Northeastern University Guide

The Ivy Scholars guide to Northeastern University’s culture, admissions, and other essential information for prospective students and their families.

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Mascot: Paws the Husky

Type: Private Research Institution

Population: 27,400 (18,400 undergrads)

Jump to Section:

About Northeastern

Founded in collaboration with the YMCA, Northeastern has become a well regarded research school. Known especially for its co-op program, where students learn experientially and on the job with partners around the globe. While the school’s rapid rise through the rankings has caused concern for some, the school is proud of its academic traditions and focus on research and student experience.

Northeastern Statistics

Year Founded: 1898

4 Year Graduation Rate: 19%

Gender Distribution: 51% Female, 49% Male

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Residency: 25% in state, 42% out of state, 33% international

Location Type: Urban

Schedule System: Semesters

Student/Faculty Ratio: 14:1

Average Class Size: 20

Demographics: 45% Caucasian, 30% Other/unknown, 13% Asian, 8% Hispanic, 4% Black

Need assistance with the college admissions process?

National Rankings

US News Rankings:

  • #1 Co-ops/Internships
  • #9 Most Innovative Schools
  • #16 Study Abroad
  • #40 National Universities
  • #40 Best Undergraduate Teaching
  • #46 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs

Independent Rankings:

  • #5 Best Colleges for Criminal Justice per Niche
  • #7 Best Schools for Internships per The Princeton Review
  • #14 Best College for Nursing per Niche
  • #19 Best Colleges for Business per Niche
  • #27 Best Colleges for Engineering per Niche
  • #93 National Universities per The Times of Higher Education
  • #96 Research Universities per Forbes

Northeastern Admissions Information

Application Deadlines:

  • Early Decision I: November 1st
  • Early Decision II: January 1st
  • Early Action: November 1st
  • Regular Decision: January 1st
  • Transfer Deadline: April 1st

Notification Dates:

  • Early Decision I: December 15th
  • Early Decision II: January 15th
  • Early Action: February 1st
  • Regular Decision: April 1st

Acceptance Rates:

  • ED I: 38%
  • ED II: 27%
  • EA: 17%
  • RD: 17% 
  • Transfer: 31%

Average Applicant Pool: 62,200

Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 11,100

Average Number Enrolled: 2,000

Application Systems: Common App, Coalition App

Average GPA: 4.04 weighted

SAT Scores: 25th% – 1390, 75th% – 1540

ACT Scores: 25th% – 32, 75th% – 35

*Test mandatory. Writing sections are not required.

Demonstrated Interest:

Northeastern does consider demonstrated interest.

How to Demonstrate Interest

Recommendation Letter Policies:

One letter from a counselor and one letter from a teacher are required.

Northeastern Essay Prompts:

  • Common App personal statement (650 words)

Northeastern Essay Writing Tips

Special Notes:

Studio Art majors are required to submit a portfolio, and all students applying to the School of Art and Design are encouraged to submit a portfolio.


  • Applicants must use either the Common or Coalition App.
  • One evaluation/letter of recommendation from a professor, advisor, or employer is required.
  • Standardized testing is required for most transfer applicants. This is waived if the applicant has done more than 1 year of undergraduate coursework, or who graduated from high school more than 5 years ago.
  • Transfer Credit guidelines.
  • On-campus housing is not required or guaranteed for transfer students.

Northeastern Admission Strategy

Admissions Criteria:

Northeastern is looking for students who are academically prepared for college, and who have demonstrated this through their GPA, course rigor, and standardized test scores. These are the most important factors for admission to Northeastern. 

Other important factors include the essay, recommendations, extracurriculars, and talent. More than numbers alone determine admissions, and Northeastern wants an interesting and diverse student body. 

Factors which are considered in admission are demonstrated interest, first-generation status, geographic origin, and race/ethnicity.

Recruited athletes do receive an advantage in the admissions process, though they are still expected to have strong academic preparation.

What is Northeastern Looking For?

