Northwestern University Transfer Acceptance Rate, GPA, and Requirements

Considered to be one of the top research universities in the nation, Northwestern makes regular appearances in various college-ranking publications. 

Both the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education College Rankings of 2021 placed Northwestern 10th overall, while the U.S. News and World Report positioned them at #9.

Northwestern’s consistent rise in the rankings is in large part due to its status as a top research university in the nation. In 2021, the school announced a historic $886 million in sponsored research funding. 

Students at Northwestern are taking part in ground-breaking studies, such as the development of wearable tech that can detect early symptoms of COVID-19, a face mask that cleans itself, and more.

Located in Evanston, Illinois, the Northwestern campus is only a few miles away from Chicago, a city that offers many social and cultural attractions for all types of students. 

Sports fans will relish in a city home to many thriving professional and collegiate athletic teams. Students can use the free intercampus shuttle that operates between the Evanston and Chicago campuses.

Known for its emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, Northwestern is indeed a school to consider applying to for transfer students keen on combining multiple areas of interest into a degree program. 

Read ahead to learn about the average Northwestern transfer student, what it takes to successfully apply to Northwestern, when to expect an admission decision, and what other reasons might compel a student to apply to this elite university.

Northwestern University Transfer Acceptance Rate

Northwestern University
Madcoverboy at English Wikipedia, Sorority Quad Northwestern, CC BY-SA 3.0

According to the Northwestern Office of Admissions, admission to the institution as a transfer student is quite competitive; usually, less than 15% of transfer applicants are admitted annually.

By Northwestern’s definition, a transfer student should have completed a full year of college coursework by the time they enroll in the fall semester – this means that they must have obtained a minimum of 24 semester hours (or 36 quarter hours) and be in good academic and behavioral standing with the institution they currently attend.

While there are no statistics available for transfer students only, the class of 2025 profile reveals a competitive applicant pool. 

With an overall acceptance rate of 7%, Northwestern enrolled 2,086 first-year students in the 2021-2022 academic year, and approximately half of those students were admitted through early decision.

Application Requirements & GPA for Northwestern Transfers

According to the Northwestern Office of Admissions, strong transfer applicants submit a record of coursework that spans a wide range of science and liberal arts courses while maintaining a B (3.0) average. 

While there are no statistics regarding the average GPA of an admitted transfer student, the class of 2024 profile shares average SAT and ACT scores for the middle 50% of admitted students (not specific to transfers only).

Admitted students scored between 1460 and 1540 on the new SAT (combined Math and Critical Reading sections) while those who submitted an ACT composite score earned between 33 and 35. 

Statistics are not shared for the most recent class of 2025 because Northwestern instituted a test-optional admissions policy for the 2021-2022 year.

There are seven items that transfer applicants must send to be considered for admission – similar to the year prior, applicants may self-report SAT/ACT scores. 

Admitted students who decide to enroll in Northwestern will then be required to submit official SAT or ACT scores.

The first required item for admission is a submission of the Common Application or Coalition Application; additionally, the Office of Admissions strongly encourages candidates to complete the “Why Northwestern?” written response included in the application materials.

The next two items are official copies of secondary school and collegiate transcripts, with an applicant’s high school transcript noting the graduation status/date. 

The fourth item is a College Report – typically completed by a dean of students – which confirms that the transfer applicant is in good academic/behavioral standing and eligible to continue studies at the institution they currently attend.

The fifth item is the Academic Evaluation, which is used to determine which credits will transfer over to Northwestern upon enrollment. 

As mentioned, standardized test scores are optional for submission, and would constitute the sixth required application material; if available, the school recommends that applicants include SAT Subject test results, as well. The final requirement is a $75 nonrefundable application fee.

It is important to note that there are some exceptionalities to the admissions process. The Bienen School of Music, for example, requires all applicants to audition. 

Applicants whose primary or first language is not English, or who did not complete secondary school in English are asked to submit official proof of English language proficiency via the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English test.

