Northwestern Regular Decision

July 26, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Northwestern Regular Decision

Leading research university Northwestern University places a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary education. Northwestern University, which is regarded as an “Ivy of the Midwest” along with Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, typically enrolls fewer than 10,000 undergraduate students at any given time. It’s also important to know more about Northwestern regular decision.

One of the largest university endowments in the world, Northwestern’s $16.1 billion endowment may come as a shock to some. The school’s endowment has a significant portion of funds set aside to support on-campus interdisciplinary research

Northwestern University has a long list of distinguished graduates who have achieved success in many different fields. The governor of Illinois at the moment, Jay Robert Pritzker, is one of Northwestern’s ten living billionaires and the richest politician in the country. In honor of him, the Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern Law School was created.

Old university building covered in ivy and surrounded by trees.

Northwestern athletes also enjoy success on a global scale. Federico Burdisso of Northwestern University won a bronze medal in the men’s 200-meter butterfly race and the men’s 4 x 100-meter relay during the most recent Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Students at Northwestern are renowned for their commitment to extracurricular activities, athletics, and academics.

When Is Northwestern’s Regular Decision Due?

Most Northwestern applicants use Regular Decision, which gives them multiple admissions and financial aid offers. You might wonder “when is Northwestern’s regular decision due?” The application deadline is on January 3rd (by 11:59 p.m. local time of applicant).

The following needs to be delivered for the Northwestern Regular Decision:

  • Secondary school report (includes high school transcript and counselor recommendation letter)
  • Teacher recommendation
  • Standardized test scores (optional)
  • Teacher recommendation
  • Standardized test scores
  • A nonrefundable application fee of $75 or application fee waiver.

Standardized Testing in December

For the cycle 2022–2023, first-year applicants to Northwestern will not be required to take the test. Use Northwestern school code 1565 (SAT) or 1106 (ACT) to send your SAT Reasoning Test or ACT directly to us when submitting your scores.

Alternately, applicants may self-report these results, making sure to include their highest ACT composite score and/or individual SAT section scores. Although not required, applicants are welcome to report their test results from all test dates.

Prior to matriculation, accepted students who decide to enroll and who submitted official SAT or ACT scores that correspond to their highest self-reported test scores will be required to do so.

Admissions Decision/Reply to Admission for the Northwestern Regular Decision

They will email the address you provided in your application when decisions are ready to view in their applicant portal by late March.

Within a week of the announcement of your admission, you will be informed of the specifics of your financial aid award if you are accepted and your family has submitted the CSS Financial Aid Profile (CSS Profile).

By May 1, you must send in your non-refundable tuition and housing deposits to secure your spot in the first-year class.

How Selective Is Northwestern?

Northwestern University has a competitive acceptance rate of 8.5%, making it a very selective institution. The university claims to review your application holistically, which means that all components will be taken into account before a decision is made. However, selective colleges typically have some sort of academic bar to help weed out applicants (called the Academic Index).

Entrance gate of Northwestern University.

Unless you are an athlete who is recruited, a legacy, or an under-represented minority, not having these stats may automatically disqualify you. Let’s examine the factors that determine how selective is Northwestern:


Northwestern does not publicly disclose the high school GPAs of accepted students, but they do emphasize that a rigorous course load and academic excellence are crucial components of your application. According to the university, 92 percent of admitted students were among the top ten percent of their graduating class in terms of rank. In light of this, it is reasonable to assume that the average weighted GPA is at least 4.0.

If advanced courses are offered at your school, we strongly advise applicants to enroll in as many of them as possible.

SAT/ACT and SAT Subject Examinations

The middle 50% of accepted students at Northwestern had SAT scores between 1450 and 1550 and ACT scores between 33 and 35 for the most recent admissions cycle.

In light of that, let’s discuss scoring. The SAT and ACT are superscored at Northwestern, which means the admissions committee will only take into account your highest test scores on each section of each test, regardless of whether those scores were obtained on the same test.

One thing to keep in mind is that the school requests that students use their system and not compute their own ACT superscore.

Students lined up in a desk and writing.

Northwestern permits applicants to self-report, so you are not required to submit official test results up until you are accepted. SAT subject tests have always been optional for general applicants under Northwestern’s testing policy. Some subject tests might be necessary for applicants to certain programs.

You should aim for a score of at least 720, but ideally a score of around 780. Although falling within these ranges does not guarantee you a spot, they should at least get your application read. These statistics are a good place to start when assessing your chances of acceptance.

