Tips For Applying to the Northwestern MSIT Program

Associate Director Abi Shay shares recommendations on how MSIT applicants can prepare themselves for the application process.

Every year, there are a series of questions that faculty and staff within Northwestern's Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program hear from prospective students. Routinely, many of the questions have to deal with the application process.

With that in mind, MSIT Associate Director Abi Shay answered five questions specifically about the application process.

How can applicants show they've read up on the MSIT program when they apply?

Abi ShayWe encourage applicants to review the MSIT website, program mission, curriculum offerings and faculty bios before applying. MSIT offers lots of information about the program on the website and applicants should spend some time reviewing it.

An applicant can then speak directly to specific aspects of the MSIT program that led them to apply when they write their personal statement. The admission committee values applicants who take the time to get to know the MSIT program and who reflect this in their applications. A familiarity with MSIT program offerings as well as a sense of how an applicant seeks to use the program in the future—this is what the admission committee wants to know!

What opportunities are there for applicants to interact with the MSIT students, faculty and alumni before they apply or after they submit an application?

If an applicant would like to connect with a current MSIT student or alum, all they need to do is email the program and we will help set this up. MSIT students and alums are eager to share their first-hand experiences and offer their individual perspectives on the MSIT program. Applicants are also encouraged to register to attend an in-person open house, during which they briefly attend current MSIT classes, mingle with current students, meet faculty and ask individual questions of the program staff. We also have online information sessions for those unable to come to campus and we recommend registering to attend these as well.

What additional information, if any, should international students know about applying to MSIT?

We value and welcome international students! International students seeking student visa sponsorship should apply to the full-time MSIT program. In fact, most full-time MSIT students are international students. The GRE or GMAT is required for all full-time MSIT students because MSIT full-time students take weekday classes in the ECE and CS departments of the McCormick School of Engineering, and these programs are highly selective and require a GRE.

Does MSIT weigh certain parts of the application more heavily than other parts, or is the application reviewed holistically?

Once the basic MSIT admission requirements are met, MSIT does review each application holistically. We seek students who have full-time work experience and who can bring that perspective into the classroom and are willing to share their knowledge with others in different areas of IT. We also want students who have previously worked on teams and who are eager to be challenged by classmates with different team and leadership experiences and perspectives.

What additional advice do you have for part-time applicants?

Part-time MSIT applicants who have not yet taken the GRE or can submit a copy of their undergraduate transcripts, resume and a short "why MSIT?" statement for a possible GRE requirement waiver. Some part-time MSIT applicants seeking a GRE waiver will be asked to join the MSIT director for a short math conversation before a GRE requirement waiver is granted, and others will have the GRE requirement waived based on the items submitted for review. If you are a part-time MSIT applicant and would like to submit materials for a possible GRE waiver review, please email them to me at