Application Process

The following information is from The Graduate School's web site.


  • Application Form
    • The Graduate School accepts online applications only.
  • Application Fee
    • The fee (subject to change) is $95 for both domestic and international applicants, payable by credit card. Payment of the application fee cannot be waived or deferred, and your application will not be processed until it is received.
  • Copies of official transcripts
    • Copies of official transcripts (bearing the registrar's signature and/or the institution's seal) from each post-secondary institution attended documenting all courses taken, whether or not within a degree program, grades received and degrees earned are to be uploaded to the on-line application.
  • Letters of Recommendation
    • Two to three letters of recommendation submitted online. The Graduate School has a specific recommendation form as part of the online application and no mailed recommendation letters will be accepted. 
  • Statement of Purpose
    • A one-page statement of purpose explaining your current goals, career plans, and reasons for selecting a major field of graduate study.
  • Test Scores
    • Official GRE scores and, for international applicants whose native language is not English, official scores for either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS exam. Official results must be sent directly to Northwestern by the Educational Testing Service, using the institutional code 1565 for both tests. There is no additional code for the department.

NOTE: Materials submitted in support of an application are not released for other purposes and cannot be returned to the applicant.

Online Application

The application form can be completed and submitted electronically to Northwestern once you have answered all the questions. You may require several sessions to complete this form. That is understandable and is allowed through our on-line application system.

Supplementary materials should be sent together by you to Northwestern in a single large Supplemental Information Packet well before the deadline. To ensure the full consideration of your application be sure to carefully follow the submission procedure detailed in the on-line application.


All applicants are required to pay an application fee. Applicants using the on-line application may pay the fee by credit card.

Your application will NOT be processed without payment of the fee. The fee cannot be waived or postponed, is not refundable and must accompany the supplementary materials.


Copies of official transcripts (bearing the registrar's signature and/or the institution's seal) from each post-secondary institution attended, including records from courses in any university-level institution attended abroad must be uploaded to the on-line application. This means that students working toward a master's degree at another institution should upload official transcripts of all undergraduate work as well as official transcripts of all graduate work completed at the time of submitting the on-line application. The transcripts should show all the courses you took, whether or not within a degree program, the grades received, and the degrees earned.

This information may be included on the final transcript or on the diploma. Final credentials must be submitted as soon as they become available. Registration may be delayed pending the receipt of official documents showing that the degree has been awarded and/or that all academic work undertaken before enrollment in The Graduate School has been completed in good standing and with acceptable grades.

Note to International Applicants

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. Do not submit secondary school records. The Graduate School and the Department of Psychology have no use for them, and such transcripts will be discarded.

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. These translations must bear an original ink signature and seal. Translations alone will not be accepted.

Letters of Recommendation

The Graduate School requires a minimum of two letters of recommendation from persons best able to assess your ability to do scholarly research required by graduate studies. While completing your online application, you will have the option to submit your recommendations online or via standard letter.  If you choose to have your letter submitted online, the online application software will email your recommenders regarding your request. Recommenders may then submit letters online using standard word processing software.

The Graduate School does not have a specific recommendation form. Recommendation letters submitted through mail should be printed on official letterhead and contain the original signatures of your recommenders.  Your name and the name of the program to which you are applying should be included in each letter.  Be sure to have your recommenders sign the envelope across the envelope seal.  Submit your unopened letter of recommendations along with your other supplemental materials directly to the program to which you are applying.

Statement of Purpose

Your statement of purpose is an important part of your application. Program admissions committees consider them carefully in ranking applicants. Be as specific as possible about your research interests and qualifications. If you have particular reasons for choosing Northwestern, be sure to indicate them. Indicate any awards or honors you may have earned, publications you may have authored, or any pertinent research or work experience. This should be a 5,000 character document or about one-page long.

The statement is submitted electronically as part of the on-line application.

Certifying English Proficiency

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 in one of the following three ways:

  1. 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 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. For the IELTS, you must receive a score of 7.0 or higher.
  2. Providing official transcripts verifying an undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year institution or equivalent, where the language of instruction is English.
  3. Providing official transcripts verifying a graduate degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English.

Scores must be no older than two years from intended quarter of entry. For example, to be considered valid for Fall 2010 admission, TOEFL scores must be no older than September 1, 2008. Personal copies are not considered official, nor are "attested" or notarized copies. However, it is to your advantage to include a paper copy of your score report in your Supplemental Information Packet. This helps us verify your scores quickly, should there be any delay in receiving the official report.

For more information about The Graduate School's English Proficiency requirement, click here.  The Graduate School's school code for TOEFL is 1565. Those taking the paper-based exam should select department code 01. When prompted, IBT test takers should request that their scores be sent to the graduate office and then select the program name that most closely matches their program of interest. If no match is available, the test taker may choose option 99.

Test of Spoken English (TSE)

International students wishing to be considered for appointment as a Teaching Assistant during any year of study in The Graduate School will also need to submit an official Test of Spoken English (TSE) with a score of 50 or higher.


To ensure that we have adequate time to assemble all items submitted on your behalf, you should submit the application and all supporting documents by 5pm CST on December 1st. As a general rule, the earlier you get your materials to the Northwestern, the better your chances for full consideration.  However, applications received more than one calendar year before the anticipated date of matriculation will be returned to the sender.  Please note that Northwestern does not accept responsibility for postal or courier service delays in receiving items sent by mail.

Additional Information for International Applicants: Visas

All application requirements discussed throughout this web site pertain to both US and international students. Items of special relevance to foreign applicants are given throughout. However, the following information, regarding visas, is applicable only to you.

In order to study in the United States, international students must obtain the appropriate visa. Students attending Northwestern University will receive one of the following types of visas.

  1. F-1 Student Visa, with an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility issued by Northwestern University.
  2. J-1 Exchange-Visitor (Student) Visa, with an IAP-66 Certificate of Eligibility issued by Northwestern University (or a sponsoring agency).

Before Northwestern can issue the I-20 or IAP-66, US immigration law requires that the university must have documented evidence that a student has adequate financial resources to cover the expenses of studying here. (Additional funds must be verified if a student plans to bring a spouse or children.) Northwestern asks for this information on the Request for Visa form, on the reverse side of the confirmation of intention to register form, which is sent to all admitted students in their admissions packets.

If you are being awarded any financial aid from Northwestern, we will use these figures, combined with the information you supply, in submitting your request for visa to the International Office here at Northwestern. Please note, however, that each student must assume responsibility for the amount needed beyond what Northwestern may award.

The I-20 or the IAP-66 is issued only after a student has submitted official TOEFL scores (when applicable), been offered admission, has returned the Confirmation of Intention to Register form and has provided verification of the necessary funds.