If you’re a college-bound student with top-of-the-class grades and impressive SAT/ACT scores who would like to attend a highly-ranked Midwest college, you’ve likely looked at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.
At first glance, these prestigious institutions – both located in Illinois – have a lot in common. Northwestern University and the University of Chicago have similar per year price tags, and both are in the top 10 of U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of national universities.
But there are also some key differences that turn the Northwestern vs UChicago question into an easy choice for some students. In the end, it often comes down to lifestyle preference.
Comparing Northwestern vs UChicago: Key Similarities
First, let’s take a look at some of the key similarities between Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. A quick look shows that they have a number of important commonalities, including:
- Both are in the top 10 of U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of national universities
- Both are located in the Midwest, and both in Illinois
- Both are private institutions
- The yearly cost to attend each is almost identical (approx. $80K)
- Both have low student to faculty ratios (5:1 for UChicago, 6:1 for Northwestern)
- They have similar highly selective acceptance rates (6% for UChicago, 9% for Northwestern)
Northwestern University and the University of Chicago even look for similar student profiles when making their admissions decisions, including test scores and GPAs.
How to Get Into Chicago University
With a 6% acceptance rate, the University of Chicago is one of the most selective universities in the country. Knowing how to get into Chicago University will help you prepare and submit the strongest application package you can.
Applicants should ensure their SAT or ACT scores are at least in the middle 50% of UChicago’s current students (1500-1560 for the SAT and 33 to 35 for the ACT). Note that, in addition to undergraduate programs, the University of Chicago offers graduate, summer, and continuing education programs. Be sure to check the admissions process for each on their website for more information on how to get into Chicago University.
How to Gain Northwestern Acceptance
Northwestern University has a slightly more generous acceptance rate than the University of Chicago, at 9%. This still puts it in the highly selective category of U.S. universities, however. Getting that Northwestern acceptance letter requires a stellar application package.
Applicants should ensure their SAT or ACT scores are at least in the middle 50% of Northwestern University’s current students (1440-1550 for the SAT and 32-35 for the ACT). Northwestern offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Be sure to check the admissions process for both on their website for more information on how to gain Northwestern acceptance.
Comparing Northwestern vs UChicago: Key Differences
Now you know that Northwestern University and the University of Chicago have a lot of key similarities that students should take into consideration when deciding whether to apply to one or both of these institutions.
Both are in the top 10 of U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of national universities, are located in Illinois, are private institutions, have a similar yearly cost, have low student-to-faculty ratios, and are highly selective.
Now, let’s look at some of the key differences between Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Students will also want to consider these factors when mapping out their college application plan:
- The University of Chicago has an urban campus, located, of course, in Chicago, Illinois
- Northwestern University has a suburban campus, located in Evanston, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago
- Northwestern University enrolls 8,300+ undergraduate students while the University of Chicago enrolls a slightly small class of 6,800+ undergraduates
- Northwestern maintains an international campus in Qatar
- The University of Chicago has international campuses in Paris, Beijing, New Delhi, and Hong Kong
- First year students must live on campus at the University of Chicago
- Both first and second year students must live on campus at Northwestern University
- Northwestern sports teams compete in the famous Big Ten Conference
- University of Chicago sports teams compete in the Division III University Athletic Association
Students should also consider any differences in degree program offerings when looking at potential colleges and universities. You’ll want to make sure any university you attend offers your intended major, any desired minors, and any backup majors in case you change your mind during your studies.
What the Northwestern vs UChicago Differences and Similarities Mean for You
Choosing which universities to apply to and which offer to accept is one of the most important decisions students make during their academic careers. It is also a highly personal decision, and the choice often comes down to whether or not the university is a good fit for your planned area of study and for the kind of lifestyle you hope to have during your college years.
Looking at the similarities and differences between Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, it’s easy to focus on their similarities. Both are highly ranked, cost roughly the same, and are located in the Midwest.
But one of the biggest differences – and the one that many students use when making their choice – is the university setting. Do you want an urban or a suburban campus? Urban enthusiasts will gravitate towards the University of Chicago, while those looking for a more suburban feel will choose Northwestern University.
Northwestern University also has the added benefit of being in a suburban setting (if you’re into that) while also being in very close proximity to the urban core of downtown Chicago. The best of both worlds, for some students.
At the same time, students interested in studying abroad might like the fact that UChicago has more overseas campus locations than Northwestern – Paris, Beijing, New Delhi, and Hong Kong. These students will want to take a closer look at how they might be able to leverage those locations to further their academic and professional goals.
Why Top Athletes Might Choose Northwestern
If athletics are important to you and a key part of your envisioned college experience, you might end up choosing Northwestern vs UChicago. Northwestern University is part of the storied Big Ten Conference (West Division), and student athletes will compete in some of the most exciting and competitive Midwest university sporting events.
Even if you’re not a student athlete yourself, you might be attracted to Northwestern’s athletic program as a spectator. Big Ten games are exciting, and the teams play in some of the best facilities in collegiate sports. If cheering on the team is something you hope to do between exams and study sessions, Northwestern might have the exact sporting atmosphere you’re looking for.
Still Not Sure? Schedule a Campus Visit!
It’s one thing to research the similarities and differences between colleges and universities, but you can’t fully know an institution until you’ve visited it.
Some college students report selecting their top choice simply because they got a good feeling while on campus. And that’s an important feeling to have – you’re going to spend the next four years of your life in that environment! You’ll want to be sure it’s the right one for you in real life, not just on paper.
The best way to get a feel for the university is to schedule a campus visit. Some schools offer guided tours by current students, and some even allow prospective students to stay overnight, to get the full feel of campus life. Take advantage of any visit opportunities offered by schools you think are at the top of your list (and maybe one or two that aren’t). You might be surprised by what you discover when you’re there.
Northwestern vs UChicago: The Bottom Line
College-bound students with top-of-the-class grades and impressive SAT/ACT scores who want to study in the Midwest should absolutely take a look at both Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. These top ranked institutions provide students with world-class facilities, excellent student to faculty ratios, and alumni networks that will serve you as you seek out internships and job opportunities.
In the end, whether you decide that Northwestern University is right for you, or that the University of Chicago is more your style, will likely come down to your preferred campus experience.
But there are also some key differences that turn the Northwestern vs UChicago question into an easy choice for some students. Of course, you’ll want to make sure any university you attend offers your intended major, any desired minors, and any backup majors in case you change your mind during your studies. This is certainly one of the top factors that need to be considered when applying to schools.
That said, in the end, it often comes down to lifestyle preference. Do you prefer urban life or suburban life? And how important are Division I collegiate sports to you? These two differences between Northwestern University and the University of Chicago factor heavily into many students’ ultimate decisions.