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Application Requirements

Note: Northwestern Medill is working with prospective journalism students in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Your health and well-being, along with that of the Medill community, are our top priority. If due to COVID-19 restrictions you are unable to take the GRE/GMAT and/or TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo exams, please reach out to Director of Graduation Admissions and Financial Aid Julie Collins for information on waiver options.

Selecting a Specialization

When you apply, you must choose one program specialization on your admissions application. The selected specialization will determine when you start the MSJ program (summer or fall). It is important to select a specialization that matches your desired quarter of entry. 

For Medill Investigative Lab applicants: Given limited spots in the Medill Investigative Lab (MIL) specialization, you may be admitted to the MSJ program but not MIL. In this case, you would be admitted to Medill Investigative Program Chicago.

Bachelor's Degree

You must have earned your four-year bachelor's degree before starting the MSJ program. You may apply prior to completing your degree. Applicants who earned a bachelor’s degree outside of the United States must submit a course-by-course evaluation and degree verification from a NACES provider (see www.naces.org for a list of approved providers) indicating their bachelor’s degree is the equivalent of a four-year bachelor’s degree in the United States.

Academic Transcripts

When you apply, you must submit academic transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended. You are not required to submit a transcript for non-degree course work for certificates or MOOCs. Please list non-degree coursework on your resume.

Transfer credit: In addition to the transcript from your home institution, you must submit a transcript from any other institution where you received credit for at least three courses that transferred to your home institution. This includes credit earned on study abroad programs hosted by an institution other than your home institution. You must submit a separate transcript from the institution where you received transfer credit even if the grades for your transfer courses appear on your home institution transcript. (Your “home institution” is the institution where you received your degree.)

For application review, you can submit either official or unofficial transcripts. To be official, a transcript must be sent directly from your institution to Medill, either via postal mail or electronically, with any seals intact.

You can also send official transcripts via secure e-transcript provider to Medill Graduate Admissions (the preferred method for receiving transcripts) or via mail directly from the institution to:

Medill Office of Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid
Northwestern University
1845 Sheridan Road
Suite 104
Evanston, IL 60208-2101

You can upload unofficial transcripts in the “Academic Experience” section of the application. Please make sure that uploaded unofficial transcripts are complete (state the name of the institution and all quarters and semesters of enrollment) and legible; If they are not, the processing of your application could be delayed. If the size of your unofficial transcript file is too large to upload directly into the online application, please email your transcript to Medill Graduate Admissions.

Please note: The Northwestern University Medill Office of Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid is a separate office from Northwestern University’s The Graduate School. Transcripts must be routed directly to Medill’s Office of Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid. Transcripts sent to The Graduate School or any other school at Northwestern in error cannot be transferred to Medill.

If you are admitted and choose to enroll in the program you will be required to submit official and final copies of all your transcripts that confirm your degree, 30 days prior to enrollment (start of classes), including your final undergraduate transcript with proof of your degree and the date it was conferred. Medill reserves the right to withdraw an admission offer if we do not receive these official transcripts by this deadline. It is your responsibility to request an official transcript from the registrar of each institution and to ensure transcripts are sent to Medill.

Applicants with international transcripts

Applicants with international transcripts must also submit an independent course-by-course credential evaluation and degree verification from a NACES provider (see www.naces.org for a list) at the time they submit their application.

Please note: The Northwestern University Medill Office of Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid is a separate office from Northwestern University’s The Graduate School. Transcripts must be routed directly to the Medill’s Office of Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid.

Admissions Interview

Admissions Interviews are optional, though recommended for applicants who would like to address any application area of concern with an admissions officer, such as a lack of journalism course work and/or experience, career changes or academic concerns. The Medill Office of Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid will also reserve the right to request an interview with an applicant if deemed necessary. You can schedule an interview during your selected application Round (please note each Round has a final date that an interview must be scheduled by). We encourage you to schedule your interview prior to submitting your application. Interviews are held via Zoom or similar service. If none of the listed interview times are convenient for you, email, Medill Graduate Admissions to schedule one.

GRE or GMAT Test Scores (waiver available)

Medill requires GRE or GMAT test scores. The test must have been taken within five years of your application submission date. Medill accepts scores from at-home versions of these tests.

