What MEM Applicants Want to Know

Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program compiled a list of answers to the most frequently asked questions prospective students are asking this application season.

The application deadline for fall 2021 enrollment in Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program is May 1. With that date approaching, the admissions team has heard a number of great questions from prospective students about the program and the application process. To assist those who are considering MEM and have yet to apply, the team answered five of the most commonly asked questions. 

For more information about MEM, or if you have additional questions, please email the program at mem@northwestern.edu.

What has changed about the program because of COVID-19?

We're excited to still be able to provide the same robust curriculum taught by our esteemed faculty that was offered prior to the pandemic. MEM is currently being taught remotely, so these classes have been adapted for the virtual setting, but the content itself has not changed. From an application standpoint, it is important to know that GRE and GMAT scores are currently waived for all Fall 2021 applicants. 

Can I apply to the program even if I don't have prior work experience?

Applicants are encouraged to apply regardless of how many years of work experience they have, although it is important to know that the curriculum was designed for students with prior work experience. If you feel like your background or internship experiences may show that you have knowledge relevant to the program, make sure to highlight that in your application, as the admissions committee will take into account all of your work experience, including internships, when evaluating your application. This is not meant to deter prospective students with limited work experience from applying, but instead to help you determine whether or not this program is right for you at this time.  

Can I specialize in a certain topic while in MEM?

MEM offers four different concentrations that students can opt to pursue, but it is not a requirement. Those concentrations are in managerial analytics, product management, project and process management, and healthcare systems. Each concentration has a variety of classes that count toward the concentration. To specialize in healthcare systems, students must take four classes; the other concentrations require three classes. A complete list of courses that count for each concentration can be found here

How do you explain the difference between a MEM degree and a MBA?

Both degrees can be profoundly impactful for graduates. What we've seen over the years is that students who come to MEM are focused on leveraging their background while continuing in the same field or at least in a STEM position. MEM is a more technologically focused program that prepares students to be more aligned with current business needs of individuals who can combine technical savvy with business acumen. Our faculty are either tech-oriented practitioners or in management positions, including CEOs and CFOs. The program is also shorter than a typical MBA. More information about the MEM vs. MBA conversation can be found here.

How can prospective students differentiate themselves during the application process?

Too many candidates simply rehash their history, which is usually captured in their resume and transcripts. In your personal statement, spend time on what really motivates you and what your aspirations are, specifically what problems you want to solve in the world and how you might go about doing it. You need to connect the dots between what you want to do and what is offered at Northwestern — like the Farley Center, Segal Design Center, and MEM courses.

Another way to differentiate yourself is with your reference letters. These letters should come from a variety of sources who know you well. Ideally, your references will be from senior levels of the organization you've worked at. Avoid peer references and limit academic references to only one of your reference letters.

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