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Guide last updated 2022.



School Name: Northwestern University
School Location: Evanston, IL
School Type: Private Research University

Northwestern University Admissions Rates Class of 2026

Applications: 51,554
Admitted: 7%

General Info

SAT/ACT Scores

Test Optional for 2022-2023
Admission Cycle

Fall 2021 Test Scores
Evidence-based Reading & Writing Range: 720-770
SAT Math Range: 740-790
ACT Range: 33-35


Early Decision: November 1
Early Results: Mid-December
Regular Deadline: January 3
Regular Results: Late March

School Information

Schedule: Quarter
Curriculum Type:
Distributional Requirements (some specialized schools)
Greek Life: 

Northwestern University TIPS & GUIDE

Northwestern Application Requirements, Admissions Tips, and University Guide

Northwestern University is a private university that consistently ranks in the top 10 schools in the U.S. It’s home to about 8,000 undergraduate students and has locations both in and outside of the U.S. Here are some frequently asked questions about Northwestern!

Where is Northwestern?

For Northwestern, this question has a few answers. Both of Northwestern’s main campuses are in Illinois, located 12 miles apart and bordered by a Great Lake. The Evanston campus has a small college town feel to it, with beaches, shops, and coffee houses a short walk away from dorm rooms and lecture halls. The Chicago campus, on the other hand, is located in the heart of one of America’s biggest cities and has perks like the Magnificent Mile and the Museum of Contemporary Art. To better understand these two campuses, you can take a virtual tour of Northwestern.

As of 2008, the Northwestern University in Qatar also offers undergraduates an opportunity to study at this world-renowned institution. NU-Q is located in Doha’s Education City, a sprawling 2,500-acre campus known for its remarkable architecture and modern amenities.

How do I apply?

There are a few ways you can apply to Northwestern. You can either apply Early Decision or Regular Decision. If you apply early, your application is due November 1. Northwestern will notify you of their decision by mid-December, and, if admitted, you must officially enroll by February 1. Since Northwestern is an ED school (as opposed to an EA school), your acceptance is binding: you must attend if you’re admitted. National College Match Scholars can apply to Northwestern ED through Questbridge. The majority of students apply during the non-binding Regular Decision round. Regular Decision applications are due January 3, with admission decisions released in late March and an enrollment deadline of May 1. Unless you’re a QuestBridge scholar, you’ll apply via the Common Application or Coalition Application. Along with your application, you’ll need:

  • Secondary school report (includes high school transcript and counselor recommendation letter)
  • Teacher recommendations; one from a school counselor and the other from a core subject teacher from junior or senior year
    • Optional: an additional letter of recommendation that sheds new light on your application
  • Standardized test scores (optional)
  • Encouraged additional “Why Northwestern” essay
  • Nonrefundable application fee of $75 or application fee waiver
  • Midyear transcript

Additional application requirements are necessary if you’re applying to the following programs or schools:

  • Bienen School of Music
  • Integrated Science Program (ISP)
  • Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences
  • School of Communication applicants to the Music Theater Certificate Program

Northwestern’s admissions process is highly selective. Around 7% of applicants are accepted every year. Even though ACT and SAT are waived for the 2022 application cycle, it is important to note that the middle 50% scores for the SAT were 1490-1550 and 33-35 for the ACT for the class of 2026.

What schools are at Northwestern?

Often recognized for the strength of its pre-professional programs, Northwestern is composed of twelve schools and colleges, nine of which offer degrees to undergraduates. In addition to Northwestern University in Qatar, there are eight undergraduate colleges at their Illinois campuses. Aside from the Kellogg School of Management, which only offers certificates to undergraduate students, they are all Bachelor degree-granting. Here’s a list of Northwestern’s seven undergraduate degree-granting schools in the U.S.:

Students can take classes at all colleges throughout their undergraduate years. Northwestern also offers tremendous academic flexibility, meaning that even if you enroll in one college as a freshman, you can switch colleges later on or pursue a dual degree from two colleges.

