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International Applicants

Is there a separate application process for international applicants?

No, international applicants follow the same application procedures as domestic applicants.

That said, any Northwestern applicant whose first/primary language is not English or whose secondary schooling has not been in English is required to submit proof of English proficiency. More information on accepted English proficiency exams can be found on Northwestern’s application requirements page and in the English proficiency FAQ below.

Can I apply to start at Northwestern during any term?

No, all applications to Northwestern are for a fall (September) quarter start.

Do I have to take the SAT and/or ACT?

Prior to the 2020-2021 application cycle, Northwestern has required all undergraduate applicants to submit an SAT or ACT score to be considered for admission. Given test cancellations and anticipated registration challenges caused by the COVID-19 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. For more information, take a look at our 2020-21 Testing Policy FAQs.

Do I need to demonstrate English proficiency? Is there a minimum score?

An English proficiency score is required for applicants whose first/primary language is not English or whose secondary schooling has not been in English. English proficiency scores may not be self-reported; these must be submitted officially via the appropriate testing organization as part of the application.

Northwestern accepts official results from the following exams:

While there is no minimum score required by Northwestern, competitive applicants demonstrate a high level of English proficiency and typically score in the high range on all sections of the exams we accept.

Note: Northwestern does not superscore English proficiency exams, and will not review TOEFL’s MyBest Scores.

Testing code
  • The Northwestern TOEFL code 1565.

Can I submit documents in languages other than English?

No. All applicants with foreign academic credentials must provide Northwestern with certified English translations of their original transcripts. Applicants may use any transcript translation service, including one in their home country. The National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) maintains a list of some of the companies that will provide this service. You may also connect with your local EducationUSA Advising Center for support, including help finding local and affordable translation services.

Do Northwestern applicants have to interview?

Interviews are an optional addition to your application for admission and are conducted by members of Northwestern’s Alumni Admission Council (AAC) or through InitialView. Applicants who are unable to or choose not to interview are not at a disadvantage in the admission process. That said, completed  interviews do provide the admission committee with additional perspective about your potential fit for Northwestern and will be considered as part of our holistic review.

For more information, please visit our Admission Interviews page.

How do I answer application questions that do not apply to my educational system?

The Office of Undergraduate Admission understands that applicants to Northwestern study in diverse educational systems. Indicate as best as you can the information that the application requests. If you cannot find an appropriate place for this information, please submit it as additional information in the Common Application or Coalition Application.

In my country/school system, we do not have time for extracurricular activities. Will this put me at a disadvantage in the application process?

Northwestern understands that students in some countries and school systems have restricted time for involvement beyond schoolwork. We also know that the importance of these activities is viewed differently in many parts of the world. Although this knowledge is taken into account, applicants are still highly encouraged to pursue activities (organized or unorganized) during their free time. The most competitive candidates for admission demonstrate achievement and engagement inside and outside the classroom.

My teacher/counselor does not know me well. May I substitute a recommendation from a supervisor of an extracurricular activity, a coach, or a family friend?

Northwestern requires one recommendation from a counselor or school administrator and one recommendation from an academic teacher. While these requirements are not permitted to be substituted, you may submit an additional recommendation from another source. The Office of Undergraduate Admission recommends submitting no more than three letters of recommendation altogether.

I plan to leave secondary school early. May I apply and be admitted to Northwestern?

Northwestern encourages all students to finish a program that will allow them to enter an accredited university in their home country. Students who apply with partially completed academic programs are at a disadvantage in the admission process.

Does Northwestern limit the number of international students on campus?

No, Northwestern seeks the most diverse student body possible and does not place limits on the number of students from any country or group of countries.

Does Northwestern allow gap years for National Service requirements or other reasons?

Yes. Requests for a gap year due to National Service or for another reason must be made in writing to the Director of Undergraduate Admission and are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

When students take a gap year, it is with the understanding that they will not use this opportunity to enroll at another post-secondary institution anywhere in the world for academic credit. Northwestern will not award credit for any course work completed during the deferral period.

Will I receive credit for Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and other examination results?

Northwestern awards credit for eligible Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) higher-level examination results. For more information, please review our most up-to-date credit policy on the Office of the Registrar’s website.  

Examination results from other international curricula will be evaluated for academic credit on an individual basis. You must arrange to have your final examination results sent to Northwestern should you be admitted and plan to enroll.