Northwestern University
Northwestern University seal.svg
Latin: Universitas Northwestern
MottoQuaecumque sunt vera (Latin)
Ὁ Λόγος πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας (Greek)
Motto in English
"Whatsoever things are true" (Philippians 4:8 AV)
"The word full of grace and truth" (Gospel of John 1:14)
TypePrivate research university
EstablishedJanuary 28, 1851; 172 years ago (January 28, 1851)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$16.1 billion (2022)[1]
PresidentMichael H. Schill
ProvostKathleen Hagerty
Academic staff
4,018 (Fall 2021)[2]
Students22,933 (Fall 2021)[3]
Undergraduates8,494 (Fall 2021)[3]
Postgraduates14,439 (Fall 2021)[3]
Location, ,
United States
CampusSmall City[4], 240 acres (97 ha)
Other campuses
NewspaperThe Daily Northwestern
ColorsNorthwestern Purple & white[5]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I FBSBig Ten
MascotWillie the Wildcat
Northwestern University wordmark.svg

Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston, Illinois. Established in 1851 to serve the former Northwest territory, it is the oldest chartered university in Illinois and is consistently cited as one of the top universities in the world. Admissions at Northwestern are considered to be highly selective.[6][7][8][9][10][11]

Chartered by the Illinois General Assembly in 1851, Northwestern was initially affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church but later became non-sectarian. By 1900, the university was the third largest university in the United States. Northwestern became a founding member of the Big Ten Conference in 1896 and joined the Association of American Universities as an early member in 1917.

The university is composed of eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, which include the Kellogg School of Management, the Pritzker School of Law, the Feinberg School of Medicine, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the Bienen School of Music, the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Medill School of Journalism, the School of Communication, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Education and Social Policy, and The Graduate School.[12] Northwestern's campus[13] lies along the shores of Lake Michigan in Evanston. The university's law, medical, and professional schools, along with Northwestern Memorial Hospital, are located in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood, while journalism graduate programs are located on the New Eastside. The university also maintains a campus in Education City, Qatar and academic centers in Miami, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.[14][15][16]

Northwestern has an endowment of $16.1 billion, one of the largest university endowments in the world,[17] as well as an annual budget of around $2.5 billion.[18][19] As of Fall 2021, the university had 23,410 enrolled students, including 8,817 undergraduates and 14,593 graduate students.[20] Fielding eight men's and eleven women's sports teams, the Northwestern Wildcats represent the university in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference. Northwestern is a founding member of the Big Ten Conference and the only private university in the conference.

Past and present Northwestern faculty and alumni have included numerous heads of state, 2 Fields Medalists, 23 Nobel Prize laureates, 44 Pulitzer Prize winners, 23 MacArthur Fellows, 28 Marshall Scholars, 94 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 19 Rhodes Scholars,[21] 10 living billionaires,[22] and 24 Olympic medalists.

Aerial Photograph of Northwestern University from Lake Michigan
Aerial Photograph of Northwestern University from Lake Michigan


Main article: History of Northwestern University

Founding and early years

The foundation of Northwestern University can be traced to a meeting on May 31, 1850, of nine prominent Chicago businessmen, Methodist leaders, and attorneys who had formed the idea of establishing a university to serve what had been known from 1787 to 1803 as the Northwest Territory. On January 28, 1851, the Illinois General Assembly granted a charter to the Trustees of the North-Western University, making it the first chartered university in Illinois.[23][24] The school's nine founders, all of whom were Methodists (three of them ministers), knelt in prayer and worship before launching their first organizational meeting.[25] Although they affiliated the university with the Methodist Episcopal Church, they favored a non-sectarian admissions policy, believing that Northwestern should serve all people in the newly developing territory by bettering the economy in Evanston.[26]

John Evans, for whom Evanston is named, bought 379 acres (153 ha) of land along Lake Michigan in 1853, and Philo Judson developed plans for what would become the city of Evanston, Illinois. The first building, Old College, opened on November 5, 1855.[27] To raise funds for its construction, Northwestern sold $100 "perpetual scholarships" entitling the purchaser and his heirs to free tuition.[28][29] Another building, University Hall, was built in 1869 of the same Joliet limestone as the Chicago Water Tower, also built in 1869, one of the few buildings in the heart of Chicago to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.[30]

In 1873 the Evanston College for Ladies merged with Northwestern, and Frances Willard, who later gained fame as a suffragette and as one of the founders of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), became the school's first dean of women (Willard Residential College, built in 1938, honors her name). Northwestern admitted its first female students in 1869, and the first woman graduated in 1874.[31] Northwestern fielded its first intercollegiate football team in 1882, later becoming a founding member of the Big Ten Conference. In the 1870s and 1880s, Northwestern affiliated itself with already existing schools of law, medicine, and dentistry in Chicago. Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law is the oldest law school in Chicago. As the university's enrollments grew, these professional schools were integrated with the undergraduate college in Evanston; the result was a modern research university combining professional, graduate, and undergraduate programs, which gave equal weight to teaching and research.[32][33]

20th century

Charles Deering Library of Northwestern University
Charles Deering Library

By the turn of the century, Northwestern had grown in stature to become the third largest university in the United States after Harvard University and the University of Michigan.[34] Under Walter Dill Scott's presidency from 1920 to 1939, Northwestern began construction of an integrated campus in Chicago designed by James Gamble Rogers, noted for his design of the Yale University campus, to house the professional schools. The university also established the Kellogg School of Management and built several prominent buildings on the Evanston campus, including Dyche Stadium, now named Ryan Field, and Deering Library among others. In the 1920s, Northwestern became one of the first six universities in the United States to establish a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC). In 1939, Northwestern hosted the first-ever NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship game in the original Patten Gymnasium, which was later demolished and relocated farther north, along with the Dearborn Observatory, to make room for the Technological Institute.

After the golden years of the 1920s, the Great Depression in the United States (1929–1941) had a severe impact on the university's finances. Its annual income dropped 25 percent from $4.8 million in 1930–31 to $3.6 million in 1933–34. Investment income shrank, fewer people could pay full tuition, and annual giving from alumni and philanthropists fell from $870,000 in 1932 to a low of $331,000 in 1935. The university responded with two salary cuts of 10 percent each for all employees. It imposed hiring and building freezes and slashed appropriations for maintenance, books, and research. Having had a balanced budget in 1930–31, the university now faced deficits of roughly $100,000 for the next four years. Enrollments fell in most schools, with law and music suffering the biggest declines. However, the movement toward state certification of school teachers prompted Northwestern to start a new graduate program in education, thereby bringing in new students and much-needed income. In June 1933, Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, proposed a merger of the two universities, estimating annual savings of $1.7 million. The two presidents were enthusiastic, and the faculty liked the idea; many Northwestern alumni, however, opposed it, fearing the loss of their Alma Mater and its many traditions that distinguished Northwestern from Chicago. The medical school, for example, was oriented toward training practitioners, and alumni feared it would lose its mission if it were merged into the more research-oriented University of Chicago Medical School.[35] The merger plan was ultimately dropped. In 1935, the Deering family rescued the university budget with an unrestricted gift of $6 million, bringing the budget up to $5.4 million in 1938–39. This allowed many of the previous spending cuts to be restored, including half of the salary reductions.[36]

University Hall (1869), the second building constructed on campus, and the oldest building still standing
University Hall (1869), the second building constructed on campus, and the oldest building still standing
Fisk Hall
Fisk Hall

Like other American research universities, Northwestern was transformed by World War II (1939–1945). Regular enrollment fell dramatically, but the school opened high-intensity, short-term programs that trained over 50,000 military personnel, including future president John F. Kennedy. Northwestern's existing NROTC program proved to be a boon to the university as it trained over 36,000 sailors over the course of the war, leading Northwestern to be called the "Annapolis of the Midwest."[37] Franklyn B. Snyder led the university from 1939 to 1949, and after the war, surging enrollments under the G.I. Bill drove the dramatic expansion of both campuses. In 1948, prominent anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits founded the Program of African Studies at Northwestern, the first center of its kind at an American academic institution.[38] J. Roscoe Miller's tenure as president from 1949 to 1970 saw an expansion of the Evanston campus, with the construction of the Lakefill on Lake Michigan, growth of the faculty and new academic programs, and polarizing Vietnam-era student protests. In 1978, the first and second Unabomber attacks occurred at Northwestern University.[39] Relations between Evanston and Northwestern became strained throughout much of the post-war era because of episodes of disruptive student activism,[40] disputes over municipal zoning, building codes, and law enforcement,[41] as well as restrictions on the sale of alcohol near campus until 1972.[42][43] Northwestern's exemption from state and municipal property-tax obligations under its original charter has historically been a source of town-and-gown tension.

