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General Admissions Questions

Do I need to have design experience in order to be admitted to the EDI program?

No. We do not require previous design experience for admission. We look for a demonstrated interest in design and the human-centered design process.

Be sure to highlight such interest in your past academic project examples, work experience, and personal statement.

I don't have an engineering degree. Can I still be considered for admission?

We admit applicants with a variety of academic degrees across disciplines in STEM, humanities, and the arts.  One of the strengths of our cohort model is the diversity of expertise our students have across various fields.

I am currently an undergraduate student at Northwestern. What is the process for applying to be a BS/MS student in the EDI program?

The EDI program considers BS/MS applications from students requiring 4 or fewer courses toward BS degree requirements entering the Fall of their final undergraduate year. Applications should be submitted by January 15 and will be considered on the same cycle as all other applications to the cohort. While you must have at least a 3.000 GPA to be considered, there are no automatic admits to the EDI program. Please submit your application through CollegeNet. Include your BS/MS plan of study, two recommenders, and the rest of the application requirements. If requested prior to submission of your application, a fee waiver code can be provided to BS/MS applicants.


Do you accept students for matriculation in the winter or spring terms?

No. Students may matriculate only in the fall term.

Do you offer automatic admission to Northwestern undergraduate students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher?

No. We do not have a policy of automatic admission for any student.

If I apply before the deadline, will I get an admissions decision earlier?

For all complete applications submitted by January 15, we will provide either an admissions decision or notice of deferral by mid-March.

You may request an earlier decision, however, making such a request may slightly decrease the likelihood of a successful admission.

Is the EDI program eligible for STEM OPT Extension?

Yes, the EDI program is a STEM program eligible for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension. The OPT Extension allows some students with science, technology, engineering, or math degrees to apply to extend their post-completion OPT authorization. For additional information, please visit the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.

Admissions Requirements

What are the minimum GPA and test score requirements for EDI?

We generally follow The Graduate School's guidelines on minimum GPA and test scores:

  • a minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0
  • a minimum TOEFL score of 95 (Internet-based test) or minimum IELTS score of 7 is required ONLY for international students who have not previously studied at an institution where the primary instruction language is English
  • In some cases, other factors are prioritized over grades and scores. Please note that grades and scores are considered alongside a wide range of other factors in determining admissibility to the EDI program. Every case is considered independently.

What type of project work should I submit with my application?

The best projects demonstrate that some initial research or exploration was required in order to scope the work. Take care in communicating the purpose and key learnings from each project sample submitted.

If you have a personal website showing past project work, we encourage you to include the website link in your online application. Otherwise, please upload a PDF of your work as a "writing sample" within your online application. All uploads must be less than 2.5 MB in size.

Generally, applicants submit two to six projects, depending on each project’s scale and the amount of descriptive information required.

Many of our applicants have traditional engineering backgrounds and little or no traditional design experience, so we do not expect traditional design portfolios from them.

Under what circumstances is the TOEFL/IELTS requirement waived for international students?

If you received an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English, you do not need to take the TOEFL or IELTS.

If you have taken the TOEFL/IELTS within the last two years, you may request to have those scores sent from ETS.

Under no other circumstances can the requirement be waived if your native language is not English.


When does Camp EDI start?

Camp EDI normally begins in early September, approximately two to three weeks before regular classes begin.

What is Camp EDI?

Camp EDI is a pre-term workshop that is required for all incoming EDIs. The workshop consists of a set of intensive training sessions that provide students the opportunity to strengthen their skills in selected tools of the design trade, including 2D visualization and communication, 3D modeling, and mechatronics. Students work on a project that allows them to practice their newly acquired skills. Sessions are primarily devoted to instruction, and students are expected to work on their own time to complete the project within the given timeframe.


When do I register for class?

New student registration opens in September. During Camp EDI, second-year EDI students will be able to field questions about elective courses and the registration process.

Use these resources to help during the registration process:
CAESAR: Student Information Portal Login
EDI Curriculum Breakdown
Segal Course Catalogue

What is the EDI Program tuition?

Please refer to The Graduate School website for detailed information about the cost of tuition.


What types of activities are EDIs involved in outside of class?

Students take it upon themselves to get involved in a variety of extracurricular activities. Examples include outreach-based activities such as mentoring student teams or volunteering with local elementary schools; cohort-based activities like the EDI volleyball team; and activities just for fun such as pottery classes.

Do students typically have part-time jobs while in EDI?

Due to the demanding nature of the EDI program, students typically do not have jobs during the active terms. Additionally, EDI students are encouraged to participate in a design-related summer internship between their third and fourth quarters.

How do EDIs get placed in internships?

Formal services are offered through McCormick’s Engineering Career Development office. Students are also invited to attend informal design innovation mixers hosted by Segal. Additionally, students are encouraged to leverage the vast EDI alumni network. Please note that internship opportunities vary and no student is guaranteed placement.


Should I live in Evanston or Chicago?

Our EDI classes tend to be split down the middle — about half of our students live in Evanston and another half live in Chicago. Students who live in Chicago usually live near the Purple Line CTA train, which operates express trains to Evanston. Students also live near the Red and Brown Line trains, which easily connect to the Purple Line.

Learn more about housing at:
Northwestern’s Off-Campus How To Guide
Chicago Neighborhoods Guide
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Maps

Where can I learn more about living off-campus?

Northwestern University's Off-Campus Life (OCL) serves as the first point of contact for all students moving and living off-campus. OCL helps educate students about their rights, responsibilities, and resources as members of the Evanston and Chicago communities.

To find out more, watch their How-To videos How to Move Off Campus and NavigatingPlaces4StudentsYou can also contact OCL via phone at 847-491-8430 or email at


Do I need a car?

Both Evanston and Chicago are extremely accessible by public transportation. If you live in Evanston, or near a CTA train that connects to the Purple Line, there is no need for a car.

Will Northwestern pay for my CTA pass?

The Graduate School (TGS) and CTA provide the CTA University Pass (U-Pass) to full-time graduate students. The CTA U-Pass program uses fare cards called Ventra, a contactless payment system that serves as a U-Pass.

You can learn more about transportation options on campus by visiting the Northwestern Shuttle Services and the Northwestern Transportation and Parking websites.

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