What special opportunities does Northwestern have?

In addition to being one of the premier schools for undergraduate journalism, communications, and education, Northwestern offers unique interdisciplinary programs in STEM. These selective programs include the Integrated Science Program and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences. High school students must submit a separate application for these programs in addition to the general Northwestern application. For those who are more interested in humanities, students can apply to the Brady Scholars Program in Civic Service and the Kaplan Humanities Honors Program to join a small, intellectually-focused community of other undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty.

Every year, more than 700 Northwestern undergraduates study abroad, which is about half of all students. They can choose from more than 150 affiliated study abroad programs on six continents around the world. Many of these are programs Northwestern developed and administrates itself. Regardless of what you study, Northwestern or one of its international partners has a study abroad program that caters to your interests. There are programs about public health in Mexico, journalism in Argentina, political and economic development in China, global healthcare technology in South Africa, and many more.

On Northwestern’s own campus, students won’t have any trouble finding special opportunities that allow them to take risks and explore their passions. Networking events like Business Bootcamp and Elevator Pitch Night equip students with the skills and connections they need to survive in corporate America, while mentorship programs like The Garage Residency provides a space for students from across NU to come together to develop hardware or software, commercial products or artistic endeavors.

Is Northwestern diverse?

The class of 2025 is 16.8% Hispanic or Latinx, 1.9% Native or Indigenous, 24.4% Asian American, 12% Black or African American, and 52.4% White. 15.1% of Northwestern’s class of 2025 are first generation college students, and 10.3% are international. The total undergraduate student body represents all 50 states and more than 105 countries.

What is campus life like?

With over 400 organizations, ranging from fraternities and sororities to pre-professional clubs, to cultural-affiliation groups, every Northwestern student can find a sense of belonging.

Northwestern has 19 Varsity Sports and participates in the Big Ten Conference. There are 11 different intramural sports and over 38 club teams, attracting over 1,200 participants annually. Northwestern’s Group Exercise Program has a long history of being at the forefront of the industry, featuring experienced nationally certified instructors and a wide variety of classes for all fitness levels, abilities, and interests.

Even if you don’t get involved in athletics or social organization, you can find a sense of community in your dorm. Nearly all NU freshmen live on campus, and many undergraduates continue living in NU’s residential buildings for all four years.

NU offers 23 undergraduate residence halls, which house as many as 500 students. 10 residential colleges offer many opportunities for faculty engagement and programming. Each college is headed by a member of the faculty, and these “Faculty Chairs” facilitate faculty dinners and fireside chats so that students can get to know Northwestern’s faculty better. Some residential colleges have themes, such as international studies, communications, or science & engineering. Similarly, special interest housing brings together students who share a common interest (e.g. sustainability, music, a career track) or who belong to one of Northwestern’s 30+ fraternities or sororities. A special interest housing group may be located on a wing of a residence hall or have their own small house. Lastly, Northwestern offers all-gender housing for students across each of these housing options.

Is Northwestern affordable?

The total cost to attend Northwestern for the 2021-2022 school year, which includes tuition, room and board, and average transportation and personal expense costs, is $83,838. Northwestern meets 100% of demonstrated need for all students—whether international or domestic. Northwestern is able to provide loan-free financial aid packages for the students who need it. Roughly half of the students receive Northwestern University scholarships and other state and federal grants that contribute to covering the costs of their education. You can calculate your estimated family contribution with Northwestern’s net price calculator.

When deciding to invest in college, it’s important to consider what you’ll gain from it (aside from exciting learning experiences). Fortunately, 96% of Northwestern graduates are employed or continuing their education within six months of graduating.

NORTHWESTERN Admission Rates

Data Source
Admission Rate
Class of 2025
CDS 2021-2022
Class of 2024
CDS 2020-2021
Class of 2023
CDS 2019-2020
Class of 2022
CDS 2018-2019
Class of 2021
CDS 2017-2018


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*Updated 2022