Medill allows you the option to self-report your test scores, with percentages, on your application. This allows you to manually type in your scores and percentages without ordering the scores to be sent to Medill. Once you submit your application, we will review these unofficial scores along with the rest of your file. If we decide to offer you admission based on these unofficial scores, it will be on the condition that you send us your official scores at least 30 days prior to enrollment (start of classes).

The official copy of test scores should be sent directly to Medill from ETS or GMAC. Our GRE code is 1699. Our GMAT code is 6WZ-XH-66. Allow four weeks for our office to receive your scores.

You may request a waiver of the GRE and GMAT requirement if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are unable to take the GRE/GMAT test due to COVID-19 restrictions (please note Medill does accept the at-home versions of these tests)
  • You have a final, cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or above on a 4.0 scale or you are a senior with a current GPA of 3.5 or above;
  • You have earned a master’s or doctorate degree;
  • You have 3 or more years of relevant full-time professional work and/or freelance experience;
  • You are a current degree-seeking Northwestern University student or degree-holding alumnus/a.

If you are requesting a waiver based on any of the above criteria, you should check the GRE/GMAT waiver box in the Test Information section of the application. If you request a waiver based on work experience, you are required to submit a written waiver request with your current resume and undergraduate transcript to Medill Graduate Admissions for approval.

Please note, if you request a waiver, we may still require that you take the GRE or GMAT if we think it will allow us to give better consideration to your application.

If you would like verification of your waiver prior to submitting your application, you may email Medill Graduate Admissions. Please attach relevant documents to your email request (e.g. resume, undergraduate and/or graduate transcripts) and a short explanation of why you are requesting a waiver.

If we approve your request, you can view the waiver approval by logging into your online application portal.

Please email Medill Graduate Admissions if you have questions about your eligibility for a waiver.

TOEFL or IELTS Test Scores for International Applicants (waiver available)

If you are an international student, and English is not your first language, you must submit English language test scores. Medill will accept Duolingo, TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores. Medill will accept at-home versions of these English language tests. The Duolingo, TOEFL or IELTS test must have been taken within two years of your application submission date. Send TOEFL scores to Medill using code 1699-18. The IELTS test must be the Academic version. If you are submitting IELTS scores you can provide the TRF number on your application instead of sending an official report. Please send Duolingo scores to Medill Graduate Admissions.

Medill allows you the option to self-report your test scores in your application, or to manually type in your scores without ordering an official score report to be sent to Medill. Once you submit your application, we will review these unofficial scores along with the rest of your file. If we decide to offer you admission based on these unofficial scores, it will be on the condition that you send us your official scores at least 30 days prior to enrollment (or the start of classes).

Please email Medill Graduate Admissions if you have questions about your eligibility for a waiver. We will consider waivers for applicants with significant English language skills from years of study in the United States (college-level, high school, and/or relevant post-graduate work experience).

Resume

Submit your current resume, which should highlight your professional and academic experiences, including non-degree course work, certificates and MOOCs. We encourage applicants to include all relevant positions recently held on their resume, including non-journalism jobs, internships or volunteer experiences. This includes work-study and other positions held during college.

Essays

Please upload a professional statement and a writing sample, as described in the MSJ Essays section of the application.

Professional statement: Please describe your interest in Medill's Journalism program in 1500 words or fewer. Be sure to address the following questions:

  • What is it about Medill's MSJ program that particularly attracts you, and how will the program help you to achieve your future goals? 
  • Why are you applying to the particular specialization you selected? 
  • Describe a time when you received critical feedback (for example, in a class, job or internship). What did you learn from the experience? 

Writing sample: Please provide a writing sample that showcases your best work, demonstrating research and reporting skills. You may submit a published clip or a sample of work from a college or graduate-level class. Do not submit a broadcast script. Please limit your writing sample to three pages or fewer. Or, you may write an essay of 750 words or fewer that answers any or all of the following questions: How would you define the role of journalism in your society? What are current news organizations doing right, and what would you like to improve? What is an example of a text piece of journalism that covers an area of your interest; what do you think the piece does well and what are areas of improvement? Where would you like journalism to be five years from now?

Diversity Statement (optional): If you wish, you can provide a statement of 300 words or fewer describing how your background and identities would contribute to the diversity of our class.

Additional Information (optional): If there is anything in your application that you would like to address (e.g., GRE or GMAT scores, GPA, lack of journalism or other work experience) or any additional information you would like to include, please do so here in 300 words or fewer.

