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Northwestern University: Academics, Admissions & Tuition Info

Research Northwestern University (NU) in Evanston, Illinois. Learn about NU's admissions procedures, degree programs, and financial aid to make an informed education decision.

About Northwestern University

Northwestern University was founded in 1851 in Evanston, Illinois, on the shores of Lake Michigan and about 12 miles north of Chicago. The private university is recognized for its strong research initiatives. In addition to its 240-acre campus in Evanston, the school also has a Chicago campus and a Doha, Qatar, campus.

Significant research achievements made by NU faculty include development of the modern theory of chemical catalysis (which makes today's petrochemical industry possible) and the first known synthesis of a fully functioning enzyme. In 2012, the university was ranked 12th among national universities by U.S. News and World Report and 22nd on Forbes magazine's list of top American colleges. In 2012, U.S. News and World Report ranked NU's School of Law 12th among best law schools and Kellogg School of Business 4th among best business schools.


Northwestern University offers more than 100 undergraduate programs and more than 125 graduate and professional programs, including more than 15 doctoral degree programs. The school has 12 undergraduate and graduate schools and colleges: the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Communication, the School of Continuing Studies, the School of Education and Social Policy, the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Graduate School, the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, the School of Law, the Kellogg School of Management, the Feinberg School of Medicine, the Bienen School of Music, and Northwestern University in Qatar. Undergraduate programs are offered at nine of the schools; in 2010, economics, journalism, and psychology were the top majors for undergraduate students. Professional graduate programs are offered at ten of the schools.

NU offers students the opportunity to see the world through its study abroad programs and serve their country by participating in one of the three U.S. military ROTC programs at the university (Navy, Army, Air Force). NU's 11 women's and 8 men's intercollegiate sports teams compete as the Big Ten's only private school.


Northwestern University accepts undergraduate applications for admission by November 1st for early action and January 2nd for regular decision. Applications can be submitted online or through the mail. Early action applicants are notified of their admission status by December 15th and regular decision applicants by early April. Prospective freshman students must submit high school transcripts, teacher recommendations, a financial aid application, the Common Application, the NU supplemental application, SAT or ACT scores, and essays. While interviews for general applicants are optional, applicants to the Bienen School of Music are required to audition.

Transfer students are encouraged to apply online by March 15th for Fall admission and October 1st for Winter admission. Transfer students are notified of their status on a rolling basis. Transfer applicants must have completed one full academic year of postsecondary school before applying. Transfer applicants need to provide high school and college transcripts, a financial aid application, the Common Application for transfer admission, the NU supplemental application, college professor or instructor recommendations, SAT or ACT scores, and essays.

Prospective graduate students may apply online and should be prepared to submit college transcripts as well as graduate test scores. They should consult departmental websites for specific admission requirements and application deadlines for each program.

Tuition and Financial Aid

The tuition for undergraduate students for the 2012-2013 academic year is $43,380. Room and board is $13,329. The university also charges $399 in special fees, such as an associated student government activity fee, a health services fee, and an athletic events fee. Graduate students' tuition rates vary greatly depending on their program.

Undergraduate students may be eligible for financial aid in the form of grants, university or outside scholarships, federal work-study funding, and federal student loans. Student employment estimates may also be factored in. Northwestern University also offers merit and need-based scholarships.

Graduate student funding options vary by program. Aid available to graduate students may include scholarships, fellowships, teaching and research assistantships, and federal student loans.

School Type 4-year, private non-profit*
Degrees Offered Certificate, bachelor's degree, post-baccalaureate certificate, master's degree, post-master's certificate, doctoral degree (research/scholarship, professional practice)*
Religious Affiliation Not Applicable*
Academic Calendar Quarter**
School Setting Small city*
Student Body 9,466 undergraduate students and 11,493 graduate students (Fall 2011)*
Student Housing 28 residence halls housing approximately 70% of undergraduate students, including residential colleges and communities, and special interest housing**
Schools and Programs 12 schools and colleges offering more than 100 undergraduate programs and 125 graduate and professional programs*
Student-Faculty Ratio 7 to 1*
Most Popular Fields of Study by Degree Level (Number of Recipients) In 2010-2011:
Bachelor's: Economics (239)
Master's: Business Administration and Management (386)
Doctoral: Law (287)*
Undergraduate Graduation Rates 87% in four years
95% in six years
96% in eight years*
Admission Rate 23% in 2010*
Entering Class Size About 2,100 in 2010***
First-Year Retention Rates 97% (full time students)*
Average ACT Composite Score of Admitted Students Middle 50% ACT scores: 31-33 in Fall 2011*
Application Due Date November 1st for early decision
January 2nd for regular decision for Fall term**
Decision Notification Date December 15th for early decision applications
Early April for regular decision (Fall term)**
Tuition $43,380 (undergraduate; does not include books, room or board) for 2012-2013 academic year ($14,460 per quarter (3-5.5 units of study))**
Financial Aid Sources Available (Percent of Students Receiving it) In 2010-2011 (full-time beginning undergraduate students):
Federal grants (15%)
State and local grants (7%)
Institutional grants and scholarships (56%)
Federal student loans (39%)*
Percent of Students Receiving Some Form of Aid 67% in 2010-2011*

Sources: *College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, **Northwestern University, ***IPEDS Data Center, National Center for Education Statistics.

Northwestern University Information

  • Address: Northwestern University, Office of Undergraduate Admission, P.O. Box 3060, Evanston, Illinois 60204-3060
  • Phone: (847) 491-7271
  • Website:

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