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Comparing Washington University in St. Louis vs Northwestern

July 15, 2023
By AdmissionSight
View of three students smiling at the camera.

Comparing Washington University in St. Louis vs Northwestern

Washington University and Northwestern University are two of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the United States. Both universities are known for their rigorous academic programs, impressive research facilities, and talented students. However, there are some key differences between Washington University in St. Louis vs Northwestern that set them apart. In this article, we will take a closer look at these differences in order to help potential students decide which school is right for them.

Academic Programs: How Do Washington University in St. Louis and Northwestern Compare?

Washington University and Northwestern University are both renowned for their excellent academic programs. However, there are some differences in the specific areas of study offered at each school. At Washington University, students have the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects, including business, engineering, social work, and medicine. Northwestern, on the other hand, is known for its strong programs in journalism, communication, and performing arts, as well as its well-regarded law and business schools. Both schools have robust research programs that allow undergraduate students to engage in cutting-edge research projects.

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Another difference between the two universities is the size of their undergraduate student body. Washington University has a smaller undergraduate population, with around 7,000 students, while Northwestern has a larger undergraduate population of around 8,000 students. This difference in size can impact the overall student experience, with smaller schools often offering a more intimate and personalized learning environment, while larger schools may offer more diverse extracurricular activities and a wider range of academic resources.

Additionally, both universities have unique opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning. Washington University offers a program called Beyond Boundaries, which allows students to design their own interdisciplinary majors and engage in hands-on learning experiences. Northwestern has a program called the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which provides resources and support for students interested in starting their own businesses. These programs, along with many others, provide students with opportunities to apply their classroom knowledge to real-world situations and gain valuable skills for their future careers.

A Look at Student Housing Options at Washington University in St. Louis and Northwestern

When it comes to student housing options, both Washington University and Northwestern provide a variety of on-campus and off-campus housing choices. Washington University offers a mix of traditional dormitories, apartment-style housing, and themed housing options, such as the Global Citizenship Program or the Danforth Scholars Program. Northwestern has a similar range of housing options, with both traditional residence halls and apartment-style living available. Both schools prioritize providing safe and comfortable living spaces for their students, with a strong focus on building communities that foster growth and development.

Additionally, both universities offer resources and support for students who are seeking off-campus housing options. Washington University has an Off-Campus Housing Assistance (OCHA) program that provides students with information about available rental properties, roommate matching services, and guidance on navigating the rental process. Northwestern has a similar program called the Off-Campus Life Office, which offers resources such as a rental database, legal advice, and assistance with landlord disputes. These programs help students find safe and affordable housing options off-campus, while also providing support and guidance throughout the process.

The Cost of Attendance: A Comparison of Washington University in St. Louis and Northwestern

The cost of tuition and living expenses is a major consideration for many students and families. Both Washington University and Northwestern are expensive institutions, with tuition and fees well above the national average. However, there are some differences in the overall cost of attendance between the two schools. Washington University is slightly more affordable, with a total cost of attendance for the 2021-2022 academic year estimated at around $76,250. Northwestern, on the other hand, has a total cost of attendance estimated at around $80,000. It is important to note that both schools offer robust financial aid packages to many of their students in order to make college more affordable.

It is also worth noting that the cost of attendance can vary depending on a student’s individual circumstances and choices. For example, students who choose to live off-campus or who receive scholarships or grants may have a lower overall cost of attendance. Additionally, both Washington University and Northwestern offer opportunities for students to work on campus or participate in paid internships, which can help offset the cost of attendance. Ultimately, it is important for students and families to carefully consider all of the factors involved in the cost of attendance when making decisions about where to attend college.

Student Body Diversity: How Washington University in St. Louis and Northwestern Differ

Both Washington University and Northwestern pride themselves on their diverse student bodies. However, there are some differences in the makeup of the student populations at each school. At Washington University, about 52% of undergraduate students identify as non-white, with international students making up roughly 11% of the student body. Northwestern has a slightly lower percentage of non-white students, with about 46% identifying as such, but has a higher proportion of international students, who make up around 16% of the undergraduate population.

Money for financial aid and some books placed next to each other.

Another notable difference between the two universities is the gender distribution of their student bodies. At Washington University, the undergraduate population is almost evenly split between male and female students, with women making up 51% of the student body. In contrast, Northwestern has a higher proportion of female students, who make up around 55% of the undergraduate population. This difference in gender distribution may be attributed to the different academic programs and majors offered at each school, as well as the overall culture and atmosphere of the campuses.

