Northwestern University
  • EduScore 89 /100

Northwestern University: Quick Overview

Quick Stats
  • Year founded1851
  • Number of students enrolled22,008
  • Average cost (in total)$72,980
Application Info
  • Acceptance rate9%
  • SAT/ACT1420/32
  • Application dateJanuary 1 st

History and Mission

In 1850 there was a meeting between nine prominent businessmen from Chicago where they came up with the idea to create a university that would serve the Northwest Territory.  The meeting was made up of lawyers and Methodist leaders and in 1951 the Trustees of the North-Western University were granted a charter from the Illinois General Assembly. Northwestern University would be the first chartered university in the state of Illinois. All of the nine founders of the school were Methodists and while the school had an affiliation with the Methodist Episcopal Church, the founders wanted an admission policy to be non-sectarian.

The founders bought a 379-acre tract of land in 1853 on the shores of Lake Michigan. Not only did they establish the campus on that land, but also the land around it naming the newly formed town Evanston, which was named for John Evans, who was one of the founders of the university. The first building for the university was finished in 1855 and in the fall of that year the first classes were held with only 10 students and two members of faculty. In order to raise the money for the construction of the university “perpetual scholarships” were solid for $100 apiece and that would not only give the person who bought it free tuition, but also free tuition to all of their heirs.

The Northwestern University Hall was built in 1869 and it is one of only a handful of buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire, which took place only two years after construction in 1871. In 1873 Northwestern became a co-ed school merging with the Evanston College for Ladies. In 1882 the school fielded their football team and later on they would become one of the founding members of the Big 10 Conference, which is one of the premier conferences in collegiate athletics. In the 1870’s and 1880’s Northwestern became integrated with other schools in the fields of law, dentistry, and medicine and quickly grew with the integration with the Northwestern undergraduate university it quickly became a very modern school with both undergrad and graduate programs. In 1917 Northwestern University accepted an invitation to become a member of the Association of American Universities.

The Northwestern mission statement is short and to the point, as it is, “Northwestern is committed to excellent teaching, innovative research, and the personal and intellectual growth of its students in a diverse academic community.”

Areas of Study

At Northwestern University, there are nine colleges and schools that have programs tailored for undergraduate students and 10 schools offering both graduate and professional programs. There is no lack of academic programs available at the university with 124 undergrad ones and 145 graduate and professional ones. All in all, there are 12 schools associated with Northwestern University, which is a research residential college. Through the college students can earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees, PhD’s, as well as other certificates. The undergrad and graduate schools located at the Evansville Campus, Evanston Campus, and the Chicago Campus.

Undergrad and Graduate Schools – Evanston Campus (and year founded)

  • Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (1851)
  • School of Communication (1878)
  • Bienen School of Music (1895)
  • McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science (1909)
  • Medill School of Journalism (1921)
  • School of Education and Social Policy (1926)
  • School of Professional Studies (1933)

Graduate and Professional Schools

Evanston Campus

  • Kellogg School of Management (1908)
  • The Graduate School (1910)

Chicago Campus

  • Feinberg School of Medicine (1859)
  • Kellogg School of Management (1908)
  • Pritzker School of Law (1859)
  • School of Professional Studies (1933)

Feinberg School of Medicine

This medical school is located in the city of Chicago and offers students a Doctor of Medicine degree program, many joint degree programs, graduate medical education, as well as continuing medical education. One of the main goals of the school is their dedication to patient care and service to the surrounding community.

Pritzker School of Law

The Pritzker School of Law is also located in the city of Chicago and is part of the “Top14”. Which is an elite group of law schools in the United States that have national recognition. It was the first law school in Illinois and it is one of the hardest ones to get into in the country. In 2017 U.S. News & World Report came out with a report on the law school stating 79% of graduates received employment before graduation with a starting salary of $180,000.

Online Program

Northwestern has an extensive online program with many courses and, unlike other top universities, students at Northwestern can gain a master’s degree in some areas partly or fully online. Many of the schools at Northwestern came up with their own courses and programs to give their students the chance to take coursework online allowing them the very best in a distant learning from a reputable university. The college also offers many massive open online courses (MOOCs), which is completely free of charge for students as well as staff, alumni, and faculty. There are a few enrollment steps for taking these free courses with a special free course certificate offer with many courses in many subjects available.

How do I apply to Northwestern University?

For first year undergraduates at Northwestern University they accept both the Common Application or Coalition Application. The college is a member of the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success and on the Admissions of the university website there is an instructional video all about the Coalition Application. There is no preference between the two applications when it comes to admission and students are urged to pick the application process that suits them best. Also on the Admissions page there is a lot of pertinent information for transfer students, international students, and Early Decision applicants, Regular Decision applicants. For the first-year undergrad applications what is required are:

  • Common Application or Coalition Application
  • Official secondary school transcript and school report
  • A Counselor recommendation
  • At least one recommendation from a teacher
  • Scores for SAT or ACT
  • Official TOEFL or IELTS scores – These are only required for international students where English is not their first language.
  • Application fee of $75 or application fee waiver (fee is nonrefundable)
  • Early Decision Agreement – Only for Early Decision applicants
  • Midyear transcript – Only for Regular Decision applicants
  • For homeschooled first0-year applications 3 SAT subject tests

The admissions process for the graduate and professional schools will differ, but all of the information regarding that issue can found on the Northwestern University website.

