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Northwestern Admissions

If you want to apply to Northwestern, the deadline for Fall 2022 admissions is January 2 and the application fee is $75.

Application fees can add up, but some schools do have free applications and students with financial need may be eligible for an application fee waiver.

Students who submit their applications for Fall should receive an admissions decision no later than April 1.

Northwestern Admissions Stats at a Glance

Northwestern 2021 Admissions Statistics
Admitted Students in Top 10% of Graduating Class 96%
Admissions Test Policy Not optional and are considered
Applicants Who Submit SATs 58%
Applicants Who Submit ACTs 55%
Waitlist Yes

Applying Early to Northwestern?

Northwestern University offers early decision but not early action. Early decision is binding, meaning you must attend if you are admitted, while early action allows you to apply early without committing.

The early decision acceptance rate at Northwestern is 25%, compared to an overall acceptance rate of 9%. Last year, Northwestern admitted 1096 of the 4399 students who applied early decison.

Some students apply to college early because they believe it will help their chances. Early deadlines may increase the chance of being admitted, since applying early shows your are very interested in a school, and your application is being considered before all the regular decision applicants apply.

See a list of some selective colleges that admit significantly more applicants during early decision or early action than during regular admission.

How To Get Into Northwestern University

It is extremely difficult to get into Northwestern. Northwestern evaluates applicants carefully based on multiple criteria to decide who to admit, and who to deny or waitlist.

In 2021, Northwestern accepted 9% of all applicants, around 3,654 of the 39,263 students who applied.

Schools that are extremely difficult to get into, like Northwestern, accept fewer than 30% of all applicants. At least 75% of admitted students have GPAs in the top 10% of their high school class and scored over 1310 on the SAT or over 29 on the ACT.

It is very difficult to be admitted as a transfer student.

What Does Northwestern Look For in an Applicant?

Colleges consider a range of factors when choosing who to admit for their next incoming class. Each college has a different way of determining which factors are they consider most important in the admissions process. When creating your list of schools to apply to, you may want to consider your strengths and any possible weaknesses in your application, and apply to colleges that prioritize the admissions factors where you shine.

Admissions Factors at Northwestern

Admissions Factor Level
Academic GPA Very Important
Alumni/ae Relations Considered
Character/Personal Qualities Important
Geographical Residence Not Considered
Class Rank Very Important
Work Experience Considered
Extracurricular Activities Important
Level of Applicant's Interest Considered
Application Essay Important
First Generation Considered
Interview Considered
Racial/Ethnic Status Considered
Recommendation(s) Important
Religious Affiliation/Commitment Not Considered
Rigor of Secondary School Record Very Important
State Residency Not Considered
Talent/Ability Important
Standardized Test Scores Very Important
Volunteer Work Considered

Northwestern 2021-2022 Application Requirements

To apply, all applicants to Northwestern must submit the following items. Double check with Northwestern's admissions department to confirm all application materials and requirements.

Area Required Recommended Required for Some Details (If Any)
Written Essay or Personal Statement
Other Requirements audition for music program
Letter(s) of Recommendation 1
Transcript of High School Record

What GPA Do I Need To Get Into Northwestern?

At Northwestern 96% of students ranked in the top 10% of their graduating class in high school

Unweighted GPAs range from 4.0 to under 1.0.

Northwestern considers standardized tests scores during the admissions process.

Northwestern is not test optional. Test optional schools allow students to choose if they want to submit ACT or SAT scores with their applications or not.

In 2021, 58% of Northwestern's first-year students submitted their SAT scores with their application. 55% of admitted applicants sent ACT scores.

What's a Good SAT Score for Northwestern?

To be competitive with other Northwestern applicants, you should strive to earn between 1430 and 1540 (or higher!) on the SAT. At Northwestern 25% of admitted students scored higher than 1540 and 25% of scored lower than 1430, but the majority of students scored somewhere in between these two numbers.

On the SAT Math Section, 25% of Northwestern students scored 790 or higher and 75% of students scored 700 or higher. On the SAT Critical Reading section (formerly called the Verbal section), 25% of Northwestern students scored 760 or higher, and 75% scored a 700 or higher.

Want to increase your SAT Score?

Preparing for the SAT can help raise your score, but it doesn't have to take up a lot of time.

Learn how to increase your SAT score 200 points or more in just 10 minutes a day.

What's a Good ACT Score for Northwestern?

To be most competitive at Northwestern, you should strive to earn between 33 and 35 on the ACT.

An ACT score of 35 means you fall in the 75th percentile for Northwestern's admitted students. One out of every four students scored above a 35, and three out of four students scored lower than 35 on the ACT.

A 33 on the ACT is the 25th percentile for Northwestern students. Only one out of every four students scored below 33.

Want To Bring Up Your ACT Score? Access ACT practice tests and study tips and see upcoming ACT test dates.

Transferring to Northwestern University

For transfer students, it is very difficult to get admitted to Northwestern.

For transfer students wishing to start in the Fall, the deadline to apply is March 15. Transfer applications are processed on a on a rolling basis as they are received.Applicants should hear back by July 1.

Transfer students can enroll in Northwestern during the following terms: - Fall Term

Northwestern Admissions FAQs

Can I defer my acceptance to Northwestern?

Yes, admitted students can defer their admission to Northwestern.

Does Northwestern accept transfer credits?

Northwestern accepts eligible transfer credits from accredited institutions.

Does Northwestern accept Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) credits?

Northwestern does not accept International Baccalaureate credits but does accept Advanced Placement (AP) credits.

Do I have to submit test scores to Northwestern?

Northwestern is not test optional. You must submit test scores as part of the application.

What is Northwestern's acceptance rate?

Northwestern's acceptance rate is 9%.

What is the early decision acceptance rate at Northwestern?

Northwestern's early decision acceptance rate was 25% in 2021.

Want To Learn More About Northwestern?

Choose one of the options below to find out more about about Northwestern:


Student Life


Tuition & Aid

Visit the College Confidential forums to join the conversation about Northwestern

Explore other colleges in Illinois or use the college admissions predictor to calculate your chances of getting into some of the top colleges and universities in the U.S.

Northwestern Admissions Requirements

Admission Difficulty



How hard is it to get into Northwestern? Northwestern is a selective institution. The Northwestern acceptance rate is 9%. This means that the institution accepts 9 out of every 100 applicants.



Wondering what your chances are of getting into Northwestern University?

Complete your profile to get your personalized, AI-calculated prediction score.

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Northwestern Application Deadline

First-Year Applications are Due

Jan 2

Transfer Applications are Due

Mar 15

The deadline for Fall first-year applications to Northwestern is Jan 2.

The deadline for Fall transfer applications to Northwestern is Mar 15.

Check the school website for more information about deadlines for specific programs or special admissions programs

Northwestern ACT Scores


ACT Range

33 - 35

Estimated Chance of Acceptance by ACT Score

ACT Score

Estimated Chance

35 and Above


33 to 35


33 and Less


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Northwestern SAT Scores


Composite SAT Range

1430 - 1540


Math SAT Range

730 - 790


Reading SAT Range

700 - 760

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Northwestern GPA

Avg. High School GPA (non-weighted)

Not available

© 2021 College Confidential / Concentrical LLC, Data provided by IPEDs and Peterson's Databases, © 2020 Peterson's LLC.

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