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Northeastern University Supplemental Essays

Admission to Northeastern is selective, and the complexity of the admission process is not one that can be defined through a formula. At Northeastern, we evaluate applicants holistically to identify candidates who will bring a diversity of experiences and interest to our community. Each year, approximately 2,800 new freshmen and 400 new transfer students enroll in September. In addition, approximately 700 new students will enroll in January through The N.U.in Program. The N.U.in Program is an innovative first-year global experience during which admitted students begin their college studies at one of our partner institutions overseas while earning transfer credits in the fall semester1 and start their studies on campus in Boston in the spring semester. See additional information about The N.U.in Program.

In building a diverse and talented incoming class, the Admissions Committee seeks to enroll students who have been successful academically and who have been actively involved in activities in their school and home communities.

Typically, students admitted to Northeastern have been extremely successful with a challenging course load. When considering applicants for freshman admission, the committee considers whether the applicant’s high school transcript reflects the various academic opportunities offered such as honors, advanced placement, international baccalaureate, or college-level courses. Northeastern also seeks to enroll students who have positively contributed to their school and larger community.

When reviewing transfer students, the committee takes into consideration factors such as the candidate’s academic transcript; letters of recommendation; resumé; essay; academic preparation for major of choice; and, in certain cases, high school grade-point average and standardized test scores as well as strength of character. Transfer applicants are encouraged to submit a completed application and all supporting materials well before the deadline, as the number of students admitted to each program is limited.

Northeastern accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application. Students may apply online via the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Northeastern does not have a preference for which application is submitted. Both the Common Application and the Coalition Application will be reviewed equally.

Deadlines and Decisions

Interested applicants may apply for entrance into either the fall or spring semester.

  • Northeastern offers a nonbinding Early Action application process and a binding Early Decision process for freshman applicants.
  • Northeastern also offers a Regular Decision application process for freshman applicants.
  • Transfer decisions are not released on a rolling basis, and all decisions are released by a given date.

Required Materials

The committee will begin to evaluate an applicant’s candidacy for admission only when all application credentials have been received. Ensure that all appropriate identification information is on every piece of your application package (name, date of birth, and NU ID).

Freshman Applicants

More than 54,000 students apply for a space in the freshman class. As the vast majority of applicants are academically eligible for admission, the committee has the responsibility of selecting applicants for admission who it believes will contribute to Northeastern’s diverse and vibrant community. The committee is particularly interested in applicants who have challenged themselves academically; are highly motivated; have a strong work ethic; and who have demonstrated qualities of leadership, creativity, diversity, engagement, global perspective, adaptability, and resiliency. Our students exhibit strong character, high ethical standards, and a commitment to involvement and to being a positive influence in their community and in the world. We encourage applicants to spend time to thoughtfully prepare their application in order to make sure their strengths and qualities resonate with the Admissions Committee.

In addition to the Common Application, prospective first-year applicants must submit the following:

  • Completed Common Application or Coalition Application.
  • Application fee of $75.
  • Secondary school counselor and teacher recommendations.
  • Secondary school transcripts with final junior-year grades. First-semester or first-trimester grades should be submitted when they are available; first-quarter grades are not required. If you have been out of high school for more than one year, you must send the most up-to-date version of your transcript. 
  • Early Decision Agreement for students applying under the binding Early Decision process.
  • Official SAT or ACT results. Northeastern’s CEEB college code is 3667/ACT college code is 1880. Test scores must be sent to Northeastern directly from the testing agency. November test scores will be considered for early action and early decision candidates if received by December 1; January test scores for regular decision candidates if received by February 15.*
  • Portfolios are required for music technology, studio art, and are encouraged for majors within the College of Arts, Media and Design. Northeastern uses SlideRoom for online portfolio submissions. See additional information.
  • General Equivalency Diploma (GED) recipients should provide their official GED score reports and their most complete high school transcript.
  • Home-schooled applicants should submit an academic portfolio/transcript consistent with their state guidelines. This should include grades for each course. They must also provide proof that they will have met by the end of May of the year of graduation all requirements for an official high school diploma and submit a GED, or a certificate of completion from their local school district or state board of education, by the end of July of the year of matriculation. Home-schooled students must submit either the SAT exam or the ACT. In addition to the ACT or SAT, two SAT subject tests, including mathematics and an additional subject test of the student’s choice, are required. Students who are applying for majors in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, the College of Computer and Information Science, or the College of Science should take a science subject test as their second exam. Applicants to the College of Engineering should take the physics subject test unless they are applying for chemical engineering, in which case the chemistry subject test is required.
  • For early high school graduates, Northeastern will review applications from students who will complete high school in three years or less. Before enrolling at the university, all applicants for early admission must have completed all units required for high school graduation (including senior English) or must have earned the GED. In addition to the required materials for freshman applicants, early high school graduate applicants must provide written endorsement from the school principal or guidance counselor, as well as parents. The endorsements should speak directly to the applicants’ academic readiness and emotional maturity for college. An interview may also be required.
  • Nontraditional grading policies: Students who attend schools where narrative evaluations are used instead of traditional letter grades are required to submit the narratives to complete their applications.
  • English proficiency: Northeastern seeks to enroll the most talented and academically qualified students. Even if your English proficiency falls below our recommendations, we have the expertise and necessary academic infrastructure to support students who need to improve their English skills. Our support system includes many on-campus resources and a dedicated prematriculation program called American Classroom.
  • For applicants applying from secondary schools located outside the United States, SAT or ACT scores are not required and will not be considered for admission if submitted. Applicants are encouraged to submit results from nationally accredited exams that signify completion of secondary education and are required for entry into universities in their home country. Applicants who attend a high school in the United States, or student athletes who must meet National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility requirements, are required to submit their official SAT or ACT results.