Athletics: A Comparison of the Sports Programs at Washington University in St. Louis vs Northwestern

Both Washington University and Northwestern have strong athletic programs that compete in NCAA Division III (WU) and Division I (NU) competitions, respectively. At Washington University, the student-athletes compete in the UAA conference and participate in a variety of sports, including soccer, basketball, and volleyball. Northwestern is a member of the Big Ten Conference and has highly competitive teams in sports such as football, basketball, and wrestling. Both schools prioritize athletic excellence and provide their student-athletes with top-notch facilities and coaching staff.

However, there are some differences in the way the two schools approach their athletic programs. Washington University places a strong emphasis on the balance between academics and athletics, with student-athletes expected to maintain high academic standards while also competing at a high level. Northwestern, on the other hand, has faced criticism for prioritizing athletics over academics, with some arguing that the school’s focus on sports has led to a decline in academic standards. Despite these differences, both schools have a strong commitment to their athletic programs and provide their student-athletes with opportunities to excel both on and off the field.

Faculty and Staff Resources: Comparing Washington University in St. Louis and Northwestern

Another key difference between Washington University and Northwestern is the resources available to faculty and staff members. Both schools have highly trained and experienced professors who are leaders in their fields. However, Northwestern has a larger faculty and staff, with over 3,800 full-time faculty members compared to Washington University’s 2,500. Northwestern also has a larger research budget, which allows for more opportunities to engage in groundbreaking research projects.

In addition to the differences in faculty and staff size and research budget, there are also variations in the types of resources available at each institution. For example, Washington University has a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration, with numerous centers and institutes dedicated to bringing together experts from different fields to tackle complex problems. Northwestern, on the other hand, has a robust network of industry partnerships and connections, providing faculty and staff with opportunities to work on real-world projects and initiatives.

Furthermore, both schools offer a range of professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, including workshops, seminars, and training programs. However, the specific focus of these programs may differ. For instance, Washington University places a strong emphasis on teaching and pedagogy, with a variety of resources available to help faculty members improve their instructional skills. Northwestern, on the other hand, offers more resources related to leadership and management, with programs designed to help staff members develop their leadership abilities and advance in their careers.

The Admissions Process: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Washington University in St. Louis and Northwestern

Both Washington University and Northwestern have highly competitive admissions processes. At Washington University, the acceptance rate for the class of 2024 was just 14.2%, with over 29,000 applicants vying for a spot. Northwestern is similarly competitive, with an acceptance rate of around 8.9% for the class of 2024. Both schools value a diverse student body that represents a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Prospective students should be prepared to submit a strong application that showcases their academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, and personal passions.

One key difference between the admissions processes at Washington University and Northwestern is the emphasis placed on standardized test scores. While both schools require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, Northwestern is test-optional for the class of 2025 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that students can choose whether or not to submit their scores, and the admissions committee will not penalize them for not submitting. Washington University, on the other hand, still requires test scores for the class of 2025.

Another factor to consider when comparing the admissions processes at these two universities is the importance of demonstrated interest. Washington University places a high value on students who have shown a genuine interest in the school, such as by attending information sessions, visiting campus, or contacting admissions representatives. Northwestern also considers demonstrated interest, but it is not as heavily weighted in the admissions decision as it is at Washington University.

Research Opportunities: How Do Washington University in St. Louis vs Northwestern Compare?

Research is a major focus at both Washington University and Northwestern, with cutting-edge projects underway in a variety of fields. At Washington University, research is organized around several interdisciplinary centers and institutes, including the McDonnell International Scholars Academy and the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences. Northwestern has a similarly diverse research program, with a particular emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. Both schools provide undergraduates with ample opportunities to engage in research projects alongside renowned faculty members.

Two office working talking next to a computer.

In conclusion, both Washington University in St. Louis and Northwestern University are highly respected institutions with a lot to offer prospective students. Which school is right for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your areas of interest, financial considerations, and personal preferences. We hope that this side-by-side comparison has provided you with a better understanding of the similarities and differences between these two great universities.

One area where Washington University stands out is in its commitment to sustainability. The university has implemented a number of initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, including a comprehensive recycling program and the use of renewable energy sources. Northwestern also has a strong sustainability program, with a focus on reducing waste and promoting energy efficiency on campus.

Another factor to consider when comparing these two universities is their location. Washington University is located in St. Louis, Missouri, a vibrant city with a rich cultural history. Northwestern, on the other hand, is located in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. While both locations offer unique opportunities for students, the urban setting of St. Louis may be more appealing to some, while others may prefer the quieter, more residential feel of Evanston.

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