Although government support for universities declined in the 1970s and 1980s, President Arnold R. Weber was able to stabilize university finances, leading to a revitalization of its campuses. In 1996, Princess Diana visited Northwestern's Evanston and Chicago campuses to raise money for the university hospital's Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at the invitation of then President Bienen. Her visit raised a total of $1.5 million for cancer research.[44][45][46]

Technological Institute in 1942, after the relocation of Patten Gymnasium but before the construction of the Lakefill
Technological Institute in 1942, after the relocation of Patten Gymnasium but before the construction of the Lakefill

21st century

As admissions to colleges and universities grew increasingly competitive in the 1990s and 2000s, President Henry S. Bienen's tenure saw a notable increase in the number and quality of undergraduate applicants, continued expansion of the facilities and faculty, and renewed athletic competitiveness. In 1999, Northwestern student journalists uncovered information exonerating Illinois death-row inmate Anthony Porter two days before his scheduled execution. The Innocence Project has since exonerated 10 more men.[47][48] On January 11, 2003, in a speech at Northwestern School of Law's Lincoln Hall, then Governor of Illinois George Ryan announced that he would commute the sentences of more than 150 death-row inmates.[49]

In the 2010s, a 5-year capital campaign resulted in a new music center, a replacement building for the business school, and a $270 million athletic complex.[50][51] In 2014, President Barack Obama delivered a seminal economics speech at the Evanston campus.[52] In 2015, Queen Máxima and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands visited Northwestern to announce research collaborations between Northwestern and several Dutch institutions focused on the study of aging.[53] In late 2021, an additional $480 million was donated to Northwestern by the Ryan Family to be applied to research at the Kellogg School of Management and Feinberg School of Medicine, as well as for renovating Ryan Field.[54]


See also: List of Northwestern University buildings and Campus of Northwestern University


Sunset over Northwestern's Lakefill lagoon in 2021 with view of the Norris University Center
Sunset over Northwestern's Lakefill lagoon in 2021 with view of the Norris University Center

Northwestern's Evanston campus, where the undergraduate schools, the Graduate School, and the Kellogg School of Management are located, runs north–south from Lincoln Avenue to Clark Street west of Lake Michigan along Sheridan Road. North Campus is home to the fraternity quads, athletics facilities including the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion and Norris Aquatics Center, the Technological Institute, Dearborn Observatory, the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Hall for Nanofabrication and Molecular Self-Assembly, and the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center among others. South Campus is home to the university's humanities buildings, music buildings like the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, and the sorority quads. In the 1960s, the university created an additional 84 acres (34.0 ha) for the campus by filling in a portion of Lake Michigan. Buildings located on the resulting Lakefill include University Library, the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, the Regenstein Hall of Music, Norris University Center (the student union), the Kellogg School of Management Global Hub, and various athletics facilities.

The Chicago Transit Authority's elevated train running through Evanston is called the Purple Line, taking its name from Northwestern's school color. The Foster and Davis stations are within walking distance of the southern end of the campus, while the Noyes station is close to the northern end of the campus. The Central station is close to Ryan Field, Northwestern's football stadium. The Evanston Davis Street Metra station serves the Northwestern campus in downtown Evanston and the Evanston Central Street Metra station is near Ryan Field. Pace Suburban Bus Service and the CTA have several bus routes that run through or near the Evanston campus.

Panorama of Northwestern University from Lakefill


The Montgomery Ward Memorial Building (1927) at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, America's first academic skyscraper[55]
The Montgomery Ward Memorial Building (1927) at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, America's first academic skyscraper[55]

Northwestern's Chicago campus is located in the city's Streeterville neighborhood near Lake Michigan. The Chicago campus is home to the nationally ranked Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the medical school, the law school, the part-time MBA program, and the School of Professional Studies. Medill's one-year graduate program rents a floor on Wacker Drive, across the river from Streeterville and separate from the rest of the campus. Northwestern's professional schools and a number of its affiliated hospitals are located approximately four blocks east of the Chicago station on the CTA Red Line. The Chicago campus is also served by CTA bus routes.

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law Levy Mayer Hall Entrance at the Chicago Campus
Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law Levy Mayer Hall Entrance at the Chicago Campus

Founded at varying points in the university's history, the professional schools originally were scattered throughout Chicago.[56] In connection with a 1917 master plan for a central Chicago campus and President Walter Dill Scott's capital campaign, 8.5 acres (3.44 ha) of land were purchased at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive for $1.5 million in 1920.[56][57] Architect James Gamble Rogers was commissioned to create a master plan for the principal buildings on the new campus, which he designed in collegiate gothic style. In 1923, Mrs. Montgomery Ward donated $8 million to the campaign to finance the construction of the Montgomery Ward Memorial Building, which would house the medical and dental schools, and create endowments for faculty chairs, research grants, scholarships, and building maintenance.[58] The building would become the first university skyscraper in the United States.[55] In addition to the Ward Building, Rogers designed Wieboldt Hall to house facilities for the School of Commerce[59] and Levy Mayer Hall to house the School of Law.[60] The new campus comprising these three new buildings was dedicated during a two-day ceremony in June 1927. The Chicago campus continued to expand with the addition of Thorne Hall in 1931 and Abbott Hall in 1939.[56][61] In October 2013, Northwestern began the demolition of the architecturally significant Prentice Women's Hospital. Eric G. Neilson, dean of the medical school, penned an op-ed that equated retaining the building with loss of life.[62]

A walkway from Northwestern University in Qatar

Education City

In Fall 2008, Northwestern opened a campus in Education City, Doha, Qatar, joining five other American universities: Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, Georgetown University, Texas A&M University, and Virginia Commonwealth University.[63] Through the Medill School of Journalism and School of Communication, NU-Q offers bachelor's degrees in journalism and communications respectively.[64] However, some have questioned whether NU-Q can truly offer a comparable journalism program to that of its U.S. campus given Qatar's instances of censorship and strict limits on journalistic and academic freedoms.[65][66] The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, a private charitable institution founded by former emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his wife and mother of the current emir Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, provided funding for construction and administrative costs, as well as support to hire 50 to 60 faculty and staff, some of whom rotate between the Evanston and Qatar campuses.[67][68] Northwestern receives roughly $45 million per year to operate the campus.[66] In February 2016, Northwestern reached an agreement with the Qatar Foundation to extend the operations of the NU-Q branch for an additional decade, through the 2027–2028 academic year.[69] Like other universities with campuses in Doha, Northwestern has received criticism for accepting money from a country with a poor human rights record.[66][70][71]

Notable buildings

The old 18 1/2 telescope that is in the Adler Planetarium
The old 18 1/2 telescope that is in the Adler Planetarium

Dearborn Observatory

The Dearborn Observatory is an astronomical observatory on Northwestern University's Evanston campus. The observatory was built in 1888 as a result of a collaboration between the university and the Chicago Astronomical Society. The 1888 observatory is the second Dearborn Observatory; the first was built on the campus of the Old University of Chicago campus.[72]

