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Northwestern University

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By the OnlineU team | Updated 10/6/2023



Evanston, Illinois' Northwestern University (NU) is a private, nonprofit institution serving roughly 23,000 students according to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES). Its distance education program features 21 online master's degrees, many in the health field — including health informatics, analytics, and global health. Other fields of study include law, information systems, and public policy. 

The U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard shows that NU has a high 95% graduation rate, almost double the average for all four-year colleges and universities.

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Salary Score for Online Degrees at Northwestern University

Bachelor's Degrees

Human Resources Management and Services Not Reported $72,625 100
Communication and Media Studies Not Reported $50,315 100
Radio, Television, and Digital Communication Not Reported $23,964 22

Master's Degrees

Business Administration, Management and Operations Not Reported $194,475 100
Communication and Media Studies Not Reported $73,859 99
Mental and Social Health Services and Allied Professions Not Reported $62,625 99
Medical Illustration and Informatics Not Reported $90,893 94
Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs, Other Not Reported $84,353 93
Radio, Television, and Digital Communication Not Reported $70,743 91
Public Administration Not Reported $71,190 89
Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication Not Reported $65,173 88
Health and Physical Education/Fitness Not Reported $46,384 78
Public Health Not Reported $62,873 69
Clinical, Counseling and Applied Psychology Not Reported $40,298 17

FAQs About Northwestern University

Is Northwestern University Online?

Yes, NU is online, with almost two dozen master's degree programs students can complete entirely remotely. According to NCES, 81% of graduate students participate exclusively in distance education

NU's distance learners can complete degrees through 100% online part-time study or hybrid, one-year, accelerated programs. Other programs may have certificates available to demonstrate mastery in a particular subject.

Is Northwestern University a Good School?

NU ranks high on several of our lists, including #1 for Best Online Colleges in Illinois, Best Online Master's Degrees in Healthcare Management, and Best Online Master's in Communication Programs.

NU has also received institutional accreditation in recognition of its sound financial practices and high quality academic programming that meets federal quality standards. NU is accredited by is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. It receives programmatic accreditation from prestigious organizations such as the American Bar Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Council on Education for Public Health.

To provide the most trustworthy results, OnlineU only highlights accredited online institutions. 

Is Northwestern Hard Academically?

Yes, many consider NU as academically challenging because its programs are rigorous, and expectations for students to perform well are high. NU's relatively low acceptance rate and high graduation rate show that NU selects students with exceptional academic records with the best chances of succeeding.

What Is Northwestern University Known For?


NU is known for its research: It has an R1 Carnegie classification for high research activity. NU is home to more than 90 school-based centers and 35 University research centers. It receives more than $1 billion in sponsored research awards and $449 million in National Institutes of Health funding annually. Areas of research include neuroscience, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and drug discovery. 


NU's faculty hold high honors. For example, eight faculty members were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2023. Other faculty accolades include the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and the MacArthur Fellowship. 

Famous Alums 

NU is also known for its notable alumni. Graduates include comedian and author Stephen Colbert (The Daily Show and The Late Show), novelist and screenwriter George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones), comedian and actor Julia Louis-Dreyfus (VEEP and Seinfeld), and author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl). 

Which Degrees at Northwestern University Provide the Highest Earnings for Graduates?

Federal data does not show which master's degrees provide the highest earnings for graduates. 

For perspective, however, OnlineU's proprietary Salary Score ranks colleges by how much their alums earn compared to graduates with the same degree nationwide. NU has a high master's degree Salary Score of 94 out of 100. Its master's degrees in mental and social health services and allied professions, such as an online marriage and family therapy degree, have a Salary Score of 95. And NU's online master's degrees in medical illustration and informatics, such as health informatics, scores 89. Additionally, its online master's degree in public administration scores high at 86.  

Is It Hard To Get Into Northwestern University?

Getting into NU is difficult. Its website shows that 29% of graduate applicants are accepted and that 36% of accepted applicants matriculate.

Degrees offered through The Graduate School may require applicants to take entrance exams and submit GRE, LSAT, or GMAT scores, which can increase the difficulty of acceptance. Each program may have unique admission requirements, such as credentialing, licensing, quantifiable work experience, and minimum GPA. 

This information is critical when picking a college, so you choose one that suits your academic record and where your chance of acceptance is high. A program advisor can help you determine your chances of getting in.

What GPA Do You Need To Get Into Northwestern University?

It's unclear what GPA you need to get into NU. However, many graduate programs require a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Generally speaking, the higher the GPA, the more competitive you'll be and the greater your chances of getting in when applying to college

An NU program advisor can tell you if the program you're interested in has specific minimum GPA requirements.

What Are the Admission Requirements for Northwestern University?

Although individual degree programs may have additional requirements, NU's admission requirements for graduate distance learners generally include the following:

  • An application 
  • A $75 application fee
  • Official college transcripts showing bachelor's degree completion
  • Official military transcripts, if applicable
  • Letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to your work ethic and abilities
  • A college application essay
  • GRE/GMAT scores as required

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