Components of Application

You must send the following to Northwestern in order to send a complete application:

  • Optional Alumni Interview
  • Counselor Recommendation
  • One or more Teacher Recommendations
  • Part 1: Biographical Information
  • Part 2: Essays, Activities, and Academics
  • School report, official secondary school transcript, and midterm transcript
  • Standardized tests: The SAT or ACT are acceptable, but the following cycle will not require them.

Let’s examine a few of these elements in more detail:


Depending on when you apply, Northwestern might give you the option of meeting with a member of their alumni admission council for an interview. The interviewers are regional alumni volunteers who will meet with you according to the order in which they are scheduled. The interview gives you the chance to personalize and put a face to your application. Both the Northwestern Regular Decision or Early Decision applicants may request interviews, which will be accommodated based on alumni availability.

Female student shaking hands with her interviewer.

According to Northwestern’s official policy, applicants who are unable to interview will not be at a disadvantage. Even though it is true that many students have been accepted without interviews, it is strongly advised that you make the effort to do so because it will give you the opportunity to talk about yourself and allow more of your personality to come through in your application.

Recommendation Letter

Three letters of recommendation are required by Northwestern, one from your guidance counselor and two from your teachers. A second, optional letter of recommendation from a different reference is also available to the university. If there is someone who can offer additional or new information about you, perhaps outside of an academic context, you should pursue this option for a recommendation.

Northwestern advises choosing teachers from your core courses for teacher recommendations. Ideally, Northwestern advises applicants to speak with a teacher you had recently, preferably within the last year or two. You’re most likely to be remembered by these teachers. If you decide to go with a teacher from earlier in high school, make sure to visit them occasionally to catch up before you request a recommendation letter.

Consider these inquiries and recall all of the teachers you had in high school as you choose which ones to ask:

  • Which ones were you familiar with? Who among them knew you best?
  • Did you have any teachers in particular whose classes you really excelled? On the other hand, was there a class in which you struggled but took the initiative to ask the teacher for assistance and do better?
  • Did any of your teachers serve as advisors for a club you were a member of and are familiar with your personality outside of the classroom?

Additional Essays

Northwestern only requires one supplemental essay from all applicants.

Although it is technically optional, we urge you to complete this essay because it is an additional chance to highlight the qualities that make you a strong applicant:

While other parts of your application give us a sense of who you are, we are also excited to hear more about how you see yourself engaging with the larger Northwestern community.

In 300 words or less, help us understand how you might engage specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities here. We are curious about what these specifics are, as well as how they may enrich your time at Northwestern and beyond.

This question serves as a model for a “Why This College?” essay. Northwestern wants to know why you and the school are a good fit for each other. Specificity is key with these questions; you must conduct research on the school website to find specific opportunities that interest you. You should think about the specific actions you want to take at school, your long-term professional and societal objectives, and the type of community you want to be a part of.

The following set of questions is for students applying to the highly selective Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences (MMSS) program, which only accepts about thirty first-year students annually.

Candidates for MMSS must have achieved high academic standing in high school, including one year of calculus. The same guidelines still apply when responding to these questions: be precise and goal-oriented. You should also elaborate more on your intellectual passions, challenging subjects, and experiences you’ve had in demanding environments like AP classes and summer programs.

There are four MMSS questions:

  1. Why MMSS? (200 words)
  2. Which social science question or problem interests you most? (200 words)
  3. Describe your current educational and career goals. (200 words)
  4. Describe your extracurricular interests and activities. (200 words)

The Integrated Science Program is another program with its own supplemental essays (ISP). The curriculum of this program emphasizes interdisciplinary learning while combining math and science. ISP guarantees that its members have a personalized, hands-on learning experience through small class sizes, research opportunities, and a dedicated student center on campus.

Those interested in ISP must submit a separate application through the university website. Candidates must have completed four years of mathematics, four years of science, and three SAT II Subject Tests or AP exams in order to be eligible for this program.

These are the ISP essay questions:

  1. Describe any projects, special courses, jobs, or awards of yours that are related to science and mathematics.
  2. Please briefly discuss your educational and career goals. Do they include graduate study?
  3. Why is the Integrated Science Program interesting to you?
  4. How did you learn about the Integrated Science Program?
  5. Do you know any current or past students of the program?

What Is Northwestern’s Acceptance Rate for Regular Admission?

As you may be aware, the Early Decision applicant pool typically experiences a higher admit rate than the Northwestern Regular Decision applicant pool. Now, what is Northwestern’s acceptance rate for regular admission?