Dearborn Observatory

In 1911, Northwestern decided that the lens needed a more modern mounting, and the original tube and mount were removed. In 1929, these pieces were placed on permanent loan to the new Adler Planetarium, and installed on the planetarium's exhibit floor.[72] The 470 millimetres (19 in) lens has remained at Northwestern. In the summer of 1939, the Dearborn Observatory building had to be moved 200 metres (660 ft) southeast to its present location to make way for the construction of the Technological Institute. The latest addition to the observatory was an 11.6 metres (38 ft) aluminum dome, added in 1997.[73]Sirius B, a companion star to the brightest star in the night sky, was discovered using the 18 1/2 in 1862.[72]

Northwestern University's astronomy department resided in the offices of Dearborn until 2013, when most of the department moved into a newly renovated wing of the Technological Institute. The telescope is still used by astronomy classes and is open to the public every Friday night.[74]

Plaza outside the Northwestern Technological Institute

Northwestern Technological Institute

The Technological Institute, more commonly known as "Tech", is a landmark building at Northwestern University built from 1940 to 1942. The Technological Institute has more than 750,000 square feet of classrooms, offices, laboratories, and research facilities. Designed by Holabird and Root, the facility is one of the largest academic buildings in the world. It houses the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science as well as the departments of chemistry and of physics and astronomy, which are part of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. The Lannon stone and Bedford limestone building is embellished at the entrance by Edgar Miller's sculptural reliefs on scientific and engineering themes.[75]

The construction of the building became possible after Walter Patton Murphy, a wealthy inventor of railroad equipment, donated $6.735 million on March 20, 1939. Murphy wanted the Institute to offer a new kind of “cooperative education” model for engineering, with academic courses and practical application in industrial settings closely integrated.[75]

To make room for the new building, the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house and the Dearborn Observatory were moved, and the original Patten Gymnasium was demolished. Ground was broken for the new building on April 1, 1940 and the building was dedicated on June 15–16, 1942. In 1961, construction began on two new wings, which were added to the eastern ends of the building, along with additions to the library and physics wing. In 1973, a new entrance terrace was dedicated. By the end of the 1980s, the building was again in need of repair. After a $30 million grant from the McCormick Foundation in 1989, the school was renamed in honor of Robert R. McCormick.[75]

The New Patten Gymnasium
The New Patten Gymnasium
The Old Patten Gymnasium that was demolished due to the construction of the Technological Institute
The Old Patten Gymnasium that was demolished due to the construction of the Technological Institute

Patten Gymnasium

Patten Gymnasium is the name of two multi-purpose gymnasiums (one past and one present) in Evanston, Illinois, United States, on the campus of Northwestern University.[76] The original building, designed by George Washington Maher, opened in 1910 and was home to the Northwestern Wildcats men's basketball team until 1940, when it was demolished to make room for the construction of the Technological Institute. The current Patten Gymnasium opened in 1940 and hosted the men's basketball team for 12 years before Welsh-Ryan Arena opened in 1952. The ivy-lined building has the doors and statues from the old gym. It currently is the home to the women's fencing team, intramural sports program and also has offices and locker rooms for the women's lacrosse, field hockey, and men's and women's soccer teams. It is named for James A. Patten, former Evanston mayor, philanthropist, commodities broker and NU board of trustees president.[76]

University Hall covered in ivies
University Hall covered in ivies
The University Hall in 1877

University Hall

University Hall is the oldest original building on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, Illinois, and the second building to have been constructed after Old College, which stood on campus until the 1970s.[77] The cornerstone of the building was laid in 1868, and the structure was completed in 1869, at a total cost of $125,000. The building has served a wide range of different roles since its construction, and currently houses the university's English department. The clock in University Hall's highest tower, with a movement built by Seth Thomas, was the gift of the class of 1879. The bells were the gift of the class of 1880. In the west entryway of the University Hall is a sign bearing the name 'Old College.' This sign hung above the main entrance of Old College, the first building at the University, completed in 1855 and razed in 1973.[77]

University Hall was designed in Victorian Gothic style by Gurdon P. Randall, and is composed of Joliet limestone - the same kind used to build the Chicago Water Tower. The construction materials were transported to the Evanston campus by lake boat and rail.[77]

Lunt Hall
Lunt Hall

Lunt Hall

Before the construction of the Deering Library in 1933, the University of Northwestern's library was located in Lunt Hall (1894). The Italian Renaissance-style structure, which was designed by William Augustus Otis and funded in large part by a donation from Orrington Lunt, a wealthy Chicago businessman who was also one of Northwestern's founders, was constructed in 1892. The main entry foyer and the woodwork on the ceiling of the library on the first floor provide a glimpse of the workmanship that was engaged in the creation of the building, even though very little of the building's original magnificence has survived the efforts of the renovation project. Between 1933 and 1942, Lunt Hall functioned as Northwestern's administrative headquarters. During World War II, the Naval Training School utilized the structure as a radio operator training facility. Lunt Hall is the third-oldest structure on campus, and it is currently home to the Department of Mathematics.[78]

Annie May Swift Hall
Annie May Swift Hall

Annie May Swift Hall

Charles R. Ayers designed Annie May Swift Hall (1895) in an eclectic blend of Venetian Gothic Revival and Romanesque styles. The building was named in honor of the daughter of meatpacking tycoon Gustavus Franklin Swift; she was a Northwestern student when she passed away of typhus in 1889. Originally, the building consisted of offices, recitation rooms, a library, a gymnasium, and an auditorium for the School of Oratory.[79]

Harris Hall
Harris Hall

Harris Hall

Harris Hall (1915) was constructed as a social sciences center. The upper story of this Charles Coolidge-designed structure features colossal Ionic columns and decorative applied pilasters. Today, the history department uses the three-story limestone building. It was named for Norman Wait Harris, a prominent Chicago financier, philanthropist, Northwestern University trustee, and benefactor.[80]

Alice Millar Chapel
Alice Millar Chapel

Alice Millar Chapel

The Alice Millar Chapel and Religious Center was a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Foster G. McGaw to Northwestern University. Mrs. McGaw was a graduate of Northwestern, and Mr. McGaw was a Trustee of the university for many years.[81]

This Chapel and Religious Center, a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Foster G. McGaw to Northwestern University, is dedicated to the memory of Foster G. McGaw's mother, Alice S. Millar McGaw.[81]

Swift Hall

Swift Hall
Swift Hall

Swift Hall was a gift from Mrs. Gustavus F. Swift and her son, Edward F. Swift, in 1909. George W. Maher designed the building, influenced by the Prairie School of Architecture, as the home of the College of Engineering. The five-story Bedford limestone building received an addition in 1945 for Navy College Training Program training facilities, including a rifle range, and was renamed the Naval Science Building. The facility is currently referred to as Swift Hall and contains the psychology department.[82]

Fisk Hall
Fisk Hall

Fisk Hall

Initially, Fisk Hall (1899) held Northwestern's preparatory school, which ceased operations in 1917. At the request of donor William Deering, the structure was named after the school's principal, Herbert F. Fisk. Daniel H. Burnham, a renowned Chicago architect, urban planner, and Evanston resident, designed the Romanesque Revival structure with its intricately laid masonry, terra cotta and stone ornamentation, and red tile roof. Joseph Medill, an early editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, is commemorated by the Medill School of Journalism's current residence, Fisk Hall.[83]

Organization and administration


Weber Arch
Weber Arch

Northwestern is privately owned and governed by an appointed Board of Trustees, which is composed of 70 members and, as of 2022, is chaired by Peter Barris '74.[84] The board delegates its power to an elected president who serves as the chief executive officer of the university.[85] Northwestern has had seventeen presidents in its history (excluding interim presidents). The current president, legal scholar Michael H. Schill, succeeded Morton O. Schapiro in fall 2022.[86] The president maintains a staff of vice presidents, directors, and other assistants for administrative, financial, faculty, and student matters.[87] Kathleen Haggerty assumed the role of provost for the university on September 1, 2020.[88]

