Skip to main content

Frequently Asked Questions

Expand all

Is the chemistry GRE exam a requirement for admission?

No, the GRE Subject Test score(s) is not required.

What is the deadline for submitting an application?

You should have your application and all supporting materials submitted as soon as possible, and no later than December 1st.

Are Fee Waivers available?

For Domestic Applicants & U.S. Citizens:

The Graduate School (TGS) is able to provide a limited number of fee waivers to eligible applicants who meet the specific criteria

For further information, please go to the following page about the fee waiver process


For International Applicants:

The Graduate School (TGS) does not provide a fee waiver option for international students

What is the profile of a successful applicant?

Strong applicants have research experience, demonstrate scientific curiosity and engagement, and are devoted to being part of an interdisciplinary scientific community. These attributes are showcased by a strong statement of purpose, strong letters of recommendation, in particular from research advisors, and academic performance.

Should I include a writing sample or copies of my publications?


What if I am currently attending another graduate school and want to transfer?

The application process for transfer students is the same as for other applicants. However, we do not encourage students to transfer from our sister institutions in the U.S. as this tends to create bad feelings with our colleagues at those institutions. The student should be well aware of the consequences of applying for a transfer before beginning this process. If the student is leaving their institution with a Master’s degree and this is the highest possible achievement there, then they will not be viewed by the Admissions Committee as a transfer student. However, if the student is departing from an institution that offers a Ph.D. program, they will be considered as a transfer.

We do occasionally make exceptions under extenuating circumstances (e.g., if the student has a spouse in our department or their advisor was denied tenure.) If you feel that you meet either of these criteria, you should let us know and have a letter of recommendation from your main advisor. If you are an international student, TOEFL scores are valid for two years only. You will need to ask ETS to forward all of your scores in order to receive financial aid.

When will I be notified whether I have been admitted?

The faculty admissions committee reviews applications during the fall and winter. All decisions will be made no later than April 15th.

Can I apply to begin the program in the Spring rather than the Fall?

No. We have Fall Admissions only. If you are admitted to the program, you are more than welcome to arrive in the summer to conduct research. You need to find a faculty member who is willing to employ you on a temporary basis. Although you cannot officially commit to joining a group before the advisor selection process in the fall of your first year, students who come early are often invited to join the group in which they were temporarily working.

If I am admitted and then decide that I would like to take a year off, can I defer my start date until the following Fall?

Yes. Admission may be deferred up to one year from the quarter of admission. You will need to submit the request to The Graduate School. If you decide to take more than a year off, you will need to reapply to the program.

What can I expect during the visit weekends?

Students who have received an acceptance letter will be invited to attend a visit weekend. Prior to the weekend, each student will be asked to forward the names of four professors they would like to meet with during their stay. Visit weekends typically begin on a Thursday evening and conclude on a Saturday afternoon. Students will be given an overview of the curriculum and requirements. They will also have the opportunity to meet the faculty and tour the facilities. The purpose of the weekend is to give the student a broader sense of the research opportunities available at Northwestern. It is highly recommended that you visit the institution in order to make an informed decision on attending Northwestern.

How can I get more information about the admission process or program?

Please feel free to contact our Graduate Program Assistant for additional information:
Telephone: 847/491-2968