Apply to Northwestern

Apply to Northwestern using the Common Application .

Important Dates:

  • November 1: Early Decision Applications Due
  • Mid-December: Early Decision Admission Decisions Released
  • January 1: Regular Decision Applications Due
  • Late March: Regular Decision Admission Decisions Released

To learn more about the application process, please visit our FAQ page

Resources for:

Nov 4, 2023 2:30pm

Chris Lee, trombone

Galvin Recital Hall

Nov 4, 2023 3:00pm

Percussion Ensemble

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall

Nov 4, 2023 7:30pm

University Chorale

  • Lectures & Interviews
  • Master Classes
  • Recitals & Chamber Music
  • Visiting Artists

Main Resources

Main utility, undergraduate application & timeline.

Click on the links below to start your Bienen School Supplement and review detailed application instructions from the Office of Undergraduate Admission.

Start your Bienen School Supplement View All Northwestern University Requirements

Undergraduate Application Checklist

Music prescreening (if applicable)/Composition portfolio/Bachelor of Arts application materials  via Bienen School Supplement (NOTE: ALL Bienen School applicants, regardless of chosen major, must complete this application component) 

Common Application or Apply Coalition with Scoir Application  sent to Northwestern University, including the non-refundable application fee of $75 or fee waiver

Secondary School Report (includes high school transcript and counselor recommendation letter)

Academic Teacher Recommendation  (request and upload via the Common or Apply Coalition with Scoir application)

Counselor Recommendation (request and upload via the Common or Apply Coalition with Scoir application)

Music Teacher Recommendation (request and upload via the Bienen School Supplement)

Music Resumé (upload via the Bienen School Supplement)

Optional for Fall 2024 Admission: Standardized Test Scores  (The Office of Undergraduate Admission has adopted a test-optional policy for fall 2024 applicants. Northwestern University accepts both the ACT and the SAT. Some applicants may be required to submit SAT II subject tests. Please review the Undergraduate Admission website  for more details). 

Early Decision Agreement (Early Decision applicants only)

Midyear Report (Regular Decision applicants only)

TOEFL,  IELTS or Duolingo English Test  exam results (international applicants only, submit to Undergraduate Admission) 

All prescreening recordings and music program requirements should be uploaded to the Bienen School of Music Supplement.

Do not mail any materials to the Bienen School of Music; items that are mailed to the Bienen School of Music will not be returned.

Fall 2024 First-Year Early Decision Timeline

NOTE: Finalists from the QuestBridge application process applying to the Bienen School must submit prescreening materials by October 15, 2023 and complete their performance audition before November 10, 2023, regardless of whether applying Early or Regular Decision.

Fall 2024 First-Year Regular Decision Timeline

NOTE: Bienen School transfer applicants are strongly encouraged to apply via Northwestern’s Regular Decision round. Application and audition deadlines may be found above. Transfer applicants who do not submit a Bienen School Supplement by December 1 will need to wait until after March 15 to schedule a live audition.

Fall 2024 Transfer Applicant Timeline

Dual degree and double major applicants.

Applicants interested in pursuing a double major or dual degree should indicate this on the Common Application or Apply Coalition with Scoir Application. 

When you apply for a double major or dual degree and complete all requirements, you will receive a single admission decision from Northwestern University’s Office of Undergraduate Admission . This decision will include information on which school(s) you have been accepted to within Northwestern University, including the Bienen School of Music. Northwestern offers dual degrees with the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; the McCormick School of Engineering; the Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications; the School of Communication; and the School of Education and Social Policy.

Learn more about Dual Degrees and Double Majors

International Applicants

See complete requirements for international applicants

International applicants to Northwestern include citizens of foreign countries in foreign education systems, citizens of foreign countries in the United States educational system, and United States citizens studying abroad. All applicants to Northwestern, international and domestic, apply using the same process and timeline. Northwestern University requires all undergraduate applicants, whether educated in the United States or abroad, to submit the results of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT Reasoning Test) or;  American College Test  (ACT) with writing.

International applicants must demonstrate a high level of English proficiency. An evaluation of English proficiency includes reviewing all test scores, grades in classes taught in English, writing samples, and comments by recommenders. International applicants whose first language is not English are required to submit exam results from either the  Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System  (IELTS), or the Duolingo English Test (DET). International applicants who complete 3 to 4 years of their secondary school curriculum in English and score 650 or above on the Critical Reading section of the SAT Reasoning Test are not required to submit a TOEFL, IELTS, or DET score. Northwestern does not accept scores from English proficiency exams not listed above, including the TOEFL Institutional Testing Program (ITP).

Contact the Office of Music Admission, Financial Aid and Graduate Services: [email protected]  or  847-491-3141 Request Information

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  • Prepare for Fall

Transcripts and Test Scores

Checklist tasks found on this page.

