Northwestern University currently ranks at #9 on the most recent U.S. News and World Report’s list of National Universities, and at #15 on its list of Best Value Schools. Founded in 1851, Northwestern currently enrolls 8,353 undergraduate students, most of whom study on its main campus in Evanston, IL. Northwestern also has campuses in nearby Chicago—located only twelve miles away from Evanston—and, as of 2008, in Doha, Qatar.
Students regularly commute between Evanston and Chicago, traveling either by public transit or on the free intercampus shuttle. In addition to classrooms and labs, Evanston offers beaches, coffee shops, scenic running trails, and a vibrant restaurant scene. In Chicago, students can find a more urban environment, as well as important cultural centers like the Museum of Contemporary Art and the John Hancock Center.
Nearly 70 percent of the undergraduate population at Northwestern lives on campus. These students have the option of living in traditional residence halls, in residential communities (which offer more student-driven programming and live-in faculty), or in one of eleven residential colleges. Residential colleges—which range in size from 40 to nearly 300 students—are generally themed around particular issues, including business, international studies, public affairs, and community engagement. All offer students a variety of academic and social programming, including the opportunity to dine with faculty members, attend regular outings and presentations (known as “firesides”), and, in some cases, take small seminars for credit.
Northwestern offers more than 500 extracurricular groups for students to join, with focuses ranging from community involvement to theatrical performance to political activism. The school also competes in NCAA Division I sports, and it is the only private university in the Big Ten conference. Academically, Northwestern works on a quarter system, which gives students the opportunity to take more classes than a traditional semester system; students typically take four classes each quarter.
The first six of these are undergraduate schools, offering students bachelor’s degrees in a variety of different fields. Students can also earn undergraduate degrees—and study abroad for the fall semester—at Northwestern’s Qatar campus. In addition, the Kellogg School of Management offers undergraduate certifications in financial economics and managerial analytics. In total, Northwestern offers undergraduates more than 200 formal academic concentrations, as well as the opportunity to develop and complete their own programs of study.
Northwestern also offers a Dual Bachelor’s Degree Program, allowing students to earn degrees from two schools in five years. Interested students can earn combined degrees in liberal arts and engineering, liberal arts and music, communication and engineering, communication and music, education and music, engineering and music, or journalism and music. To be admitted to a Dual Bachelor’s Degree Program, students must apply to both schools. Since each application is considered separately, it is possible to be admitted to only one or both schools.
In addition, Northwestern offers several special admissions programs. Students interested in math and natural sciences can apply to the Weinberg College’s Integrated Science Program (ISP), which offers an intensive, accelerated curriculum and the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree in three years. High school seniors interested in medicine can also apply to the Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME), a non-binding, seven-year BA/MD program. This program allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree through an individualized course of study at the Weinberg College, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, or School of Communication, and then—provided they maintain a minimum GPA—gives them the option to matriculate at the Feinberg School of Medicine. (The MCAT is not required for matriculation into Feinberg.)
Northwestern offers all students the opportunity to do research, study abroad, or pursue internships. In fact, almost 75% of Northwestern’s undergraduates engage in these opportunities. The school’s Office of Undergraduate Research makes it easy to participate in research by administering grant programs that award over one million dollars annually. The university’s Undergraduate Research Grant offers support for independent projects undertaken during the summer or the academic year, while the Undergraduate Research Assistance Program allows students to work as research assistants on faculty projects. Northwestern’s many interdisciplinary research centers also offer lots of resources for undergraduate research, including special programs, research grants, and funding for independent scholarly projects.
For graduate students, Northwestern offers ten graduate and professional programs, including those at the Kellogg School of Management, the School of Education and Social Policy, the School of Law, the Feinberg School of Medicine, the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. An accelerated JD program allows a select group of students to complete the JD in two calendar years, while the Pritzker School and the Kellogg School offer a joint degree program allowing students to earn both JD and MBA degrees in three years.
Applying to Northwestern University
Undergraduate applicants to Northwestern can apply Early Decision or Regular Decision. Early Decision applications, generally due November 1, are binding, meaning that any accepted students must attend Northwestern. Early Decision applicants are allowed to apply Early Action and Regular Decision to other schools, but they must withdraw these applications if they are accepted by Northwestern.
Northwestern readily admits that Early Decision applicants have an advantage over students in the regular round. In the school’s own words, “Applicants who choose Early Decision send a strong positive message to Northwestern. Given early applicants’ high level of interest and the high concentration of academic and personal strengths represented across the early applicant pool, our Early Decision acceptance rate is typically higher than that of Regular Decision.” In fact, Northwestern usually fills up one half of the entering class during the early round.
