Anyone who went to college thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago, would likely be shocked if you told them that Northeastern University, once viewed as more of a commuter school than a nationally-recognized institution, now sports an acceptance rate of under 7%. This Boston-based private university was founded back in 1898 and one hundred years later, U.S. News ranked NU as the 162nd best school in the country. What has happened since that time is nothing short of amazing. In 2000, the average incoming SAT was 1157; today it is 1484. The school now rests comfortably among the top 50 universities according to U.S. News and receives in excess of 90,000 applications every year.

Given that the process of gaining acceptance into Northeastern becomes increasingly challenging with each passing year, this blog is designed to provide you with:

1) An understanding of how highly-selective the Northeastern admissions process truly is.

2) Data that will help you better assess how you measure up to the competition.

3) How the Northeastern admissions committee operates and what they look for in a successful candidate.

To accomplish these goals, we will touch on the following topics:

  • Northeastern’s Class of 2026 acceptance rate
  • Northeastern’s ED acceptance rate
  • SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted Northeastern applicants
  • Admissions trends from the Class of 2026
  • The demographics of current Northeastern undergraduates
  • Northeastern’s yield rate
  • How Northeastern’s admissions officers evaluate candidates
  • Tips for applying to Northeastern
  • How to assess whether applying to Northeastern is even worth the $75 application fee (for you)

Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.

Northeastern: Acceptance Rate – Class of 2026

Northeastern received 90,989 applications for its 2022-23 freshman class and accepted only 6,179—an acceptance rate of 6.7%. For comparison, the acceptance rate the previous year was a much healthier 18%.

Northeastern: Early Decision Acceptance Rate

In building the Class of 2026, the university admitted approximately 33% of those applied ED, compared to just 7% overall. The previous cycle, NU accepted over 50% of ED applicants. Clearly there is a huge edge for those applying ED to this institution.

NU offers both ED I and ED II, with November 1 and January 1 deadlines.

Northeastern Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank

The mid-50% SAT for Class of 2025 members was 1440-1530, the highest to date. Seventy-seven percent of test-takers scored a 700+ on the EBRW section and 90% earned better than 700 on the Math section. The mid-50% ACT score was 33-35. An overwhelming 71% of Class of 2025 members finished in the top decile of their high school class; 93% placed in the top quartile.

Admissions Trends & Notes – (Class of 2026)

  • The school received 64,459 applications for the Class of 2024 compared to 90,989 in this most recent cycle.
  • Only 28% of incoming 2021-22 freshmen submitted SAT scores; 14% included ACT scores.
  • Due to over enrollment the previous year, the target size for the Class of 2026 was 2,500, roughly 1,000 fewer than a typical year.
  • NU is no longer a particularly transfer-friendly institution. While they accepted 48% of applicants in the 2019-20 academic year, they admitted just 20% the following year.
  • For the Class of 2025, NU increased their percentage of Hispanic students by 107% and their percentage of a Black students by 147%.

Who Gets Into Northeastern?

Let’s look at the demographics of Northeastern undergraduates:

Geographically, 48 U.S. states are presently represented across the NU undergraduate population. As with all selective colleges, those from lower-populated, more remote areas of the country (e.g. Wyoming, South Dakota, and Alaska) enjoy a boost to their admissions prospects.

The states with the strongest undergraduate representation are:

  1. Massachusetts
  2. New York
  3. New Jersey
  4. California
  5. Connecticut
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. Florida

Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown of students was as follows:

  • Asian: 17%
  • Hispanic: 9%
  • African American: 4%
  • White: 45%
  • International: 16%

The breakdown by gender is as follows:

  • Male: 49%
  • Female: 51%

Let’s now take a college-by-college look at where/what current undergraduates are studying:

  • College of Arts, Media, and Design: 1,514
  • Bouvé College of Health Sciences: 2,134
  • D’Amore-McKim School of Business: 4,449
  • College of Engineering: 3,958
  • Khoury College of Computer Sciences: 2,938
  • College of Science: 3,374
  • College of Social Sciences and Humanities: 1,860
  • University Programs: 611

NU’s Yield Rate

Northeastern’s yield rate — the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted — was 33% last year, much higher than in previous years. For comparison, schools like Stanford & Harvard were over 80%, and the University of Chicago, MIT, and Yale all sported 70%+ yield rates. Northeastern still finished well behind other elite private institutions such as Vanderbilt (40%), Rice (39%), and Carnegie Mellon (43%). This tells us that NU is eager to know if you are their first choice, and there is a great admissions advantage to signaling such a leaning.

How Northeastern Rates Applicants

There are five factors that Northeastern ranks as being “very important” to their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record, GPA, standardized test scores, the application essay, and recommendations. Rating as “important” are: extracurricular activities, talent/ability, character/personal qualities, and volunteer/paid work. “Considered” factors are: first-generation status, race/ethnicity, class rank, demonstrated interest, and geographical residence.

In the words of Northeastern admissions officers themselves: “Candidates who bring diverse experiences, perspectives, and interests to our community are identified by the Admissions Committee following a holistic application evaluation.” With a goal of building a diverse and talented freshman class, “the Admissions Committee seeks to enroll students who have been academically successful and who have been actively involved in their school and community.”

Tips for Applying to Northeastern  

If you plan on joining the 90,000+ Husky hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • There are no interviews offered through the university. As such, you’ll need to use the essay and recommendations to forge a personal connection with an admissions officer.
  • Northeastern does consider “demonstrated interest” so it is important that you make contact with the admissions office, connect through social media, and (when COVID-19 is no longer an issue) visit campus or meet Northeastern reps at a college fair near you.
  • In the 2021-22 cycle, Northeastern no longer utilized any supplemental essay prompts. Therefore, the primary Common App essay takes on an even greater level of importance when applying to the university.

CT Advice: With only one essay to complete for Northeastern, applicants need to channel their efforts into the Common App essay of their choice. For more on the prompts themselves, which might be best to select, and how to begin brainstorming, visit our previous posts.

Should I Apply to Northeastern?

With Northeastern growing more competitive each year, you will likely need to possess stellar SAT scores, near-perfect grades, and earn a place in the top 10% of your high school class. Applying ED will provide a sizable edge if you find yourself “on the cusp” from an admissions standpoint.

All college-bound teens need to make sure that they formulate an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools. You’ll definitely want to do this in conjunction with an admissions professional (including your own high school counselor).