Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find answers to common questions that we receive about the admissions process. If your question is not answered below, please feel free to contact us.

You may also be interested in general FAQs about the program itself.

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Application Process

When does the application open?

The application typically opens September 1 of the year prior to the start of the program.

When is the application deadline?

Recommended submission deadline: December 15
Final deadline: March 15

For the best chance of admission, ALL application materials should be submitted before the recommended submission deadline. We will review all applications received before the recommended deadline and begin sending out admissions decisions within 6-8 weeks. Applications received between the recommended deadline and the final deadline may not receive full consideration if the program is full.

Can I apply for spring enrollment in MSAI?

Currently, we only accept fall enrollment in each academic year. Our curriculum was created as an intensive, 15-month time frame, which allows for collaboration between members of the cohort. We do not accept winter, spring or summer applications at this time.

Does every MSAI applicant have an admissions interview?

Not all MSAI applicants will be invited to interview. Only applicants offered final admission consideration will be contacted for an admissions interview. International applicants are interviewed via Skype.

Does MSAI offer deferment or conditional enrollment?

MSAI does not offer formal deferment or conditional enrollment.

Is admission into MSAI rolling?

No. Applications for admission are reviewed following each deadline. Admission decisions will be made available approximately 6 to 8 weeks following the deadline date.

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Application Materials

Is the GRE or GMAT required to apply to the MSAI program?

We do not require GRE scores, however we do recommend that applicants provide them. Applicants can submit an unofficial GRE score report during the application process; these score reports may be uploaded directly to the online application system. We will accept downloaded or scanned PDF copies or a screenshot of your unofficial score report. You may access your unofficial GRE score report from your account on the ETS website. The program will not accept GMAT, LSAT, MCAT or any other standardized test score in place of the GRE.

I took the GRE a while ago. Can i still use it to apply?

Official test scores must be taken no more than five years before the intended quarter of entry and must come directly from ETS. During the application process you will be asked to scan a copy of your score report. This uploaded version is not considered "official" and will only be used for preliminary review purposes. Should you gain admission, you will be required to submit your official scores from ETS.

What is the average GRE score and GPA for students admitted to MSAI?

Average scores for the current MSAI cohort is 319 and 3.6 (out of 4.0)

What is the ETS code for the GRE?

If you have already submitted your GRE score via the online application system, you do not need to send an official score report during the application process. However, if you choose to send official scores as well, please use the ETS code 2601 for the GRE. If you submit your score using the "Northwestern University" code, we will not receive your score at our office.

Do I need to provide an official transcript?

Northwestern applicants are required to upload transcripts (scanned copies will be sufficient) for each university they have attended. Admitted students who plan to matriculate will be asked to provide official, university-sealed transcripts. Please do not send official transcripts to the program office ahead of learning your admission decision.

If I am admitted, will I need to pay a deposit to secure my seat in the program?

Yes. There will be a $750 deposit required to confirm your intent to enroll. The deposit will be applied towards your first tuition bill. Instructions to make the deposit will be included in your admission materials.

How can I prepare for the GRE?

To help you prepare, you may access ETS General Test Preparation Materials here.

When should I send official documents such as transcripts and test scores?

Official documents should only be provided to the MSAI program following an offer of admission. During the application process, for review purposes only, unofficial documents are scanned and uploaded to the applicant's online form.

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Student Background

Can I apply to the MSAI program if I don’t have a degree in Computer Science?

The academic requirement (CS degree or related) is meant to be a guideline. Someone who has been working as a developer for a substantial amount of time will probably have those skills as well. We consider applicants from a wide range of academic disciplines and interests; applicants from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Please note that candidates are expected to have a strong quantitative and CS background before entering the program.

I work full time. Is there a part-time or online option available?

The MSAI program is designed as a rigorous full-time, on-campus program that can only be completed in person. Additionally, classes are held during the day and not offered in the evening.

What do I need to know/what skills should I have to be successful in the program if admitted?

Students should already know how to program and have working knowledge of the complexity associated with different algorithmic approaches.  Programming skills are absolutely essential. Successful applicants will either possess programming experience at the time of applying (two years as developers), or be actively engaged in learning to program (e.g., enrolled in a Udacity course in full stack programming). Additionally, a solid understanding of complexity is important.

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International Candidates

Are TOEFL/IELTS scores required upon applying to MSAI?

Applicants to the MSAI program whose primary language is not English must demonstrate language proficiency in one of the following three ways:

First, provide either a TOEFL or IELTS score. The test must be taken no more than two years before intended enrollment. For the TOEFL, applicants must score 600 or higher on the paper based test, or 100 or higher on the Internet based test. The MSAI program will accept the TOEFL "MyBest Scores". Our institutional code for the TOEFL is C038. For the IELTS exam, applicants must receive a score of 7.0 or higher. Do not send official English proficiency test scores before receiving an admission decision.

Second, provide transcripts verifying an undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year institution or equivalent, where the language of instruction is English.

Third, provide transcripts verifying a graduate degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English.

Can international students enroll in the MSAI program?

Yes. International students admitted into the MSAI program will receive F-1 visa sponsorship through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to attend Northwestern University.

I am an international student who attended a 3- year university. Will my 3-year undergraduate degree be accepted?

Yes. We understand that many international universities operate on a 3-year educational timeline and we will accept 3-year bachelor’s degree from any accredited institution.

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Scholarships and Funding

Is there any funding offered through the program?

The MSAI program does not directly provide any fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships or scholarships. Students who enroll in the MSAI program will be eligible for financial aid (generally student loans) through the Evanston Office of Graduate Financial Aid. Questions regarding financial aid for the MSAI program should be directed to the Evanston Office of Graduate Financial Aid at More information can also be found on their website:

Are students able to get assistantships through the MSAI program?

Students are able to investigate assistantship opportunities across campus, however, this is not a feature of the MSAI program. Students will need to identify campus opportunities on their own.

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Additional Questions

Is MSAI considered a STEM program?

MSAI is part of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and is therefore considered a STEM program. MSAI does qualify international students for OPT extension.

I have more questions about MSAI or about my application. Whom do I contact?

Prospective students are invited to email MSAI with questions. You may also call us during our office hours (Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. CT) at 847-491-7399.

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