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Everything About Northwestern University

Everything About Northwestern University

Total Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,231

Institutional Type: Private

Curricular Flexibility: Somewhat Flexible

Academic Rating: 5

Top Programs


Communication Studies




Performing Arts

Political Science

Social Policy

Who Recruits

1. Nielsen

2. Aldi

3. AQR

4. Roland Berger

5. Flow Traders

Notable Internships

1. Brookings Institute


3. BlackRock

Top Industries

1. Business

2. Education

3. Media

4. Operations

5. Research

Top Employers

1. Google

2. Accenture

3. Amazon

4. Microsoft

5. Deloitte

Where Alumni Work

1. Chicago

2. New York City

3. San Francisco

4. Los Angeles

5. Washington, DC

Median Earnings

College Scorecard (Early Career): $69,000

EOP (Early Career): $72,600

PayScale (Mid-Career): $115,400

Inside the Classroom

Like the neighboring University of Chicago, Northwestern University is a highly selective academic institution that operates on a quarter system and is located in Illinois, but the similarities end there. Where the UChicago has are putation as a breeding ground for future academics/researchers, Northwestern’s vibe is more pre- professional, athletic, and Greek-inclined, but the 8,200 undergraduates who attend must bring equally flawless academic credentials to the table—otherwise, they will find themselves among the 90+ percent of applicants left outside the gates.

Northwestern is home to six undergraduate schools: Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science; School of Education and Social Policy; School of Communication; Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications; and Bienen School of Music. Academic requirements vary by school. Weinberg, which enrolls half of all Wildcats, requires two first-year seminars, the demonstration of proficiency in a foreign language and in writing as well as two courses each in six intellectual divisions. Overall, coursework requirements are extensive but not particularly narrow.

The quarter system allows students to take four courses at a time rather than the typical five. Even so, the academic demands are intense, and Northwestern students work hard for their grades. Fortunately, the academic experience is far from an anonymous endeavor. The university has a phenomenal 6:1 student-faculty ratio, and a spectacular 42percent of class sections have nine or fewer students enrolled; 78 percent have fewer than twenty enrollees. Faculty receive generally favorable reviews from undergraduate students with 93 percent either “very satisfied” or “generally satisfied” with the quality of instruction; 92 percent awarded one of those two positive ratings when asked about the availability of their professors. A solid 58 percent of Northwestern students have the chance to conduct research with a faculty member at some point during their undergraduate years.

The social sciences account for the greatest numbers of degrees conferred (22 percent), followed by communications/journalism (14 percent), engineering (13 percent), biology (8 percent), visual and performing arts (7percent), and psychology (7 percent). Medill is widely regarded as one of the country’s best journalism schools. The McCormick School of Engineering also achieves top rankings, along with programs in economics, social policy, and theatre.

Outside the Classroom

Northwestern, like its elite peers Duke, Stanford, and USC, offers top-level academics without sacrificing any of the major college frills like football and frat parties. With forty-six Greek organizations drawing 30 percent of men and 39percent of women, fraternities and sororities exert a significant degree of influence over the social scene. Athletics are also a strong part of the university’s culture with eight men’s and eleven women’s teams competing in NCAA Division I. The Wildcats are the lone private school competing in the Big Ten Conference, which is otherwise made up of athletic powerhouses like Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan. NU undergrads report that 91 percent are “deeply involved” with a student organization or athletic team. Nearly half the student population reported that same level of involvement with a community service project. Of the school’s 350 student-run clubs, pre-professional organizations, service-oriented groups, and the Daily Northwestern—named the nation’s top student paper by the Society of Professional Journalists —are among the most popular. Evanston is roughly thirty to forty-five minutes from downtown Chicago (depending on traffic). One of the famous North Shore suburbs of Chicago, Evanston is an affluent city with plenty of high-end restaurants and coffee shops. Natural beauty is easy to find as the school owns a lake front beach that is on campus. Approximately 60 percent of students (and 99.9 percent of freshmen) elect to live in on-campus housing that is highlighted by thirteen residence halls, each accommodating anywhere from 25- 500students.