Students can apply using either the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Applicants must submit either the SAT or ACT. Northwestern also recommends that most applicants submit at least two SAT Subject Tests. (Applicants to the ISP and HPME programs have more precise requirements.) Based on our experience working with students at Top Tier, however, we know that “recommended” tests are often actually required for admission. Northwestern also offers applicants the opportunity to take part in an alumni interview.
Northwestern University Admissions Wrap Up
For the Class of 2023, Northwestern received a record 40,577 applicants, 100 more than received last year. The overall acceptance rate was 8.9 percent. First-generation college students make up 12.5 percent of the class and 11 percent are international students. As usual, early applications will fill about half the entering class, which will likely total 1,925 students. There were 4,399 students who applied Early Decision. Of those 4,399, 25 percent were accepted.
Top Tier Admissions Can Help You Get Into Northwestern University
“I am excited to inform you that I will be attending Northeastern University this fall! I am hoping that they fully reopen the campus as they plan to. Until then, I’m greatly anticipating being a Husky. I could not have done it with you and your team. Thank you very much for helping me with my application. I greatly appreciate it.”–C.K., Application Boot Camp student, Northeastern
"Thank you so much for all your time and work with N over these last few months. N found his experience at Boot Camp to be incredibly helpful and he very much enjoyed meeting you and working with all the Top Tier counselors as well as the other students. The process was educational for N in so many ways- thank you, thank you, thank you!" –M.T., Application Boot Camp parent
"I want to thank you, again, for a fantastic Top Tier Boot Camp experience. As a second time Top Tier family, we drank your Kool Aid fully and completely, and it paid off! You know your stuff; you manage to thread the needle with a mix of tough love and compassion (for both the students and their parents - no small feat) and you run a super-efficient 4-day program." –R.R., Application Boot Camp parent
"I got my acceptance letter over the weekend from Middlebury!! I’m officially a Panther!!! 🙂 Thank you for all of your help; I could not have made it through 1st quarter without ABC!!!" -S.F., Application Boot Camp student
"Dear Michele, I just wanted to let you know that I just got accepted into Dartmouth for ED! I’m overjoyed and incredibly excited to continue my academic journey in New Hampshire. Thank you so much! You were always there to answer so many of my questions and were incredibly supportive of me; I couldn’t have done it without you and the Top Tier team!" –B.S., Application Boot Camp student
"Thank you so much!! He couldn’t have done it without your amazing team!" –H.O., Application Boot Camp parent
"We just got the news! Northwestern Class of 2024! She’s over the moon. This would not have happened without the advice and guidance along the way from all of the folks at Top Tier Admissions! From the advice on how to structure her supplemental info, including how to position her interests and activities relative to her major, the advice to take a college course this summer, and the amazing work that was done during Boot Camp, Top Tier is the absolute best and I know we have you to thank for her acceptance!!! Happy Holidays and thank you from the bottom of my heart!" –P.S., Application Boot Camp parent
"Michele and team - Just wanted to pass along the great news that J got admitted today to Pitzer, her first choice ED school. Thanks for all the amazing support you've provided H and J over the past few years. They both learned a lot from the process and, of course, benefited greatly. We now get to celebrate the holidays with a sigh of relief!" –V.J., Application Boot Camp parent
"J is so thrilled about attending Middlebury College next fall (and we are thrilled for her) and we appreciate all your assistance. It was so exciting for her to get the official acceptance last week. She loved her time at ABC and still keeps in touch with the group of friends she made. Boot Camp was tough, but she thoroughly loved it. She’s a grinder so the intensity and complete immersion didn’t bother her at all. She loved working with all of you and cherishes having another little group of friends that she bonded with in Boston. Don’t fire your caterer - she’s a big fan of the food at Boot Camp." –W.R., Application Boot Camp parent
"B, you helped me with my application during Boot Camp this past summer and I wanted to let you know that I committed to UPenn last night! Thank you so much for helping to transform my supplements into something readable. Boot Camp DEFINITELY helped me get in and made the process a lot less stressful. Thank you so much for all of your help!" –B.A., Application Boot Camp student
"We wanted to thank you for your guidance, counsel and support through T’s application process. Your advice has been instrumental to his success and, more importantly, you gave him the confidence boost he needed to apply early at Princeton. We will continue to recommend Top Tier services to our friends and will always be grateful for what you did. We hope we can stay in touch and wish you a wonderful holiday season." –K.L.T., Application Boot Camp parent
"We are excited to report that B was accepted ED to Duke University and has committed to attend next fall. We’ll forward a picture once our first Duke swag order arrives. Duke was her clear first choice and we are all very happy! We are also very pleased with the assistance we received from all of you at Top Tier and are confident that the guidance we received over the last seventeen months helped B wind up with this great outcome. So, thank you!" –E.R., Application Boot Camp parent