Acceptance rate

The acceptance rate at Northwestern University for undergraduate students is 9%, which makes it a pretty hard university to get into, but not as hard as others such as the Ivy League schools and Stanford. While the college is a selective one people that go on to graduate can stand to make a significant income depending their field of study. The admission rates for the graduate and professional schools will differ.

Student life at Northwestern University

With such a diverse student population and with the number of students enrolled at the college Northwestern University has a thriving student life. There are hundreds of clubs and organizations on campus and all throughout the year there are many arts events, athletic events, and alumni events. Some of the unique traditions at the college are a 30-hour dance marathon for children’s charities, Dillo Day a day of music and food on campus, and Primal Scream where on the Sunday before finals week at 9 PM all students scream either out windows or in the many courtyards on campus. One of the cool traditions is that after a winning football game the Clock Tower at the Rebecca Crown Center will turn its usual nighttime while glow into a purple glow for the colors of the university.

Northwestern has a solid athletic tradition, as they have 19 varsity sports with eight for men and 11 for women. The school is in Division 1 and in the prestigious and ultra-competitive Big 10 conference. While they are competitive in the bigger sports of football and basketball the women’s lacrosse team may be the biggest star on the shield of the university’s athletic prowess. The team won five straight NAA national title between 2005 and 2009 and in those bookend years they went undefeated. The nickname of the sports teams is the Wildcats and while they are, by far, the smallest school in the Big 10 and the only private one in the conference they always put out competitive teams. There are also many club sports and numerous intramural leagues all around campus at the many sporting facilities.

Northwestern has a pretty good party scene with many happening on campus mainly Wednesday through Sunday. There are frat parties, various organization parties, and dorm parties and with Chicago not far away there are tons of options for going out in the Windy City. There are also quite a few options in terms of cafes, clubs, bars, pubs, and restaurants in Evanston, where the main campus is, as it is a city of nearly 75,000. Greek life is pretty big at Northwestern with 18 fraternities and 12 sororities.

Northwestern University Campus

There are two campuses that make up Northwestern University with the Evansville Campus being the main one and where all undergraduates reside and take classes. All of the major athletic facilities are at this campus, which is easily accessible and very pretty set in a suburban area. The campus is split into two campuses in the North Campus and South Campus and both are quite different with the North having the fraternity quads and most of the athletics facilities. The South Campus is home to the Humanities and Arts buildings while the North is where most of the Science buildings and athletic venues are.

Costs of Studying at Columbia University

The cost of attending Northwestern University is relative high, but on course with the other top colleges in the United States. The annual price to attend the university is $72,980, but not only is there a lot of financial aid available to both undergrad and graduate students, but graduates can make a good income right after graduation. The costs of studying at Northwestern will differ when attending the graduate schools. Here is a breakdown of the yearly costs for undergrads to attend Northwestern.

  • Tuition and Fees $52,678
  • Room and Board $16,047
  • Books and Supplies $1,160
  • Other Expenses $2,595

There is an installment payment plan at Northwestern and the e-mail address for information regarding financial aid is – [email protected].


As mentioned before there are two campuses for Northwestern University the main one in Evanston and the one for some of the graduate study schools in Chicago. The Evanston Campus is located 12 miles outside Chicago and goes north to south from Lincoln Avenue to Clark Street just west of Lake Michigan. The Chicago Campus for the university is located in the City of Chicago itself in the Streeterville neighborhood. The Streeterville neighborhood in Chicago is in the Near North Side with Lake Michigan to the north and the east.

Q: How much money will I make with a Northwestern University degree? A: With a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University a newly graduated student can earn around $63,000. The college is ranked in the top 10% of universities in America when it comes to return on investment. The amount of money to be made will increase significantly if a student has a graduate degree such as a master’s and especially a PhD. Q: How does the accreditation process work?A: Northwestern has many options for transfer students in both undergraduate and graduate schools for their degree goals. A transfer student for undergrad work must have completed a full year of academic work (24 semester hours or 36 quarter hours) at another postsecondary school. Students can also apply when they are in the process of completing that work at another school, but that student has to finish the coursework before the beginning of the next term. NOTE: For the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences students only have to complete 12 semester hours or 18 quarter hours at another institution.The graduate and professional schools at Northwestern accept transfers and on the university website there is all the information transfer students need in order to know exactly what they need in the transfer process. Q: What factors are considered when making decisions on admission?A: Every application is looked after with care by the admission committee. School transcripts and test scores are an important factor as are other factors outside of the classroom such as extra-curricular activities and how the student performed on their essays. Recommendations from teachers as well as counselors are also taken into consideration.Q: Is housing available to transfer students? A: Housing is available for transfer students at the university and the rooms are given out based on their availability. If a transfer student is admitted and does not have housing at the college they will have to pay the nonrefundable tuition deposit before you can be put on the waiting list by the Undergraduate Housing Office.

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