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Last updated February 9, 2024

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How to Use the Northeastern Common Data Set

Key Takeaway

Northeastern University values academic GPA, standardized test scores, application essay, recommendations, and demonstrated interest in its application evaluation process. Despite a low acceptance rate of 6.8%, applying through Early Decision can boost chances of admission. Consider the competitiveness of your intended major and factor this into your application strategy.

The Northeastern Common Data Set (CDS) offers plenty of details about what the university looks for in its applicants.

Let's take a look so you can use the information to your advantage.

How Northeastern Evaluates Applicants — based on CDS data

When looking at your application, Northeastern University focuses on key elements like your academic GPA, standardized test scores, application essay, recommendation letters, and your genuine interest in the school.

It's interesting that Northeastern places a high value on your academic GPA and standardized test scores. Along with your application essay and recommendation letters, these make up the initial academic review stage.

But don't underestimate the value of your extracurricular activities, talent/ability, character/personal qualities, volunteer work, and work experience. The university considers them important, too. An active role in extracurricular activities with great impact can make your application shine, even without a flawless academic record.

  Very important Important Considered Not considered
Rigor of Secondary Record X      
Class rank     X  
Academic GPA X      
Standardized test scores X      
Application Essay X      
Recommendation(s) X      
Interview       X
Extracurricular activities   X    
Talent/ability   X    
Character/personal qualities   X    
First generation     X  
Alumni/ae relation       X
Geographical residence     X  
State residency       X
Religious affiliation/commitment       X
Racial/ethnic status     X  
Volunteer work   X    
Work experience   X    
Demonstrated interest     X  

Does Northeastern track demonstrated interest?

Yes, indeed, Northeastern does keep track of demonstrated interest. That's why you should actively engage with the university—open their emails, participate in their events, get in touch with your admissions counselor, and engage in any other activities that the admissions office can monitor.

Does Northeastern care about standardized test scores?

Yup. Northeastern sees standardized test scores as a very important part of your application. You’ll want to aim for the highest scores you can to increase your chances of admission.

Does Northeastern care about essays?

Absolutely, essays are key to the application process at Northeastern. They let the university get a glimpse of your personality, personal traits, and how well you might fit into the classroom and campus culture. So you should carefully craft your college essays to present a clear and cohesive picture of who you are and what you want to achieve.

What GPA do I need to get into Northeastern?

While Northeastern hasn't given specific GPA data, they have shared details about the class rank of admitted students who reported it. About 76.47% of enrolled first-year students ranked in the top tenth of their high school graduating class, 94.55% were in the top quarter, and 98.91% were in the top half.

Class rank Percent of enrolled first-year students
Top tenth 76.47%
Top quarter 94.55%
Top half 98.91%

This data hints that successful applicants are often top students in their high school class.

Northeastern Acceptance Rate

Northeastern University received 91,000 applications in total.

They admitted 6,191 students, which results in an acceptance rate of around 6.8%. That’s really low—like Ivy-level low!

Out of the admitted students, 2,519 decided to enroll.

Northeastern Early Decision Acceptance Rate

Northeastern offers a binding Early Decision (ED) option. Out of 2,707 students who applied for Early Decision, 890 were admitted. This gives an ED acceptance rate of 32.88%, which is noticeably higher than the Regular Decision rate. Because of its binding nature, it's wise to plan your Early Decision application carefully.

What’s the right application option for you?

Even though the ED acceptance rate at Northeastern is higher than the Regular Decision rate, remember that a 32.88% acceptance rate is still pretty competitive. You should only opt for ED if Northeastern is your top choice and you believe you're a good academic fit for the university's programs. Remember, you only get one shot at an ED application, so make it count.

Most popular majors at Northeastern

The most sought-after majors at Northeastern cover a wide range of fields, with business/marketing (23.92%) and engineering (20.04%) at the forefront. Other popular majors include computer and information sciences, biological/life sciences, and health professions.

Major Percent of Degrees Conferred
Business/marketing 23.92
Engineering 20.04
Computer and information sciences 12.28
Biological/life sciences 9.08
Health professions and related programs 9.06
Social sciences 8
Communication/journalism 3.65
Visual and performing arts 2.87
Psychology 2.44
Mathematics and statistics 1.93

This information can help you decide if Northeastern is the right fit for you and how much competition you might face in your desired academic field.

For example, if you're applying to popular majors like business/marketing or engineering, it's essential to clearly tell your unique story to stand out. If you're considering less popular majors, such as mathematics and statistics, or visual and performing arts, you may set you apart from the sea of other applicants.

What should you do with all this information?

With a 6.8% acceptance rate at Northeastern, your application must be top-notch. Focus on your academic record and standardized tests, since they are really important to Northeastern. But don't neglect other important aspects of your application—your essay, recommendation letters, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, character/personal qualities, volunteer work, and work experience. All these factors can help you stand out from the crowd.

Applying via the ED option could increase your chances, but only consider it if Northeastern is your top choice and you feel your profile aligns well with what the university seeks in its students.

Lastly, take into account how competitive your intended major is when crafting your application strategy. If you need help, seek expert guidance to help you navigate this complex process.

Armed with this knowledge, you're now better prepared to create a compelling application for Northeastern University. Best of luck!

Head over to the Data Room to see more Common Data Set data and compare admissions criteria between schools. 



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