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Northwestern University

Application Options

Get the right information, for you.

Discover which option makes sense, for you.

Learn about the different applicant types at Northwestern: Early Decision, Regular Decision, International, QuestBridge and Transfer. Be sure to note different requirements and deadlines.

Early Decision

If you’ve done good college research and would be thrilled to land at Northwestern next fall, then Early Decision (ED) could be a good option for you. Applicants who choose ED send a strong, positive message to Northwestern. Given early applicants' high level of interest, and the academic and personal strength we see across our early pool, our ED acceptance rate is typically higher than that of Regular Decision (RD). As with all traditional ED plans, you agree to withdraw all applications at other colleges and enroll at Northwestern if admitted.

Your financial aid offer will be exactly the same whether you apply ED or RD. If you are considering ED but are concerned about cost, our Net Price Calculator tool can give you a preliminary estimate of whether you will qualify for need-based financial aid, and, if so, what your loan-free aid package will look like.

Please note that students interested in the Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME) must apply under the Regular Decision plan.

See a list of Early Decision application requirements.

Early Decision dates and deadlines

October: Standardized testing

Use Northwestern school code 1565 (SAT) or 1106 (ACT) to have your SAT Reasoning Test or ACT sent directly to us. 3 SAT subject tests are required for homeschooled students.

November 1 (by 11:59 pm applicant’s local time): Application deadline

The following must be submitted:

  • Common Application or Coalition Application (with additional “Why Northwestern” response encouraged),
  • Secondary school report (includes high school transcript and counselor recommendation letter),
  • Teacher recommendation,
  • Required standardized test scores,
  • Early Decision agreement and
  • A nonrefundable application fee of $75 or application fee waiver.

Apply via Common ApplicationApply via Coalition Application

Mid-December: Early Decision admission decision

When decisions are available for viewing in our applicant portal, we will send an email to the address provided in your application. If you’re admitted, and your family has provided the College Scholarship Service Financial Aid Profile (CSS Profile), you will be notified of your financial aid award details within one week of the release of your admission decision.

February 1: Enrollment decision and tuition/housing deposit.

To confirm your place in the first-year class, you must submit your nonrefundable tuition and housing deposits by February 1.

Tip:

Essay writing is your opportunity for personal expression. As you plan your response, don't ask, "What does the admission office want to see in me?" Instead, think about what you want us to know about you.

Regular Decision

Most students apply to Northwestern through Regular Decision, which allows them to potentially consider multiple offers of admission and financial aid. If you are interested, our Net Price Calculator tool can give you a preliminary estimate of whether you will qualify for need-based financial aid, and, if so, what your loan-free aid package will look like.

See a list of Regular Decision application requirements.

Regular Decision dates and deadlines

December: Standardized testing

Use Northwestern school code 1565 (SAT) or 1106 (ACT) to have your SAT Reasoning Test or ACT sent directly to us. 3 SAT subject tests are required for homeschooled students.

January 1 (by 11:59 pm applicant's local time): Application deadline

The following must be submitted:

  • Common Application or Coalition Application (with additional “Why Northwestern” response encouraged),
  • Secondary school report (includes high school transcript and counselor recommendation letter),
  • Teacher recommendation,
  • Required standardized test scores and 
  • A nonrefundable application fee of $75 or application fee waiver.

APPLY VIA COMMON APPLICATIONAPPLY VIA COALITION APPLICATION

Late March: Regular Decision admission decision

When decisions are available for viewing in our applicant portal, we will send an email to the address provided in your application. If you’re admitted, and your family has provided the College Scholarship Service Financial Aid Profile (CSS Profile), you will be notified of your financial aid award details within one week of the release of your admission decision.

May 1: Enrollment decision and tuition/housing deposit

To confirm your place in the first-year class, you must submit your nonrefundable tuition and housing deposits by May 1.

International

International students should apply through Early Decision or Regular Decision.

You should begin the application process during the final year of your pre-university preparation and complete an academic program that would allow you to enter a degree-seeking program in an accredited university in your home country.

Need-based financial aid is available to international students seeking undergraduate degrees. We guarantee to meet 100% of all admitted first-year students’ demonstrated financial need for all four years. A request for financial aid consideration and the amount of financial aid you require may be a factor in a final admission decision.

See a list of International Student application requirements.

See information for Early Decision applicants affected by cancellation of September ACT at international locations.