If you would like to be considered for the Comer scholarship scholarship (offered to students applying to the Health, Environment and Sciences specialization) please complete the required essay in the MSJ Essays section of the application.

Work Samples (optional)

You may upload or provide links to up to three published clips, scripts or other writing samples, or video or interactive samples. If you don’t have any published samples, you are encouraged to submit an excerpt of your best work from a college class.

All samples should be in English. If your sample is not in English, please provide a translation. If your sample was a group project, please describe your contribution to it. (If your group project is a link, you can upload this description using one of the upload buttons.)

Please do not submit large collections of work. Written samples should not exceed three pages and video samples should not be longer than five minutes. Additional clips or extremely long writing samples (e.g. a thesis) will not be reviewed.

Recommendations

Medill requires two letters of recommendation for applicants to our graduate programs. You may submit a third recommendation if you wish. Recommendations should be from someone who can assess your academic and professional abilities (e.g., employers, supervisors, current or former professors). Recommendations from family members or from friends who do not have direct experience with your professional or academic work will not be accepted. Enter your recommenders' contact information in the online application. The system will then email your recommenders instructions on how to submit their letters online. You are responsible for reminding recommenders to submit their letters through the online system by the deadline. If your recommender has trouble submitting their letter, please contact Medill Graduate Admissions. Please note: We cannot accept letters of recommendation submitted by applicants; they must come directly from the recommender.

Application Fee

There is a $75 non-refundable application fee. You may pay this online by credit card or indicate that you will be paying by check. If paying by check, please include the payment voucher that you can print from your online application and mail your payment to the:

Medill Office of Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid
Northwestern University
1845 Sheridan Road
Suite 104
Evanston, IL 60208-2101

If you are a current or former member of the U.S. Armed Forces, AmeriCorps, Teach for America or the Peace Corps, you may request a fee waiver by sending an email to Director of Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid Julie Collins prior to submitting your application.

We also offer a limited number of application fee waivers based on financial need; requests of this nature must be requested in writing prior to submitting your application. Send your request to Director Julie Collins.

Applications by Current Northwestern Undergraduates

If you are a current Northwestern undergraduate who is not a Medill student, you do not need to pay the application fee and may request a waiver of the GRE/GMAT test requirement.

If you are a current Medill undergraduate:

Financial Aid and Scholarships

All admitted students, including international students, are considered for merit-based scholarships. There is no separate application for applicants to be considered for scholarships; merit-based scholarships are awarded based on the content of your admissions application.

The only Medill scholarships that require an additional essay are the Comer scholarship (offered to students applying to the Health, Environment and Sciences specialization) and the Simmons Family Scholarship for Sports Journalism (offered to students applying for the Sports Media specialization) Please submit those essays in the MSJ Essays section of the application.

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and would like to apply for federal financial aid, you may do so after you are admitted. Instructions for how to apply for federal financial aid will be sent directly to admitted students.


Mailing your application materials

Send materials that cannot be uploaded or entered into your online application account to:

Medill Office of Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid
Northwestern University
1845 Sheridan Road
Suite 104
Evanston, IL 60208-2101

Please note that application materials become property of Northwestern University and will not be returned. Remember to retain a personal copy of your application. You can also email materials to Medill Graduate Admissions.

Medill reserves the right to revoke admission if new information is obtained that would warrant such action.

In exceptional circumstances, Medill reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to waive any documentation normally required for admission. Medill also reserves the right to admit or deny admission whenever it believes that it has sufficient evidence to do so.

Northwestern University reserves the right to change without notice any statement in this application or instructions concerning, but not limited to, rules, policies, tuition, fees, curricula and courses.

Northwestern University does not discriminate or permit discrimination by any member of its community against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship or veteran status in matters of admission, employment, housing, or services or in the educational programs or activities it operates.

Harassment, whether verbal, physical, or visual, that is based on any of these characteristics is a form of discrimination. This includes harassing conduct affecting tangible job benefits, interfering unreasonably with an individual's academic or work performance, or creating what a reasonable person would sense is an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

While Northwestern University is committed to the principles of free inquiry and free expression, discrimination and harassment identified in this policy are neither legally protected expression nor the proper exercise of academic freedom.

For advice or assistance regarding this policy, see Office of Equity - Northwestern University

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