What You Need to Know About Northwestern University

What You Need to Know About Northwestern University

Northwestern University is a prestigious private research university located in Evanston, Illinois, with additional campuses in Chicago and Doha, Qatar. Founded in 1851, Northwestern is one of the Big Ten Conference’s founding members and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. Northwestern offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs across multiple disciplines, including arts and sciences, engineering, business, communications, journalism, law, medicine, education, and more. The university’s commitment to interdisciplinary studies promotes collaboration and allows students to explore diverse interests.

Northwestern University is highly regarded for its renowned faculty members who lead groundbreaking studies in various fields. It is home to numerous research centers and institutes, facilitating collaborative research initiatives and pushing the boundaries of knowledge.

Northwestern University prides itself on fostering a supportive and inclusive community, promoting diversity, and embracing different perspectives. The university values intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and the pursuit of knowledge. The students of Northwestern University are prepared to become leaders in their respective fields and make a positive impact on society.

Location

Northwestern University is located in Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago. The campus spans over 240 acres along the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan and it boasts a picturesque and vibrant campus. It features a blend of traditional and modern architectural styles, with Gothic-inspired buildings harmoniously coexisting alongside contemporary structures. The campus is adorned with lush green spaces, tree-lined paths, and serene gardens, creating a peaceful and inviting atmosphere. The campus setting includes the iconic Deering Library, Ryan Field (the football stadium), and the Technological Institute, which houses various science and engineering departments. The campus also offers state-of-the-art facilities, including cutting-edge research laboratories, performance venues, art studios, and athletic facilities. Northwestern University’s campus provides an inspiring backdrop for students, faculty, and staff to thrive academically, creatively, and socially.

Student Cohort Size

Northwestern University has a total population of 25,870 students including 9,827 undergraduate students. 51% of the students are female and 49% of the students are male. The admitted students represent 50 states and 100 countries.

Four-Year Completion Rate

Northwestern University has a 98% retention rate. This implies that 98% of freshmen students returned to continue their studies in their sophomore year. 84% of students graduate within 4 years and 94% of students graduate within 6 years.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

The student-to-faculty ratio at Northwestern University is 6:1. 77% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.

Admissions

Acceptance Rate

Northwestern University is a highly selective university with an acceptance rate of 7%. The university received 52,000 applicants and accepted 2,100 students for the Class of 2027.

Types of Admission

The students can apply through the Early Decision and Regular Decision rounds. The Early Decision round is an opportunity for students to show that Northwestern University is their number one choice. Early Decision is a binding process and it implies that the students should attend Northwestern University if accepted. The acceptance rate for Early Decision was 41%.  The university admitted about half their incoming class through their Early Decision round.

The students also have the option to apply through the Regular Decision process. Regular Decision may be right for you if you need more time to get your application ready. Many more students apply for Regular Decision than Early Decision.

Application Components

Complete Common Application
Official secondary school transcript and school report
Counselor recommendation
At least one teacher recommendation
SAT or ACT scores are optional for the 2023-24 cycle. The students that submitted their scores and get into Northwestern have an average SAT score between 1470-1570 or an average ACT score of 34-35.
Early Decision Agreement is only for Early Decision applicants.
Midyear senior transcript
Applicants requiring additional materials: Bienen School of Music, Integrated Science Program (ISP), Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences (MMSS) and School of Communication Musical Theatre Certificate Program
Essay: In 300 words or less, help us understand how you might engage specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities here. We are curious about what these specifics are, as well as how they may enrich your time at Northwestern and beyond.

Academics

At Northwestern University, there are several distinguished colleges that offer a comprehensive range of academic programs. These colleges include the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science, the School of Communication, the School of Education & Social Policy, the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, the Bienen School of Music, and the School of Professional Studies.

Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences is one of the 12 schools at Northwestern University.  Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences is the liberal arts college at Northwestern University and it offers over 60 undergraduate majors and minors. Weinberg College is known for its rigorous academics, its diverse student body, and its commitment to interdisciplinary learning. Weinberg College students can collaborate with world-renowned scholars, conduct research, and participate in a wide range of extracurricular activities.

The School of Communication (SoC) at Northwestern University is a top-ranked school that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in communication. The school has a strong focus on research and creative practice, and its alumni go on to successful careers in a variety of fields, including journalism, advertising, public relations, marketing, and film and television.
SoC is known for its rigorous academics, its diverse student body, and its commitment to interdisciplinary learning. Students at SoC have the opportunity to conduct research and collaborate with world-renowned scholars.
In addition to rigorous academic programs, the School of Communication offers a range of extracurricular activities and organizations where students can further develop their talents and interests. These include student-run media outlets, theatre productions, performance groups, and communication-focused clubs.

Some of the undergraduate programs offered by the School of Communication are:

  • Communication Studies: This major is designed to prepare students for careers in a variety of fields, including journalism, advertising, public relations, marketing, and film and television.
  • Media, Technology, and Public Policy: This major is designed to prepare students for careers in the media and technology industries, as well as in government and public policy.
  • Digital Media Studies: This major is designed to prepare students for careers in the digital media industry, as well as in academia and research.