  • Submit disciplinary disclosure form by June 1.
  • Submit SAT/ACT scores by June 1.
  • Request change in undergraduate school by July 1 (if applicable).
  • Submit IB scores by July 15.
  • Submit final high school transcript by August 1.
  • Submit AP scores by August 1

Access your Purple Prep Checklist  

Official SAT/ACT score reports 

If you included self-reported SAT or ACT scores as part of your application, you will have to submit official scores to match your highest self-reported section/composite scores by  June 1 . Your official standardized test scores are required in order for you to participate in Wildcat Welcome, move into your residence hall, and register for classes.

You can check to see which standardized test scores Undergraduate Admission has received via the  Applicant Status Portal .

Submit disciplinary disclosure form

Northwestern requires incoming undergraduates to disclose criminal history and certain school disciplinary violations. Enrolling students will need to submit the disciplinary disclosure form by June 1 via the  Applicant Status Portal . This form will be required for you to attend orientation, move into your residence hall, and register for classes.

Questions regarding the disciplinary disclosure form can be directed to the Office of Undergraduate Admission by emailing  [email protected] or calling 847-491-7271.

Switching undergraduate schools/majors

To request a change of admission from one undergraduate school to another, use the relevant links on the  Applicant Status Portal .  School-change requests must be made by  July 1  and require approval from the director of undergraduate admission. If you have questions, please email  [email protected] .

Official AP/IB score reports 

If you took AP/IB exams, be sure to ask the testing service to send your official scores to Northwestern. IB results should be requested by  July 15 ; AP reports should be requested by  August 1 . If your AP/IB exam scores qualify, you may be assigned credits toward your Northwestern degree. To understand AP/IB test credit and requirements, visit the  Credit for AP or IB Exams webpage . 

Students who deferred from a previous year can view the  Deferred and/or Gap-Year Students  page for information on this task. 

Your final high school transcript 

Your high school must submit your official transcripts as soon as they become available, but no later than August 1. Your final high school transcript, complete with graduation date, is required in order for you to attend orientation, move into your residence hall, and register for classes.

Your high school can submit your final transcript online through the  Common Application website  using its Final Report form or the  Coalition Application website  until July 1. Your high school can also mail it directly to the Office of Undergraduate Admission .

Students who deferred from a previous year can view the Deferred and/or Gap-Year Students page for information on this task. 

Transfer credit guidelines for incoming first years

Students who have taken college-level courses prior to Northwestern should review the Office of the Registrar's website to understand transfer credit eligibility. 

A note about school-specific requirements 

Each of Northwestern’s six undergraduate schools has distinct requirements that apply only to its own incoming students . Requirements can range from taking placement exams and compiling a dossier to completing forms and downloading software. All of your school-specific tasks are included in your Purple Prep checklist, and a summary of those tasks is included in your school's section on this website.   

Admission Decisions

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. 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 interviews, 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

Will applying for financial aid impact my admissions decision?

For the vast majority of our applicants, we review their candidacies without regard to how much financial aid they may need, and we can admit any student regardless of how high their demonstrated need. Applicants are encouraged to apply for financial aid; Northwestern's generous need-based aid program can assist in defraying the costs of your college education.

Given limited funding for non-citizens, international applicants requesting financial aid are evaluated as a separate group. Financial need is a consideration in the admission decision for international students. For more information, visit our  International Student Aid page .

Who is admitted to Northwestern?

Admission to Northwestern is highly competitive. Approximately 7% of freshman applicants for the class of 2023 were admitted. Therefore, only students with strong academic credentials are encouraged to apply. Successful candidates generally have maintained a B average or better in rigorous academic courses and have submitted materials in strong support of their candidacy.

How important is my secondary school transcript?

The evaluation of your secondary school transcript is an important part of the admission process. We are not simply looking for high grades; the strength of your academic program is also considered. In addition, the admission committee makes note of any accelerated, honors or Advanced Placement courses taken.

Every secondary school is different in its level of competitiveness and in the range of courses offered. These factors are also considered when admission decisions are rendered.

What factors are considered 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.

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  • Application Procedures

Application Deadlines

For specific questions regarding your application, contact your program directly. See your  program's webpage   for information.

For all other inquiries, please contact   TGS Admissions .

Application deadlines vary from program to program. Please consult your specific program directly to verify your deadline. See your specific   program webpage   for its contact information.

The timely submission of your application is your responsibility.  Meeting a deadline requires that all materials be received by the program to which you applied on or before the application deadline. We highly recommend contacting your chosen recommenders to give them ample time to submit their letters of recommendation to meet your program's deadline. 

Departments vary in their willingness to consider late applications or applications incomplete at the time of submission (e.g. missing letters of recommendation).


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