Timothy Peck 6 min read 11th Grade, 12th Grade, School Comparisons

Northeastern vs. Northwestern: Which College is Right for You?

Northeastern vs. Northwestern? While both schools share numerous commonalities—such as similar-sounding names, and being ranked in the top 50 of U.S. News’ listing of top national universities—there are also a handful of ways the schools set themselves apart. Keep reading to learn which school is best for you. 

 

Learn more about Northeastern University and Northwestern University and see your chances of acceptance.

 

Northeastern vs. Northwestern: A Quick Overview

 

Northeastern  Northwestern 
Location Boston, MA Evanston, IL
Campus Type Urban  Suburban 
Undergraduate Enrollment 14,202 8,327
Acceptance Rate 18% 9%
U.S. News Ranking 49 9
Middle 50% SAT 1390-1540 1440–1550
Middle 50% ACT 32-35 32–35
Sticker Price $73,532 $79,342
Need-blind, no-loan, or meets 100% demonstrated need? Need-blind

Meets 100% need

Need-blind 

No-loan for Pell Grant recipients

Meets 100% need

 

Northeastern vs. Northwestern: A Closer Look

 

Location

 

Boston, Massachusetts, home of Northeastern, is one of the oldest big cities in the U.S. and boasts a variety of historical, cultural, and recreational opportunities. Despite its big-city status, Boston is a college town at heart—35 colleges, universities, and community colleges reside in the city, while world-class institutions such as Harvard and MIT are located just outside the city. Students studying in Boston should plan on packing their entire wardrobe; Mark Twain famously said: “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute.”

 

Northwestern is located in Evanston, Illinois, which is roughly 15 miles north of Chicago, the U.S.’s third-largest city. Evanston offers everything a college student looks for on a college campus, there’s an abundance of eclectic eating options and interesting shops all within walking distance of the school, and one of the country’s great cities is just a short car ride away. The campus is also located on the shores of Lake Michigan and provides easy access to numerous beaches. 

 

Size

 

14,676 full-time undergraduate students and another 8,894 full-time graduate students are enrolled at Northeastern. Northeastern has a 14:1 student-faculty ratio and 67.2% of their classes have less than 20 students in them. 

 

When comparing enrollment between Northeastern vs. Northwestern, a major difference between the two schools becomes apparent, which is that Northeastern is considerably larger. Just 8,327 undergraduates attend Northwestern and the university has a total enrollment of 18,191 students. Also comparatively smaller is the student-faculty ratio (6:1) and class size (77.1% of classes have fewer than 20 students in them).  

 

Academics

 

Northeastern offers more than 90 majors through its eight undergraduate colleges. Those eights colleges are: 

 

  • Bouvé College of Health Sciences
  • College of Arts, Media and Design
  • Khoury College of Computer Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Professional Studies
  • College of Science
  • College of Social Sciences and Humanities
  • D’Amore-McKim School of Business

 

Another differentiator when comparing Northeastern vs. Northwestern is that Northeastern operates on a cooperation education model, or, as it’s called on campus, co-op. Co-op blends periods of study with periods of full-time employment, allowing students to apply lessons learned in the classroom to real-world situations. Co-ops are available with employers in 131 countries on all seven continents (yes, including Antarctica!) and provide students with a powerful path to employment—50% of students are offered a job from their co-op employer. 

 

Students at Northwestern can earn a degree in a broad spectrum of subjects ranging from Anthropology to Statistics through the university’s nine undergraduate schools and colleges. Those schools are: 

 

  • Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Communication
  • School of Education & Social Policy
  • McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science
  • Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Bienen School of Music
  • Kellogg School of Management
  • Bienen School of Music
  • Northwestern in Qatar

 

Northwestern is notable for its multidisciplinary approach to education, 72% of undergrads combine two or more areas of study. Northwestern also has a campus in Qatar for students who want to take “going away to college” to the extreme. For those students who just want to dabble in life outside of the U.S., studying abroad is a popular option. More than half of Northwestern undergraduates participate in one of Northwestern’s 150 study abroad programs spread across 50 countries. 

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Housing

 

First- and second-year undergraduates are required to live on campus at Northeastern. Northeastern guarantees all undergraduates who enter as first-year students four years of housing; however, just 49% of students live on campus. 