Some of the graduate programs offered by the School of Communication are:

  • Master of Arts in Communication Studies: This program is for students who want to pursue careers in research, teaching, or practice in communication.
  • Master of Science in Communication: This program is for students who want to pursue careers in the media and technology industries, as well as in government and public policy.
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Communication: This program is for students who want to pursue careers in research and teaching in communication.

The School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) at Northwestern University is a top-ranked school that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in education and social policy. The school has a strong focus on research and practice, and its alumni go on to successful careers in a variety of fields, including teaching, research, social work, and public policy. The faculty at SESP are renowned scholars and practitioners who engage students in rigorous academic inquiry and practical experiences. The students acquire the knowledge, skills, and perspectives needed to address complex social challenges. They learn how to promote equity, justice, and well-being in communities locally and globally. SESP empowers students to become thoughtful leaders, researchers, educators, policymakers and advocates through interdisciplinary approaches, field experiences, and community partnerships.

Some of the undergraduate programs offered by the School of Education and Social Policy are:

  • Education: This major prepares students for careers in teaching, research, or policy analysis in education.
  • Social Policy: This major is for students who want ot pursue careers in social work, public policy, or research in social policy.

Some of the graduate programs offered by the School of Education and Social Policy are:

  • Master of Arts in Education: This program is designed for students who want to pursue careers in teaching, research, or policy analysis in education.
  • Master of Arts in Social Policy: This program would be beneficial for students who want to pursue careers in social work, public policy, or research in social policy.
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Education: This program is for students who want to pursue careers in research and teaching in education.

The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in journalism, media, and integrated marketing communications. The school is a renowned institution for educating the next generation of journalists, media professionals, and strategic communicators. The faculty at Medill are industry leaders, accomplished journalists, and communication experts who bring their expertise and networks to the classroom. Medill equips students with the skills, ethical values, and critical thinking abilities to navigate complex media environments, tell impactful stories, engage audiences, and shape the future of communication. Medill offers comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs that combine rigorous academic training with real-world experience.

Some of the undergraduate programs offered by the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications are:

  • Journalism: This major prepares students for careers in journalism, including reporting, writing, editing, and producing.
  • Media Studies: This major is designed to prepare students for careers in media, including film, television, radio, and new media.
  • Integrated Marketing Communications: This major is for students who want to pursue careers in marketing communications, including advertising and public relations.

Some of the graduate programs offered by the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications are:

  • Master of Science in Journalism: This program is designed for students who want to pursue careers in research, teaching, or practice in journalism.
  • Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications: This program is designed for students who want to pursue careers in research, teaching, or practice in integrated marketing communications.
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Communication: This program is designed for students who want to pursue careers in research and teaching in communication.

The Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University is a prestigious institution that offers a vibrant and comprehensive music education experience. The Bienen School of Music offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in music. Undergraduate students can major in performance, composition, music education, or music theory. Graduate students can pursue degrees in music performance, music education, music theory, or musicology. The faculty at Bienen are world-class performers, composers, and musicologists who mentor and inspire students to achieve their highest potential. Bienen School of Music nurtures the talents and passion of its students in classical music, jazz, opera, or contemporary music.

Bienen alumni have gone on to successful careers in music performance, composition, and education. Some notable alumni include:

  • Leonard Slatkin: Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra
  • Caroline Shaw: Pulitzer Prize-winning composer
  • Jesse Norman: Grammy Award-winning opera singer
  • Ted Sperling: Emmy Award-winning music producer
  • John Williams: Oscar-winning film composer

The School of Professional Studies at Northwestern University is one of the 12 schools at Northwestern University. It is designed to meet the needs of working adults who want to advance their careers or learn new skills. SPS offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees, certificates, and continuing education courses. The institution is dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible, and innovative education for working professionals and lifelong learners. The faculty at The School of Professional Studies (SPS) comprises of industry experts and experienced practitioners who bring real-world knowledge and expertise to the classroom. The school’s flexible learning formats including online and evening classes accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals. Students can choose from a variety of programs, including business, healthcare, law, and technology. SPS also offers programs that are designed for specific industries, such as finance, marketing, and human resources.

SPS students have the opportunity to network with professionals in their field, and gain real-world experience through internships and capstone projects. SPS alumni have gone on to successful careers in a variety of fields.

Most Popular Majors at Northwestern University

Economics
Psychology
Journalism
Neuroscience and Neurobiology
Political Science and Government
Biology
Radio and Television
Communications
Computer Science
Drama and Theatre Production

Athletics

Northwestern University is a founding member of the Big Ten Conference. The Wildcats have won two Big Ten West titles in football since 2018, and four bowl games since 2016. In 2021, the Northwestern field hockey team won the NCAA national championship. The women’s lacrosse team has won seven NCAA championships since 2005. Northwestern has also won recent conference championships in basketball, soccer, softball, field hockey, golf, tennis, wrestling, fencing, swimming, and diving.

Northwestern’s NCAA graduation success rate is 98%, which ranks in the top 4 among Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools for 18 consecutive years. Northwestern is one of five private AAU members/top research universities to compete in NCAA Power Five conferences. These achievements showcase the university’s commitment to both academic and athletic excellence.

Cost of Attendance

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Overall, Northwestern University is a prestigious institution known for its academic excellence, innovative research, vibrant campus life, and commitment to fostering a well-rounded educational experience for its students.

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