Students are formally involved in the university's administration through the Associated Student Government, elected representatives of the undergraduate students, and the Graduate Student Association, which represents the university's graduate students.[89][90]

The admission requirements, degree requirements, courses of study, and disciplinary and degree recommendations for each of Northwestern's 12 schools are determined by the voting members of that school's faculty (assistant professor and above).[91]

Undergraduate and graduate schools Graduate and professional
Evanston Campus Evanston Campus

Chicago Campus

The graduate Medill School shares no connection to the rest of the Chicago campus, though it is also based downtown. Northwestern University had a dental school from 1891 to May 31, 2001, when it closed.[92]


Northwestern maintains an endowment of $16.1 billion, one of the largest university endowments in the world.[17] The endowment is sustained through continued donations and is maintained by investment advisers at the university's Investment Office.[93]

In 2003, Northwestern finished a five-year capital campaign that raised $1.55 billion, exceeding its fundraising goal by $550 million. In 2014, Northwestern launched the "We Will" campaign with a fundraising goal of $3.75 billion. As of December 31, 2019, the university has received $4.78 billion from 164,026 donors.[94]

Students sailing along the shores of the Northwestern University, Chicago Skyline can be seen from background.
Students sailing along the shores of the Northwestern University, Chicago Skyline can be seen from background.


In January 2009, the Green Power Partnership (sponsored by the EPA) listed Northwestern as one of the top 10 universities in the country in purchasing energy from renewable sources. The university matches 74 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of its annual energy use with Green-e Certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). This green power commitment represents 30 percent of the university's total annual electricity use and places Northwestern in the EPA's Green Power Leadership Club. The Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN), supporting research, teaching, and outreach in these themes, was launched in 2008.[95]

Northwestern requires that all new buildings be LEED-certified. Silverman Hall on the Evanston campus was awarded Gold LEED Certification in 2010; Wieboldt Hall on the Chicago campus was awarded Gold LEED Certification in 2007, and the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center on the Evanston campus was awarded Silver LEED Certification in 2006. New construction and renovation projects will be designed to provide at least a 20% improvement over energy code requirements where feasible.[96] At the beginning of the 2008–09 academic year, the university also released the Evanston Campus Framework Plan, which outlines plans for future development of the university's Evanston campus. The plan not only emphasizes sustainable building construction but also focuses on reducing the energy costs of transportation by optimizing pedestrian and bicycle access.[97] Northwestern has had a comprehensive recycling program in place since 1990. The university recycles over 1,500 tons of waste, or 30% of all waste produced on campus, each year. All landscape waste at the university is composted.[95]



Undergraduate admissions statistics
2022 entering
class[98]Change vs.

Admit rate6.8%
(Neutral decrease −7)
Yield rate63.0%
(Increase +15.5)
Test scores middle 50%*
SAT Total1500-1560
(Increase +40 median)
SAT EBRW730-770
(Increase +25 median)
SAT Math760-800
(Increase +30 median)
ACT Composite33–35
(Increase +1.5 median)
High school GPA
Top 10%96.0%
(Increase +5)
Top 25%100.0%
(Steady no change)
  • *2022 data among students who chose to submit
  • Percentages among students whose school ranked
Lunt Hall
Lunt Hall

As one of the most prestigious and selective universities in the world and the United States, Northwestern University's admissions are characterized as "most selective" by U.S. News & World Report.[100] Northwestern received a record 52,225 applications for its class-size of approximately 2,100 students in 2022-2023 academic year. For the Class of 2027, regular decision acceptance rate was approximately 4.6%, while overall acceptance rate remained around 6.8%.[6] For the Class of 2026, the interquartile range (middle 50%) on the post-2016 SAT was a combined (verbal and math) 1500-1560 out of 1600; the interquartile range on the evidence based reading and writing (EBRW) section of the SAT was 730-770 out of 800 while the interquartile range on the Math section of the SAT was 760-800 out of 800.[101] ACT composite scores for the middle 50% ranged from 33 to 35 out of 36, and 96% ranked in the top ten percent of their respective high school classes.[102][6][103][104][101][105]

Approximately 35-40% percent of the incoming students of the Class of 2027 have been admitted through the Early Decision application round. Northwestern's early decision admission numbers for the Class of 2027 reveal an early acceptance rate of about 20%, with approximately 1,000 students being admitted out of 5,220 applications.[106]

In April 2016, Northwestern became one of 15 Illinois universities to sign on to the Chicago Star Partnership, a City Colleges initiative aimed at increasing opportunities for students in the city's public school district. Through this partnership, the university provides scholarships to students who "graduate from Chicago Public Schools, get their associate degree from one of the city's community colleges, and then get admitted to a bachelor's degree program."[107]

The university is need-blind for domestic applicants.[108]

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 2021
Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 2021

Education and rankings

Academic rankings
THE / WSJ[110]9
U.S. News & World Report[111]10
Washington Monthly[112]30
U.S. News & World Report[116]24

Northwestern is a large, residential research university,[117] and is frequently ranked among the top-10 universities in the United States, based on criteria such as campus diversity, social mobility of graduates, the likelihood of paying off student loans, alumni giving rates, research spending, the number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science, and data within the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard—two federal government databases, among many others.

The university is a leading institution in the fields of materials engineering, industrial engineering, chemistry, business, economics, education, computer science, physics, journalism, and communications.[118] It is also prominent in law and medicine. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the respective national professional organizations for chemistry, psychology, business, education, journalism, music, engineering, law, and medicine,[119] the university offers 124 undergraduate programs and 145 graduate and professional programs.[120][121] Northwestern conferred 2,190 bachelor's degrees, 3,272 master's degrees, 565 doctoral degrees, and 444 professional degrees in 2012–2013.[122] Since 1951, Northwestern has awarded 520 honorary degrees.[123][124] Northwestern also has chapters of academic honor societies such as Phi Beta Kappa (Alpha of Illinois), Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Sigma Phi (Beta Chapter),[125] Lambda Pi Eta,[126] and Alpha Sigma Lambda (Alpha Chapter).[127]

Business Rankings
Bloomberg (2022)[128]4
QS (2023)[129]8
U.S. News & World Report (2023)[130]2
Global MBA
QS (2023)[131]14
Financial Times (2023)[132]5
Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center
Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center

Northwestern is known for its focus on interdisciplinary education, extensive research output, and collaborative student culture. The university provides instruction in over 200 formal academic concentrations, including various dual degree programs.[133] The four-year, full-time undergraduate program comprises the majority of enrollments at the university.[117] Although there is no university-wide core curriculum, a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences are required for all majors; individual degree requirements are set by the faculty of each school.[91] The university heavily emphasizes interdisciplinary learning, with 72% of undergrads combining two or more areas of study.[134] Northwestern's full-time undergraduate and graduate programs operate on an approximately 10-week academic quarter system with the academic year beginning in late September and ending in early June. Under the regular academic calendar, each quarter contains a four-day Reading Period in between the end of classes and the beginning of finals.[135] Undergraduates typically take four courses each quarter and twelve courses in an academic year and[136] are required to complete at least twelve quarters on campus to graduate. Northwestern offers honors, accelerated, and joint degree programs in medicine, science, mathematics, engineering, and journalism.[137] The comprehensive doctoral graduate program has high coexistence with undergraduate programs.[117]

Despite being a mid-sized university, Northwestern maintains a relatively low student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1.

