Academics / Graduate StudyAdmissions Overview
To maintain a proper balance between department resources and the size of the graduate student population, the department must limit offers of admission to the most qualified applicants. Thus, the admission process is highly selective and competitive.
Initial evaluations of each application are performed by faculty members whose research interests fall in the area of specialization specified by the applicant. A typical applicant is expected to have a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, or a related discipline from a recognized institution. Highly qualified candidates with other academic backgrounds may also be considered.
The specific undergraduate preparation required for graduate study depends on the program and the area of specialization. An applicant who has insufficient undergraduate preparation in any particular area but is well-qualified in every other respect may be required to take certain undergraduate courses as soon as possible after enrolling at Northwestern. That student would be informed of such a requirement at the time of admission.
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- Application Deadlines and Important Dates
- Tips (Read Before You Begin Your Application)
- Who Should Not Apply
- When to Apply
- TOEFL Requirements
- More Information
Applications for the 2016-2017 academic year became available on September 2, 2016 on the Apply Yourself application website.
The deadline for PhD applicants is December 15, 2016 (for Fall 2017). Most of the decisions are typically finalized by the end of March, but some decisions may be made as late as April 15.
The deadline for MS applicants for Fall 2017 is April 20, 2017. The absolute deadlines regarding certain admissions-related actions by TGS are available here.
A current Northwestern University EECS MS student should not apply to our PhD program. For such a student, continuation to the PhD in our department is only by recommendation and invitation of the student's EECS faculty adviser. If such a recommendation and invitation is made, the faculty adviser will take care of all of the needed paperwork. The student must not submit a completely new application for admission to TGS.
MS and PhD applicants should apply to begin only in the fall quarter. Note that we only allow for fall admits to both programs. Winter and spring quarter admission requests by MS and PhD applicants will be automatically denied, in general.
The only mechanism for winter or spring quarter PhD admission involves the intervention of one of our faculty, who must agree to support the student in question as a research assistant for the remainder of the academic year. To explore this possibility, an applicant should contact individual professors listed in th department's faculty directory.
You can view a great deal of general information about requirements and policies on The Graduate School website. For more info, please contact the EECS department graduate office.
The required minimum scores for PhD students: 90 IBT (Internet-based test), 233 CBT (computer-based test), and 577 PBT (paper-based test).
The required minimum scores for MS students: 80 IBT, 213 CBT, and 550 PBT.
We understand that proceeding with the application process for graduate studies is not an easy decision or something that should be considered lightly. To help you in making up your mind and give you some hints regarding the overall evaluation criteria, we provide a discussion of some of the relevant issues below.
We do receive applications with transcripts using different GPA scales (10.0; 100%; etc.) and we apply the adjusted criteria to such scales. Hence, applicants do not need to provide any conversions and should leave their GPA's in your institutions standard scale. As another specific example, many of the universities from India have a "class-based" evaluation scheme, and we note that we will always give priority to "First Class with Distinction" applicants. The application process does allow you to write the "self-reported" GPA on the scale of 4.0, however, we will always use the transcripts during evaluation process.
Standardized test scores
There is no hard requirement for minimum GRE scores however, this metric is used by faculty in conjunction with other performance metrics to assess each applicant’s potential and academic strength. Please keep in mind however that you will still need to meet the minimum requirements for English proficiency as stated above.
Primarily for PhD applicants, an EECS faculty interested in advising may conduct separate interviews for further informal assessment of applicants.
Statement of purpose
This part of the overall application carries an extremely important weight and the ones that are written in a clear and focused manner will be favored. Namely, upon reading it, an evaluator/faculty should get a crisp idea as to:
- Why is it that you would like to work in a particular major/specialization/topic and with a particular faculty as your adviser (for MS applicants this could be a project or thesis adviser)?
- Why is it that a particular faculty should be interested in having you as an advisee?
In each case, a successful applicant will provide a good balance between background, vision, and desiderata.
Example: simply saying that you like Northwestern or you have a high esteem for the faculty in the EECS, aside from being flattering, is not a statement that, in itself, will "sell well.”
Lastly, while this may not always be possible, it will be helpful if at least some (parts) of the recommendation letters can backup the claims made in the statement of purpose.
DECLARING PREFERENCES FOR AREAS OF STUDY IN RESEARCH & ADVISING
In the online application system each applicant will be given the option to choose in order of preference among different Programs of Study in our department. Faculty examine applications in their respective areas, therefore, every applicant should carefully examine every faculty members research interests in our website. Furthermore, applicants will be asked to provide up to two names of specific faculty members, whom they would like to study under. Highly recommended and useful for identifying candidates to consider.
Letters of Recommendation
A minimum of two letters is required, but three is highly recommended. The Recommendation File Service (RFS) acts as an intermediary in the process. It is a common expectation that students be willing to waive the right to view their letters without question. Waiving the right to view your letters means that they will only be available for review by the medical schools to which you apply. Admission committees prefer applicants waive their rights to view their letters because they recognize that recommenders tend to write more meaningful letters under these circumstances. Read More
We will value all your achievements (e.g. awards received on competitions) and experiences (e.g. research projects; leadership). However, the best place to put them in a coherent manner is your resume. Ideally, some of these items should also be properly linked with the statement of purpose document.