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Application Materials

For your application to be given full consideration, you must submit all materials by December 21, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S. time).

If you have any questions please consult our FAQs page.

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Required materials:


The Graduate School accepts online applications through CollegeNet.

  • You do not need to complete the online application in one sitting. You may save your application and return to it later before you SUBMIT; be sure to record your user ID (email) and password. 
  • Answer all of the required questions, upload required documents, and submit the application fee (by credit card only).
  • Changes to the application cannot be made after you SUBMIT.
  • You may apply to only one program at Northwestern. The Graduate School only allows students to submit one application per year. Additional applications will not be reviewed and application fee refunds will not be provided.

Admission decisions will be conveyed via CollegeNet. You may access the online application as many times as you wish to check if a decision has been rendered on your file. If a decision is available, a "view decision" link will appear. If a decision has not yet been rendered, no link will be present.


The online application will prompt you to pay the application fee after all required questions have been answered. The application fee is $95 and must be paid via credit card at the time of application submission. Your application can not be processed without payment of the fee. 

To review the criteria for a fee waiver, click here.  If you are eligible for a fee waiver, a message will appear at the end of your application, in lieu of a payment entry page. 

We are unable to provide fee waivers beyond the criteria listed. If you think you may qualify for a fee waiver, please submit your application at least three days before the application deadline to allow time for review and final submission.


An unofficial transcript from each post-secondary institution attended, including records from courses in any university-level institution attended abroad, must be uploaded to your application.  Official transcripts are only required for applicants that have been admitted and have chosen to enroll at Northwestern. Official transcripts received before an offer of admission has been made will be discarded.

  • If you are currently working towards a degree at another institution you must submit transcripts of all work completed at the time of filing your application. 
    • Your fall term grades may not be posted at the time the application is due; please submit your transcript as it stands, and if we require an update we will request it from you.
  • Transcripts should show all the coursework taken, whether or not within a degree program, the grades received and the degrees earned.
  • Certification of degrees received, including the date each degree was awarded are required. This information may be included on the final transcript or on the diploma. Final credentials must be submitted as soon as they become available. 


The academic records we refer to as transcripts should provide a listing, year-by-year, of all courses taken and the grade or marks received for each one. It is helpful to have the grading scale of the institution and the student's rank in class included when such information is available.

If your college or university will not mail original official academic documents to you, you may send exact copies that have been verified as "Certified True Copies" by the appropriate institutional official of each institution you have attended. Uncertified photocopies are not acceptable. To be considered, all documents not in English must be accompanied by official English translations which adhere to the following guidelines:

  • If an institution's transcripts are only available in a foreign language, please include an English translation completed by a verifiable, neutral third party (i.e. ATA translators, a transcript evaluation service, etc.) in addition to the original copy.  

The Graduate School will accept applications from international students earning three-year bachelor's degrees.


Letters of recommendation are very important so choose your writers carefully. The Admissions Committee is most interested in recommendation letters from those who are able to assess your academic and research abilities in areas related to your field of study.

  • The Department of Political Science requires a minimum of three letters to accompany your application.
  • After you submit your application with recommender information entered, CollegeNet will email upload instructions to your recommenders.
    • Please note, you will not be able to edit an email address or change a recommender after you have submitted the application.  Should you need to make a change, please contact
  • There is no required or expected format for recommendation letters.
  • Please give your recommender enough time ahead of the application deadline to submit your letter; we begin review of applications immediately, and late letters may not be considered.  We recommend contacting your letter writing at least two weeks before you submit the application to give them time to prepare a letter.
  • Letters of recommendation are due December 30th, 2023 at 11:59 pm Central Time


Write a statement that addresses the following prompt (500 words max):

  • The Graduate School values diverse backgrounds, approaches, and perspectives, understanding them as essential ingredients for true academic excellence. As a Northwestern graduate student, how could you contribute to an intellectual community that prioritizes equity, inclusion, belonging, and cultural humility? Your answer may draw upon past or present experiences, whether in academic work, extracurricular or community activities, or everyday life.


  • All applicants must submit an Academic Statement that answers the following questions (1,000 words max):  
    • What are your academic interests, and why do you wish to pursue graduate studies in this specific program?
    • How has your academic and professional background prepared you for graduate study? (Please include any research, training, or educational experiences that align with the program you are applying to.)
    • How will our program help you achieve your intellectual and professional goals?
    • (For research-focused programs) Please make sure to address any scholarly questions you wish to explore in the program and name any specific faculty members in this program whose research interests align with your own.  


There are no firm requirements for the writing sample. It should be academic, best demonstrating your abilities and potential. 

  • We recommend between 10 and 30 pages in length, but we intend this as a guideline to help you think about the type of sample you should send. 
  • Don't focus on the exact page number, focus on sending your best work! 
  • Your writing sample does not have to pertain to your intended area of study.  It can be a term paper, a chapter from a thesis, a series of published articles, etc.
  • Once submitted, writing samples cannot be updated or edited, even in the case of typos.  Be aware that some graphs or images may become distorted when the PDF uploads to CollegeNet; this is not a problem, the Committee understands this and we will request an updated copy if we need it. 


For the 2023-24 application cycle (Fall 2024 start), submission of GRE scores is NOT REQUIRED.  

Should you choose to submit scores, please review the information below:

Official scores must be taken no more than five years before the intended quarter of entry and must come directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Personal copies are not considered official, nor are "attested" or notarized copies.

  • Please make sure to allow enough time for your test results to be passed on to Northwestern.
    • Do not plan to take or retake the test on or after the deadline.  No new scores will be added after the deadline.
  • You may submit your application before or after your official scores arrive from ETS.  CollegeNet will connect the scores automatically.
  • The institutional code assigned to The Graduate School at Northwestern by ETS is 1565. There is not a designated department code for the GRE, you may enter Undecided. 

ETS will offer you the option to send us scores from every test you've ever taken, or to select the scores you want to send.  We recommend that you send us ALL scores; we will look for your highest score in each section. 


Much of your success in graduate study will rely on your ability to understand, read, write and speak English. If your native language is not English, you must certify your proficiency in the English language by one of the following:

  • Providing official scores for either the TOEFL or IELTS exam. The test must be taken no more than two years before the intended quarter of entry (for entry in Fall 2023, please ensure your TOEFL was taken no earlier than September 2021).
  • On the TOEFL, you must score 600 or higher on the paper-based test, 250 or higher on the computer-based test, 100 or higher on the internet based test. On the IELTS, you must receive a score of 7.0 or higher.
  • Providing official transcripts verifying an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution or equivalent, where the language of instruction is English.
  • Providing official transcripts verifying a graduate degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English.
  • Personal copies are not considered official, nor are "attested" or notarized copies. However, it is to your advantage to include a scanned copy of your score report in Supplemental Information. 

The Graduate School's school code for TOEFL is 1565. Students taking the TOEFL should also reference department code 01. This will ensure that the TOEFL scores are sent to The Graduate School and not the undergraduate college.

More information regarding the TOEFL

More information regarding IELTS

All materials should be submitted by December 21, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S. time), via CollegeNet.