Entrance to the Northwestern Technological Institute


Northwestern was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1917 and is classified as an R1 university, denoting "very high" research activity.[117][138] Northwestern's schools of management, engineering, and communication are among the most academically productive in the nation.[139] The university received $923.8 million in research funding in 2022 and houses over 90 school-based and 40 university-wide research institutes and centers.[140][103][141] Northwestern also supports nearly 1,500 research laboratories across two campuses, predominantly in the medical and biological sciences.[141]

Northwestern is home to the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics, Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems, Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center, Materials Research Center, Center for Quantum Devices, Institute for Policy Research, International Institute for Nanotechnology, Center for Catalysis and Surface Science, Buffet Center for International and Comparative Studies, the Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern,[95] and the Argonne/Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center among other centers for interdisciplinary research.[142]

The E989 storage-ring magnet at FermiLab, which was originally designed for the E821 experiment. The geometry allows for a very uniform magnetic field to be established in the ring.
The E989 storage-ring magnet at FermiLab, which was originally designed for the E821 experiment. The geometry allows for a very uniform magnetic field to be established in the ring.

The university also shares collaborative research efforts with other universities such as the CZ Biohub Chicago with the University of Chicago and University of Illinois.[143]

In addition, Northwestern University cooperates with research institutions such as Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FermiLab). Proceeding in cooperation with these laboratories, the Center for Applied Physics and Superconducting Technologies (CAPST) and the Initiative at Northwestern for Quantum Information Research and Engineering (INQUIRE) have attracted attention in recent years.[144][145] Northwestern's investments and collaborations in particle physics, quantum physics, quantum information technologies, and superconducting technologies demonstrate that the university has become prominent in these research fields.

Innovations and entrepreneurship

In 2013 alone, Northwestern researchers disclosed 247 inventions, filed 270 patent applications, received 81 foreign and US patents, started 12 companies, and generated $79.8 million in licensing revenue. The Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO) has been involved in creating the Center for Developmental Therapeutics (CDT)[146] and the Center for Device Development (CD2).[147]

Inside of the Garage at the Northwestern University
Inside of the Garage at the Northwestern University
Outside of the Garage at the Northwestern University
Outside of the Garage at the Northwestern University

Northwestern files hundreds of patents each year, ranking among the top 20 universities in the world in terms of U.S. utility patents.[148] One of the university's most successful current patents is pregabalin, a synthesized organic molecule developed at the university by chemistry professor Richard Bruce Silverman (for whom Silverman Hall was named). It was ultimately marketed as Lyrica, a drug sold by Pfizer, to combat epilepsy, neuropathic pain, and fibromyalgia.

Northwestern has an extensive history of producing prominent businessmen and entrepreneurs. Notable companies founded by Northwestern alumni include Groupon, The Blackstone Group, Booz Allen Hamilton, U.S. Steel, Kirkland & Ellis, Guggenheim Partners, Accenture, Aon Corporation, and AQR Capital.

The university also runs The Garage, and interdisciplinary innovation and entrepreneurship space and community for student-run startups. The Garage provides students with resources and programming related to entrepreneurship and mentorship.[149] The Garage houses approximately 90 student-founded startups per academic quarter.[150] Its programs and resources are available to all Northwestern students.

Libraries and museums

The Northwestern library system consists of four libraries on the Evanston campus including the Main University Library, Mathematics Library, Mudd Library, and the original library building, Deering Library; three libraries on the Chicago campus; and the library affiliated with Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.[151] Northwestern Libraries host a total of 8,198,268 printed or electronic volumes.[152] In addition, its libraries contain 229,198 maps, 211,127 audio files, 103,377 printed journals, 196,716 electronic journals, 91,334 movies or videos, 36,989 manuscripts, 4.6 million microforms, and almost 99,000 periodicals.[152] The University Library is the 14th-largest university library in North America based on total number of titles held.

Frontage of the Charles Deering Library

Notable collections and sections

Among the library's collection and sections are:

University Library (1970), constructed in Brutalist style
University Library (1970), constructed in Brutalist style
The neo-gothic style of Deering Library (on the left) is strongly contrasted by the brutalist architecture of University Library (on the right) on the Northwestern University Campus.
The neo-gothic style of Deering Library (on the left) is strongly contrasted by the brutalist architecture of University Library (on the right) on the Northwestern University Campus.
Charles Deering Library

Northwestern, along with 15 other universities, participates in digitizing its collections as part of the Google Book Search project.[160] Northwestern University Library is a partner with the Native American Education Services College (NAES), the American Indian Association of Illinois (AIAI), and Northwestern University's Center for Native American and Indigenous Research in the NAES College Digital Library Project, which preserves the NAES College library and archives.[161]

Student life

Student body

Student body composition as of May 2, 2022
Race and ethnicity[162] Total
White 42% 42
Asian 19% 19
Hispanic 13% 13
Foreign national 10% 10
Other[a] 9% 9
Black 6% 6
Economic diversity
Low-income[b] 20% 20
Affluent[c] 80% 80

Northwestern enrolled 8,186 full-time undergraduates, 9,904 full-time graduates, and 3,856 part-time students in the 2019–2020 academic year. The freshman retention rate for that year was 99%.[163][164] 86% of students graduated after four years and 96% graduated after six years.[165][164] These numbers can largely be attributed to the university's various specialized degree programs, such as those that allow students to earn master's degrees with a one or two-year extension of their undergraduate program.[164]

The undergraduate population is drawn from all 50 states and over 75 foreign countries. 20% of students in the Class of 2024 were Pell Grant recipients and 12.56% were first-generation college students.[166] Northwestern also enrolls the 9th-most National Merit Scholars of any university in the nation.

In Fall 2014, 40.6% of undergraduate students were enrolled in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, 21.3% in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, 14.3% in the School of Communication, 11.7% in the Medill School of Journalism, 5.7% in the Bienen School of Music, and 6.4% in the School of Education and Social Policy.[167] The five most commonly awarded undergraduate degrees are economics, journalism, communication studies, psychology, and political science.[168] The Kellogg School of Management's MBA, the School of Law's JD, and the Feinberg School of Medicine's MD are the three largest professional degree programs by enrollment.[167] With 2,446 students enrolled in science, engineering, and health fields,[169] the largest graduate programs by enrollment include chemistry, integrated biology, material sciences, electrical and computer engineering, neuroscience, and economics.[170]

Undergraduate housing

See also: List of Northwestern University residences

Goodrich Residence Hall (on the left) and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity (on the right)
Goodrich Residence Hall (on the left) and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity (on the right)
Sorority Quad at Northwestern University
Sorority Quad at Northwestern University

Northwestern offers both traditional residence halls and residential colleges for students who share a particular intellectual interest. The residential colleges include Ayers College of Commerce and Industry, Chapin Hall (Humanities), East Fairchild (Communications), Hobart House (women's), Jones Residential College (Fine and Performing Arts), the Public Affairs Residential College, the Residential College of Cultural and Community Studies, Shepard Residential College (multi-thematic), Slivka Residential College for Science and Engineering, West Fairchild (International Studies), and Willard Residential College (multi-thematic). Residence halls include Allison Hall, Bobb-McCulloch, Elder Hall, Foster-Walker Complex (commonly referred to as Plex), Rogers House, and Shapiro Hall (formerly known as 560 Lincoln) among others.

