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Graduate Programs

Admission

Admission Information

SPS uses a holistic admissions approach for graduate programs that allows for the academic and professional achievements of each applicant to be considered. Each SPS master’s degree program has its own admissions committee that reviews applications each quarter. Please review the application requirements below.

If you have specific questions about the admissions process, contact an adviser at 312-503-2579.

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Check Your Eligibility

To pursue a graduate degree at the School of Professional Studies, an applicant must hold a U.S. bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution or foreign equivalent.

If you are unsure if you are eligible to apply or have questions about the admission process, contact an adviser at 312-503-2579.

 

Application Deadlines

FALL TERM WINTER TERM SPRING TERM SUMMER TERM
July 15
October 15
January 15
April 15

NOTE: The Accelerated Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration program only admits for fall term. The first round deadline is January 15, 2020 and second round deadline is March 15, 2020.

2019–20 Quarter Start Dates

Upon acceptance, students can begin in any quarter.

  • Fall quarter: September 24, 2019
  • Winter quarter: January 6, 2020
  • Spring quarter: March 30, 2020
  • Summer quarter:  June 22, 2020

 

How to Apply

All applicants are required to submit an online application. Applicants can check the status of their application at any time by logging into the online Self Service Center portal. A complete application to the School of Professional Studies includes the following components:

Online Application

Use the online application to submit your contact information, upload your statement of purpose and resume, and any additional supporting documentation. 

Application Fee

A $75 non-refundable application fee is required. Pay online with a credit card.

Statement of Purpose

Applicants are required to submit a 300 to 550 word statement of purpose outlining how the degree program will help them meet their academic and professional goals. The statement of purpose can be uploaded via the online application.

Resume

Applicants are required to submit a resume. The resume can be uploaded via the online application.

Letters of Recommendation

The online application will require that an applicant enter the names and email addresses for two recommenders. Reference requests are sent to your recommenders via email once you complete that portion of the application.

Writing Sample

Select SPS master's programs require a writing sample as part of the application process. See below for details.

Official Transcripts

Please list all colleges and universities attended. Official transcripts must arrive in our office in the original sealed envelope issued by the institution. Northwestern University School of Professional Studies accepts electronic transcripts from U.S. institutions via secure electronic transcript providers. Consult with your institution to see if they are part of a secure e-delivery network.

Official electronic transcripts must be requested from the college or university and sent directly to spsadmissions@northwestern.edu.

Official mailed transcripts can be sent to:

Attn:(program of interest)
Northwestern University School of Professional Studies
Wieboldt Hall, Sixth Floor
339 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611-3008
spsadmissions@northwestern.edu

International Transcripts

Official transcripts from institutions outside of the U.S. are required to be evaluated by a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). Applicants are required to have an official course-by-course evaluation completed. The course-by-course evaluation will serve as the official transcript for studies completed outside of the U.S. 

Northwestern University School of Professional Studies will only accept official course by course evaluations if the evaluation explicitly indicates that the individual’s course of study is the U.S. equivalent of a bachelor’s degree (or master’s degree).

Specifically, if the degree requirement for admission is a conferred bachelor’s degree, the course-by-course evaluation must read equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree. If the degree requirement for admission is a conferred master’s degree, the course-by-course evaluation must read equivalent to a U.S. master’s degree. Additionally, an applicant that has earned a U.S. master’s degree and has a bachelor’s degree from outside of the U.S. must still submit an official course by course evaluation that indicates that the applicant has the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree.

Applicants are also required to ensure that the language of instruction is included in the course-by-course evaluation.

NACES approved evaluation companies, ECE and Educational Perspectives, are highly recommended by the Northwestern University School of Professional Studies. 

Additional instructions for international applicants are listed below.

 

International Applicants

SPS welcomes international applicants to apply and, if admitted, enroll in our graduate degree programs. SPS does not process I-20 or DS-2019 forms for full-time student or exchange visas. Our programs are designed as part-time programs for working professionals and cannot be used to maintain legal status in the United States. 

Students that are admitted to the accelerated MPPA program are eligible to apply and receive a student visa. 

Please contact the International Office with any questions at (847) 491-5613.

English Proficiency

Proof of English proficiency is a School of Professional Studies admission requirement for international applicants. 

International applicants can provide proof of English Proficiency by submitting one of the following:

  • Provide an official transcript demonstrating a Bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited U.S. college or university.
  • Provide an official course-by-course evaluation where the language of instruction is indicated as English.
  • Provide official scores for either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam and achieved the required score (official scores must be provided)
    • TOEFL – 100 or higher on the iBT (internet based TOEFL)
    • IELTS – 7.0 or higher on the Academic IELTS

Programs with Writing Sample Requirements

Liberal Studies (MA)

Writing Sample

The writing sample allows the applicant to demonstrate the ability to present ideas and arguments in a manner appropriate to a graduate-level program. The sample should be a critical analysis paper or essay not exceeding 10 pages, and should consist of the following:

  • A clearly articulated thesis.
  • An argument that persuasively supports the thesis and demonstrates an awareness of contrary arguments.
  • Documentation of quoted material and acknowledgement of ideas taken from the works of others using an accepted academic style guide.

Literature (MA)

Writing Sample

The writing sample is a brief critical paper that demonstrates the ability to evaluate and analyze a literary text. It should not exceed 10 pages and should contain the following:

  • A clearly articulated argument and a concise support for that argument.
  • Documentation of quoted material and acknowledgement of ideas taken from the works of others.