"I am ecstatic to report that I got into my ED school: University of Chicago! Thank you so much for all your help and willingness to work through draft after draft until I got it right." –W.D., Application Boot Camp student
"I am happy to report that we found out this evening that L has been accepted to Boston College! We are SO excited! And for your records, he was also accepted at Villanova and invited to the honors program. Thank you all so much for your help and support! We would have been lost without you!" –M.J., Application Boot Camp student
"I wanted to extend my personal thanks for all your help with my son's application process and essays. Your Bootcamp proved to be well worth the investment and per your advice I stayed away from the temptation of even reading my son's essays until he was accepted. The bottom line is that he was accepted into his top choice of UChicago and in his acceptance letter his essay was specifically mentioned. Furthermore, this was a reach school for him which made the acceptance even more sweet. Your methods and advice were instrumental in his success and I cannot thank you enough for making my son's aspirations real!!" –L.T., Application Boot Camp parent
"I'm not sure if my daughter told you yet, but she was accepted ED to Dartmouth in December. So, two for two with the W sisters-- thanks Top Tier Admissions!" –G.W., Application Boot Camp parent x2
"I wanted to let you know that I got into my first choice, Boston College, early decision. I'm so excited. Thank you all so much for everything, I'm so grateful!" –L.K., Application Boot Camp student
"Thank you to Mimi who wrote my personalized report back in junior year, to the entire team, and definitely to E! My quick acceptance into Cornell owes much to your insights and guidance. Although I have been accepted to Cornell, the process with Top Tier has made me want to stay competitive in college — whether for internships, or for graduate schools later in life. I thank you for that!" –P.O., Application Boot Camp student
"WE MADE IT!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I COULDN'T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU!" –L.J., Application Boot Camp student
“Once again, I am so impressed with your program. I am amazed at the sheer amount B. accomplished in four days! Equally as important, she feels really great about her essays. She loved working with each of you as well as A. (a great pairing for her!). I know how hard each of you worked this week; I hope you get to enjoy some well-deserved R&R!” –N.G., Application Boot Camp parent
"G is excited to go to her first choice, the University of Miami! She continues to say that Application Boot Camp was the best investment we ever made for her education." –R.J., Application Boot Camp parent
"I liked the process of having multiple people read my essays before finalizing a draft. This made me confident that my essays were clear and concise while also captivating to a diverse audience. Everyone was also patient and encouraging. Boot Camp took away so much stress coming into Senior Fall, allowing me to focus on my academics and earning my highest term average ever." –S.A., Application Boot Camp student
"I know first hand how you run your business. Off the charts ethical! We look forward to continuing our relationship with Top Tier's Application Boot Camp."
"Thank you so much for your help and guidance. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you and the Top Tier Admissions Team! I'm still in between UPenn and Georgetown, but I will make sure to visit both." –S.I., Application Boot Camp student
"Clearly, Application Bootcamp and Top Tier took a lot of anxiety out of the whole situation. Our children know a number of kids who did not get into their top choice ED school, only to be devastated and stressed as they are without a plan for ED II and regular decision and have not worked on a range of essays for other schools. So while F & J’s EA-only strategy is not for everyone but made sense for them since they did not have a clear lead school when they were applying, being prepared made all the difference. The help Bootcamp provided in honing their voice and words into essays that reflect their intent was fantastic. In the end, it is all about having choices they are happy with, and I am happy to say they both have those now!" –F.A., parent of Application Boot Camp students
"E., I just wanted to let you know that I got into Barnard Early Decision! Thank you for everything you have done!!! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everything you did for me! Thank You!!" - H.L., Personal Boot Camp student
Barnard, Class of 2023
"I wanted to say thank you again for all your help! I got into UPenn, Cornell, Barnard, Wellesley, Wesleyan, Tufts, University of Michigan, and Wake Forest, and am waiting to hear from Georgetown; I think I'm leaning towards UPenn. Thank you so much for all your guidance; I don't think I could have done it without your help!" --I.R., Application Boot Camp student
"We are thrilled! Duke is absolutely fantastic and is the exact right fit for K. Application Boot Camp definitely helped her get into Duke during their most selective year in history, a year in which they turned away well over 2,000 Valedictorians. Thank you!" -Y.R., parent of ABC student accepted to 9 top-tier colleges
"Boot Camp was the most incredible experience. It made me push myself into thinking about my future and prepared me to send in all my applications. I am so thankful that I got the help I needed at Boot Camp because it made my application process effortless once I had completed my essays. I think that the colleges were able to clearly see my goals and ambitions through the writing of my essays. I believe this helped me have a very successful application process." –P.K., Application Boot Camp student