Northwestern University
#28 Overall Influence#24 Desirability Rank

Northwestern University

Private research university with campuses in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, United States

By James Barham, PhD

The founding of Northwestern University was spearheaded by the physician and politician John Evans, for whom the town of Evanston, Illinois, is named. The school is a private institution whose campus lies along Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago.

Northwestern was originally intended to serve the needs of the geographical area corresponding to the former Northwest Territory (Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and eastern Minnesota)—hence the school’s name.

The university is particularly renowned for its many distinguished professional schools, including the:

  • Bienen School of Music
  • Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Pritzker School of Law
  • Kellogg School of Management
  • Feinberg School of Medicine
  • McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science

Northwestern is also home to several multi-disciplinary and more-focused research initiatives, including the:

  • Institute for Global Health
  • Institute for Sustainability and Energy
  • Global and Research Opportunities
  • Pritzker School of Law’s celebrated Exoneration Initiative

In addition, Northwestern is a premier research university in the arts and sciences; its enormous library holdings comprise some five million volumes.

Now with campuses in Chicago itself (including the state-of-the-art Northwestern Memorial Hospital complex only blocks from Lake Michigan) and in Doha, Qatar, Northwestern is one of the top private research universities in between the East and West Coasts. Situated as it is on the Great Lakes, Northwestern contributes greatly—together with the University of Chicago several miles to the south—to making the greater Chicago area the intellectually vibrant “third coast” of the United States.

Altogether, some 19 Northwestern-connected individuals have received the Nobel Prize, including:

  • George Stigler—economics
  • Franco Modigliani—economics
  • Robert Lucas—economics
  • Saul Bellow—literature
  • Ralph Bunche—peace

Northwestern’s Department of Philosophy was the long-time home of the distinguished Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, while Northwestern University Press played a pivotal role in introducing the translated writings of Continental authors working in the phenomenological, existentialist, poststructuralist, and postmodern traditions to an English-speaking philosophical audience.

Other notable Northwestern alumni and faculty include the:

  • Anthropologist, Mary Douglas
  • Actors, Patricia Neal, Jennifer Jones, Charlton Heston, Warren Beatty, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, & Zooey Deschanel
  • Television personalities, Jerry Springer & Stephen Colbert


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


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How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


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After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

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Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


633 Clark St, Evanston IL 60208

On Campus Crime Rates

Property Crime

11 per 100k

Violent Crime

1 per 100k

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

22 per 100k

Violent Crime

2 per 100k

What is Northwestern University known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#22 World Rank #10 USA Rank
#12 World Rank #11 USA Rank
#14 World Rank #13 USA Rank
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#22 World Rank #14 USA Rank
#22 World Rank #14 USA Rank
#17 World Rank #14 USA Rank
Political Science
#32 World Rank #16 USA Rank
#40 World Rank #16 USA Rank
#28 World Rank #17 USA Rank
#25 World Rank #19 USA Rank
#55 World Rank #21 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#25 World Rank #21 USA Rank
Social Work
#42 World Rank #23 USA Rank
#48 World Rank #24 USA Rank
#68 World Rank #24 USA Rank
#53 World Rank #25 USA Rank
#33 World Rank #26 USA Rank
#56 World Rank #31 USA Rank
#48 World Rank #32 USA Rank
Computer Science
#103 World Rank #36 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#117 World Rank #43 USA Rank
#130 World Rank #97 USA Rank

Other areas of influence

#22 World Rank #19 USA Rank
Criminal Justice

Influential People

Who are Northwestern University's Most influential alumni?

Northwestern University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Communications, Business, and Political Science. Northwestern University’s most academically influential people include Saul Bellow, Stephen Colbert, and George Stigler.

Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow

Canadian-American writer

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Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert

American comedian and writer

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George Stigler
George Stigler

American economist

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George R. R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

American writer, screenwriter and television producer

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Robert Hanssen
Robert Hanssen

FBI agent who spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services

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J. Gordon Melton
J. Gordon Melton

American religious scholar

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Erwin Chemerinsky
Erwin Chemerinsky

An American dean, professor, lawyer, and author

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Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston

American actor and guns rights activist

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Hugh Hefner
Hugh Hefner

American businessman and magazine publisher

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Tony Randall
Tony Randall


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Walter Dill Scott
Walter Dill Scott

President of Northwestern university and psychologist

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Aaron Director

American economist

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