The program is aimed at outstanding students who have already completed a bachelor of science in engineering or a related field.The program is aimed at outstanding students who have already completed a bachelor of science in engineering or a related field.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

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General Program Questions

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How many people are expected to be in the program?

We are planning on keeping the program size relatively small, around 15-20 students per year, to encourage collaboration among the students, and to increase the opportunities for students to work directly with faculty members.

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What is the difference between this master’s degree and ones in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science, and biomedical engineering?

The course requirements and offerings for the departmental master’s of science programs are generally more focused on their respective fields, while the Master of Science in Robotics curriculum spans all of the fields but is very robotics focused.

Additionally, the departmental programs generally offer several different MS degree options, depending on whether the student completes a thesis or not. The MSR program has no options of this type. Each student completes an in-depth, independent research project advised by a faculty member.

While there is no requirement of completing a thesis, students are expected to write a report and give a presentation covering their work. Additionally, each student will create an online project portfolio detailing the projects they worked on during the MSR program. This portfolio will cover the work done through independent research, as well as projects worked on in courses such as Embedded Systems in Robotics.

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Do I have to pay tuition over the summer if I participate in an internship during that time?

No, you do not. In some rare instances, companies require interns to receive academic credit for their work. If this is the case you may be responsible for the fees that are associated with enrolling in an internship course.

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What if I want to take extra classes beyond what is required?

Students will be allowed to take extra courses as long as approval is granted from both the MSR administration and the faculty advising either project courses and/or research. The student will be responsible for paying all extra tuition costs associated with the additional classes.

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Is the MSR program STEM-approved and does it qualify for a 24-month OPT extension?

Yes, MSR International F-1 visa students are potentially eligible for a 24-month F-1 STEM OPT Extension. Our CIP code is 15.0405 (Robotics Technology/Technician), which is officially listed on the STEM Designated Degree Program List. (The 24-month F-1 STEM Extension is beyond the initial 12 months of F-1 OPT.)

For eligibility and additional details on the OPT extension, please see the following link:

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If I want to pursue a Northwestern PhD after completing an MSR degree, what do I do and what benefits do I get?

You will need to follow all standard application instructions for your desired PhD program. For most departments, already having an MS degree will reduce the number of requirements required to obtain a PhD, and this includes an MSR degree. Some departments may allow classes taken in the MSR program to count for specific requirements in the PhD program. For specific questions regarding these requirements, consult the PhD program's administration.

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How accessible is Chicago?

Chicago has world-class architecture, museums, theater, music, food, sports, as well as many unique neighborhoods and miles of parks along lake Michigan. 

MSR students receive a U-Pass that enables unlimited travel on Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains and buses. Several train stations are close to campus. Students can also take free Campus Shuttles, including the Intercampus shuttle, which links the Evanston and downtown Chicago campuses. Many students bike around Evanston and Chicago and take advantage of biking resources.

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Admissions Questions

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Is there any funding offered through the program?

The MSR program does not directly provide any fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships or scholarships. Students who enroll in the MSR program will be eligible for financial aid (generally student loans) through Northwestern's Evanston Office of Graduate Financial Aid. Questions regarding financial aid for the MSR program should be directed to the Evanston Office of Graduate Financial Aid at

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Can I apply to the MSR program as well as a departmental MS or PhD program?

Yes, this is allowed. Since the MSR program is a McCormick graduate program, The Graduate School (TGS) rule prohibiting applying to more than one TGS program per year does not apply.

If you wish to apply to MS/PhD programs in electrical engineering and computer science, mechanical engineering, or biomedical engineering in addition to applying to the MSR program, you should apply to your desired departmental program following all of their instructions and meeting all of their deadlines. You should additionally fill out an application to the MSR program following the instructions on our admissions page. If you have any questions further questions, please contact

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When does the application open?

The application for the forthcoming academic year opens on September 15.

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When is the application deadline?

  • Recommended Submission Deadline - February 1st
  • Final Deadline for Receiving All Application Materials - 04/30 11:59pm

For the best chance of admission,  ALL application materials should be submitted before recommended submission deadline. We will review all applications received before the recommended deadline and begin sending out admissions decisions shortly thereafter. Admissions decisions will continue to be sent out through the end of May. Applications received between the recommended deadline and the final deadline may not receive full consideration if the program is full.

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How much is the application fee and where do I pay it?

There is no application fee for the MSR program.

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Can I begin the program in an academic term other than the fall quarter?

No, students are on a tight schedule, and the program is designed to run with all students moving through as a cohort. As a result, all MSR students begin the program in the fall quarter.

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