Prose and Poetry (MFA)

Writing Sample

All applicants must submit a sample of writing for their application for admission. The portfolio should consist of one or more works totaling approximately 20 typed, double-spaced pages of prose, 15 to 20 pages of poetry, or the equivalent in published work. The quality of the writing portfolio is the primary (though not exclusive) basis on which admissions decisions are based.

Please review the requirements below for the genre of writing sample that should be submitted per the specialization selected in the application:

  • MFA in Prose and Poetry (fiction): Applicants must submit a sample of writing in the genre of literary fiction.
  • MFA in Prose and Poetry (nonfiction): Applicants must submit a sample of writing in the genre of nonfiction.
  • MFA in Prose and Poetry (poetry): Applicants must submit a sample of writing in the genre of poetry.
  • MFA in Prose and Poetry (popular fiction): Applicants must submit a sample of writing in the genre of popular fiction. NOTE: A writing sample in literary fiction will suffice; applicants should address their interest in focusing on popular fiction in their statement of purpose.
  • MFA in Prose and Poetry (dual-genre): Applicants must submit two writing samples; one in each genre they are interested in pursuing (20 or so pages: 10 to 12 pages per genre if prose; if poetry is one of the genres, 15 pages for prose and 10 to 15 pages for poetry).
  • MFA in Prose and Poetry (publishing & professional development): Applicants must submit a sample of writing in the genre (literary fiction, popular fiction, nonfiction, or poetry) in which they wish to take workshops.
Analytical Essay

Applicants also must submit a brief analytical paper (5 to 10 pages) demonstrating the ability to critically evaluate and analyze literature.

  • The analytical essay is used to evaluate one’s ability to critique literature using the tools of the trade. A strong essay will analyze themes used in the author's work, literary history, comparisons with additional literary pieces and any combination of these elements. Submissions should not be opinion based and should have citations.
    • If you choose to write a craft essay instead, it should outline how another author's short story, novel, poem or essay achieves its effects (what particular elements of the craft of writing does the author use in order to achieve its effect).

Public Policy and Administration, Accelerated and Part-Time (MA)

Writing Sample

The writing sample should demonstrate the ability to present ideas and arguments in a manner appropriate to a graduate-level program and should not exceed 10 pages in length. The sample can be an academic paper, a short work-related memo or analysis, or an essay describing a critical public policy issue.

If you submit an academic paper, it should consist of the following:

  • A clearly articulated thesis on a topic drawn from public policy or a related discipline
  • An argument that persuasively supports the thesis and demonstrates an awareness of contrary arguments
  • Documentation of quoted material and acknowledgement of ideas taken from the works of others using an accepted academic style guide

If you submit a work-related analysis of a policy, problem, or program of which you are the sole author it should consist of the following:

  • A clear identification of the organizational issue in need of attention
  • An analysis of the issue and its importance to the organization
  • Well-reasoned action options and your final recommendations

If you are submitting an essay it should be comprised of the following:

  • Describe what you see as one of the most critical public policy issues that faces the nation, your state, or your community
  • Provide a summary of a course of action you advocate to address this issue as if you were serving in a policy-making or administrative leadership role
  • Provide supporting justification for the action you are advocating

Sports Administration (MA)

Writing Sample

The writing sample allows the applicant to demonstrate the ability to present ideas and arguments in a manner appropriate to a graduate-level program. The sample should be a critical analysis paper or essay not exceeding 10 pages and should consist of the following:

  • A clearly articulated thesis
  • An argument that persuasively supports the thesis and demonstrates an awareness of contrary arguments
  • Documentation of quoted material and acknowledgement of ideas taken from the works of others using an accepted academic style guide

Writing (MA)

Writing Sample

All applicants must submit a sample of writing for their application for admission. The portfolio should consist of one or more works totaling approximately 20 typed, double-spaced pages of prose, 15 to 20 pages of poetry, or the equivalent in published work. The quality of the writing portfolio is the primary (though not exclusive) basis on which admissions decisions are based.

Please review the requirements below for the genre of writing sample that should be submitted per the specialization selected in the application:

  • MA in Writing (fiction): Applicants must submit a sample of writing in the genre of literary fiction.
  • MA in Writing (nonfiction): Applicants must submit a sample of writing in the genre of nonfiction.
  • MA in Writing (poetry): Applicants must submit a sample of writing in the genre of poetry.
  • MA in Writing (popular fiction): Applicants must submit a sample of writing in the genre of popular fiction. NOTE: A writing sample in literary fiction will suffice; applicants should address their interest in focusing on popular fiction in their statement of purpose.
  • MA in Writing (dual-genre): Applicants must submit two writing samples; one in each genre they are interested in pursuing (20 or so pages: 10-12 pages per genre if prose; if poetry is one of the genres, 15 pages for prose and 10-15 pages for poetry).
  • MA in Writing (publishing & professional development): Applicants must submit a sample of writing in the genre (literary fiction, popular fiction, nonfiction, or poetry) in which they wish to take workshops. 
Analytical Essay

Applicants also must submit a brief analytical paper (5 to 10 pages) demonstrating the ability to critically evaluate and analyze literature.

  • The analytical essay is used to evaluate one’s ability to critique literature using the tools of the trade. A strong essay will analyze themes used in the author's work, literary history, comparisons with additional literary pieces and any combination of these elements. Submissions should not be opinion based and should have citations.
    • If you choose to write a craft essay instead, it should outline how another author's short story, novel, poem or essay achieves its effects (what particular elements of the craft of writing does the author use in order to achieve its effect).

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