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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, 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.

See a list of Early Decision application requirements.

Early Decision dates and deadlines

October: Standardized testing

Northwestern will be test optional for first-year applicants for the 2020-21 cycle.

If submitting scores, use Northwestern school code 1565 (SAT) or 1106 (ACT) to have your SAT Reasoning Test or ACT sent directly to us.

Alternatively, applicants may self-report these scores, taking care to report their highest individual sections of the SAT and/or highest ACT composite score. Applicants are not obligated to report scores from all test dates, though are welcome to do so. Admitted students who choose to enroll, and included test scores as part of their evaluation, will be required to submit official SAT or ACT that correspond to the highest self-reported test scores prior to matriculation.

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,
  • Standardized test scores (optional),
  • 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

Northwestern will be test optional for first-year applicants for the 2020-21 cycle.

If submitting scores, use Northwestern school code 1565 (SAT) or 1106 (ACT) to have your SAT Reasoning Test or ACT sent directly to us.

Alternatively, applicants may self-report these scores, taking care to report their highest individual sections of the SAT and/or highest ACT composite score. Applicants are not obligated to report scores from all test dates, though are welcome to do so. Admitted students who choose to enroll, and included test scores as part of their evaluation, will be required to submit official SAT or ACT that correspond to the highest self-reported test scores prior to matriculation.

January 3 (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,
  • Standardized test scores (optional) 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.

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 2020, applicants must graduate from high school during or before the summer of 2021 and plan to enroll as a freshman in college in the fall of 2021.

The QuestBridge National College Match is open to all:

  • U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents or
  • Students, regardless of citizenship, currently attending high school in the United States.

For more information on applying through QuestBridge, email us at QuestBridge@northwestern.edu or 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

If you enrolled in college study after secondary-school graduation, you must apply as a transfer student. Successful transfer applicants typically arrive at Northwestern having completed at least one academic year of full-time college coursework (24 semester hours or 36 quarter hours).

Please note the following possible restrictions to transfer applications:

  • The School of Communication: Theatre department spaces are only occasionally available.
  • The Bienen School of Music: Contact the Bienen School of Music to inquire if a vacancy exists in your performance area and to schedule an audition. Due to the limited number of openings each year in the Bienen School of Music, transfer applicants are encouraged to audition in February during our published audition dates. If you wish to take your audition for the Bienen School in February, you must follow the application and prescreening deadlines above for Freshman Regular Decision. Transfer applicants who do not register for an audition by December 1 will have to wait until March 15 to schedule a live audition.

See a list of Transfer Student application requirements.

Transfer dates and deadlines

March 15* (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.

*We realize transfer applicants come from a diverse array of life experiences that may not map neatly onto the traditional academic year. For this reason, our transfer application will remain open until April 10 for students whose circumstances prevent them from meeting the March 15 deadline. Students who apply by March 15 are more likely to receive a decision from us earlier, but we will give full consideration to all applications, with a guaranteed decision by May 15. Please note that supplemental application materials, such as those for the Bienen School of Music, may have separate deadlines.

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:

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

See these requirements