There are additional requirements for applicants whose first language is not English. See additional information.

Transfer Applicants

Each year we receive over 3,000 applications for transfer admission. Our most competitive candidates for transfer admission typically have a grade-point average of 3.500 or higher.

In addition to the application for admission, students applying for transfer admission are required to submit the following:

  • Completed Common Application or Coalition Application.
  • Application fee of $75.
  • Official college transcript(s) for all institutions you have attended.
  • College Report to be completed by the registrar's office or dean of your current/previous school.
  • Academic evaluation from an academic advisor, professor, or employer.
  • Final high school transcript or GED.
  • SAT/ACT scores for students who have completed fewer than 24 college credits (after high school graduation) at the time of the application deadline. This is not required for students who have been out of high school for more than five years. Standardized test scores are not required for students who did not complete high school in the United States.
  • Joint Service Transcript (if you are a veteran).
  • English proficiency: Northeastern seeks to enroll the most talented and academically qualified students. Even if your English proficiency falls below our recommendations, we have the expertise and necessary academic infrastructure to support students who need to improve their English skills. Our support system includes many on-campus resources and a dedicated prematriculation program called American Classroom.
  • Portfolios are required for music technology, studio art, and are encouraged for majors within the College of Arts, Media and Design. Northeastern uses SlideRoom for online portfolio submissions. See additional information.

Transfer Credit

Students may transfer up to 60 semester hours of credit from a two-year college, or up to 80 semester hours from a four-year college, or a combination of the two types of colleges. If you have been admitted to the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and your college or university is not AACSB-accredited, the maximum number of credits that you can transfer to Northeastern is 60. See also “Residency Requirement.”

College courses completed with a grade of C or better are considered for transfer credit by faculty evaluators. Liberal arts course work taken more than 10 years ago and math and science course work completed more than 5 years ago can be considered by faculty upon enrollment for transfer credit.

All transfer-credit documents should be received prior to matriculation and must be received within one semester of matriculation. These documents include, but are not limited to, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and National Education exam scores and official transcripts from colleges and universities. These documents should be submitted whether or not you wish to receive transfer credit from this work. Transfer credit will not be granted for work completed prior to matriculation if the official credential is received after the completion of the first semester. College course work completed at an international institution must be translated into English and evaluated by a recognized credential agency.

Advanced Examinations

You may enter the university with advanced credit on the basis of your test scores on certain specific examinations (listed below) or on successful completion of accredited college-level courses that you took before you enrolled at Northeastern. For consideration, students should submit transcripts or test results before matriculation and must submit official score reports for credit evaluation within one semester of matriculation.

Current Northeastern University policy limits the number of advanced credits that students may apply toward undergraduate degrees to 32 semester hours. Advanced courses may be used to satisfy any appropriate explicit degree requirements without regard to the number of credits used.

Northeastern currently awards advanced credit for the following examinations:

  • Advanced Placement
  • British GCE A-Level Examination
  • German Abitur
  • French Baccalaureate
  • International Baccalaureate
  • Swiss Federal Maturita Diploma

Advanced Placement Evaluations

The university awards credit for test scores of 4 and 5. Visit the Transfer Equivalency Database for an up-to-date AP listing.

Credit awarded: 4–10 semester hours or up to two courses per exam (refer to AP listing).

British GCE A-Level Examination

The university awards credit for A-level courses with final exam grades of C or better.

