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Application Process

How do I apply?

Refer to our Application Instructions page for more information on different application types and requirements, along with some advice for completing your application.

What factors do you consider when making admission decisions?

Each application is reviewed carefully by several members of our admission committee. Seeking information beyond school transcripts and test scores, we take into account your involvement outside the classroom as profiled in an activity chart, and read your essays to get a better sense of your interests, thought processes and writing ability. Recommendations from secondary school teachers and counselors add additional perspective to your achievements.

How can I request a fee waiver?

We are committed to creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive campus community of students from every financial background and want to make sure that application fees do not pose a barrier for any student who wishes to apply for admission.

See our Application Fee Waiver page for more information.

What if I have been home schooled?

Given test cancellations and anticipated registration challenges caused by the pandemic, we will adopt a test-optional policy for first-year applicants in the 2020–21 admission cycle. Applicants may submit a score if they wish, but scores are not required.

Please note that supplemental applications or programs may still require SAT Subject Exams.

When are applications due?

If you are applying as a first-year student, you may submit your application Early Decision or Regular Decision. 

  • Early Decision applicants must apply by November 1.
  • Regular Decision applicants must apply by January 3.

If you are a transfer applicant, you may apply only for enrollment during the Fall Quarter of the academic year. Decisions are made on a rolling basis.

  • For Fall Quarter (September) entrance, apply by March 15*.

If you are an international applicant, follow our general application process and deadlines above. However, both incoming first-year students and transfer students must apply for fall quarter entrance.

*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.

Are interviews required?

Admission interviews are not required and are an optional addition to your application for admission. All interviews are conducted off-campus by Northwestern's regional Alumni Admission Council (AAC), situated throughout the United States and abroad. Please note that Northwestern does not offer interviews on campus.

Alumni admission interviews provide applicants with an opportunity to learn about the Northwestern student experience through an alumna/us perspective. Given the limited availability of alumni volunteers, it is not possible for us to offer interviews to all applicants. Interviews are not a required component of the application, therefore applicants who are unable or choose not to interview are not at a disadvantage in the admission process.

Note: Interviews are only available to first-year applicants.

Read more about interviews

Can I submit supplemental materials?

Northwestern does not accept unsolicited supplemental items, such as artwork, portfolios, recordings (CDs, DVDs, etc.) or websites (including social media). These items will not be reviewed and therefore should not be submitted. 

Should I apply as a first-year student or a transfer student?

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). You are eligible to apply for transfer admission while in the process of completing one full-year of college coursework, as long as you will have completed that coursework prior to the start of the term in which you plan to enroll.

Northwestern accepts both the Coalition and Common Applications—is there a preference?

No. We welcome either application. All we ask is that applicants submit either the Coalition or Common application—not both. 

What if an applicant submits both the Common and Coalition applications?

Our admission committee will review whichever application was submitted first.

Since the Common and Coalition applications are different, how will the differences affect your review process?

The fundamental pieces of these two applications are the same: we will review your secondary school curriculum & transcript, your teacher recommendation(s), your extracurricular/community involvement & leadership, your standardized test scores, and your personal responses to essay and short-answer questions. The main variation across applications will be the essay prompts available to students, but the Common Application has always provided several options for essay prompts, so our review process already accounts for variation in that section of the application.  

How will Northwestern use the Coalition platform's Locker feature?

While some colleges/universities may encourage students to share one or more items from their Coalition Locker as part of their application, Northwestern will not require students to submit materials from their LockerBottom line: our admission committee will not review any materials from students’ Lockers, save materials that students select from their Lockers to include in their Northwestern applicationin which case we’ll never know whether documents in your Northwestern application were once in your Coalition Locker, or simply saved as a computer file!