Northwestern University Admissions: Everything You Want to and Need to Know

Overview of Northwestern University

Northwestern University is a highly selective private research institution located in Evanston, Illinois. Students are backed by a student/faculty ratio of 6 to 1. The institution has a large selection of undergraduate and graduate degree programs for students to choose from. Outside of the classroom, students will find plenty of opportunities to engage with the campus community via many clubs and organizations. Northwestern is a center for both research and education.


  • Total Enrollment: 21,591 (8,231 undergraduates)
  • Gender Breakdown: 49 percent male/51 percent female
  • 94 percent full-time

Cost of Attendance Information

  • Tuition and Fees: $56,691
  • Books: $1,638
  • Room and Board: $17,019
  • Other Expenses: $3,306
  • Total Cost: $78,654

Financial Aid Information

  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Aid: 66 percent
  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Types of Aid
    • Grants: 60 percent
    • Loans: 17 percent
  • Average Amount of Aid
    • Grants: $41,435
    • Loans: $5,734

Academic Programs Offered

  • Most Popular Majors: Econometrics and Quantitative Economics; Psychology, General; Biology/Biological Sciences, General; Journalism; and Political Science and Government, General

Retention and Graduation

  • First-Year Student Retention (full-time students): 97 percent
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 84 percent
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate: 95 percent

NCAA Athletic Programs

  • Men’s Sports: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Golf, Soccer, Swimming and Diving, Tennis, Wrestling
  • Women’s Sports: Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Field Hockey, Golf, Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Swimming and Diving, Tennis, Volleyball
  • The Northwestern Wildcats play in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference.

Overview of Northwestern University Admissions

Northwestern has a competitive admissions pool with a low acceptance rate. Students whose SAT/ACT scores and GPA are within the institution’s requirements have a good chance of being admitted. Applicants must complete an online application and send test scores from either the SAT or ACT and high school transcripts. Glowing recommendation letters can bolster your application, along with being involved with student organizations and attempting a challenging course load. Students with unique talents and accomplishments can still receive strong consideration even if their GPAs are outside of the mean range. After applying, students will receive a message from an admissions counselor about the application process’s next steps. Interested students should check out the university’s website, which has helpful tips and contact information for the admissions offices.

Admissions Data                        

During the 2018-19 admissions phase, Northwestern University had an acceptance rate of 8%. For every 100 students who submitted applications, 8 students gained admission, making Northwestern’s admissions process highly competitive.

SAT Requirements and Scores

During the 2018-19 admissions phase, 45% of students provided SAT scores. This admissions data reveals that most of Northwestern’s students score within the top 7% nationally on the SAT. 50% of students admitted to Northwestern scored between 700 and 760 on the evidence-based reading and writing part, while 25% scored under 700 and 25% scored over 760. 50% of students scored between 730 and 790 on the math part, while 25% scored under 730, and 25% scored over 790. Applicants with a cumulative SAT score of 1550 or higher will have particularly competitive chances at Northwestern.

ACT Requirements and Scores

During the 2018-19 admissions phase, 65% of students provided ACT scores. This admissions data reveals that most of Northwestern’s students score within the top 3% nationally on the ACT. The median 50% of students admitted to Northwestern received a cumulative ACT score between 33 and 35, while 25% scored over 35, and 25% scored under 33.

Safety Net Schools: Easy to Gain Admission

If past admission data predicts that you would be a competitive candidate for Northwestern University, it should be easy to gain admissions to the schools below. If Northwestern University is currently out of your reach, then you are sure to be a competitive candidate for the schools below.

Boston College, Boston University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara

Same Tier: Just As Hard to Gain Admission

If you’re a competitive candidate for Northwestern University, you should have an equal chance of gaining admissions at these schools.

Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth College, Brown University, New York University, University of Michigan, Emory University

Reach Institutions: Gaining Admissions Will Be More of a Challenge

These schools are more challenging to gain admission into than Northwestern University. If you improve your GPA and SAT/ACT scores, you’ll be a competitive candidate.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University

Applying to Northwestern University

Application Deadline: January 1

Undergraduate Admissions Website:

Undergraduate Application Link(s):

Graduate Admissions Website:

Graduate Application Link(s): 

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