German Abitur

The university awards credit for intensive subjects with scores of 7 or higher on a 15-point scale and 4 or higher on a 6-point scale only for subjects that required a written exam.

French Baccalaureate

The university awards credit for any series A–E on the Baccalaureate de l’Enseignement du Second Degré with a coefficient of 4 or above and a score of 10 or better on a 20-point scale.

International Baccalaureate

The university generally awards credit for exam scores of 5, 6, or 7 in higher-level courses only. Visit the International Baccalaureate guide page for an up-to-date IB listing.

Swiss Federal Maturita Diploma

The university awards credit for a final score of 4 or higher on a 6-point scale or 6 or higher on a 10-point scale.

International Applicants

Students may apply online via the Common Application or the Coalition Application.

International student applications are reviewed considering their performance in their particular academic environments. As a result, SAT or ACT scores are not required for international applicants who are studying at schools located outside the United States (Department of Defense school students are required to submit SAT or ACT scores). However, applicants who attend a high school in the United States or who are student-athletes who must meet National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility requirements are required to submit test scores.

In order to maintain lawful student status in the United States, international students must be mindful of the rules and regulations that govern their nonimmigrant visa classification. Numerous U.S. federal mandates and regulations, including the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), make it especially important for students in the “F” (student) and “J” (exchange visitor) categories to consult regularly with an international student advisor at the Office of Global Services (OGS) before taking any action that might affect their immigration status and educational endeavors in the United States.

International students in F-1 and J-1 status must register as full-time students (minimum of 12 credits) and on time (within the appropriate registration period) each term during the regular academic year. In addition, international students must not begin, extend, or resume any type of employment without first obtaining proper employment authorization or verification from the OGS. Any exceptions to full-time registration requirements must be preapproved by the OGS in accordance with specified federal regulations.

In order for prospective F-1 and J-1 students to start their undergraduate program here, they must obtain the certificate of eligibility from OGS. For F-1 students, this document is called Form I-20, and for J-1 students, this document is called Form DS-2019. The international student will need to complete the e-form on the myOGS system and work with the undergraduate admissions office to meet all requirements needed for successful submission of the request for I-20 or DS-2019. Once the request is approved by the undergraduate admissions office, the OGS will get a request for the student’s I-20 and will need 10 business days to generate the student’s certificate of eligibility. Students then are able to apply for their F-1 or J-1 visa stamp at a U.S. consulate overseas and, if the visa is granted, enter the United States no earlier than 30 days prior to the start date of their academic program to begin their studies here.

An international student may attend Northeastern in a nonimmigrant status other than F-1 or J-1 only if U.S. Immigration regulations allow for study in the United States under that specific nonimmigrant visa classification. Some international students must apply and be approved for a change of status (e.g., from F-2 to F-1) before beginning their program at Northeastern. For information on nonimmigrant visa statutes other than F-1 and J-1 (including eligibility to work in the United States or participate in co-op and other forms of experiential learning required by your academic program), contact the OGS at ogs@northeastern.edu. Not all visa categories allow for internships, co-ops, international travel associated with an academic program, and/or other experiential learning opportunities. Note that some academic programs at Northeastern have experiential learning requirements (e.g., co-op or study abroad). Nonimmigrant visa statutes other than F-1/J-1 may not allow for those requirements to take place and, as such, may impede the successful completion of your program of study.

Requirements for Applicants Whose Primary Language Is Not English

Students whose native language is not English, regardless of their country of citizenship or residence, are required to submit official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the English Test of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Pearson Test of English (PTE). Applicants must present the required minimum passing scores for admission.

College, Major, and Length of Program Selection

Applicants to Northeastern University apply to one of our seven undergraduate colleges or to the Explore Program for Undeclared Students.

We encourage students to select a major that reflects their current academic interests and aspirations; however, the Explore Program for Undeclared Students provides opportunities to explore our various disciplines and programs. Northeastern offers advisory programs for students interested in preprofessional programs, including medical, dental, law, and veterinary graduate school. Transfer students may not apply to the Explore Program for Undeclared Students.

Northeastern University offers a broad and deep curriculum that is flexible, and the academic calendar allows students to maximize experiential learning opportunities, including research, study abroad, and our signature co-op program. Students become architects of their own paths, charting their unique course that determines their time to degree. Students can build a program that is four years or five years and gain up to 18 months of full-time experiential learning opportunities. Freshmen can participate in NUterm in Summer I of their freshman year, taking  advantage of exciting and unique course offerings or regular classes during the May/June semester. Students are generally not required to make a decision about their time to degree until the end of the freshman year. By participating in NUterm, students take advantage of Northeastern’s signature flexibility, beginning their sophomore year with an additional half term completed. Some specific programs require more than five years to complete. In general, these have been structured so that students are considered to be undergraduates for their first five years and then transition to graduate status within the program. See the detailed curricula in this catalog for more information.