Although the Director of Admissions stated that there were roughly 4,500 applicants and 1,000 students accepted, no official ED statistics have been released for the Class of 2025.

This results in a 22 percent estimated ED acceptance rate.  For the Class of 2024, ED applicants were granted admission at a rate of 25%, which is more than three times the Northwestern regular decision rate of 7%.

What Are the Odds of Getting Off the Waitlist?

If you have been admitted to the waitlist, this mind-boggling question might run in your head all day, “what are the odds of getting off the waitlist?” For the fall 2019 semester, Northwestern University reveals the waitlisted applicants’ admission rate:

School Name (State) Applicants Accepting a Spot on the Waitlist (Fall 2019) Number of Admitted  Applicants from Waitlist Waitlisted Applicants Admission Rate
Northwestern University (IL) 2,107 55 2.60%

The waitlist indicates that your academics weren’t the issue, as Northwestern’s acceptance rate is only about 9 percent. Therefore, what will likely set you apart from the competition and guarantee your admission is a compelling update letter where you demonstrate a more compelling fit for the university.

Northwestern suggests delaying the delivery of your letter until after April 15th, when admissions officers reassess applicants to see if they are still interested. Your letter should be addressed to your regional admissions officer (you can find yours here). There is no maximum word count, but keep it professional and concise because admissions officers are more likely to skim over information that is buried in the middle of a lengthy letter.

How Do You Increase Your Chances of Getting into Northwestern?

The rigor of secondary school records, class rank, GPA, and standardized test scores are four factors that Northwestern University rates as being “very important” to their admissions process (test-optional through at least 2023).

Essays, recommendations, extracurricular activities, character/personal qualities, and talent/ability are the additional five factors that are deemed “important.” A possible alumni interview, first-generation status, alumni ties (legacy), racial/ethnic status, volunteer work, paid work, and the degree of an applicant’s interest in Northwestern are all “considered” factors.

Signage of a university near the entrance.

In the words of Northwestern’s admissions office: Northwestern evaluates applications holistically. We seek to develop a contextual understanding of a student based on different sources of information.”  The Dean of Undergraduate Admission provided the following explanation of this procedure recently: “Our review process is extremely thorough, taking into account the vast differences between student experiences represented in our applicant pool. Every student’s achievements, talents, and skills are considered within the context of her or his high school and community setting. Our decisions are not based upon any particular formula or quota.”

There are currently about 500 varsity athletes at Northwestern University; it definitely helps if you are recruited as an athlete to join one of the school’s 19 Division I sports teams.

Application Guidelines for Northwestern University

You should be aware of the following if you intend to join the 51,000+ Wildcat applicants for the upcoming admissions cycle, you should know the answer to “how do you increase your chances of getting into Northwestern?”:

Northwestern University wants to see evidence of high school students who took advanced courses. Multiple advanced courses, especially ones in your academic specialty, are essential.

1. On your application, you must select one of the six academic institutions. Some have various standards and requirements for admission:

  • The College of Arts & Sciences
  • The School of Communication
  • The School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • The School of Social Policy and Education
  • The School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications
  • The School of Music.

2. Alumni interviews are a choice offered by Northwestern University.

3. When considering applicants for admission, Northwestern University considers “demonstrated interest.” So, your application will be evaluated based on things like whether you visited the campus (during non-pandemic times), spoke with an admissions officer, etc.

4. Make sure to give the supplemental essay Northwestern is offering enough time and effort whether you’re applying early or vying for the Northwestern regular decision admission.

The question for the 2021–22 cycle is as follows:

“While other parts of your application give us a sense of who you are, we are also excited to hear more about how you see yourself engaging with the larger Northwestern community. In 300 words or less, help us understand how you might engage specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities here. We are curious about what these specifics are, as well as how they may enrich your time at Northwestern and beyond.”

Although Northwestern’s supplement essay is formally “optional,” ignoring the question would be a grave error. According to the university, “We strongly encourage a response, as your answer will help us connect the dots across your application to imagine what kind of college student you might become.)”

The key to answering the prompt is to become as knowledgeable about Northwestern as you can and articulate genuine justifications for why it is the ideal place for you.

Even though Northwestern University isn’t technically an Ivy League school, its name and reputation are highly respected in a wide range of fields.  The quality of education represented by a Northwestern degree is comparable to that of any Ivy League institution.  As a result, it is anticipated that getting into Northwestern will never be simple. You should worry, but not excessively, as AdmissionSight is here to assist you.

You may schedule an appointment and we would love to discuss AdmissionSight and how we can help you in your college admissions journey.


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