An estimated 20% of undergraduates are affiliated with a fraternity or sorority.[171] Northwestern recognizes 21 fraternities and 18 sororities.[172]

The Rock in front of University Hall


Alice Millar Chapel
Alice Millar Chapel


One of Northwestern's most notable student charity events is Dance Marathon, the most established and largest student-run philanthropy in the nation. The annual 30-hour event is among the most widely attended events on campus. It has raised over $1 million for charity every year since 2011 and has donated a total of $13 million to children's charities since its conception.[183]

The Northwestern Community Development Corps (NCDC) is a student-run organization that connects hundreds of student volunteers to community development projects in Evanston and Chicago throughout the year. The group also holds a number of annual community events, including Project Pumpkin, a Halloween celebration that provides over 800 local children with carnival events and a safe venue to trick-or-treat each year.[184]

Many Northwestern students participate in the Freshman Urban Program, an initiative for students interested in community service to work on addressing social issues facing the city of Chicago,[185] and the university's Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI) programs, including group service-learning expeditions in Asia, Africa, or Latin America in conjunction with the Foundation for Sustainable Development.[186]

Several international nongovernmental organizations were established at Northwestern, including the World Health Imaging, Informatics and Telemedicine Alliance, a spin-off from an engineering student's honors thesis.[187][188]

Performing arts

Cahn Auditorium and Scott Hall
Cahn Auditorium and Scott Hall

Northwestern is a prolific producer of successful entertainers and a nationally reputed hub for collegiate performing arts. The Student Theatre Coalition, or StuCo, organizes nine student theater companies, multiple performance groups, and over sixty independent productions each year.[189] The two most notable productions are The Waa-Mu Show, an original musical written and produced entirely by students,[190] and the Dolphin show. Children's theater is represented on campus by Griffin's Tale and Purple Crayon Players.[191]

Chicago's renowned Lookingglass Theatre Company, which began life in the Great Room of Jones Residential College, was founded in 1988 by several university alumni, including David Schwimmer. It received the Regional Tony Award in 2011 and has won over 45 Joseph Jefferson Awards in its 30 Seasons.[192]

The undergraduate students maintain twelve a cappella groups, including THUNK a cappella, the Northwestern Undertones, Freshman Fifteen A Cappella, ShireiNU A Cappella, and Purple Haze.[193]



Regenstein Hall of Music
Regenstein Hall of Music


Radio, film, and television

Speech and debate

The Northwestern Debate Society has won fifteen National Debate Tournaments, the highest number of any university. Notable alumni of the society include Erwin Chemerinsky, legal scholar and Dean of UC Berkeley School of Law, and Elliot Mincberg of People For the American Way.

Northwestern's Mock Trial team had two teams qualify for the 2018 National Championship Tournament hosted by the American Mock Trial Association, making Northwestern one of seven schools in the nation to be represented by multiple teams at the competition.[203] One of the two teams finished 9th in their division and is ranked 20th in the country out of roughly 750 teams for the 2018–2019 season.[204][205][206]


Main article: Northwestern Wildcats

Ryan Field, Northwestern's 49,000-seat football stadium
Ryan Field, Northwestern's 49,000-seat football stadium

Northwestern is a charter member of the Big Ten Conference. It is the conference's only private university and possesses the smallest undergraduate enrollment (the next-smallest member, the University of Iowa, is roughly three times as large, with almost 22,000 undergraduates).

Northwestern fields 19 intercollegiate athletic teams (8 men's and 11 women's) in addition to numerous club sports.[207] 12 of Northwestern's varsity programs have had NCAA or bowl postseason appearances. Northwestern is one of five private AAU members to compete in NCAA Power Five conferences (the other four are Duke, Stanford, USC, and Vanderbilt) and maintains a 98% NCAA Graduation Success Rate, the highest among Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

Recent success by the Wildcats includes: Northwestern Football's bowl game victories (2016-2018 and 2020) and its 2018 and 2020 Big Ten West title; Women's Basketball winning the 2020 Big Ten regular season championship; Women's Lacrosse winning the 2019 and 2021 Big Ten tournament title and 2021 Big Ten Regular Season title; Women's Field Hockey winning the 2021 NCAA tournament title; Softball earning the 2019 and 2022 NCAA Regional Championship in Evanston and reaching the 2022 Women's College World Series; Wrestling's Sebastian Rivera winning an individual Big Ten championship in 2019 and Ryan Deakin winning an individual NCAA championship in 2022; Fencing claiming multiple Midwest Fencing Conference championships in 2018, 2019 and 2021; Women's Tennis securing the 2018 Big Ten regular season crown; and Women's Diver Olivia Rosendahl collecting individual NCAA championships in both 2018 and 2019.[208]

In 2018, the school opened the Walter Athletics Center, a $270 million state-of-the-art lakefront facility for its athletics teams.[209]

Northwestern University Mascot: Willie the Wildcat
Northwestern University Mascot: Willie the Wildcat

Nickname and mascot

Before 1924, Northwestern teams were known as "The Purple" and unofficially as "The Fighting Methodists." The name Wildcats was bestowed upon the university in 1924 by Wallace Abbey, a writer for the Chicago Daily Tribune, who wrote that even in a loss to the University of Chicago, "Football players had not come down from Evanston; wildcats would be a name better suited to [Coach Glenn] Thistletwaite's boys."[210] The name was so popular that university board members made "Wildcats" the official nickname just months later. In 1972, the student body voted to change the official nickname to "Purple Haze," but the new name never stuck.[211]

The mascot of Northwestern Athletics is Willie the Wildcat. Prior to Willie, the team mascot had been a live, caged bear cub from the Lincoln Park Zoo named Furpaw, who was brought to the playing field on game days to greet the fans. After a losing season, the team decided that Furpaw was to blame for its misfortune and decided to select a new mascot. Willie the Wildcat made his debut in 1933, first as a logo and then in three dimensions in 1947, when members of the Alpha Delta fraternity dressed as wildcats during a Homecoming Parade.


Main article: Northwestern Wildcats football

Northwestern's football team has made 73 appearances in the top 10 of the AP poll since 1936 (including 5 at #1) and has won eight Big Ten conference championships since 1903.[212][213][214] At one time, Northwestern had the longest losing streak in Division I-A, losing 34 consecutive games between 1979 and 1982.[215][216] They did not appear in a bowl game after 1949 until the 1996 Rose Bowl. The team did not win a bowl since the 1949 Rose Bowl until the 2013 Gator Bowl. Following the sudden death of football coach Randy Walker in 2006,[217] 31-year-old former All-American Northwestern linebacker Pat Fitzgerald assumed the position, becoming the youngest Division I FBS coach at the time.[218][219]

The Northwestern Wildcats football team has evidence of organization as early as 1876, but evidence confirms that Northwestern football was played in 1882 as a group of Northwestern men played a "football heat" against a group of Lake Forest men. The Wildcats have since achieved an all-time high rank of No. 1 during the 1936 and 1962 seasons, which has thus far not been duplicated. The team plays home games at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern Football has played in a total of 16 bowl games, including 10 appearances in just 10 seasons between 2008 and 2020. The Wildcats won three consecutive bowl games in 2016–18. Despite the Wildcats challenging season in 2019, the 2020 season marked their most recent seasons of success. In 2020, the Wildcats were Big Ten West Champions and bowl game champions. In addition, defensive Coordinator, Mike Hankwitz, who has been with Northwestern Football since 2008, received his 400 career win on January 1, 2021. Perhaps the most memorable Northwestern Football season was in 1995 as the Wildcats won the Big Ten Championship and saw their first Rose Bowl berth in nearly 50 years. Despite recent success, the Wildcats still hold the record for the longest losing streak in Division I-A football with 34 consecutive losses between 1979 and 1982.[220]

Following the sudden death of football coach Randy Walker in 2006, 31-year-old and former All-American Northwestern linebacker Pat Fitzgerald assumed the position becoming the youngest Division I FBS coach at the time. Fitzgerald is already the second-longest tenured Big Ten head coach, the sixth-longest tenured head coach in Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision and has been head coach for the Wildcats since 2011. The Wildcats earned their first-ever Big Ten West title and berth in the Big Ten Championship game in 2018. Fitzgerald was named the consensus Big Ten Coach of the Year and a finalist for the 2018 Dodd Trophy that season. Most recently, Fitzgerald earned the 2020 Dodd Trophy Coach of the Year. On October 24, 2020, Fitzgerald recorded his 100th career win in a victory over Maryland. His overall record is 106–81.[220]

Former Wildcats active in the National Football League going into the 2020 season include Ibraheim Campbell, Austin Carr, Garrett Dickerson, Joe Gaziano, Nate Hall, Blake Hance, Montre Hartage, Justin Jackson, Joe Jones, Tyler Lancaster, Dean Lowry, Sherrick McManis, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Trevor Siemian, Clayton Thorson, Dan Vitale, and Anthony Walker, Jr.