Northeastern is looking to improve its ranking in the US News annual college list. They are not the only school to try to game the system, but they have done it more successfully than any other. Much of what they are looking for in college applicants reflects this desire to rise in the rankings. 

Most important are grades, course rigor, and standardized test scores. These are important for two reasons; the first is that average standardized test scores have a direct impact on the rankings, so Northeastern tries to attract the highest scoring students they can. The other factor is graduation and retention rates: Northeastern wants to ensure that the students it admits are ready for the college experience, and to that end uses their GPA, course rigor, and standardized test scores to judge their level of preparation. 

Beyond metrics alone, Northeastern is trying to build a student body of interesting and talented individuals. They are looking for students with clearly demonstrated passions and interests, both academic and otherwise. The student’s extracurriculars and essay are how they look for insight into these. They, like all other elite schools, prefer students who have specialized; focusing on one or two activities or interests. 

Northeastern has begun a new diversity initiative, and is looking to increase its recruitment and enrollment of under-represented and minority students on campus. They will thus be actively working to consider such applicants for admissions, although they will not want to compromise their academic standards to do so.

Finally, Northeastern wants to increase its yield, or the number of admitted students who attend, and thus looks to student’s demonstrated interest.

Northeastern Strategy:

The most important consideration when applying to Northeastern is academic readiness, as represented by GPA, test scores, and course rigor. You should be taking the most challenging courses offered by your school that you can succeed in. Further, you want your standardized test scores to be as high as possible; if they are not at the 50th percentile, consider studying and retesting. As Northeastern has been consistently trying to raise their average, having scores over this mark is even better, although not strictly necessary.

As Northeastern is trying to increase its yield, demonstrating interest and applying Early Decision are good ways to show the school that you are interested. Applying ED is especially helpful if Northeastern is your top choice, as it doubles your chances of admission compared to Regular Decision. Applying Early Decision II is a good idea if you aren’t ready for the first round of ED, or if you want more time to raise your test scores.

Unlike many top schools, Northeastern does not consider legacy status. This is a small but helpful thing, as legacy admits drive up the competition for non-legacy students, and are often admitted at twice the average rate. 

Finally, you should clearly demonstrate your passions and interests through your extracurriculars and personal statement. As Northeastern does not have supplemental questions, there is less room to expound upon what your passions are and what makes you unique. This increases the importance of the personal statement, as it is the only piece of writing admissions will have to make a decision with.

Northeastern Academics


Core Requirements:

  • Northeastern has comprehensive core requirements called NUPath. Students must take at least 2 courses in each of the following competencies, but each course may count for up to 2 competencies. Major courses and AP credit may also count towards this credit. The competencies are: Natural and Designed World, Creative Expression and Innovation, Interpreting Culture, Formal and Quantitative Reasoning, Societies and Institutions, Analyzing and Using Data, Differences and Diversity, Ethical Reasoning
  • Comprehensive Information

Courses of Study: 

AP Credit Policies:

Special Programs

Honors Programs:

  • The Honors Program offers enhanced opportunities for experiential learning, research, and networking. They have their own housing, faculty advisors, and events.
  • Academic Honors (based on cumulative GPA)
  • Academic Honors Societies These offer an involved group of similarly focused scholars.

Research Availability:

Study Abroad: 

Business Options: 

  • The School of business offers multiple majors, some of which focus on business alone, while others explore it in conjunction with another field.
  • There are also joint Masters programs, which allow students to earn an MS in only a year. 
  • The school runs several centers for research in business as well.
  • There is an Engineering and Business program run through the College of Engineering.

Pre-Med Options:

  • There is no dedicated pre-med major, but there is an advising program for students interested in pursuing careers in health. This includes an overview of required coursework for students interested in advanced degrees.

The health sciences major serves as a catch-all for students interested in pursuing careers in medicine.

