International Applicants

The Graduate School (TGS) at Northwestern University invites you to apply to be part of our diverse international student body. Our students study on one of two campuses located in Evanston and Chicago. Both campuses will afford you easy access to international airports, museums, theatres, libraries, and a wealth of cultural and research opportunities.

In addition to the many resources available to all graduate students, the University maintains offices designed specifically to help you in your studies.

The International Office

The International Office offers a variety of services to new and returning international students. The International Office is a resource for questions regarding:

  • U.S. immigration
  • Obtaining a visa
  • A variety of cultural adjustment seminars
  • Orientations for new students

Be sure to visit the International Office website.

International Summer Institute

In addition to the services the International Office provides, select students are offered the opportunity to participate in the International Summer Institute (ISI) prior to beginning graduate study. This elite immersion program provides intensive instruction in the American dialect of spoken English — with a special emphasis on the language skills needed to excel in graduate level courses, to teach undergraduates effectively, and to present their research at conferences and colloquia.

Participants practice their spoken English with native speakers at a variety of social events in the Evanston and Chicago area — visiting parks, museums, restaurants and other local attractions.

The curriculum also includes practical forums that prepare students for their new life in the United States. These forums address issues such as:

  • Banking
  • Apartment hunting
  • Transportation,
  • Safety
  • Shopping
  • Health

For more information about this program, please visit the ISI website

ESL Classes

Northwestern University offers a variety of ESL classes and workshops to assist in your mastery of the English language, including:

  • Pronunciation and intonation (beginning and advanced)
  • Conversation and fluency
  • Culture and fluency
  • American academic culture
  • Academic writing
  • Academic presentations 

Free Test of Spoken English preparation workshops are also offered on a non-credit basis. In addition to these classes, you are welcome to participate in free weekly tutoring sessions aimed at refining your speaking and writing abilities. Please visit Northwestern's ESL website for more information on these and other English language services.

If you have been recently admitted and would like information regarding how to obtain a Request for Visa Form, Tax Identification Number, US Bank Account or US cellular phone, please visit our Newly Admitted Students page.

For questions regarding TOEFL scores, be sure to review the website of the program to which you are applying. TOEFL scores may be no older than 2 years from your intended quarter of entry. If you are applying for Fall 2015 quarter, TOEFL scores must be no older than September 2013.

FAQs - International Students

Q: To whom should I send my Request for Visa?

A: The International Office accepts visa requests from enrolling students only. Once completed, Request for Visa forms should be sent to The International Office with accompanying evidence of support. The International Office will process your I-20 and send it to your admitting department. Your admitting department will then send you your I-20. You will use this document to obtain your visa. 

For questions regarding choosing the proper visa or errors in your visa document, please contact the International Office via email or phone 847-491-5613.

Q: Does Northwestern University accept 3 year bachelor’s degrees?

A: Yes. TGS welcomes students with 3-year bachelor’s degrees to apply for admission.