Welsh-Ryan Arena of the Northwestern University with 7039 seats

The Helms Athletic Foundation named the men's basketball team the 1931 National Champion.[221] In 2017, the men's basketball team earned an NCAA berth for the first time in the program's history. They won their first-round matchup against Vanderbilt University but lost to number-one seed Gonzaga in the second round.[222]

In 1998, two former Northwestern basketball players were charged and convicted for sports bribery, having been paid to shave points in games against three other Big Ten schools during the 1995 season.[223][224][225] The football team became embroiled in a different betting scandal later that year when federal prosecutors indicted four former players for perjury related to betting on their own games.[226] In August 2001, Rashidi Wheeler, a senior safety, collapsed and died during practice from an asthma attack.[227][228] An autopsy revealed that he had ephedrine, a stimulant banned by the NCAA, in his system, which prompted Northwestern to investigate the prevalence of stimulants and other banned substances across all of its athletic programs.[229][230] In 2006, the Northwestern women's soccer team was suspended and coach Jenny Haigh resigned following the release of images of alleged hazing.[231][232]

Men's Basketball

Main article: Northwestern Wildcats men's basketball

The Wildcats men's basketball team is under the direction of Sullivan-Ubben Head Men's Basketball Coach Chris Collins, a role that he's been in since 2013. Collins led the Wildcats to heights never before reached during the 2016–17 season when the program saw a school record 24 wins and its first NCAA tournament berth and victory in program history. Collins was named as one of four finalists for the Naismith Men's Coach of the Year award in 2017.[233]

The Wildcats single national championship is from 1931, retro-picked by the Helms Athletic Foundation and, later, by the Premo-Porrett Power Poll. Since then, the Wildcats have played in the National Invitation Tournament seven times, most recently in 2012. The men's basketball program was the first to open the renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena[234] on November 2, 2018, in an exhibition game against McKendree. The state-of-the-art facility was built to be the most accessible arena in college athletics and seats 7,039. The team is cheered on by the Wildside student section.

Women's Basketball

Main article: Northwestern Wildcats women's basketball

The Northwestern women's basketball team is led by Joe McKeown (pronounced Mick-Q-ann), a role that he's been in since 2008. Most recently, McKeown led his Wildcats team to a regular season Big Ten title in the 2019–20 season, tying the program's best 26 wins in a single season. McKeown earned his 700th career win on December 20, 2019. McKeown previously coached at George Washington. He led the Colonials to 14 regular season or postseason Atlantic 10 titles. McKeown is a native of Philadelphia and was inducted into the Father Judge High School Hall of Fame in 1999.[235]

In 2017, the Wildcats saw its highest draft pick in program history with Nia Coffey, selected fifth overall by the San Antonio Stars. The first player drafted in program history was Amy Jaeschke in 2011, selected 27th overall by the Chicago Sky.[236]


The Northwestern Fencing program competes in the Central Collegiate Conference and has a tenured history of success. Zach Moss is the programs head coach, a role that he's been in since 2016. Following a historic 2017–18 season, Moss was named the Midwest Fencing Conference Coach of the Year as the Wildcats captured their fifth-ever conference championship and finished with three All-Americans at the NCAA Championships. Additionally, the team set the program record for most wins in a season with 47 and the program record for longest win streak at 25. The 2018–19 season saw more milestones for the Wildcats including a 39–5 record, an 11th-place finish at the NCAA Championships, and a second consecutive conference championship. The Wildcats achieved the highest ranking in program history during the season at second in the country and amassed 39 victories at the conference championships.[237]

Field Hockey

Main article: Northwestern Wildcats field hockey

The Northwestern Field Hockey team plays its home games at Lakeside Field, adjacent to Lanny and Sharon Martin Stadium on the lakefront. The Wildcats are led by head coach Tracey Fuchs, a role that she's been in since 2009. Fuchs has led the Wildcats to two Big Ten titles and three NCAA tournament appearances. Under Fuchs' direction, the Wildcats have posted winning seasons in 10 of her 11 seasons.[238]

The Northwestern Wildcats field hockey team has gathered 6 regular season Big Ten titles and 1 tournament title in addition to 14 NCAA tournament appearances. In 2021, the team won the NCAA tournament, followed by a championship game appearance in 2022.[238]

2005 NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship game between the Virginia Cavaliers and Northwestern Wildcats


Main article: Northwestern Wildcats women's lacrosse

Northwestern lacrosse has won the national championship in women's lacrosse five straight times, from 2005 to 2009, and then again in 2011 and 2012, giving them 7 championships in 8 years. In 2007, the team joined Maryland as the only other school to three-peat. The run started in 2005, when the team enjoyed a perfect season and defeated many long-established east-coast schools after only five years as a varsity sport to capture the school's first national championship since 1941. In doing so, it became the westernmost institution to ever win the title. Soon after, the team made national news when members appeared in a White House photo with President Bush wearing thong sandals, or flip-flops, dubbed as the "White House flip-flop flap." The 2009 season also was an undefeated run. In their five consecutive championship seasons, the Wildcats have a 106–3 record. The Wildcats are led by head coach Kelly Amonte-Hiller, a role that she's been in since 2002. Most recently, the Wildcats won their first ever Big Ten Championship in 2019 and won their first ever Big Ten regular season championship in 2021.[239][240][241]


The Northwestern Wildcats wrestling program hosts home matches in Welsh-Ryan Arena and practices in the Ken Kraft Wrestling Room, located in Anderson Hall. The Wildcats are led by Matt Storniolo, a role that he's been in since 2016. The Wildcats have had 40 Big Ten individual champions in addition to 10 NCAA individual champions and 75+ All-Americans.[242][243]


The men's golf team has won eight Big Ten Conference championships: 1925, 1937, 1939, 1948, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006. They have twice placed second in the NCAA Championships: 1939, 1945. Luke Donald won the NCAA Individual Championship in 1999. He was Big Ten Conference Player of the year in 1999, and David Merkow was named the same in 2006. Donald was ranked number 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for 56 weeks in 2011 and 2012. The four best career stroke averages in school history are held by Luke Donald, Tom Johnson, Jess Daley, and David Lipsky.[244]

Jane Weiller played golf for the school. In 1946 and 1957, Phyllis Otto and Mariam Bailey, respectively, won the women's individual intercollegiate golf championship (an event conducted by the Division of Girls' and Women's Sports (DGWS) – which later evolved into the current NCAA women's golf championship).[245]

Sports Traditions

The Northwestern Wildcats have several traditions relating to its athletics teams including the official chant, "Go U! NU!” and the Wildcats' fight song, "Go U! Northwestern!” A secondary fight song is "Rise Northwestern (Push on Song),” the final 4-measure tag (ending with a shouted "Go 'Cats!”) of which is often played after first downs. The alma mater is played by the Marching Band and sung by fans, students, and the team after each game. Victories by the football team are celebrated by lighting the face of the clock tower on south campus in Northwestern purple.[246]

In addition, Northwestern Football honors former head coach Randy Walker with a pregame "Walk with Us" event before each home football game where the band, cheerleaders, and fans greet the team as they arrive to Ryan Field and head to the locker room. Additionally, the Northwestern Wildcats share an intrastate rivalry with the Illinois Fighting Illini and its football programs play for the Land of Lincoln Trophy after retiring the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk Trophy in 2008.[208]



For a more comprehensive list, see List of Northwestern University alumni.

Northwestern alumni have included numerous prominent figures in journalism, government, literature, business, science, performing arts, education, and medicine. Among U.S. universities, Northwestern ranks eighth in the number of billionaires produced.[247]

Some of Northwestern's most notable alumni include U.S. Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern, Nobel Prize-winning economist George J. Stigler, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Saul Bellow, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and diarist Ned Rorem, decorated composer Howard Hanson, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Ali Babacan, historian and novelist Wilma Dykeman, sociologist and adviser of CEPAL Fernando Filgueira, and the founder of the presidential prayer breakfast Abraham Vereide.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, Supreme Court Justice and Ambassador to the United Nations Arthur Joseph Goldberg, Chicago Mayor Harold L. Washington, Governor of Illinois and Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, and former lawyer, Cincinnati mayor, news anchor, and current tabloid talk host Jerry Springer are among the graduates of the Northwestern School of Law.