Pre-Law Options:

Computer Science Options: 

Additional Specialty Programs: 

Programs for High Schoolers:

  • Pre-College Programs are experiential programs for talented high school students from around the country and around the globe.
  • Northeastern Accelerate offers half-day deep dives into specific topics and subjects virtually for high school students.
  • Young Scholars Program is open to rising Seniors, and offers future scientists and engineers from Massachusetts hands-on research experience.
  • Experiential Entrepreneurship is a residential summer program for talented high school students, and seeks to act as an incubator for future entrepreneurs.

Student Life at Northeastern

School Motto:  Light, Truth, Courage

Mission and Values:

Residential Housing System:

Freshmen are divided into groups, called living learning communities, based on shared academic or social interests. These can fill floors or even buildings of residence halls. The school runs traditional, suite, and apartment style residence halls. Honors students are housed together. All first and second year students are required to live on campus, upperclassmen may continue to live on campus or move off.

Housing Statistics:

  • 85% of Freshmen live on campus
  • 49% of undergrads live on-campus at any given time

Campus & Surrounding Area:  



  • Fall FestStudents are welcomed back to campus every Fall by a weekend of games, activities, and free food.
  • Husky HuntTeams of students compete in this 24 hour long scavenger hunt and series of puzzles that leads them around Boston.
  • The Beanpot – An annual hockey tournament held between Northeastern, Harvard, Boston College, and Boston University, granting the winner a year’s worth of bragging rights over their cross-town rivals.
  • SpringfestA weeklong celebration held on campus, featuring games, guest lectures, food, and music, capping off with a major concert.

Student-Run Organizations: 


Greek Life: 

  • 11% of students are members of Greek life, including social, service, and academic organizations.


  • There are frat or apartment parties most weekends.
  • There is a vibrant nightlife in the neighborhood, not to mention the city of Boston itself.
  • Ranked the #7 top party school in Massachusetts per Niche.

Financial Information

Yearly Cost of Attendance:

  • Total: $72,932
  • Tuition: $54,360
  • Fees: $1,092
  • Room & Board: $17,480

Financial Aid:

75% of students receive some form of financial aid. Northeastern commits to meeting every student’s demonstrated need, and will maintain that amount for 8 semesters of attendance. Aid packages will be reevaluated if tuition increases or if your family’s finances change. Students are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year to be eligible for aid.

Additional Financial Aid & Student Loan Information


There are a number of merit-based scholarships which are also available. These do not require FAFSA to be filled out to qualify for, all students are automatically considered. Some programs, such as the Torch Scholars, have additional requirements to be eligible.

Fun Facts

  • The first baseball World Series was held at Huntington Avenue Grounds, which is now part of their campus.
  • The original name of the school was “The Evening Institute for Younger Men.”
  • The Matthews Arena on campus is the world’s oldest surviving indoor ice hockey arena.
  • Northeastern outright purchased a small private college in London in 2018 in order to set up a branch campus there.
  • Twitter’s co-founder Biz Stone attended Northeastern to study art, but dropped out.
  • Napster was started by Shawn Fanning while he was a student at Northeastern.
Wendy Y.
Below is my son's review. He was accepted to his dream Ivy League school!

From an admitted student's perspective, I am incredibly grateful to have met Sasha - he has been instrumental in helping me achieve my educational dreams (Ivy League), all while being an absolute joy (he's a walking encyclopedia, only funnier!) to work with.

Many people are dissuaded from seeking a college counselor because they think they can get into their desired college(s) either way. Honestly, going that route is a bit short-sighted and can jeopardize your odds of acceptances after years of hard work. The sad truth is, the American education system (even if you attend a fancy private school and ESPECIALLY if you go to a public school) doesn't really tell students how to write a compelling and authentic application. Going into the admissions process alone, without speaking with an advisor, is like going to court without a lawyer - you put yourself at a significant disadvantage because you don't have all the facts in front of you, or the help you need to negotiate the system.

