is not done in English, Official TOEFL or IELTS scores are required.
    • Early Decision Agreement is required only for Early Decision applicants.
    • A midyear transcript is required

    Supporting Documents:

    • Music audition is required only for the School of Music applicants.
    • 3 SAT subject tests are required only for homeschooled applicants

    English Language Proficiency

    Northwestern University requires international candidates to submit their TOEFL or IELTS scores to prove their proficiency in the English language. However, there is no minimum score preferred by Northwestern for both exams.

    Visa Process for International Students

    After applying for Northwestern on their online portal, the candidate must submit a new student document request through the OISS(Office of International Students and Scholar Services) portal for the student visa. An I-20 would be processed within 2-4 weeks. The candidate must then pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. The I-20 Form can be received via FedEx, once the admission is done.

    The candidates need to submit the documents given below in order to experience a smooth visa application process:

    • A Valid Passport
    • I-20 Form given by Northwestern University.
    • Copies of English test results like TOEFL.
    • A financial aid award letter(if applicable).
    • The candidate’s Bank statement from the last six months.
    • A receipt indicating that the candidate has paid the SEVIS Fee.
    • Any other letters which prove that the student is financially strong and will return to his home country after his study in the United States.

    Once the I-20 Form is submitted and the SEVIS fee is paid, the candidate can schedule an appointment with the nearest US embassy.

    More information on the Visa process can be obtained from:

    Office of International Student and Scholar Services
    630 Dartmouth Place Evanston, IL 60208-4190
    Phone: 847-491-5613 Fax: 847-556-6006
    Or queries can be emailed to

    Northwestern University Undergraduate Admissions

    The university offers a number of UG majors and minors to choose from. The most popular bachelor’s programs at Northwestern University are in the fields of Economics, Psychology, Communication and Journalism, Political Science & Government, and Journalism.

    In addition to Early Decision and Regular Decision, U.S citizens and students who have completed their high school in the United States can apply through QuestBridge.The QuestBridge application uses the process of College match which demands the applicants to withdraw all other applications if they are matched with a particular college.

    Application Portal: Common Application

    Application Fee:75 USD

    Admission Requirements: Aspirants are expected to submit the following documents during the Admission process:

    • Official secondary school transcripts and school reports
    • A Counselor recommendation
    • Recommendation from at least one teacher.
    • Official SAT or ACT scores
    • Early Decision Agreement ( for Early Decision applicants ONLY)
    • Mid-year transcript (Regular Decision applicants and Early Decision admits ONLY)

    Northwestern University Graduate Admissions

    PG programs at Northwestern University are offered by its Graduate School. The Graduate School provides graduate degrees in Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), Master of Public Health (MPH), and Master of Fine Arts (MFA). The Graduate School, in general, requires the candidates to submit the following documents:

    • Completed online application
    • Statement of Purpose.
    • Uploaded Transcripts or school report
    • Standardized test scores.
    • Letters of Recommendation.
    • GRE or GMAT scores.

    The requirements for 5 popular programs is given below.

    Requirements MS in Engineering Design Innovation Program MS in Artificial Intelligence MS in Project Management Executive Management for Design and Construction MS in Management Studies Program
    Application Fee (USD) 95 75 50 50 125
    GMAT/GRE GRE optional GRE Required GRE or GMAT both are accepted Not required Not required
    Essay Not required Personal statement required. Personal statement required. Not required Required
    Work Experience Portfolio of Past Work. Preference shall be given Not required 8 plus years of experience Not required
    Resume Required Required Required Required Required
    Recommendations 2 LORs required 3 LORs required 3 LORs required 2 LORs required 2 LORs required
    Admission Interview By invitation only Not required By invitation only By invitation only By invitation only

    While Northwestern accepts applications through Common Application and Coalition Application, there is no special preference for any of the two. Candidates applying as first-year students can submit their application Early Decision or Regular Decision by November 1 and January 1 respectively.

    Due to the current COVID-19 Crisis, The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS) has shifted to working remotely (online & by phone) only. Since the University aims to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Virus, it has to conduct remote classes and even OISS has decided to close the physical office until any further notice is issued.

    While we understand that getting into Northwestern is not a cakewalk, it must also be noted that deserving candidates who fulfill all their eligibility criteria have high chances of getting admitted to this renowned university.


    Ques. Will the coronavirus outbreak have any effect on the admissions process for prospective or newly admitted students?

    No, the outbreak would not have any effect on the evaluation procedure to gauge the applicants for any of the programs.

    Ques. Will the May 1 deposit response date for admitted students be extended given COVID-19 developments?

    Since Northwestern University provides robust virtual programming for admitted students and finds creative ways to remotely connect them with the Northwestern community, it does not expect the May 1 deposit response date to change.

    Ques. Will the COVID-19 response affect Northwestern’s review of transfer applicants?

    No, there will be no significant effect on the review process of transfer applicants. While the official deadline for transfer applicants is declared as March 15. Northwestern guarantees to accept applications till April 10. However, in cases where the transfer applicant has even crossed the deadline of April 10, he/she can request a deadline extension on

    Ques. If the University does not resume on-campus classes in the fall, may incoming first-years request a deferral to begin in fall 2021?

    With hopes is that it is going to be safe for the Northwestern community to come back together and resume courses on campus by late September, it is still not possible to predict the days ahead and hence concrete information cannot be given at the moment. The deadline for seeking approval for a gap year proposal is July 1, which still provides admitted students with two months to request a deferral. For this, they would have to accept their offer on or prior to May 1.

    Ques. If or when I apply for financial aid for next year, will I receive a notice?

    Northwestern assures that financial aid applications will remain intact. Just like every other year, the processing of financial applications would be continued in the same manner.

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