Northwestern alumnus David J. Skorton serves has been president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges since July 15, 2019

Northwestern's School of Communication is well known for producing successful actors, actresses, playwrights, and film and television writers and directors.

Alumni who have made their mark on film and television include Ann-Margret, Warren Beatty, Jodie Markell, Paul Lynde, David Schwimmer, Anne Dudek, Zach Braff, Zooey Deschanel, Marg Helgenberger, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Meghan Markle (later known as the Duchess of Sussex), Jerry Orbach, Jennifer Jones, Megan Mullally, John Cameron Mitchell, Dermot Mulroney, Charlton Heston, Richard Kind, Ana Gasteyer, Brad Hall, Shelley Long, William Daniels, Cloris Leachman, Bonnie Bartlett, Paula Prentiss, Richard Benjamin, Laura Innes, Charles Busch, Stephanie March, Tony Roberts, Jeri Ryan, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, McLean Stevenson, Tony Randall, Charlotte Rae, Patricia Neal, Tom Virtue, Nancy Dussault, Robert Reed, Mara Brock Akil, Greg Berlanti, Bill Nuss, Dan Shor, Seth Meyers, Peter Spears, Frank DeCaro, Zach Gilford, Nicole Sullivan, Stephen Colbert, Billy Eichner, Sandra Seacat and Garry Marshall. Directors who were graduated from Northwestern include Gerald Freedman, Stuart Hagmann, Marshall W. Mason, Allison Burnett, Michael Greif, and Mary Zimmerman.

Alumni such as Sheldon Harnick, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Heather Headley, Kristen Schaal, Lily Rabe, and Walter Kerr have distinguished themselves on Broadway, as has designer Bob Mackie. Amsterdam-based comedy theater Boom Chicago was founded by Northwestern alumni, and the school has become a training ground for future The Second City, I.O., ComedySportz, Mad TV and Saturday Night Live talent.[248][249][250] Tam Spiva wrote scripts for The Brady Bunch and Gentle Ben. In New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, the number of Northwestern alumni involved in theater, film, and television is so large that the alumni have been dubbed the "Northwestern mafia."[251][252]

The Medill School of Journalism has produced notable journalists and political activists including 42 Pulitzer Prize laureates. National correspondents, reporters and columnists such as The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller, David Barstow, Dean Murphy, and Vincent Laforet, USA Today's Gary Levin, Susan Page and Christine Brennan, NBC correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, CBS correspondent Richard Threlkeld, CNN correspondent Nicole Lapin, former CNN and current Al Jazeera America anchor Joie Chen, sports broadcasting legend Brent Musburger, and ESPN personalities Rachel Nichols, Michael Wilbon, Mike Greenberg, Steve Weissman, J. A. Adande, and Kevin Blackistone. The bestselling author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, George R. R. Martin, earned a B.S. and M.S. from Medill.[253][254] Elisabeth Leamy is the recipient of 13 Emmy awards[255][256][257] and four Edward R. Murrow Awards.[257]

The Feinberg School of Medicine (previously the Northwestern University Medical School) has produced a number of notable graduates, including Mary Harris Thompson, Class of 1870, ad eundem, first female surgeon in Chicago, first female surgeon at Cook County Hospital, and founder of the Mary Thomson Hospital; Roswell Park, Class of 1876, prominent surgeon for whom Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, is named; Daniel Hale Williams, Class of 1883, performed the first successful American open heart surgery; only black charter member of the American College of Surgeons, Charles Horace Mayo, Class of 1888, co-founder of Mayo Clinic; Carlos Montezuma, Class of 1889, one of the first Native Americans to receive a Doctor of Medicine degree from any school, and founder of the Society of American Indians; Howard T. Ricketts, Class of 1897, who discovered bacteria of the genus Rickettsia, and identified the cause and methods of transmission of rocky mountain spotted fever; Allen B. Kanavel, Class of 1899, founder, regent, and president of the American College of Surgeons, internationally recognized as the founder of modern hand and peripheral nerve surgery; Robert F. Furchgott, Class of 1940, recipient of a Lasker Award in 1996 and the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his co-discovery of nitric oxide; Thomas E. Starzl, Class of 1952, who performed the first successful liver transplant in 1967 and received the National Medal of Science in 2004 and a Lasker Award in 2012; Joseph P. Kerwin, first physician in space, flew on the Skylab 2 mission and later served as director of Space and Life Sciences at NASA; C. Richard Schlegel, Class of 1972, developed the dominant patent for a vaccine against human papillomavirus (administered as Gardasil) to prevent cervical cancer; David J. Skorton, Class of 1974, cardiologist who became president of Cornell University in 2006; and Andrew E. Senyei, Class of 1979, inventor, venture capitalist, and entrepreneur, founder of biotech and genetics companies, and a university trustee.

Northwestern alumni have founded notable companies and organizations such as the Mayo Clinic, The Blackstone Group, Kirkland & Ellis, U.S. Steel, Guggenheim Partners, Accenture, Aon Corporation, AQR Capital, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Melvin Capital.

Northwestern alumni involved in music include Steve Albini, Thomas Tyra, Andrew Bird, Robert Davine, Joshua Radin, Frederick Swann, Augusta Read Thomas, Gil Trythall, members of Arcade Fire, The Lawrence Arms, Pharrell Williams, Chavez, Dawen, A Liang (Linton St) and OK Go.

Northwestern alumni involved in athletics include Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, sprinter Betty Robinson, Rick Sund (NBA), Billy McKinney (NBA), Mark Loretta (MLB), Joe Girardi (MLB), Luis Castillo (NFL), Ernie Adams (NFL), Paddy Driscoll (NFL), Otto Graham (NFL), Anthony Walker Jr. (NFL), Mike Adamle (NFL), Mike Kafka (NFL), Trevor Siemian (NFL), Greg Newsome II (NFL), Luke Johnsos (NFL), six-time Olympic medalist Matt Grevers, Irv Cross (NFL) and PGA Tour star Luke Donald.


For a more comprehensive list, see List of Northwestern University faculty.

The university employs 3,781 faculty members across its eleven schools,[2] including 18 members of the National Academy of Sciences,[258] 65 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[259] 19 members of the National Academy of Engineering,[260] and 6 members of the Institute of Medicine.[261] Notable faculty include 2010 Nobel Prize–winning economist Dale T. Mortensen;[262] nano-scientists Chad Mirkin and Samuel I. Stupp; Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering winner Manijeh Razeghi; Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman; management expert Philip Kotler; King Faisal International Prize in Science recipient and Nobel laureate Sir Fraser Stoddart; Steppenwolf Theatre director Anna Shapiro; sexual psychologist J. Michael Bailey;[263] Federalist Society co-founder Steven Calabresi;[264] former Weatherman Bernardine Rae Dohrn;[265] ethnographer Gary Alan Fine;[266] Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Garry Wills;[267] American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow Monica Olvera de la Cruz and MacArthur Fellowship recipients Stuart Dybek, Jennifer Richeson, Amy Rosenzweig, John A. Rogers, Mark Hersam, William Dichtel, and Dylan Penningroth. The faculty also includes Holocaust denier Arthur Butz[268] and Richard Bruce Silverman, inventor of Lyrica (Pregabalin). Notable former faculty include political advisor David Axelrod,[269][270] artists William Conger, Judy Ledgerwood, Ed Paschke,[271] and James Valerio, writer Charles Newman,[272] Nobel Prize–winning chemist John Pople,[273] and military sociologist and "don't ask, don't tell" author Charles Moskos.[274]


  1. ^ Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  2. ^ The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  3. ^ The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.



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Work cited

Further reading