Students who begin in the January term might not follow the same curricula sequence as those who start in the fall. Their schedule of courses may be affected based upon the semester of matriculation. Summer courses may be required to help students complete their degree requirements in a reasonable amount of time.

Admission Requirements for the College of Arts, Media and Design

Guidelines for Portfolio Submission

All portfolios should be submitted electronically via SlideRoom. Hard-copy portfolios will not be accepted and cannot be reviewed. Only portfolios from applicants to the College of Arts, Media and Design are reviewed; there is no portfolio review process for other majors.

Studio Art

Applicants for the studio art major, a joint program of Northeastern University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, are required to submit a portfolio through SlideRoom. This portfolio requires a minimum of 15 individual images of original artwork. The portfolio may include work in a variety of media; no particular subject matter or style is required. Rather, students should select work that best shows their personal style, creativity, and commitment to innovation. Check the Department of Art + Design website for more information.

Music Composition and Technology

For candidates applying for admission into the music composition and technology concentration, a portfolio submitted through SlideRoom is required. The portfolio must include:

  • Three representative examples of your creative work in a form that best represents the project, including lead sheets of original songs or printed scores of original compositions or arrangements in digital format. Audio recordings of compositions are highly recommended. Video recordings of live performances of your music are also acceptable.
  • A short statement explaining your involvement in the creation of the work. The statement should note whether you are the sole creator or a collaborator; the composer, arranger, or remixer; and whether you are performing the work on the recording(s).
  • A separate, one-page statement of your musical background, influences, and goals.

Should music composition and technology faculty determine that they would like additional information, they may arrange an interview with the applicant. Visit the music composition and technology website for more information.

Music Performance

Once enrolled, students in any music concentration may also audition to pursue a minor in musical performance. This program is highly competitive and therefore requires evaluation by the Department of Music. To schedule an audition contact Professor Won Hee An, program director for music performance, via email at w.an@northeastern.edu. Auditions are typically scheduled during a student’s first semester at Northeastern. For specific questions regarding the program or audition requirements, contact Professor An.

International high school students will need all of the high school required materials plus the following:

Standardized Tests

Standardized Testing Policy – Students Studying Outside the U.S: For students applying from secondary schools located outside of the U.S., the SAT and ACT are not required. However, for applicants interested in presenting the most competitive application, Northeastern University strongly encourages applicants to submit one of the following: AP exam results, a full IB diploma, three higher level IB exam scores, or the results from nationally or regionally accredited exams that signify completion of secondary education, are required for entry into universities in their home country and are administered by an independent organization other than the school. National and regional exams that would further strengthen an application are listed here. If an exam is not listed, please contact internationaladmissions@neu.edu.

Standardized Testing Policy – Students Studying Inside the U.S., U.S. Territories, and DOD Schools: Applicants attending/graduating from a Department of Defense school located outside of the United States and international students (non-US citizens/non-US permanent residents) studying/graduating from schools in the United States and U.S. territories are excluded from this policy and are required to submit SAT or ACT (with writing) score results. Northeastern’s SAT CEEB code is 3667 and ACT College Code is 1880.

English Language Proficiency

If your first language and/or language spoken at home is not English, you will be required to demonstrate English language proficiency, by submitting valid results directly from the testing agency for one of the following exams:

  • TOEFL iBT (Composite 92+; Reading, Writing, and Listening subscores 22+; and, Speaking 24+)
  • IELTS Academic (6.5 Overall Band Score, with no subscore band below 6.0)
  • PTE Academic (62+)
  • C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency (Cambridge English Scale 176+)

Northeastern’s English Proficiency Requirement may be waived at the discretion of the Admissions Committee if you will have spent at least 4 academic years studying at institutions (high schools, colleges and universities) where English was the primary language of instruction, and was studied at an academic level as opposed to being studied as a second or additional language.

Highly motivated international students looking to improve English skills before beginning an undergraduate program at Northeastern may directly apply or considered by Undergraduate Admissions for the American Classroom Program, in Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies.

Northeastern University expects all applicants to submit an application (essays, transcripts, test scores, etc.) that is in its entirely their own work. No part of the application can have been completed partially or completely, or significantly enhanced partially or completely, by persons (including paid agents, admissions support agencies or personnel) other than the student.

The use of such services violates Northeastern University policy, and may lead to the rejection of application materials, the revocation of an admissions offer, cancellation of admission, or involuntary withdrawal from the university.

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