International dates and deadlines

Early Decision dates

November 1 (by 11:59 pm applicant’s local time): Early Decision Application deadline

The following must be submitted:

  • Common Application or Coalition Application (with additional “Why Northwestern” response encouraged),
  • Secondary school report (includes high school transcript and counselor recommendation letter),
  • Teacher recommendation,
  • Required standardized test scores,
  • Early Decision agreement and
  • A nonrefundable application fee of $75 or application fee waiver.

APPLY VIA COMMON APPLICATIONAPPLY VIA COALITION APPLICATION

December 15: Early Decision admission decision

When decisions are available for viewing in our applicant portal, we will send an email to the address provided in your application. Students admitted to an undergraduate degree program at Northwestern University will receive detailed instructions with their admission packet about the process for obtaining a visa. For specific visa questions, contact our International Student Specialist.

In order for Northwestern to issue a certificate of eligibility for visa status (I-20 or DS-019), an admitted student must enroll at the University and show financial documentation guaranteeing their ability to pay for the first year of study.

February 1: Early Decision enrollment decision and tuition/housing deposit

To confirm your place in the first-year class, you must submit your nonrefundable tuition and housing deposits by February 1.

Regular Decision dates

January 1 (by 11:59 pm applicant's local time): Application deadline

The following must be submitted:

  • Common Application (with additional “Why Northwestern” written response encouraged) or the Coalition Application,
  • Secondary school report (includes high school transcript and counselor recommendation letter),
  • Teacher recommendation,
  • Required standardized test scores and 
  • A nonrefundable application fee of $75 or application fee waiver.

APPLY VIA COMMON APPLICATIONAPPLY VIA COALITION APPLICATION

Late March: Regular Decision admission decision

When decisions are available for viewing in our applicant portal, we will send an email to the address provided in your application. Students admitted to an undergraduate degree program at Northwestern University will receive detailed instructions with their admission packet about the process for obtaining a visa. For specific visa questions, contact our International Student Specialist.

In order for Northwestern to issue a certificate of eligibility for visa status (I-20 or DS-019), an admitted student must enroll at the University and show financial documentation guaranteeing their ability to pay for the first year of study.

May 1: Enrollment decision and tuition/housing deposit

To confirm your place in the first-year class, you must submit your nonrefundable tuition and housing deposits by May 1.

Tip:

We review grades, test scores, writing samples and recommendations. If you are not an English speaker or attending an English-speaking school, you are encouraged to take the TOEFL or IELTS exam to demonstrate proficiency. 

QuestBridge

Northwestern partners with QuestBridge to help identify high school seniors who have shown outstanding academic ability despite financial challenges through a process called College Match.

Ranking colleges through the College Match means that you are entering an agreement with the college that if you are matched, you are committed to attending that college and you must withdraw any other college applications.

Eligibility 

In order to be eligible to apply to the National College Match in the fall of 2017, applicants must graduate from high school during or before the summer of 2018 and plan to enroll as a freshman in college in the fall of 2018.

The QuestBridge National College Match is open to all:

For more information on applying through QuestBridge, visit the Questbridge website.

QuestBridge dates and deadlines

See the QuestBridge website for dates and deadlines.

Note:  Applicants applying via Questbridge to the Bienen School of Music must complete their performance audition (or upload a final recording) by November 25.

Transfer

Students who have completed at least one year of full-time undergraduate study may apply to transfer to Northwestern. If you enrolled in college study after secondary school graduation, you must apply as a transfer student.

Please note the following possible restrictions to transfer applications:

See a list of Transfer Student application requirements.

Transfer dates and deadlines

March 15 (for Fall Entrance, by 11:59 pm applicant's local time): Application deadline

The following must be submitted:

  • Common Application or Coalition Application (with additional “Why Northwestern” response encouraged),
  • Official secondary school transcript noting graduation
  • Official university transcript(s)
  • College report
  • Academic evaluation
  • Required standardized test scores (plus SAT Subject Test results if available)
  • A nonrefundable application fee of $75 or application fee waiver.

APPLY VIA COMMON APPLICATIONAPPLY VIA COALITION APPLICATION

Rolling: Admission decision

When decisions are available for viewing in our applicant portal, we will send an email to the address provided in your application. If you’re admitted, and your family has provided the College Scholarship Service Financial Aid Profile (CSS Profile), you will be notified of your financial aid decision around the time of your acceptance.

Rolling: Enrollment decision and tuition deposit

To confirm your place in the class, you must submit your nonrefundable tuition deposit following your admission offer.

Tip:
Carefully review the Application Requirements well in advance of applying.

Applications that require additional materials

Additional application requirements are necessary for the following applicants:

See these requirements

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