Northwestern University Transfer Deadline

Northwestern University
Lacrossewi, Deering Library – Northwestern University, CC BY-SA 4.0

Those hoping to enroll in Northwestern should plan to submit all required transfer application materials by March 15, prior to the fall semester in which they plan to enroll. 

Students who apply prior to the deadline are more likely to receive a decision earlier from the Office of Admissions, though all candidates receive full consideration.

Northwestern does acknowledge that some transfer applicants experience hardships that make it challenging for them to meet the March 15 deadline; for this reason, the Office of Admissions has decided to extend the deadline until April 10 for students whose circumstances hinder them from meeting the March 15 deadline. 

This extension is susceptible to change in future years, so transfer applicants should check the school’s webpage for up-to-date information.

Those applying for admission to the Bienen School of Music may have to submit additional application materials, which may have separate deadlines. 

Applicants are advised to check the website for the specific school or program to which they intend to apply for the most accurate information.

What is the Decision Date for Northwestern University Transfers?

Northwestern University guarantees an admission decision for all transfer applicants by the end of May. As a reminder, transfers may only apply for enrollment in the fall semester.

Northwestern makes admission decisions on a rolling basis after the application deadline has passed, and only reviews transfer applications once all required materials have been submitted.

Deciding Whether You Should Transfer to Northwestern University

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
Ivylaw, Northwestern Law Levy Mayer Hall, CC BY-SA 4.0

The cost of tuition, fees, and room and boarding is a significant factor for many students in determining which college to attend. Northwestern awards financial aid to all students based on need, as long as funds are available. 

Any U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to apply for financial aid offered in the form of loans, grants, or work-study agreements. 

To apply, transfer applicants should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile at least one month prior to the March 15 application deadline.

The campus environment is another crucial element to a student’s college experience. Those seeking a diverse student population will find gravitate to a campus like Northwestern, where the incoming class of 2025 was made up of 52.4% white students, 24.4% Asian American students, 16.8% Hispanic or Latinx students, and 12% Black or African American students. 

Of that most recent cohort, 15.1% were first-generation college students and 21.3% received Pell Grants.

Many transfers have a specific field of study they wish to pursue while other students have a broad range of interests. Northwestern is an ideal school for the latter group, as it encourages an interdisciplinary approach to studies and “Northwestern Mindset.” 

In fact, over 70% of students combine two or more areas of study in pursuit of an interdisciplinary degree.

A Northwestern education is well worth the investment. According to a survey taken by 82% of the members of the outgoing class of 2020, 70% were employed within six months of graduation, with half of the employed respondents working in the following fields: business services and investment banking, consulting, and communications and marketing.

For the 463 graduates for which salary information was available, employed Northwestern graduates make an impressive amount of money coming directly out of college. 

Graduates from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences average a salary of nearly $63,000, while graduates of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science earn nearly $80,000 per year.

RECAP: How to Apply As a Transfer Student to Northwestern University

To reiterate, transfer applicants have seven requirements to fulfill by March 15 to be considered for admission to Northwestern in the following fall semester. 

Applicants should begin the process by completing the Common Application or Coalition Application and submitting all official high school and college transcripts to the Northwestern Office of Admission.

Transfer applicants must submit a request to the dean at their college to complete a College Report on their behalf, indicating their academic standing at the current institution. 

Additionally, the student should submit the Academic Evaluation so that Northwestern can determine which coursework fulfills certain degree requirements.

If applicants wish, they may submit SAT and ACT scores (as well as SAT Subject test scores, if applicable). Remember that standardized test scores are currently an optional component of the application process, though this may change in future years. 

Finally, the transfer application should be sent with a $75 nonrefundable application fee. Regarding special cases, any transfer applicant whose primary language is not English should submit their English language proficiency results via the IELTS, TOEFL, or Duolingo English test.

Transfer applicants should make sure to check Northwestern’s website for the most up-to-date information, as standardized testing policies, deadlines, and financial aid availability are always subject to change.