That said, you need a good lawyer just like you need a good college counselor. And that's where Sasha distinguishes himself from the crowd of people claiming they'll get you into Harvard. I came to Sasha worried about and frankly dumbfounded by the college admissions process. I was unsure what to write about and how to go about drafting the essay that perfectly captured my passion, interests, and self. And I was highly skeptical that anyone could really help me. But, damn, did Sasha prove me wrong. From the beginning, Sasha amazed me with his understanding of the process, and ability to lend clarity and direction to me when I desperate needed it. After interviewing me about my background, experiences, activities, outlook, and vision, he helped me see qualities about myself I had not previously considered 'unique' or 'stand-out.' This process of understanding myself was so incredibly important in laying the groundwork for the essays I eventually wrote, and I'm certain I would've drafted boring, inauthentic essays without it.

Looking back, Sasha's talent is that he can see where your strengths lie, even when you don't see them. The truth is, although we don't always realize it, everyone has a unique story to tell. Sasha helped me see mine, and with his big-picture insight I was able to write the application that truly encapsulated my life and vision. He inspired me to dig deeper and write better, challenging me to revise and revise until my essays were the most passionate and authentic work I had ever written. As clichéd as that sounds, that's really what universities are looking for. In retrospect, it makes sense - in the real world passionate (not simply intelligent) individuals are the ones who make a difference in the world, and those are the individuals colleges would like to have associated with their brand.

In the end, I was accepted to the college of my dreams, a feat I could not have achieved without the direction Sasha lent to me. Essays (and the personal narrative you develop through your application) matter so much, and can literally make or break your application. I have seen so many of my 'qualified' friends receive rejections because they wrote contrived essays that didn't truly represent who they were; conversely, I have also seen so many friends with shorter resumes accepted because they were able to articulate their story in a genuinely passionate and authentic way - I fall into the latter category.

As a former admissions officer at Johns Hopkins, Sasha knows what types of essays jibe well with universities, an invaluable asset to have in the admissions process. He is responsive, flexible, creative, positive, and witty. For anyone who is serious about going into the college admissions process informed and prepared, I highly recommend Sasha.
Arda E.
I used Ivy Scholars to mainly help me with college applications. Within weeks of using this service, Sasha was able to simplify the already complex process. When it came to writing the Common App essay, Sasha didn’t just help with grammar and syntax, he brought my essays to life. Sasha also worked tirelessly to help solidify my extracurricular activities, including research and internship opportunities. Without his help, I would have never had an impressive resume.

Sasha is not only an extremely knowledgeable tutor, but also a genuine brother figure. His guidance, throughout my last two years of high school, was everything I needed to get me an acceptance letter from my dream schools (UC Berkeley, Tufts, Emory).

When it came to testing, Ivy Scholars worked like a charm. Sasha offered a very comprehensive plan when it came to completely acing my standardized tests. Without his test taking strategies I would have never gotten straight 5s on my AP tests and a 35 on the ACT.

Working with Sasha, I didn’t just become a good student, I became a genuine scholar.
Samson S.
We worked with Ivy Scholars during my son's senior year. I was concerned that we may be too late to take advantage of college advising but the Ivy Scholars team quickly and confidently directed us through the steps to ensure no deadlines were missed. Sasha's knowledge about schools, what they looked for in candidates, and how to maneuver the application process was invaluable. Mateo and Ryan worked with my son to help him create an essay that would get noticed and I am so appreciative he had their guidance.

Prior to securing Ivy Scholars, we tried using a less-expensive online service which was a terrible experience. As a parent, Ivy Scholars brought peace of mind to an area that was frankly overwhelming. This service was invaluable in the knowledge that we gained throughout the process. He has also met with my freshman daughter to provide guidance for her high school courses, career paths, extracurricular activities, and more.

Prior to signing with Ivy Scholars, I tried a less expensive online service and was very disappointed.

As a result of our work with Ivy Scholars, I am pleased to say that my son will be attending Stern Business School at New York University this fall! I highly recommend Ivy Scholars. Highly recommend!