Our courses offer the mathematical background needed for research and the areas of application to which this research is applied.Our courses offer the mathematical background needed for research and the areas of application to which this research is applied.

Graduate Study
Master's Degree

Admission to the master of science program in engineering sciences and applied mathematics is competitive. Not all of our applicants have a math undergraduate degree; many have degrees in science, engineering, or other fields prior to arriving at Northwestern.

Learn more about admissions process for the McCormick School of Engineering

Start the Online Application

Please note: Students are admitted beginning in fall quarter only. The application deadline for fall quarter admission is June 1 prior to planned entry. The application and all materials (including letters of recommendation, transcripts, scores, etc.) must be submitted by this date. Preferential consideration will be given to applications received prior to April 15.

Admissions Requirements

Successful applicants typically have good grades in relevant mathematics courses and strong letters of recommendation.

Relevant courses that we look for are:

  • Advanced calculus
  • Real analysis
  • Differential equations
  • Linear algebra
  • Complex analysis
  • Numerical methods or their equivalent

Not all students admitted will have all these courses on their transcript. Sometimes the content is delivered in a course that is not officially listed as a mathematics course, neither of which will preclude an offer of admission. Undergraduate research experience in the topics above is a plus, but is not required.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Application Process

Can I apply electronically?

You must apply electronically. There is no paper application. Complete the online application here. Letters of recommendation and transcripts from all schools attended after you complete high school must be submitted online.

Can you waive the application fee?

We cannot waive the application fee. The Graduate School offers a small number of fee waivers to qualified applicants. For more information, see The Graduate School website.

Do I need to submit a financial statement?

A financial statement is not necessary for the application process.

Does ESAM require a writing sample or a resume to be sent as part of the graduate application?

The department does not require a writing sample separate from the Statement of Purpose. Submission of a resume or CV is optional. 

Does an earlier application increase my chances of admission? 

All applications are evaluated the same way, as long as they reach us before the deadline.

What if I forget my PIN/password for the online application system?

Return to The Graduate School's online application website. Click on the search button in the User Login section. Still having problems? Contact The Graduate School.

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Deciding between a Master's Degree and a PhD

I would like to eventually get a PhD, but I might want to get a master's degree first. Should I apply to the MS program or the PhD program?

In this situation you should indicate your preference for the PhD program. The MS program is primarily targeted for students who are interested only in that degree. An MS degree is not required for admission to the PhD program, and students who successfully complete the first year of the PhD program are awarded an MS degree upon request.

Can I continue on to the PhD Program after completing an MS degree?

Completion of the MS degree does not guarantee a position in the PhD program. However, students who successfully complete the MS degree may apply to continue in the PhD program at the end of their first year provided their academic record is acceptable and space is available in the PhD program. In that case, the student continues by joining the second year of the PhD program with his or her peers. Students interested in this path should consult with their course adviser to choose appropriate coursework.

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Transferring from Another Department

Does the department accept transfer students from other departments?

We strongly encourage students to finish their degrees from the department in which they originally enrolled. We generally do not accept students from other programs.

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Recommendation Letters

How many letters of recommendation should I submit?

The minimum is two, but you may submit three if you wish.

Can I use paper letters of recommendation?

No. The Graduate School's policy is to only accept letters of recommendation that are submitted electronically.

Is there a particular format for recommendation letters?

There is no particular format, and there is no form that needs to be filled out.

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TOEFL Scores and Codes

Do I need to take the TOEFL?

All international students whose degrees are not from institutions where the majority of instruction is in English must take the TOEFL or IELTS exam.

I plan to take the TOEFL in late November so the score will only be available late December. May I apply before I have my official TOEFL score?

You may apply early. We will not render a decision until the file is complete. This includes having an official TOEFL score.

How do I know if my TOEFL scores have expired?

TOEFL must be taken no more than two years before the intended quarter of entry. However, your application will not be disqualified if your scores are a few months out of date.

Are my TOEFL/GPA scores sufficient? What are the minimum scores?

An applicant is evaluated on the basis of the total academic performance, which includes coursework, test scores, research experience, and evaluation by faculty members or applicant’s supervisors. The only minimum we set is for the TOEFL on which an international applicant must score 550 or higher on the paper-based test, 213 or higher on the computer-based test, and 90 or higher on the Internet-based test. On the IELTS, an applicant must score 7.0 or higher. 

Can I upload unofficial copies of GRE/TOEFL before the official copies are ready?

Yes, you are encouraged to upload copies of your GRE/TOEFL score reports along with your application. However, an official decision will not be made until the official copies are received.

I requested that ETS send my scores to a department at Northwestern other than applied mathematics. Should I ask them to send the scores again?

In most cases we will be able to locate your scores from the other department, and it is not necessary to resend them.

What are the codes for the submission of TOEFL scores?

Northwestern University's school code for TOEFL is 1565. If you are taking the TOEFL, be sure to include this number on your test form. No specific department code is necessary for GRE scores.

Additionally, you should reference department code 01 when submitting TOEFL scores. IBT test takers should, when prompted, request that their scores be sent to the graduate office (versus undergraduate) 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.

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Do I need to submit high school transcripts?


My university doesn’t offer electronic copies of official transcripts. May I submit a copy of my transcript?

Unofficial copies of transcripts are acceptable for the application. To be considered, all documents not in English must be accompanied by official English translations. All documents must be scanned and uploaded via the online application system.

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For More Information

For more information, please visit The Graduate School frequently asked questions page.