 

There’s a variety of housing available to Northeastern students ranging from traditional residence halls to apartment-style complexes. The school also offers a multitude of living-learning communities, including:  

 

  • Bouvé College of Health Sciences
  • Khoury College of Computer Sciences
  • Women in Khoury College of Computer Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • Connections (Women in Engineering)
  • College of Science
  • Global Visions (D’Amore-McKim School of Business)
  • Honors
  • NU Journeys (NU Explore Program)
  • Pre-Health
  • Politics, Philosophy, and Economics
  • Community Service
  • Creative Expressions
  • Cultural Inclusion
  • Fusion
  • Healthy Living
  • Leadership (Leaders of the Pack & Sports Leadership)
  • Musical Motifs

 

Northwestern also requires all first- and second-year students to live on campus, and despite Northeastern’s promise of four year’s worth of housing, Northwestern maintains a higher percentage of students living on campus—about 60% of all Northwestern undergraduates live there. Students at Northwestern can choose to live in a residence hall, at a residence college, or in special interest housing, which includes:  

 

  • All Gender Housing
  • GREEN House 
  • Substance-Free Housing 

 

Financial aid

 

Northeastern meets the full demonstrated financial need of every student they admit. According to the “Northeastern Promise,” the school is committed to increasing need-based funds at the same percentage rates as increases in tuition. 32% of full-time undergraduates receive some form of need-based aid and the average need-based award is $27,457. Overall, more than 75% of new students receive some form of aid.  

 

46% of Northwestern undergraduates receive some kind of need-based aid, and the average need-based scholarship awarded is $52,629. Northwestern is no-loan for Pell Grant recipients, and the school has a goal of accepting 20% Pell Grant-eligible students.

 

Sports and Extracurriculars

 

Northeastern fields 18 Division I sports teams (including an eSports team) and plays in the Colonial Athletic Association Conference. Professional sports teams like the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots steal the spotlight in Boston; however, there is enthusiasm for college athletics at Northeastern, 98% of Northeastern students attend a sporting event each year.

 

Northwestern not only participates in one of the NCAA power five conferences—the Big Ten—they were also a founding member of it. While the focus is often on football games against national powerhouses like Ohio State, Northwestern’s women’s lacrosse team is the school’s most successful program, having won seven NCAA titles since 2005. 

 

Comparing Northwestern vs. Northeastern Greek life is another notable place where the two schools differ. At Northwestern, Greek life is an integral part of the university’s social scene and history—the first fraternity appeared on Northwestern’s campus in 1859, and 35-40% of today’s undergraduates are affiliated with a fraternity or sorority. Comparatively, Northeastern is home to a small Greek community—only about 2,700 students are active participants in the school’s 18 fraternities and 12 sororities. 

 

Culture and Diversity

 

Northeastern only receives a 3/5 on the Campus Pride Index (a benchmarking tool for LGBTQ friendliness). This is due to its relative lack of LBGTQ training and resources, including LGBTQ-specific counseling and training for new faculty. That said, students anecdotally report feeling safe and accepted, and Boston is an incredibly liberal city. The university’s LGBTQA center is active and hosts many events, including NU Queer Orientation for incoming students, and Rainbow Graduation to celebrate graduates. 

 

The diversity makeup for Northeastern is:

 

Ethnicity Percentage of Student Body
White  45.4%
Non-resident Alien 19.8%
Asian 13%
Hispanic/Latinx 7.6%
Black or African American 3.6%
Ethnicity Unknown  10.6%

 

Northwestern also offers an inclusive campus that is home to students from all 50 states and over 75 different countries. Northwestern receives 4/5 on the Campus Pride Index, earning high marks for LGBTQ support and institutional commitment.

 

The diversity makeup for Northwestern is:

 

Ethnicity Percentage of Student Body
White 53.2%
Asian American 25.5%
Hispanic or Latinx 15.4%
Black or African American 10%
International 10%
American Indian or Alaska Native 1.6%

 

How to Decide Between Northeastern vs. Northwestern

 

Northeastern is especially strong for students who:

 

 

Northwestern is especially strong for students who:

 

  • Want to study in a small city but have easy access to a big one.
  • Are outcome-focused—in 2018, 95% of undergraduates were employed, studying on a fellowship, or attending graduate or professional school within six months of graduation.
  • Care about a school’s reputation—Northwestern placed 33rd on the Times Higher Education’s rankings of the top 50 universities by reputation 2019
  • Don’t have or want a car—Evanston routinely ranks as one of the country’s most walkable college towns. 
  • Seek smaller classrooms and more accessible professors, advisors, and teaching assistants. 

 

Will your odds of admission affect your choice between Northwestern and Northeastern? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S., including Northwestern and Northeastern. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

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Timothy Peck
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.