Career Services

Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA) employs nineteen full- time professionals who work directly with or on behalf of undergraduate students. That includes career counselors, career advisors, and employer relations staff but does not include graduate advisors, interns, or IT specialists. The student-to-advisor ratio of 443:1 puts NU in the average range compared to other institutions included in this book. Career counselors keep extensive walk-in hours and arrange a number of career-related events, large and small, from the two-day Fall Internship and Job Fair with over 150employers to more intimate workshops and employer information sessions that are held throughout the year.

A phenomenal 90 percent of graduates reported they engaged in at least one experiential learning opportunity, and 64percent reported engaging in between two and four such activities. When looking specifically at internships, 76 percent reported landing at least one summer of paid or unpaid experience. The Northwestern Network Mentorship Program now has 5,000 alumni across ninety industries and sixty-six countries ready and willing to help current students with their career planning. The NCA has corporate partnerships with a host of top-notch companies including Accenture, Deloitte, PwC, Capital One, and JP Morgan. The NCA does not publish statistics related to outreach (percentage of students engaging with the office), but thanks to a stellar record of arranging experiential learning opportunities/internships and strong corporate connections, Northwestern’s career services still gets a thumbs up from our staff.

Professional Outcomes

Six months after graduating, 72 percent of last year's Class had found employment, 23 percent were in graduate school, and only 3 percent were still looking for work. The four professional fields attracting more than 10 percent of Wildcat alumni were business/finance (20 percent), consulting (15 percent), communications/marketing/media (13percent), and engineering (12 percent). Employers included an impressive group of media outlets including the BBC,NBC News, the Washington Post, and NPR. Across all other industries, Wildcats had strong representation at all of the usual corporate giants including Boeing, Google, IBM, Deloitte, PepsiCo, Northrup Grumman, and Goldman Sachs.

More than 50 percent of graduates remained in the Midwest, roughly a quarter moved to the East Coast, and 12percent migrated to California. Across all majors the average starting salary was $59k while engineering and applied sciences students averaged $78k with the lowest income belonging to communications students who earned $43k.Of the recent alums headed straight to graduate school, 18 percent were pursuing medical degrees, 13 percent were beginning PhD programs, and 6 percent were entering law school. Engineering, medicine, and business were the three most popular graduate areas of concentration. Members of the Class pursued advanced degrees at seven of the eight Ivy League Schools among a host of other elite institutions. Northwestern is a prolific producer of future MDs; 232applied in the last school year alone.

Students' Voice: Pros and Cons of Location

Pros of Evanston, IL

• “We are situated next to Lake Michigan and when it’s nice out you can go out on the lake.”

• “It’s close enough to Chicago to access its resources, but far enough to not be in the middle of a big city.”

• “It’s super clean, nice, safe, and you never have to worry about being able to get away from campus.”

Cons of Evanston, IL

• “The campus itself is a little isolating. The STEM courses are in the north part of campus and the Humanities

classes are in the south part of campus. I wish there was a place with a little bit of everything.”

• “You’re in the Midwest where it’s really cold.”

• “It’s an upper-class neighborhood. If you’re a low-income student, it’s hard to find restaurants to eat at because

everything is pricey.’

Students' Voice: Reasons to attend and not to attend

To Attend

• “There are lots of opportunities here. We have excellent courses and professors, but it also provides connections for internships and careers in the future.”

• “The student body is amazing here. The people are friendly and accepting. People are passionate about what they do and there seems to be a lot of love on campus.”

• “People are well rounded and engaged in a variety of interests, hobbies, and academic subjects.”

• “It’s position in relation to Chicago. Whenever you want to experience something you can hop on the train.”

To Not Attend

• “If you’re someone who suffers from seasonal depression and the cold affects you, I wouldn’t come here because it’s cold most of the year and the seasonal depression is very real.”

• “The mental health services here are not great. It’s understaffed.”

• “The culture of having to work all the time and the feeling that you have to be better than other people.”

• “The workload is intense. You need to figure out how hard you want to work because a lot of students struggle with this.”

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