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Northwestern University (NU) is one of the premier academic institutions in the Midwest. Located just north of Chicago in the suburb of Evanston, NU is a private university with an undergraduate population of nearly 9,000 and over 14,000 graduate students. Undergraduate degree programs are available in the school's six colleges: arts & sciences, communication, education & social policy, engineering, journalism & marketing, and music. Given NU's stellar academic reputation in Chicago, and nationwide, students who enroll are sure to have a truly special intellectual experience.

Overview of Northwestern University (NU)

However, NU offers students more than an excellent education. Campus clubs and organizations include fun activities such as one that builds a solar car, a drum/rhythm/dance ensemble, and intramural sports. Friendly competition can be found in sports such as dodgeball, football, indoor soccer, and ultimate frisbee. For the more relaxed competitor, there are E-sports tournaments available for students on PlayStation, Xbox, and cross platform games. Finally, for students who want to up the competitive edge, club sports are available in sports such as table tennis, sailing, volleyball, swimming, crew, aikido, archery, ultimate frisbee, squash, and tennis, among more than 35 total offerings. Students also take advantage of campus resources such as the sailing center, the Blomquist Recreation Center, two tennis centers, an aquatic center, and a wellness suite for post-workout massages and more.

General Information

School Type Private not-for-profit
Campus Setting City: Small
Campus Housing Yes
Student Faculty Ratio 6:1
Graduation Rate 95%
Year Founded 1851

Student Enrollment

Total Students23,409


Undergraduate Student

Male 4,070
Female 4,777

Graduate Student

Male 6,699
Female 7,863

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NU Acceptance Rate and Admissions


Male 21,781
Female 25,855


Male 1,525
Female 1,810

Acceptance Rate7%

Male   7%
Female   7%

Enrollment 2,101

Male 976
Female 1,122
Application Fee $75
High School GPA Recommended
High School Rank Recommended
High School Transcripts Required
College Prep Courses Required
Recommendations Required
SAT/ACT Considered But Not Required
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Required
Application Deadline January 3
Common Application Accepted Yes

NU Tuition Cost & Financial Aid

Northwestern is a private, non-profit institution in a rather expensive part of the nation. Thus, it's not surprising to see high gross prices for their educational services. In fact, a year of tuition, books, and supplies will run a Northwestern student and their family around $61,000. Naturally, Northwestern students need to pay for room, board, and other living expenses. When all of those costs are tallied, a year at NU can run up to $84,000. However, the total net price tells a somewhat sweeter tale.

After the financial aid office applies all of the grants and scholarships it can, the net price drops significantly. In fact, the average net price comes in at less than half of the projected gross price: $30,000. This number is much lower for the lowest-earning households, which see net costs of only around $9,000. Students from households earning over $110,000 have the highest average net price of $47,000.

Average net price 2020-2021
Net Price $29,999
Average Total Aid $51,087
Students Receiving Financial Aid 66%
Room & Board $18,264

Sticker Price

  • Tuition In-State - $60,768
  • Tuition Out-of-State - $60,768
  • Books and Supplies - $1,566
  • Room & Board - $18,264
  • Other - $3,240


Northwestern University is primarily known for its academics. They are so rarely a contender in varsity sports that, when the team finally made it to the Rose Bowl, the city of Chicago rallied around the Wildcats. To help confirm the academic prowess of this Midwestern intellectual powerhouse, researchers evaluated the school's educational statistics, starting with the retention rate.

The retention rate measures how many first-time, full-time students return for a second year on campus. It was no surprise that Northwestern reports a 99% retention rate. After all, students engage in fierce competition for admission and are thus intent on staying through graduation. In fact, Northwestern reports that 95% of its students receive a diploma on the Evanston campus.

Part of the reason for its high academic standing is likely Northwestern's eye-popping faculty to student ratio. While it's somewhat rare to see this figure come in with an average class size with fewer than 15 students, Northwestern boasts a terrific 6 to 1 faculty to student ratio. This may be partly due to the large number of graduate students on campus. Nevertheless, Northwestern undergraduates are never left with no faculty member to help out.

Student Population Total

Student Population 23,409

Evening Classes : Yes
Distance Learning : Yes

Most Popular Programs & Majors

(# of Diplomas Awarded by Subject)

Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs 374 Total Graduates / 18%
Journalism 187 Graduates
Speech Communication and Rhetoric 111 Graduates
Radio and Television 76 Graduates
All Social Science Majors 371 Total Graduates / 17%
Econometrics and Quantitative Economics 249 Graduates
Political Science and Government, General 75 Graduates
Sociology 27 Graduates
Anthropology 14 Graduates
All Engineering Majors 319 Total Graduates / 15%
Industrial Engineering 72 Graduates
Mechanical Engineering 65 Graduates
Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering 46 Graduates
Chemical Engineering 29 Graduates
All Biological & Biomedical Majors 186 Total Graduates / 9%
Neuroscience 101 Graduates
Biology/Biological Sciences, General 85 Graduates
Visual and Performing Arts 179 Total Graduates / 8%
Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts, General 98 Graduates
Music Performance, General 22 Graduates
Voice and Opera 15 Graduates
Stringed Instruments 12 Graduates
All Other Diplomas 715 Total Graduates / 33%

Outcome & Salary

There is no doubt that employers nationwide are eager to add a Northwestern alumni to their team. Northwestern students may be aware of this but, if you’re still considering, you may also be curious to know how well the alumni are performing. Researchers aggregated the reported entry-level salary data from NU alums and found that the computer science students started out doing the best, with a median salary of $105,000. Of the top five earning degrees, the chemical engineering students pulled up the rear with a respectable median salary of $85,000. At the center of the top five earners were the computer engineering students, whose median salary was found to be $94,000.

Graduates Salary
College Grads Early Career Salary $68,800
College Grads Average Salary $86,000
College Grads Mid Career Salary $128,000
Return on Investment (ROI)
10 Year Salary Earnings Potential $810,000
20 Year Salary Earnings Potential $2,140,000
Cost of Education (Net Price) 4 Year $110,160
10 Year Projected ROI $699,840
20 Year Projected ROI $2,029,840
No College Education Salary Comparison
National Average Salary $38,792
10 Year Projected Income $387,920
20 Year Projected Income $775,840

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